Council rapped for £550k spent on ‘spin’

A COUNCIL has come under fire for spending £550,000 on ‘advertising and spin’.

Suffolk County Council forked out £450,000 on staffing and a further £100,000 on non-staffing work for communications and marketing in 2011-12.

However, the department’s budget for this year has been cut by £70,000.

The sums, which were revealed under the Freedom of Information Act, have been criticised by the pressure group The TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Robert Oxley, campaign manager, said: “It’s incredible how much money Suffolk council is spending on advertising and spin.

“County Hall has big savings to make so it must cut down on needless PR expenditure and find ways to advertise more cheaply.

“Council bosses must be clear how much of this bill is on public relations alone, then taxpayers can judge whether their money is being spent on legitimate advertising needs or wasted on shameless self-promotion.”

The authority has defended the amounts spent on the department, which employs 10 members of staff.

Cllr Jane Storey, portfolio holder for finance and deputy leader of the council, noted that the budget covers work such as the publication of statutory notices and the authority’s presence at major events, including the Suffolk Show.

She said: “People expect to hear about what the council is doing and that all comes within the remit of the communications team.”

Cllr Storey added that savings will be made through cheaper production methods in areas such as newsletters.