by Christina Golding
GOVERNMENT ministers agreed to support a campaign to improve the image of the hospitality industry at a short-notice meeting at 11 Downing Street last week.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown told the British Hospitality Association (BHA) council and other key industry members that hospitality was one of the most important job- and wealth-creating industries in thecountry.
BHA chief executive Jeremy Logie, who received an invitation two weeks beforehand, denied that the meeting was a reaction to a last-minute cancellation by Brown, when he was due to speak at the Joint Hospitality Industry Conference earlier this month (Caterer, 9 July, page 8). Secretary of State for Employment and Education David Blunkett also disappointed the industry when he turned down a similar invitation to the Local Authority Caterers Association conference a few days later (Caterer, 16 July, page 7).
Logie said that the meeting in Downing Street had been arranged before both conferences.
"We knew about the meeting unofficially for some time," he said, adding that the short notice was due to "inefficiency" within the treasury.
"The ministers have generally been very supportive,"he said.
The meeting was called by the chancellor to discuss the industry's response to the Government's New Deal programme.
But while industry employers have been supportive of the programme, Logie said that there was general concern that there were not enough people putting themselves forward for the New Deal jobs.