Despite Exeter’s rapidly worsening housing crisis, the council has continued its relentless promotion of the city as a destination to potential incomers by commissioning a coterie of Instagram influencers to flog the place to their followers after spending a May weekend here.
Go South West England, Candace Abroad and Flying Fluskey (no kidding) duly produced various “journalism-style articles” discussing the city’s “culture and history” as part of a £10,000 marketing campaign, the cost of which is being split 50/50 between the council and GWR on the basis it promotes visiting Exeter by train.
One influencer said St Sidwell’s Point leisure centre had been built on the site of a recently-demolished bus station and described Jury’s Inn as both a “4-star” and “mid-range” hotel, before offering helpful detail on how to get to each by car and where to park.
Another encouraged visitors to “hop in a car” in the city centre to get to Dartmoor, or to drive to a Crediton cider orchard, and advised readers that of Exeter’s “three main shopping centres, all based around the High Street”, one is to be found at Countess Wear.
Perhaps it is unfair to expect council-commissioned communications to adhere to recognised fact-checking standards, but whether this expenditure meets public spending value for money criteria is another matter.
Meanwhile cider must be on the menu in council meetings, judging by a year-long project it has commissioned in conjunction with the university which “explores the complex ecology and cultures of cider-making” and “communal drinking culture”.
And it’s only a 25 minute drive from the council’s offices to the cider farm (this one near Tedburn St Mary) where various project-related events are taking place.