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Island21 Horse Tram Statement


Charles Flynn

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Mr Christian has now agreed to ask the Douglas Town Council to meet us as a result of this press statement which was a response to his criticism quoted by IOM Newspapers of the 28th January 2008 of "experts", i.e. according to the newspaper identified as members of Island21. Mr Christian has told me he actually meant unidentified members of this Forum using anonymous user names.

 

I am happy to report that Councillor Christian wishes to retain the service and reports that he does not are completely untrue.

 

Island21 welcomes an opportunity to speak to Councillors who we trust will be prepared to listen to constructive ideas on how to regenerate and stem the losses of the current service.

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Island21 Press Release on Council Leaders Statement

 

 

Source: Island21

 

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Council leader scorns ideas to regenerate horse trams

 

Members of the island sustainability forum Island 21 have reacted with incredulity to Douglas Council leader David Christian's response to their offer to provide free specialist marketing expertise for the horse tram service. Mr Christian has been quoted by a number of sources as saying, "There are a lot of experts crawling out of the woodwork telling the council how to do it – I don't know how we've managed to run it all these years".

 

"Mr Christian would be well advised to rein in his sarcasm," said Island 21 chairman Charles Flynn, "especially considering that the council managed to lose a staggering quarter of a million pounds on the service last year. In the circumstances, rejecting free advice from experts whilst pouring ratepayers' money down the drain is the height of irresponsibility."

 

Committee member Richard Falk, one of the most successful advertising copywriters in Europe, agreed. "There are hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money and more than a century of heritage at stake here, and all Mr Christian can do is make ironic remarks and trivialise the issue. Notwithstanding his inappropriate comments, I have emailed him requesting a meeting so we may discuss this matter, and share a number of ideas that I believe could increase revenues, but so far I have not had the courtesy of a reply. I remain extremely concerned about the future of the trams – whilst I am glad the idiotic suggestion of non-stop end-to-end journeys has been rejected, cutting the service and the season is not the answer. Reducing investment is the last thing you do to a brand in trouble – more effective revenue generation is the answer."

 

Mr Falk has, however, succeeded in speaking to Adrian Earnshaw, the Minister for Tourism and Leisure, and the two men shared a number of ideas, which Mr Earnshaw hopes to take up with Douglas Council.

 

"Sadly, this is all too symptomatic of the rather arrogant attitude of our local politicians," concluded Charles Flynn. "Mr Christian says he is always willing to listen to ideas, but when someone has the temerity to express differing views, this is how he reacts.

 

"Does anyone really believe our elected Councillors are delivering value for money? When was the last time you even encountered one on your doorstep? I would be very interested to see a breakdown of Councillors' responsibilities and expenses, and believe this matter highlights some very serious issues as we approach a local election."

 

- Ends -

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I can now confirm that the Leisure and Amenity committee will meet with members of Island21 on the 21st February so that our marketing ideas can be discussed with them. I hope this will be a positive step to assist in retaining and improving the service.

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And maybe Richard Falk could give us a breakdown of expenses paid to councillors in Worthing at the same time?

 

 

You need to ask him yourself. I know as far as I am concerned I have never ever been paid a penny for my political work over a few decades. No pay, no expenses -zilch!

 

I have no knowledge about other people's expenses.

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Minutes of Amenity and Leisure Committee concerning Horse Trams 12th March 2008

 

*18. Increasing Revenue for the Tramways

Mr Richard Falk from Island 21 joined the meeting at 12.00pm. By way of introduction, he explained

that Island 21 is a local sustainability group. He is a marketing expert now living on the Island, and is a

regular user of the horse trams. Mr Falk gave a presentation setting out a number of ideas for increasing

revenue for the Tramways:

• Advertising is not required. The service does not have an awareness problem. All the Island’s

residents know about it and most tourists will either already be aware of it or will not fail to

notice it on arrival. However, more work could be undertaken with the Department of Tourism

and Leisure to promote the service to tourists, who Mr Falk believes make up the vast majority

of service users.

• The service is not price sensitive. It is not a practical means of transport but an experience.

People want to have that experience and so will pay for it. Mr Falk cited the Santa steam trains

as an example. He suggested a pricing structure of £2.00 for a single journey and £3.00 return,

with children’s tickets being half those prices.

• Horse trams on demand. Mr Falk stated that many people are unaware that there are specific

tram stops and the trams should stop anywhere that it is safe to do so, with passengers just

flagging the trams down. Similarly, the trams should allow passengers to alight anywhere that

it is safe to do so. Linking departures from the Sea Terminal to coincide with the scheduled

arrival of the passenger ferry services would further enhance demand for the service.

• Utilise assets to the full. Mr Falk stated that stable visits, for example, are not promoted. This

could be remedied by the conductors giving out flyers to passengers. In addition, transport

enthusiasts would welcome the chance to visit the tram sheds and view the different vehicles

and would pay for the privilege.

• Use the double decker tram more. Mr Falk suggested the sale of special tickets at a higher

price for a non-stop return trip on the double decker tram at specific times.

• The sale of inexpensive souvenirs, such as the sale of certificates signed by the Mayor to show

that a person has been on the horse trams. These could be sold by the conductors. Another

suggestion is the sale of stuffed toy horses with different name tags to reflect the names of

each of the horses. These could be sold in the Welcome Centre in the Sea Terminal.

• End bad working practices. Mr Falk claimed that some tram drivers are deliberately setting off

from Derby Castle before the arrival of the MER tram so as to avoid having to deal with lots

of passengers. The Tramways Operations Supervisor refuted this allegation.

• Run the trams when people want to use them. Mr Falk stated that the first couple of trams in

the morning are barely used, whilst the evening trams are often full. It would be better to start

the trams later and finish later.

• A supporters’ club. For £100.00 each season a club member could receive a season ticket, a

ride on the first tram of the season with the Mayor, a visit to the stables, a trip on the double

decker tram and a newsletter, for example. For children, the price would be lower, and they

could receive stickers, badges and letters from the horses.

• Special events, such as Santa trams at Christmas and illuminated trams.

• Mr Falk’s final suggestion is, if all else fails, to attract individual sponsorship from wealthy

local residents and/or corporate sponsorship by businesses.

At the end of Mr Falk’s presentation, there was general discussion of some of his ideas, and those

already agreed by the Council. Mr Falk disagreed with the Council’s decision to only run two trams per

hour instead of three as, for example, people who have just missed one will not want to wait half an

hour for the next one. He believes it will also lead to a reduction in revenue. Mr Falk was informed that

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12th March

2008

the Council has already agreed to increase ticket prices to £2.00 for a single journey, but he does not

agree that a reduction should be given to senior citizens, particularly as most of the adult tickets sold

are to senior citizens. This current practice automatically reduces income levels.

Mr Falk was asked his opinion of nappies for the horses. Whilst he accepts that he is not an expert in

this area, it is his view that horses do not like to have anything touching their hindquarters, and if a

horse were to bolt as a result it could lead to a perception that the service is dangerous.

Members agreed that Mr Falk’s presentation had given them a great deal to think about and suggested

that he repeat it to the full Council. Mr Falk indicated that he would be happy to do so. In the

meantime, he will e-mail his presentation notes to all Councillors.

Mr Falk was thanked for his attendance and left the meeting at 12.34pm.

Members briefly considered Mr Falk’s ideas. The Assistant Chief Executive advised that it would be

wise to undertake feasibility and costing exercises before deciding whether to implement any of them.

Resolved, “That particulars of the presentation and ensuing discussion be noted on the minutes and the

Worshipful the Mayor consult the Town Clerk with a view to arranging a special Council meeting at

which Mr Falk can repeat his presentation to all Members.”

The Tramways Operations Supervisor was thanked for his attendance and left the meeting at 12.50pm.

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