Stoke council charge awards trip to taxpayer

August 05, 2009 1:37 PM

Stoke, a council that could probably count itself amongst those with the worst reputation in the country, has treated some of its communications team to an evening of booze and back-slapping in London, all courtesy of the very taxpayers who are currently facing cuts in frontline services (The Sentinel).


The council - somewhat flying-in-the-face of public opinion – found themselves with five nominations at the The Good Communications Awards, and consequently booked themselves in for a jolly which meant a table for ten at the ceremony (costing £1,250, including a three course meal and no doubt something to wash it down with) and most probably an overnight stay as the event was held at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium.  Six members of the communications team made it along, as did council leader Ross Irving, his deputy Brian Ward, and two guests (presumably council WAGs...).Awards dinner


The irony is that the only award they received was for a publication designed by an external company, Smith Davis Press who, some have argued, should have been allowed to accept the award themselves.


This whole scenario is ludicrous and shows just how dismissive, or perhaps blind, council officials and elected members can be to the purpose of their duties. Is it not costly enough for Stoke taxpayers to shell out £900,000 for a communications department  to churn out spin (to sway their opinion of a council from whom they have no choice but to buy their services) and needless glossy leaflets without charging the same taxpayers again to be treated and congratulated for it?


Council money is supposed to fund essential services for the whole city, not a penny of it is ring-fenced for self-congratulatory junkets. Stoke has been in serious trouble of late with the elected mayor scandals and although their Audit Commission rating improved from a lame ‘adequate’ to a more acceptable ‘good’, you only have to read our West Midlands blog to know that there are serious issues with value for money and waste at this local authority. So what on earth is this? For a department who are supposed to be in control of the council’s image they clearly don’t care just how bad this looks to local people – particularly in a recession.


It’s entirely unfair for the council to use the public purse as a kitty from which to draw cash to attend any boozy bash they choose. This was a bad decision taken by feckless and self-interested management and paid for by the rest of us, who benefit in no way. Most of us would argue that the cost of communications, PR and spin has already escalated too high at local government level, and this little beano is a great indication of how those who work within this sector at Stoke City Council view taxpayers’ cash.


Stoke, a council that could probably count itself amongst those with the worst reputation in the country, has treated some of its communications team to an evening of booze and back-slapping in London, all courtesy of the very taxpayers who are currently facing cuts in frontline services (The Sentinel).


The council - somewhat flying-in-the-face of public opinion – found themselves with five nominations at the The Good Communications Awards, and consequently booked themselves in for a jolly which meant a table for ten at the ceremony (costing £1,250, including a three course meal and no doubt something to wash it down with) and most probably an overnight stay as the event was held at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium.  Six members of the communications team made it along, as did council leader Ross Irving, his deputy Brian Ward, and two guests (presumably council WAGs...).Awards dinner


The irony is that the only award they received was for a publication designed by an external company, Smith Davis Press who, some have argued, should have been allowed to accept the award themselves.


This whole scenario is ludicrous and shows just how dismissive, or perhaps blind, council officials and elected members can be to the purpose of their duties. Is it not costly enough for Stoke taxpayers to shell out £900,000 for a communications department  to churn out spin (to sway their opinion of a council from whom they have no choice but to buy their services) and needless glossy leaflets without charging the same taxpayers again to be treated and congratulated for it?


Council money is supposed to fund essential services for the whole city, not a penny of it is ring-fenced for self-congratulatory junkets. Stoke has been in serious trouble of late with the elected mayor scandals and although their Audit Commission rating improved from a lame ‘adequate’ to a more acceptable ‘good’, you only have to read our West Midlands blog to know that there are serious issues with value for money and waste at this local authority. So what on earth is this? For a department who are supposed to be in control of the council’s image they clearly don’t care just how bad this looks to local people – particularly in a recession.


It’s entirely unfair for the council to use the public purse as a kitty from which to draw cash to attend any boozy bash they choose. This was a bad decision taken by feckless and self-interested management and paid for by the rest of us, who benefit in no way. Most of us would argue that the cost of communications, PR and spin has already escalated too high at local government level, and this little beano is a great indication of how those who work within this sector at Stoke City Council view taxpayers’ cash.


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