Convoy - Hotel Security
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I started this because I didn't want there to be no Eastercon in 2007. I still feel that way.
This has been brought to a head by a local Liverpool newspaper, which printed a story about the Adelphi. The story was picked up by the BBC and has caused a few members of fandom to get into a tizzy about the security position at the Adelphi.
Some people have suggested we are not taking security seriously, especially after this local newspaper report. So this is what I did...
The day I was told about the report, I booked some holiday from work at the start of the next week so I could find out what the facts were and see if they were different from what was reported.
I went to Liverpool Police website, tracked down the quoted officer, and sent an email to him through their system. I spent the next two days talking to various people in the Liverpool Police and tracing the origins of the story back to Liverpool Chamber Of Commerce. I then spent some time talking to people there - including Peter Jones who was interviewed by the BBC.
The gist of what I got strongly suggests that this is essentially a matter of local politics, further complicated by Liverpool being 'City of Culture' in 2008, and the city council having some problems related to this (see various reports in 'Private Eye' during the past few months).
The story was released as it was in order to paint the Adelphi in as bad a light as possible, to force management (which was strongly implied in the conversations I had to mean Britannia Hotel chain management) to pull their fingers out and get long promised improvements done before 2008. (Much of this work either was already in hand when the story was printed, or had been put in hand, including invoices dated from previous months, within ten days of the story's appearance, but nobody from the newspaper seems to have felt it worth actually going to the hotel and looking, as our representative has done.)
Police figures indeed show that 80% of city centre thefts from hotel rooms between April 2005 and April 2006 occurred at the Adelphi. However according to the Liverpool Tourist Information Accommodation Hotline between one third and one half of all rooms in Liverpool City centre are at the Adelphi - this is not excusing the 80% figure, but a figure of 40% would have been consistent with the number of rooms.
Chris Bell has been and talked with Eileen Downey (manager of the Adelphi) in person. If Chris had not been happy after that meeting we would have removed the Adelphi from our plans immediately.
We will be making a site visit before Novacon, and unless we are satisfied that the conditions in our contract have been met, we will address the concerns about security of those potential members of the convention who have not yet paid for membership, by cancelling our use of the Adelphi on security grounds. At that point we shall be forced to cancel the Eastercon and refund all membership payments, which if we don't have a large enough membership by then we will have to do anyway for financial reasons.
No, we are not joking. We are taking it as seriously as that. We have looked for other hotels, but they seem simply financially unviable at this point. If anyone can find us a hotel of a similar size that is empty over the Easter weekend in 2007, and offers a similar rate for function space, bedrooms and food, we would be interested to hear about their findings.
As we see it, there are now three possible outcomes to this situation:
1) We get what we have contracted from the Adelphi, and enough members to make it viable, and have ourselves a Convoy.
2) The Adelphi is unable to demonstrate to us that it has fully addressed all our security concerns, and we are forced cancel Convoy.
3) The Adelphi does its bit, but we have too few members to be able to fill the hotel to the level required in the contract, and we are forced to cancel Convoy.
Chairman of Convoy