The massed forces of the sector gathered at the 6th Annual Future of Culture, Tourism and Sport Conference held on Tuesday 14th September in London. The top brass lined up to prepare the troops sitting knee (for some, neck) deep in their local government trenches for their pre October budget battle speech.

”Are you going to be an M&S or a Woolworths?” asked General Martyn Allison. He challenged those brave boys and girls about to lead their services over the top. ”Your objective is transformation hill, take advantage of the chaos, lead from the front and win high ground against the odds…” Brigadier Cllr Chris White with a steely determination in his eyes warned the troops that casualties were necessarily going to be high, but the price of sustainable Culture and Leisure Services would ultimately be worth paying..  He reminded us that things would never be the same again and to beat this new threat, innovation and fleet-footedness would be the undoing of  inefficiency, duplication and misdirected firing of resources at the wrong targets. Failure to oppose this threat would result in extermination. The troops got the message loud and clear.. However, murmuring from the massed ranks grew louder as the briefing continued.. One brave Staff Staff Sergent from West Oxfordshire piped up…’‘We want to survive and build a brave new Culture and Sport world, but who’s been making and holding more ground?  What are their tactics? What is our battle cry?”

The Generals left that answer to be fielded by the operational briefing team as the bully beef and mugs of teas were handed down as the troops were fattened up in preparation for going over the top. After the rations were scoffed, battle hardened Colonels such as Rodney Hill from Wigan Culture and Leisure Trust and Simon Eden from Winchester parachuted in and  provided some calm, considered advice and practical examples on seizing objectives.. The MLA’s Air Marshall Paul Bristow, despite suffering a mortal wound, courageously left a clear plan of attack for Culture in approaching options reviews and exploring management options… which raised spirits and built confidence..

However, The Special ‘Quango’ Forces  of Sport England  and General HQ DCMS tried valiantly to explain the importance of their role, and the new support weapons that had been developed –  but the troops came away feeling they didn’t have a lot of logistical or practical support to offer for this kind of dirty fighting… Top secret projects  such as the National Survey of Culture, Leisure and Sport seemed aimed at protecting the top brasses’ own bunkers, not offering cover for advancing troops.  Tommy wasn’t buying it. ”We can’t fire regional leaflets at the enemy, we need local data bullets”. So as the sun set, the bombardment stopped and a wave of tired, but determined troops stood up at the sound of the long blast of the whistle and gritted their teeth….