£150 – price of ‘scrutiny’ at council-backed Tech City ‘summit’

Kit Malthouse, Boris Johnson’s unelected Deputy Mayor of London and a failed candidate to become Conservative MP for Croydon South, is to open a Croydon Tech City “summit” next month, but which the public may attend only if they first cough up a cool £150. Including VAT.

Croydon Tech City Circle LogoAccording to a press release issued yesterday by Tory-run Croydon Council’s favourite PR company, White Label, the “potential of Croydon Tech City will come under scrutiny” at the event on June 6 at Croydon College. Though to subject Croydon Tech City to any such “scrutiny”, you first have to cough 150 sovs.

White Label parrots claims that Croydon is “the second biggest cluster of tech and media businesses outside central London”. Only the second biggest. Of those outside central London. The public relations firm fails to cite any independent sources for the claims made for the number of tech firms operating in the borough.

“As London’s fastest growing tech cluster, it is wholly appropriate to hold the first borough-wide summit to discuss the local and national implications of Croydon’s burgeoning, digital, creative and technical industries,” Jonny Rose, one of the founders of Croydon Tech City, is quoted as saying of the £150-a-head “summit”.

The “summit” is being organised under the auspices of Develop Croydon, the association of big business and related organisations in the borough whose members include Croydon Council, whose record of procurement from locally based tech businesses is less than stellar.

Also members of Develop Croydon are: the council-backed Croydon BID business district; the Whitgift Foundation, the borough’s largest property owners and freeholders of the Whitgift Centre; Stiles Harold Williams, the estate agency which manages much of the Whitgift Foundation’s property portfolio; and the Croydon Partnership, the polite operating name for Hammersfield, the £1 billion redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre by shopping mall specialists Hammerson and Tory Party-donors Westfield.

What will attendees at the Tech City “summit” who fork out the £150 entry fee get for their money? Confirmed speakers are Rupert Whitehead, a “developer advocate” at Google; Juliette Morgan, head of property strategy for TechCity UK; and Julian Blake, “an editor” (not even the editor) with TechCityInsider. Errr. That’s it.

It is not even a day-long event, with check-in for delegates not beginning until noon, when a buffet lunch is provided. “There will be a drinks reception at the end of the day, providing the opportunity to network,” White Label states, presumably trying to justify the fees being charged.

White Label adds, “The event is being supported by Croydon Council”. It is not stated whether this is in the form of financial subsidy paid for by Council Tax-payers. 

The PR firm quotes Matthew McMillan, who apparently is Croydon Council’s “lead investment executive” (who knew we had one?): “Croydon is London’s most exciting tech scene and the growth of the Croydon Tech City movement over the past year has been exhilarating.” If that’s what McMillan finds “exhilarating”, then he probably needs to get out of the council HQ at Fisher’s Folly more often.

McMillan continues: “This expert line-up…” of three named people, plus a public servant appointed by Boris Johnson… “brings together the best of the teams involved in building London’s reputation as the world’s leading digital hub and will offer a tantalising insight to Croydon’s future role at the heart of London’s position as a global tech player.” Tantalising? Really?

Oh, and if you manage to book your ticket for the love-in in the next fortnight, then you can get an “earlybird” discount rate of “just” £95. Plus VAT. A bargain, we’re quite sure.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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1 Response to £150 – price of ‘scrutiny’ at council-backed Tech City ‘summit’

  1. You are right to be sceptical of this venture. It has all the hallmarks of Croydon Council spin – empty vessels and all that.
    I wish high tech businesses in Croydon well, but this is not the way to promote them.
    Instead of all the hype, please can we have some facts and figures: how many Tech City firms are there in Croydon; where are they; what is their collective turnover; and what percentage of borough GDP does that represent?
    I suspect the figures are quite modest: which is all the more reason to encourage them, but not with a £150-a-head PR fest.

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