Taxpayers celebrate in Edinburgh last night
When we published the second Council Spending Uncovered paper on councils' massive publicity spending, Edinburgh City Council came in for quite a bit of criticism when it was revealed they were the biggest spender on spin in Scotland - splashing out £3.4m a year.
So I was delighted to read this article in last night's Edinburgh Evening News:
SPENDING REVELATION LEADS TO CITY SPIN DOCTOR REVIEW
AN independent review of the city council's public relations department is to be launched to ensure it is run efficiently.
The measure, which could lead to cutbacks, comes after it was discovered the local authority spends more on publicity and spin doctors than any other council in Scotland.
Figures published by The Taxpayers Alliance showed the council spent GBP 3.37 million on public relations in 2006/7 - up 118.4 per cent on 1996/7.
The cash has been spent on measures such as press officers, adverts and Outlook, the council's free newspaper.
The council's head of corporate communications, Isabell Reid, said: "It's important to us that both the members and the people of Edinburgh have confidence we are delivering an efficient and cost-effective service."
If this a genuine review that is seriously looking to make savings, it is great news for Edinburgh's taxpayers. It is also an encouraging message for everyone campaigning with the TPA - we are making a difference.
The thinking behind the Council Spending Uncovered series has always been that people deserve to know how their money is being spent, and that taxpayers should be allowed to make their own minds up as to whether their local council's spending is justified.
We've drawn attention to some areas where we think savings can be made on the basis that if taxpayers agree it will put sufficient pressure on councils to tighten things up. There are also many councillors out there whose instinct is to save money and cut out waste but find themselves faced with such a big job, and sometimes with obstructive Officers, that savings can be difficult to pin down. By offering a few suggestions, we hope we can help willing councils to move in the right direction and marshall sufficient public pressure to force even unwilling authorities to make savings.
Edinburgh's decision vindicates that thinking - and congratulations are due to them for doing the best thing for their taxpayers. Of course it doesn't end here; we will be keeping an eagle eye out to see what savings are actually made as a result of the review, and this is the first step on a long road to relieving the appalling burden on taxpayers. Now we've shown the power of this kind of campaigning, though, these kind of victories will be repeated. Taxpayers One - Councils Nil.