Bletchley Park's bitter dispute over its future

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by Owen, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Without that corporate and lottery funding though, what was the future?
    Further decay and a slow death seems reasonably likely.
    Hard choices.
  2. kopite

    kopite Member


    Here's a photo of the Turing display taken on my visit to Bletchley last September.

    Attached Files:

  3. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Museums, theatres, cinemas and possibly libraries - the 'Running Horse' effect. Some years ago a pub by that name in free hands, that is to say in the ownership of the landlord. He decided that the cosy exclusivity of his village pub, much loved by many - but not many enough was not turning over profits to justify it's continued existence. He applied to revoke the license and convert to a dwelling and sell up. Within weeks a petition in the thousands - he asked the local newspaper champion of the petition why those who had signed had not bought half a pint of beer per month - where were they? However, the resulting publicity changed his mind temporarily and with the increase in trade he sold up as a going concern. Change is not always good, inaction is never good when all around changes.
    von Poop likes this.
  4. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  5. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  6. Trackfrower

    Trackfrower Member

    Perhaps they need an enigma machine to be "stolen" again for some sympathy!

    There is not much left for the asset strippers to take now and they have chucked out all the free exhibitors.

    Does the friend of on of the trustees still keep his cars there, where the preserved fire engines used to be?
  7. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    Unfortunately whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue the CEO fellow came over as an arrogant apparatchik spouting the usual management speak nonsense like 'vision', 'iconic' and 'stakeholders'. To someone coming to the story with no preconceptions and who hasn't visited BP it struck me as a Public Relations disaster. The Trust obviously felt that they were misrepresented in the BBC report but they didn't do themselves any favours.
  8. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    The text from the link at post #24:

    Monday, 27 January 2014

    Bletchley Park new management team is currently implementing a plan for volunteers that in their words will “Cull the old and infirm”.
    Whilst everyone recognised the need for change and welcomed the opportunity for it that heritage lottery funding provided, it was not envisaged that it would be used so aggressively against the volunteers who made it possible and destroy the very ethos that kept Bletchley Park alive for the past 20 hard years.
    Volunteers are the life blood that keeps many organisations, including museums and historic venues open and functioning cost effectively. Most are retired people bringing experience and knowledge that can add so much to the visitor experience.
    Bletchley Park’s new management team seeks to replace them with professional actors and retain a few (young ones) as unpaid minions.
    It is currently recruiting actors through a costly outsourced production company to produce video clips and replace tour guides.
    This has already been done with ‘Bletchley Times’ whereby a volunteer journalist producing an excellent publication was replaced by an outsourced production team producing an inferior product that has to be paid for to meet it’s increased costs.
    Where visitors once had the opportunity to engage with knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers they will now be processed on an information conveyor belt to speed them through their visit, human contact being kept to the minimum.
    This ignores the key factor that made Bletchley Park such an enjoyable visit worth repeating again and again, namely a British quirkiness arising from an extensive range of exhibits manned by volunteers who knew their stuff and were happy to share it.
    The new approach of bland displays, boring information boards and awkward to use multi-media kit has already seen visitor numbers drop significantly. Although the new displays planned to open in June 2014 will generate an increase it is unlikely that this will be sustained on current evidence.
    The new plan for volunteer labour sees them solely as free labor. They will report for duty before being assigned to tasks as management sees fit on the day, irrespective of their interests or skills.
    The intention is to eliminate any costs associated with volunteers. Highly trained and experienced tour guides will be replaced by minimally trained volunteers to cut out their travel expenses as they tend to come from further away, hardly a way to engage and motive the right people to give of their best.
    Instead of seeing volunteers a source of inspiration, ideas and commitment the new management sees them as threats and nuisances leading to the comments above.
    Lacking in experience and expertise they are unable to manage the advice and critism experienced volunteers can offer and see it exposing their weaknesses and failings, so adopt eradication rather adaption as a philosophy.
    Contrast this with the fact that from around a few paid staff supported by many volunteers the Bletchley Park payroll has risen to 70+ in addition to outsourcing costs. But this is against a dramatic fall in visitor numbers as a direct result of new policies.
    As a consequence much of the Heritage Lottery funding has been directed towards staffing costs rather than infra-structure further reducing visitor satisfaction levels. It is an unsustainable business model but the few remaining volunteers are powerless to change it.
    Some serious investigation is required so that the role of the volunteer can once again play a key part in preserving Bletchley Park as a national heritage site, before it is too late.

    (Submitted anonymously by a concerned team member unable to reveal their identity because of likely recriminations.)
  9. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  10. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Personally those statements regarding a 'cull' are deeply disturbing.

    Don't know what to say, other than if the former codebreaker I know from BP reads this she would be furious.

    Also for management to put those words in writing is... blindingly stupid and surely leaving them wide open to legal action.
  11. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  12. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  13. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Smudger Jnr and dbf like this.
  14. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    Excellent piece of work, that. There clearly needs to be a banging together of heads somewhere. I know where I would start. And surely if, as this place implies, some of the NHLF submission for the grant has proved to be.... shall we say.. misleading, should someone raise this with NHLF?
    The fence is an absurd notion, and I care not about the 'elf an saferty' argument.
  15. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  16. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Personally the whole thing is a joke - also illustrated that Bletchley lacks a PR department who seem to have been trained by this fellow:

    BP is now pumping out propaganda online which is widely being ignored and appearing as a malicious bully. A major re-enacting group - the First Allied Airborne Association - has publicly dropped support for BP now.

    Its a really bizarre situation, and makes me think of the following:
    Imagine going to a Dinosaur museum with your kids, you walk round and see loads of boards telling you how great it was that dinosaurs once walked over this ground. You see videos of dinosaurs walking over the area, you get jolly excited as its a dinosaur museum and... there are dinosaur remains there, all just image boards and interactive codswallop.

    Utterly bizarre to ostracise TNMOC like this. Plonking up that new wall so quickly makes Stainden and co look like a ridiculous comic troupe mocking Eastern Germany and the Berlin Wall. What good will come of The Bletchley Wall I do not know, but this is rapidly becoming a national disgrace, quite how Standen and can continue on in their current positions baffles me.
  17. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    According to the link I posted earlier The lottery funding application included Colossus as part of the heritage and it is now being fenced off. TNMOC had to put in a FOIA request to find out this, as they were not consulted in the application. They have to pay rent (which just about covers Standan's salary) when they should be there rent free as part of the heritage.
    Standan should go, if he is the architect of this.
  18. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  19. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Cheers for clarifying that Geoff, and yes more bullshit.

    Also stating:
    "The new displays will not consist of information boards but will be exciting and in many cases, interactive.
    The multimedia guide has been hugely popular with visitors of all ages, particularly children who often get bored when visiting museums. The family version of the guide is full of codebreaking activities for them to enjoy."

    Rather curiously, as always, no evidence goes into backing the 'children get often get bored' argument. More troublesome given most teachers find modern museums even harder to control kids in as there is little to actually see.

    In some ways this argument polarises years of steady mismanagement and misrepresentation in museums aiming for a visual/technical masterpiece, where high paid designers lead unqualified and inexperienced teams to a shiny, ridiculous interpretation centre which lines their pockets. Personally Standen is CEO, this has all occurred under his watch and he has led BP into massive disrepute, as the public face he does not work. He must go.

    And when he does, I'd like him to gently close the door, so it doesn't bang, as multimedia interactive heritage attractions are awfully sensitive to these things dontchaknow?

    [EDIT] Above email to MT by Dr Joel Greenburg, he is listed on many sites as 'Bletchley Park historian' - is he actually a volunteer or paid member of staff,a historian who writes on Bletchley (forthcoming book but nowt out now it seems), given his close ties to the site it seems somewhat murky...
  20. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

    Worth reading some of the comments added to the article linked in post #33

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