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YAPC Europe Foundation - YAPC::Europe Proposal: Birmingham

** Organisation Committee

The Birmingham Perl Mongers would like to host the YAPC::Europe 2006 Perl
Conference in Birmingham. hold both a technical and a social meeting each month, except
for December and January, when we only hold a social meeting. Initially our
technical meetings were bi-monthly, but quickly proved popular enough (both
with speakers and attendees) that we are now able to arrange them monthly.

Aside from ourselves presenting many talks, we have also been very fortunate
in having several'ers attend and present talks, including David
Cross, Mark Fowler, Richard Clamp and Matt Sergeant, and more recently a
contingent from visited with Marty Pauly as our guest speaker. We
have also been able to arrange specialist talks from guest speakers on
subjects such as image processing, artificial intelligence and payroll
applications, all from non-Perl backgrounds.

There are currently 64 people subscribed to's mailing list and
typically we get between 10-20 at both social and technical meetings. We are
also fortunate enough to have occasional walk-ups, who have discovered us
through searching the web.

The organisation committee comprises of seven dedicated members, who will be
responsible for all aspects of conference organisation. These members are:

  Barbie           (Project Manager & Web Development)
  Steve Pitchford  (Merchandise & Talk Administrator)
  Jon 'JJ' Allen   (Finance & Technical Consultant)
  Brian McCauley   (Venue & Accommodation Liaison, Health & Safety Consultant)
  Jon Brookes      (Technical Consultant)
  Melinda Howe     (Web Design & Content)
  Chris Marsh      (Web Design & Content)

** Birmingham

Birmingham is often referred to as 'The Second City', as it is the
largest city in the UK, aside from the capital, London. Situated in
the heart of England, the city serves the greater borough of the West
Midlands as its administration centre.

* An Experienced Host

Birmingham has hosted many major sports, music and cultural events, and
is set to become a European City of Culture in 2008. Recent highlights

    * IAAF World Indoor Athletics Championships - 2003
    * World Junior Wheelchair Basketball Championships - 2005
    * Holds the 2nd largest St Patricks Day parade in the world
    * Birmingham International Jazz Festival - Now into its 22nd year, with over 200 performances throughout the city
    * Hosted the G8 Summit in 1998
    * Home to 3 premiership football teams 

The NEC Group manage the 4 biggest performance venues in the city, hosting
over 200 major exhibitions and events each year, which now makes it the
busiest exhibition centre in the whole of Europe.

* Language

Being a very multicultural city, there are many different languages
spoken. However, the primary language is English.

* Commerce

The city has existed as a trade centre since Saxon times and the
tradition has continued through to present day. During the industrial
age, foundaries were built around the area, then the canal, road and rail
networks grew north and south, bringing more industry to the area. The
Jewellery Quarter and the Gun Quarter still exist today as do many of
the car manufacturing plants. However, today the city is much more well
known for its shops. Following a multi-million pound investment, the
last 10 years have seen the city transform into a thriving commercial
centre. The new Bullring centre, The Mailbox and many other rejuvenation
projects in the city centre have bought many London and European fashion
houses and major store retailers to the city centre.

* Currency

As with the rest of the UK, our currency is Pound Sterling (GBP). If
you arrive with Euros, there are plenty of banks, building societies,
bureau de changes and post offices around the city, that will all provide
a currency exchange service.

** The Conference Venue

For the venue, We have chosen to use the Aston Conference Centre at
Aston University. It has ideal facilities and is centrally located,
only a short walking distance to pubs, bars, hotels, shops, and other
great places the city has to offer visitors.

Aston Conference Centre comprises a set of three conference
centres, capable of hosting training and conferences for 1 to several
thousand. This also gives us the range to aim for a larger audience (500)
or restrict to a smaller one (200-300) depending upon the popularity
prior to the conference.

    * The Aston Conference Centre
    * Lakeside
    * Campus Conferences
    * Management Development Centre 

Costs for the venue are high (see PricesAndSponsorship), however, we have
already been approached by a number of businesses and organisations to
help fund the conference.

Being part of Aston University, there is student style accommodation, that
is available at very reasonable rates (around £20-30 per person). All
student rooms are equipped with internet access and provide basic
accommodation facilities. We plan to hold a number of rooms prior
to opening registration and at least until a few months before the
conference begins, to enable attendees to take advantage of these low
rates. See Accommodation for further details.

The Aston University buildings have been audited for physical
accessibility for people with physical and sensory disabilities. As
a result, since Summer 2002 they have funded a complete overhaul of
buildings and access around the campus. This has meant that major road
and pathway work, as well as ramps, doors, lifts and rooms have all been
equiped with disabled access as a primary priority.

    * Aston University 

** Conference Theme

After much discussion we thought the theme of 'The Accessibility Of Perl'
to be most appropriate. As the venue has undergone a major facelift to
encourage anyone with a disability to seek higher learning, and there
is also a similar business initiative, OpenAdvantage, within the city,
we felt that Perl was also ideally suited to a wide area of accessibility

    * OpenAdvantage 

** Talks & Tutorials

Depending upon the talk submissions, we are planning to hold a set of
tutorials on the first day of the conference. These have often proved
successful in other conferences, and assuming we can encourage some
influential Perl speakers to come along, we hope to provide at least a
small selection of longer tutorial style talks.

As with other conferences, we also plan to have a selection of 20,
40 and 60 minute talks during the regular part of the conference. In
addition we intend to schedule at least one lightning talk session.

Dependant upon the submissions for talks, the typical conference day
will start at 9am and finish at 6pm, with breaks and lunch inbetween. We
are expecting to hold rooms open until at least 8pm, in order to provide
space for BOFs. As the local pubs are also such a short distance away,
BOF leaders may choose to hold these away from the conference venue.

** Dates

The following selection of dates are those when we could reasonably expect to hold the conference:

    * 12-14 July 2006
    * 19-21 July 2006
    * 26-28 July 2006 (*)
    * 2-4 August 2006
    * 9-11 August 2006
    * 30 August - 1 September 2006 (**)
    * 6-8 September 2006 

Key: (*) First choice, (**) second choice if it has to be September

We have chosen these dates for the following reasons:

1) Birmingham is a student town (3 major universities in the city), and as
such the city is vacated almost en-masse during July and August. This then
makes venues and accommodation much easier to obtain. During September
the students return, at which point university accommodation may be in
short supply.

2) Birmingham is a business and trade centre, and as such travel to the
city and accommodation in the city can be cheaper during the summer
months, due to many businesses operating a slow down, as factory and
office workers take holiday during this period.

3) Summer lasts a very short time in the UK, especially the further north
you go. To stand a chance of having good weather during the conference,
it would be better to hold the event during these summer months.

The two specific dates we have chosen are based around typical UK holiday
plans, particularly for those who have school aged children. As we are
hoping for a lot of interest from UK centric companies for the conference,
we would like to hold the conference on dates which would minimise the
impact to businesses, and thus help boost our own attendance.

** Internet Access

We have had conversations with the venue and although there is currently
no network access, they expect to be wireless by 2006. However, if this
is not the case, initial conversations indicate that supplying our own
equipment, which can be linked to the University network should not be
a problem.

We may not be able to provide terminal access, however, we do hope to
provide a large network hub into which regular ethernet access should
be possible.

The choice of pubs (3) around the university campus, all provide wireless
access at a cost. We are either looking to negotiate with the network
provider or pub landlord for a cheaper deal, or even look to having the
network provider as a possible sponsor.

** Proceedings & Conference Pack

We are looking to have an alternative set of proceedings. These can
be either electronic or printed, and will be available online during
the conference. The choice of format will then be determined by the
attendee themselves.

As with other years we are looking to feature a Conference CD, which
in addition to featuring the proceedings, a snapshot of CPAN, the
alternative perldoc [1] and other Perl related paraphenalia, we also
intend to include our Bid For Birmingham movie, an electronic guide to
Birmingham and a few other surprises.

[1] online version at Note that this
was originally designed for the Birmingham YAPC::Europe Conference
CD. However, due to the official site being continually unavailable, the
working demo suddenly became the official site with hosting by

As is traditional a conference T-shirt will be available. Due to the cost
we are currently negotiating, we may also be able to offer "early bird"
special T-shirts.

** The Cathedral & The Bazaar

With The Cathedral being the organised conference, we also intend to
hold a mini-expo, which will be The Bazaar, on the morning of the last
day. This will feature several Open Source and similar ventures. Wolves
LUG are already planning a larger event this year [1], and have expressed
interest in helping to organise a smaller event. We felt that this
would be of interest to attendees, both from a project profile aspect,
and the extra freebies that they might obtain.

In addition we also intend to invite one or two local businesses to
set up a stall throughout the conference, offering simple electrical
equipment or additional accessories (eg batteries, adapters, cables,
etc), which can be bought by those who forget to bring the right ones
along. This would sit along side the registration desk. We would be
looking for them to provide a discount or sponsorship.

Birmingham and the Midlands in general have a strong reputation for
computer fairs. We have several sources to look towards in helping us
arrange and take part in a bazaar.

[1] LUGRadio Live 2005 

** Auction Items

Please note (this is mainly for BooK) we will not be auctioning the
colours of organisers, attendees or early bird T-shirts. The colour
of organisers T-shirts has already been decided, and to keep costs
low we have a limited choice of colours for other shirts. As we are
likely to have "helpers" we will possibly require 4 different colours
shirts. Auctioning any of them will likely get very awkward.

However, we do plan to have something a little different to auction off :) 

** Prices & Sponsorship

The cost of hiring The Aston Conference Centre is quite high. However,
they are very competitive compared to other conference venues, including
the other universities, in and around Birmingham. The biggest advantage
for Aston is their location and that they also cater for small to very
large conferences.

* Cost Chart

 Campus Conferences                                                                      
      23.00+  room  p/day  3 days  p/pers  sponsor sponsor sponsor
      23.00*          253          10      65      85      95
 100   2300   1380   3933  11799   127.99  6299    4299    3299
 200   4600   2130   6983  20949   114.75  9949    5949    3949
 300   6900   2880  10033  30099   110.33  13599   7599    4599
 400   9200   5580  15033  45099   122.75  23099   15099   11099
 500  11500   6600  18353  55059   120.12  27559   17559   12559

      42.50+  room  p/day  3 days  p/pers  sponsor sponsor sponsor
      35.00*          253          10      65      85      95
 100   4250   0      4503  13509   145.09  8009    6009    5009
 200   7750   0      8003  24009   130.05  13009   9009    7009
 300  11250   0     11503  34509   125.03  18009   12009   9009
 400  14750   0     15003  45009   122.52  23009   15009   11009
 500  18250   0     18503  55509   121.02  28009   18009   13009

 + charge for first 100 attendees
 * charge for additional attendees

Explanation of Columns

1) Number of Attendees

Attendees levels are measured in 100s, as this made figures simpler
to compare. However, in both costings the venue charge is on a per
person basis.

2) Venue Charge

The basic costs charged by the venue to cover the refreshments (drinks &
biscuits in the morning and afternoon), lunch and additional materials for
the attendees. This is a standard fee for booking the conference. The
fee is based on two scales, the first for the first 100 attendees,
and then a per person charge over 100.

3) Room Charge

For the Lakeside conference facilities, the room hire is included in
the Venue Charge, however the Campus Conference facilities allow for
the choice of rooms.

4) Per Day

Total cost of venue hire per day. The figure at the top (£253), is
the cost of the basic hire of technical equipment, such as a cabled
microphone and public address system for each room and the hire of one
technician. This cost is per day.

5) 3 Days

Total cost of venue hire for all 3 days of the conference. We may have
to pay for a half day (afternoon) charge if we are unable to setup any
additional equipment (e.g. Wireless Internet connections) the night

6) Per Person

This is the complete per person cost, including venue costs and
merchandise costs. The figure below the heading is the merchandise cost
per person (£10).

7) Sponsor

Each sponsor column, is based on a different contribution from the
attendees. The figure below the heading (£65, £85, £95) are the
attendee fees that are used to calculate how much sponsorship we would
require to cover our costs.

* Explanation of Costs

Lakeside offers the complete building and attendee costs reflect
this. However, the largest room can only hold 200 people. The Campus
Conferences offer the use of the university lecture theatres which can
hold upto 950 in the main hall and 250 in the smaller lecture rooms.

At the most we are looking at venue costs of £120 per head, which will
include morning and afternoon refreshments and lunch. We would prefer
to aim for 300 attendees, as the likelihood is we can achieve this. If
through the payment registration process we expect more to attend,
then moving to slightly bigger rooms is not expected to be a problem.

For additional merchandise materials we are expecting to pay costs of
around £10 per person for proceedings, CD, conference bag and a T-shirt.

With a conference fee of £65, we will require a large amount of
sponsorship money. Due to the fact that prices generally have risen
over the last few years, we feel if we can increase the fee to £85
(approximately 122 Euros), we will be putting less pressure on sponsors
and ourselves to reach our monetary targets. We have potentially two very
large sponsors, who may be willing to hand over large amounts of cash,
in which case the conference fee will be reduced. By inceasing the fee
by just £20 we reduced the burden on sponsorship by nearly half.

Although the conference fee itself may increase, the total cost of
attending will still be very low, if attendees take advantage of the
accommodation facilities provided by the venue, and the lunch provided for
each of the three conference days. In addition, from talking to previous
attendees, the cost of the conference fee is usually insignificant
compared to travel and accommodation costs, both of which we have
accounted for in our Travel and Accommodation sections.

We currently have two major sponsors who have been tentatively
approached and are interested in sponsorship of the event. Both are
major international technical businesses and have not previously been
approached for YAPC::Europe sponsorship before. We are also hopeful that
many of the traditional sponsors will support our efforts.

In addition, we are looking to feature several smaller sponsor/advertising
programmes, for local and small businesses, who would like to help us
and raise their profile. We have already been approached by two leading
UK Open Source ventures to help with organising the event.

We are looking into insurance quotations, and expect to be insured up
to the basic £1,000,000. The venue themselves have insurance to cover
their own buildings and contents.

** Food & Refreshments

During the conference, refreshments (tea, coffee, water, soft drinks)
and biscuits will be available during the morning and afternoon
breaks. As part of the delegate package, the venue provides lunchtime
catering. However, if attendees choose to adjorn to a pub, or find
alternative eating establishments, there are several sandwich shops,
cafes and fast food restaurants within a short walk of the campus.

** Conference Evening Events

We would like to try and arrange at least two evening events during the
course of the conference.

Depending on the weather, for the first night we are hoping to book one of the
local pubs for a barbeque night. We aim to have both vegetarian and regular
barbeque fare available.

For the second night, we are planning to hire at least one Indian restaurant
within Birmingham's Balti Triangle for an evening. Depending upon numbers
(including partners) we may have to look at hiring more than one restaurant.
In the past there has been a speakers dinner, although this has migrated to
attendees dinner, however if we can generate enough sponsorship, we will look
towards funding the meals for the speakers, and having a per head cost for
other attendees.

For anyone unfamiliar with a Balti, this is a variation of the traditional
Indian curry, that was created in Birmingham by the large Indian community
that live in and around the city. There are now nearly 100 Indian restaurants
around the city, many of whom specialise in the Balti dish. 

** Travel

Getting There

Travelling to Birmingham couldn't be easier.

* By Air

Birmingham International Airport is now the busiest airport, after
Heathrow, in the UK. Comprising two passenger terminals, EuroHub (aka
Terminal 2) for British Airways and franchise partners, and Terminal
1 for all other major airlines. A large proportion of major European
Airports have direct flights, as do some American Airports.

The airport is situated approximately 8 miles from the city centre, with
both road and rail transport available. Buses and taxis take approximate
20-30 minutes, whereas trains take approximately 10-20 minutes

It should be noted that due to Birmingham having a high number of business
flights, prices for arriving Wednesday and leaving Friday, can often be
higher than those for arriving Monday, leaving Saturday or Sunday.

Many budget airlines (e.g. FlyBE, BMIBaby, MytravelLite and Monarch)
already fly to Birmingham, as do most national European airlines and some
US airlines, other budget airlines (e.g. ThomsonFly and EasyJet) also
fly to the two other major Midlands airports, Coventry and East Midlands
(near Nottingham). Coventry is approximately 30-45 minutes away by train,
and East Midlands is approximately 75-90 minutes, via Derby or Nottingham.

Further afield, using the rail network, Manchester and the London airports
(Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) are around 2 hours away. There are
several coach services that operate between airports and major cities
that are also available.

* By Rail

Birmingham New Street is the main station, feeding the central arteries
for the UK rail network. Routes to all major cities are available,
including London, Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham, Newcastle and

* By Road

Following the expansion of the motorways, Birmingham now is famous for
Spaghetti Junction (Junction 5 of the M6, officially known as The Gravelly
Hill Interchange), The Birmingham Triangle (M5, M6 and M42 all join each
other) and for once having the longest bridge in Europe (the M6).

The M6 (from the M1) takes traffic from London through Birmingham to the
North West and towards Scotland. The M5 provides the link from the M6
down the West Coast to Devon and Cornwall. The M42 provides the link from
the M5 up to M1 near Nottingham, which continues on towards Sheffield,
Leeds, Hull, York and Newcastle.

* Getting Around

As the conference venue is on the edge of the city centre, all amenities
within the city centre are easily accessible by foot. However, there
are many bus, train and tram routes across the city and out to the
surrounding areas. Bus & tram stops and train stations are all within
a short walk of the venue.

    * Bus - Travel West Midlands
    * Train - Central Trains
    * Tram - Midland Metro
    * Midland Transport - Centro 

Taxis and hire cars are available in large supply, but if you are only
planning to walk around the city centre it can be much more pleasurable
taking a gentle stroll along the canals.

Should you wish to, you can even get around by narrowboat. Although
it is often misquoted, there are indeed several hundred miles of canal
network around the West Midlands.

If you intend to travel by taxi, it should be noted that only Black Cabs
(the traditional "London taxi" shape) can be hailed at the side of the
road. Private hire taxis (standard saloon cars and people carriers)
must be booked by telephone in advance. Taxi fares are comparable to
other major cities, and considerably less than London.

** Accommodation

Accommodation will be available for all tastes. The venue, being also
Aston University, provides cheap student style accommodation. Although
the rooms are fairly basic, they are comparable to small hotel rooms
and provide internet access to each room.

Birmingham has a wealth of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs, both in the
city centre and in the out-lying conobation, all with regular bus and
rail access into the city. We will be providing a list of links to
recommended hotels, and will be looking to arrange a discount with at
least one city centre hotel.

We estimate accommodation to be between £30-£150 per night, per
person. Unlike many other European and International cities, the UK
hotel establishments rarely charge on a per room basis. However, it can
be cheaper to share than take a single room.

** Things To See & Do

Aside from the regular shopping, museums, galleries, pubs, clubs and
restaurants, there is plenty to see and do in and around Birmingham. For
those planning to bring families to the conferences, they can be assured
there will be plenty to keep them occupied during the day.

    * The Bullring
    * The MailBox
    * Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery
    * Birmingham Pubs & Clubs 

Attractions in the city include the National Sea Life Centre, the
Botanical Gardens, narrowboat rides along Birmingham's extensive canal
network, Cadbury World (a major chocolate factory in the Quaker district),
The Tolkien Trail and many other places of interest. Just a short train
ride away is Stratford upon Avon (birthplace of Shakespeare), Telford
and the Ironbridge Gorge, The Severn Valley Railway, and several leisure
parks. For those wanting to travel further afield, London and Manchester
are less than 2 hours away by train.

    * National Sea Life Centre
    * The Birmingham Botanical Gardens
    * Cadbury World
    * Tolkien's Birmingham
    * Birmingham Canals 

    * The Black Country Museum
    * Stratford-upon-Avon
    * Warwick Castle
    * Ironbridge Gorge Museums
    * The Severn Valley Railway 

    * Drayton Manor Theme Park
    * Alton Towers
    * Dudley Zoo And Castle
    * Twycross Zoo
    * West Midland Safari Park