Ideas for sustainable living: Butlin’s Holidays

This was an appendix to Garden Cities and Green Evolutionary Settlements but that’s buried too deep to casually reference. It is reproduced here to show that lifestyles can be affected by a different structure of local finances. I look forward to the Butlins designing Green Evolutionary Settlements to begin the transformation towards more sustainable ways of living.

Appendix 5: An example: Butlin’s holiday camps.

Wikipedia describes the opening of Billy Butlin’s first camp at Ingoldmells, near Skegness:

When the camp opened, Butlin realised that his guests were not engaging with activities in the way he had planned; most kept to themselves, and others looked bored. He asked Norman Bradford (who was engaged as an engineer constructing the camp) to take on the duty of entertaining the guests, which he did with a series of ice breakers and jokes. By the end of the night the camp was buzzing and the Butlin’s atmosphere was born.

Full-time living in a holiday camp, may not be ideal for everyday life but these camps are examples of geographically limited settlements, albeit short stay, with their own internal financial organisation and rules. Butlin’s camps often get good reviews, like this one from Trips with a tot:

We just got back from our first 4 night stay at Butlins on one of their Just For Tots break, and wow: it was way better than I expected. Our holiday was so good that we booked for next year before we had even left… yes, really! I know it sounds crazy, but it was sooooo fun.

The cost is ‘all included’:

Imagine this: entertainment with shows, play areas outside and inside, pop up library, places to eat and drink, amazing swimming, meet and greets, arcades, fairground, characters, Little Tikes, bowling… and entertainment, activities, swimming, etc., is all included in your stay which is the cherry on the top.

‘All included’ enables facilities that would not be possible were they to be charged separately. There are a few reasons for this: Payment in advance for unlimited use means parents don’t have to worry whether a ride on the ‘Rides for Tots’ is value for money or have the bother of using their chosen payment method every time.

Making facilities free at the point of use also maximises the value to the holiday makers as a whole, allowing those families that are relatively indifferent (i.e. those that would pay a bit but not quite enough) – to let their children go on a ride. It also encourages greater use of the facility, maximising the use of a fixed asset.

Those that don’t like the product, the ‘all included’ holiday, can stay away.

Local financial and legal mechanisms can alter ways of life. Well designed ones can be used to make lifestyles pleasanter and more sustainable. A simple example might be the provision of bus services (electric of course) financed by ‘all included’ payments – or more radically subsidising local employment.

Local financial and legal mechanisms should become part of the design of green settlements. And, of course:

Those that don’t like them can stay away.

See also: The Green Settlement Handbook and Making planning work differently.

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