Suffolk’s Seb Coe or a favoured ‘Tory Boy’?

SUFFOLK: The leader of one of the county’s district councils is set to earn �300 a day as a “tour guide” for foreign journalists.

Conservative Tim Passmore, leader of Mid Suffolk council, has been appointed as Suffolk’s “Olympic ambassador” by his party colleagues at the county council.

He will be paid the fee for every tour that takes place around the county – up to a maximum of �10,000.

County council leader Mark Bee said the appointment was discussed at a meeting of local authority leaders from across Suffolk, held at Bury St Edmunds last September.

The Star has seen a copy of the notes of that meeting – and the only reference to Mr Passmore’s role was under a section entitled “Tourism arrangements in Suffolk”.

It mentioned that Choose Suffolk was being wound up and the notes say: “It was noted that Cllr Passmore’s expertise should be utilised.”

Among those who attended the whole meeting was Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere – the only Labour figure there.

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He said: “I don’t think anyone at the meeting thought we had agreed to Mr Passmore’s appointment as Olympic ambassador.

“This sounds to me like jobs for the Tory Boys. It does sound a bit as if he will be a tour guide for journalists.”

Mr Passmore was interim chief executive of Choose Suffolk – the county’s government-funded tourist board – from December 2010 until it was wound up at the end of August last year.

Tourism is now co-ordinated by the private-sector funded Visit East Anglia, which is based in mid-Norfolk and is funded by tourist businesses.

Richard Ellis of Visit East Anglia said the organisation would be working with Mr Passmore, but expected most visits to Suffolk to be day trips from London.

Mr Bee said the county was keen to use Mr Passmore’s experience and contacts to show off Suffolk to the thousands of foreign journalists who were expected to visit the country during the Olympics and Paralympics.

He said LOCOG (The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) estimated 40,000 journalists would be in the capital for the Games.

About half would be sports and news journalists covering the events – while the other 20,000 would be writing features about the country.

Mr Passmore’s role, which started last Thursday, would be to show off Suffolk to some of these – and they hoped about 30 to 40 tours of influential foreign journalists would come to the county.

Mr Bee said: “We see Tim Passmore having a Seb Coe role for Suffolk.”

A number of different itineraries would feature sites of interest in the county. The cost of the visits would be expected to come from the hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions featured.

A spokesman for the county said the council did not expect to fund the trips by journalists to Suffolk.

Mr Passmore said: “We are looking forward to boosting tourism in the county and looking to the future – we are talking to Aldeburgh Music which is looking at next year’s centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten.”

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said: “We fully support the need to promote Suffolk at this time and given Tim’s background understand why he has been asked to fulfil the role.

“Tim is not fulfilling this role in relation to his role as a district councillor, or as Leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, this is a role he has chosen to take on to fulfil within his own time.”

n Are you happy with Mr Passmore’s appointment? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail