REVEALED: Chorley Council's bill for G7 Speakers' Summit, as borough plans new tourism guide to make the most of its exposure

The cost to Chorley Council of helping to host the G7 Speakers’ Summit in the borough was worth it for the money-can’t-buy advertising generated by the event, the authority’s leader has said.

Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 10:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th September 2021, 10:48 pm

Alistair Bradley was speaking at a meeting of the full council where it was revealed that the provisional bill for the borough’s part in staging the conference was £26,000.

The summit – which was held at Astley Hall earlier this month – was attended by delegates including US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, putting Chorley briefly in the global spotlight.

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Roberto Fico, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Nancy Pelosi and Richard Ferrand at Astley Hall during the G7 Speakers' Summit (image: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

However, Cllr Bradley is confident that the benefits to the borough will be far longer-lasting – not least due to the way in which its residents embraced their moment on the world stage.

“We could have spent tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds on advertising which [would not have been] as good as the advertising that we got [from hosting the event].

“Chorley in the sunshine [at] the rejuvenated Astley Hall, with Chorley folk performing for the cameras saying how great it is [here] – that’s what you need. I’m quite surprised, personally, how much impact it had – we need to make the most of that,” Cllr Bradley said.

Councillors were told that the biggest cost to the authority will be the as-yet-unconfirmed level of compensation – potentially up to £10,000 – to be paid to businesses in the grounds of Astley Hall, which were forced to close for three-and-a-half days in the run up to, and during, the event, for security reasons.

A further £5,000 went on overtime for council staff working on preparations to ensure that the borough was looking at its best, while £3,500 was spent on signage advertising the Check Out Chorley website, which will be re-used at future events.

The Lancashire Post and Chorley Guardian understand that negotiations are continuing over whether the Home Office will provide Lancashire Constabulary with a special grant to the cover the far more substantial cost of policing the event.

Conservative opposition group leader Martin Boardman called for the council to move “very quickly” on the back of the publicity generated by the Speakers’ Summit and publish an official tourism guide for the entire borough. He said that it was important not to lose the “momentum that we’ve already gathered”.

As the Post and Guardian revealed last week, a revised town map is being drawn up in a collaboration between traders and the council, but Cllr Bradley told the meeting that that would just be an “interim point” on the road to creating a more substantial guide to what Chorley has to offer.

“We have discussed with the various trader groups and…trading areas in the town centre and in the service centres about [the idea of] doing leaflets and guides for each area.

“That will all be rolled up into a wider guide – whether that’s an online guide or a paper guide, or probably both – to be utilised over the coming months,” Cllr Bradley explained.

Speaking after the meeting, Malcolm Allen, chair of Chorley Traders’ Alliance, said that there was a lot to include in the guide – and so it could not be done “overnight”.

“It’s not just the town centre – we want to include places like Rivington and Astley Hall. It would be good if we could time the launch with the reopening of the hall after its refurbishment.

“But before that, the first thing we want to do is to get maps installed in all the car parks and have a changeable panel in which we can place a poster for the next big event in Chorley.

“We do need to get everybody’s input into the guide – the traders and the various associations and societies. You can’t produce something like this immediately,” Mr. Allen said.

Last week, the Post and Guardian reported that 84-year-old Chorley resident Graham Archer had warned the borough council that it was at risk of failing to capitalise on the G7 boost to the area by not having the type of guide leaflet found in many other market towns.