Flamingo Land

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Flamingo Land's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Flamingo Land is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Gordon Gibb, CEO
We have nine roller coasters
and two water rides
Flamingo Land, in Malton, North Yorkshire, was founded by
current CEO Gordon Gibb’s father in 1977, and was known
previously as Flamingo Park. He bought the company from
his employer and changed the name, but tragically passed away
in 1995. At the time, Gordon was only 18 – he was thrown
in the deep end and took over. 23 years on, Flamingo Land
employs 500 people and turns over £37 million, all the while
remaining a true pillar of its regional and local communities.
Although we are technically a theme park, in reality, we are far more than that. We
operate a day-to-day theme park with rides to start, but also host a beloved animal
collection and a holiday resort, which, in high season, becomes reminiscent of a
small town. We accommodate 5,000 people on a nightly basis, and when these
three core areas come together, you can truly see how Flamingo Land is different.
Our site is home to the world’s steepest rollercoaster, installed in 2009, and we see
one and a half million visitors annually. That puts us second or third in the country
up against other parks.
Sustainability and field work
Our conservation work cannot be ignored. Our most rewarding projects have
been out in the field; after a $700,000 investment over the past ten years, we
have just managed to annex a 26-square-kilometre stretch of the Magombera
forest in Tanzania. We have many joint ventures with the University of York,
prioritise research heavily, and I am personally incredibly passionate about
»CEO: Gordon Gibb
»Established in 1977
»Based in Malton, North
»Service: Theme park, zoo and
holiday resort
»No. of employees: Over 500
»Annual visitors: 1.5 million
»Daily Mail regarded us as
the “luckiest sponsor in the
Football League”
Flamingo Land
Highlighting best practice
This translates into our day-to-day
work in a number of ways, but
principally allows us to focus on our
sustainability as an underpinning value
for the site. Our zoo is no usual one –
we don’t think all animals should be
kept in captivity. For elephants and
polar bears, it’s impossible to replicate
suitable environments – so we don’t
keep them. We don’t buy animals,
we don’t sell animals, we don’t breed
them unless they’re endangered;
we recently had three Sumatran
tiger cubs born, and there are only
300 left in the world, so Flamingo
Land has contributed to a 1 per cent
growth in world population levels for
We want to become something of
a captive breeding Noah’s ark for
critically endangered species, and are
looking to begin this journey proper
over the next six months. Within this
period, we are also confident that we’ll
be releasing an endangered species –
the scimitar-horned oryx – which was
captive-bred at Flamingo Land.
Growth and development
Although we doubled our turnover
and increased admission numbers by
70 per cent over the first ten years,
that process has by no means been
easy. Integral to this growth has
been a focus on creating careers, not
jobs, for our workforce. As we keep
the swimming pool open and have
a 12-month licence that can now
accommodate for winter breaks, we
don’t have to say goodbye to members
of staff at the end of October. We can
keep food and beverage jobs open
This growth has allowed us also to
expand. We are developing two other
sites presently: one is Loch Lomand
near a town called Balloch in Scotland,
which is a 40-acre site owned by
Scottish Enterprise. We have also
purchased 14 acres adjacent to the
site, and have been appointed as
preferred bidder for the remaining
land. We are additionally working
on Flamingo Land Coast, which will
be in Scarborough on the site of an
old music venue called the Futurist.
We’re in the process of expanding the
Flamingo Land brand and creating a
day visitor attraction on the east coast.
Our sponsorship work has been
of monumental significance. The
DailyMail declared us as the luckiest
sponsor in the Football League –
during the 2015/16 season, we
were sponsoring both Hull City and
Middlesbrough, both of whom were
promoted to the Premier League,
with the former achieving promotion
through a play-off at Wembley. We’re
a real proponent of helping local
and regional sports, including nearby
Pickering Town and Scarborough
Athletics Stadium. Lastly, we still own
the freehold at Bradford City, which we
have done since 2002 – making me, at
the time, the youngest chairman in the
English FootballLeague.
Keep people coming back
We have retained our customer base
and grown it. The simple guiding force
for this has been a lesson my father
Gordon with a lemur
We don’t buy
animals, we
don’t sell
animals, we
don’t breed
them unless
Flamingo Land employs
500 people and has
taught me as a young child when
he was in charge: always have too
much to do in one day. That instils
the idea of staying for a holiday or a
weekend for people; and if we always
do something new each year, perhaps
a new attraction or animals in the
zoo, it keeps people coming back.
Customers trust that there will always
be something new next season.
The end goal is always encouraging a
customer to purchase a holiday home
in our resort, and have them invested
in the idea of the Flamingo Land
resort lifestyle. Ultimately, we want
our holiday homeowner going for a
visit somewhere else, rather than the
other way around. This is our potential
trajectory for everyone who comes
through our gates, even if it’s just for a
day – the process is a journey.
Historic challenges and new
In the past, our concerns have always
been primarily rooted in obtaining
planning permission. With the scope
and height of some of our attractions,
we have had a fairly tricky relationship
with the district council planning
committee. We are, however, now
well known to and well trusted
by them; they try and support the
business because of what it means
for secondary spend. For example,
if a family stays with us for a week,
parents often look at the rest of the
area after a day or two. It benefits the
wider local economy.
In keeping with this sentiment of
broader benefits across the board, our
future will likely be focused on these
two new developments. We do also
want to look at further conservation
efforts, but these will keep us busy
for a while; we’re happy that we’ve
grown, and anticipate that this growth
will continue. We know what the
key to these development aspirations
is – having an excellent team that’s
perpetually ready for a new challenge
– and we know that there are
opportunities in the pipeline. Things
are good, and we’re on the right track.
We want to
something of
a captive
Noah’s ark for
Flamingo Land
entertains over 1.5
million visitors every year


This article was sponsored by Flamingo Land. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy