EventIt has delivered its first regional networking event at the former home of illustrious author Sir Walter Scott in the Borders.

Around 30 events professionals gathered at Abbotsford House, outside Melrose, for the first in a series of Scotland-wide events aimed at galvanising the industry ahead of EventIt 2018 on March 22 at the SEC in Glasgow.

EventScotland kicked off the afternoon’s proceedings with a talk aimed at providing an industry update on topics including funding opportunities, national themed years, counter terror and police charging.

Torquil MacLeod, ‎Events Industry Development Manager at EventScotland, gave the briefing in what was designed to be an informal setting where events professionals could bring local issues to the attention of the national body.

Given the oversight of the regional Safety Advisory Group (SAG) by former senior police officer Kevin Sewell, Emergency Planning Officer at Borders Council, few serious issues came to light regarding police charging (the feeling among the audience was that Sewell as an ex-police officer was able to advocate confidently and effectively for local event planners) or Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTROs).

However concerns were raised by one events company which said that landowners are increasingly asking event organisers to apply for ‘Section 11’ closure orders to restrict other users from coming onto property where an event is due to be held. The perceived risk of a ‘conflict’ between an event and the public accessing land – for example a cycling, off-road or running event – has led to additional administrative burdens on event organisers, with fears local councils may resort to an official charging regime to apply for Section 11s as early as next year. The feeling among planners – faced by rising overheads in general – was that Section 11s could place an additional cost burden on events.

MacLeod also highlighted the necessity for counter terror planning and although there was perhaps a perceived low risk for the Scottish Borders, event organisers nevertheless need to be conscious of how they respond to members of the public with concerns. He said that EventScotland has consulted widely across Scotland already on counter terror measures and that it was a matter of public confidence in events that organisers could demonstrate that they had mitigation measures at the heart of their planning process.

Most of the funding for next year’s themed year – the Year of Young People – had been allocated and the £2m budget had allowed far greater scope for event organisers to access funding opportunities; for those who hadn’t already applied there will be additional support from the partner programme which has proved popular in previous years (especially for the Year of Homecoming in 2009) for event organisers to access the marketing collateral of a themed year without a particular cash award. MacLeod said applications for next year’s themed year were currently being assessed and that the response had been positive.

Many of the topics covered by MacLeod – including the use of drones (some event organisers have expressed safety concerns about drones flying over their events), Brexit, research scoping the size and makeup of the events industry in Scotland, and event evaluation tools such as eventIMPACTS – will also be covered as part of the National Events Conference on Monday, November 27 at the Technology & Innovation Centre in Glasgow.

Following the EventScotland talk, local planners attended a presentation by EventIt directors Judith Wilson and Hamish Miller about what they could look forward to at next year’s show at the SEC in Glasgow; Wilson announced that EventIt had recently agreed partnerships with London-based trade shows Event Tech Live and The Meetings Show. The arrangement will hopefully see key buyers from England visit Glasgow next year and vice versa; events organisers in Scotland will benefit in particular from a large event tech community operating from London, which is transforming the way events are organised and delivered, said Wilson.

The next EventIt regional events are as follows but for more information visit www.eventit.org.uk

Thursday 7 September: Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness – Highlands and Islands
Wednesday 13 September: The Stirling Highland Hotel – Forth Valley & Perthshire
Wednesday 20 September: Trump Turnberry, Ayrshire – Ayrshire
Wednesday 18 October: Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre – Aberdeenshire
Wednesday 25 October: Fairmont St Andrews – Tayside and Fife