A Scottish politician has lodged a parliamentary motion over a “decision to charge £101.97 plus VAT to journalists for the use of an electric power point at the Glasgow North East by-election” at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre’s (SECC).
In the motion, lodged on the 14 January 2010, titled ‘SECC Success and Community Benefit’, Bob Doris MSP, a Scottish National Party member for Glasgow, states the parliament has concerns over the decision of the venue’s owners, SEC, to allow charging to journalists for the use of an electric power point at the Glasgow North East by-election, which had a substantial effect on the finances of small community news providers.
“In this case the charge is not specifically aimed at the journalist,” head of sales at the SECC, Ben Goedegebuure tells Exhibition News. “We have a transparent pricing policy and this includes the cost of electricity, being up to the discretion of the individual event organiser. Most organisers will have a press area with free facilities, which is why this is not an issue generally.”
“Since this is standard across all exhibition and conference centres, our pricing policy reflects this. To this date we have not been urged by the council to review our pricing policy,” he adds.
The motion also says that with the “2010 UK election imminent there should be a review of charges by SEC that may prohibit local journalists being able to report on the democratic process, and believes that a more general review of the SEC Ltd pricing policy would be welcome to ensure that the SECC is accessible and affordable for use by locals”.
The motion also highlighted the 47 per cent increase in trading profits at the venue, up to £627,812 in 2008-09.
According to website computescotland.com, a freelancer with the Local News Glasgow, Erik Geddes says: “I’ve also spoken to Bob Doris. He told me: ‘I have written to the two councillors that sit on the SEC Board to ask them to raise the matter at their next meeting. We have to strike a balance between the fantastic corporate success of SEC and the social responsibility that we would expect from an organisation 91 per cent owned by Glasgow City Council’.”