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Monday 27 June 2011

A Lesson In False Economy

Tickets for a range of events at next year’s Olympic Games have been on sale. I have not participated in the apparent rush to buy, and suspect that much of the Fourth Estate is in the same category. But that does not dampen the urge to turn the upcoming event into a generator of anti-EU knocking copy.

Because some tickets, horror of horrors, have been bought by EU nationals: yes, by people who talk foreign! Those dastardly Eurocrats – well, folks from across the Channel, anyway – have taken all our tickets. Well, actually, they haven’t: the number sold to EU citizens is just under 5% of the total on offer.

But 5% is 5%, and it’s nearly 150,000, which is a six figure number and therefore significantly scary. The Maily Telegraph, first with the frightener, was in no doubt about the significance of the event: “Thousands of foreigners snap up Olympics tickets meant for Brits” thundered the headline (Mail equivalent HERE, Express HERE).

And there was an ideal talking head to accompany the piece, Priti Patel, the self promoting Tory MP for Witham, who denounced the system for allocating tickets as “a farce”. If only she had engaged brain before mouth: more punters coming to London for the Olympics means better value for taxpayers’ money, not worse.

It’s possible that those living close to a Eurostar station could make a day trip of going to the games, but those trains will be well filled anyway, and getting seats at the times required will be difficult. Likewise those close to airports like Schiphol and Paris CDG. Far better to stay over.

And staying over means more money spent in the UK, especially in the hotel and catering trade, but also on travel, given that hotel rooms in London will already be filling up – and expensive. Many punters will look to stay in locations that are convenient for the Olympic site, and a direct train service to Stratford will be a plus.

So what kinds of locations are in the frame here? Well, out in Essex, there are a number of towns and villages close to the former Great Eastern main line with frequent services into London that call at Stratford. And one of these, an ideal railhead with four trains an hour taking just 36 minutes, is none other than Witham.

That’s the same Witham represented at Westminster by Priti Patel. As Littlejohn is so keen on telling his readers, you couldn’t make it up.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Don't forget the articles from these papers about how Brits who missed out on the first round could buy tickets from those Foreign countries - Telegraph example here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/olympics/8562224/London-2012-Olympics-where-to-buy-your-tickets-now.html

Arguably if they hadn't sent all the Brits to the places "Foreigners" could buy them, we wouldn't have so many using the British website.