Sandwell Council have reached new levels of patronising, creating a cartoon family to teach us plebs how to save money – and all without a shade of irony!
If you were one of the minds behind The Simpsons, you might initially feel a little put-out by the unashamed rip-off that is "The Savewells", but you’d have nothing to fear because this bizarre and elaborate way of communicating with Sandwell residents is really far from funny.
The Savewells - bemusing as they are - actually give us some insight, indeed a rare glimpse at the strange approach this council so often take, preferring to completely circumnavigate the task in hand rather than just tell us straight.
Basically it seems that Sandwell had some handy-hints to pass on; some fair enough, some excruciatingly obvious, some pretty costly (paradoxically) and some entirely unworkable. Brain-storming session over, they then had decide on a way of sharing these pearls of wisdom.
Now how you get from that particular problem, to inventing a cartoon family is something the rest of us might never understand, and should probably be an interview question for prospective Sandwell Council employees. But that’s what we’ve got, an entire family, each inert member with their own webpage on the main local authority site, complete with an utterly needless and entirely unamusing backstory, presumably so we meatheads feel as though we ‘know’ them.
We’re told that Steve – the dad – works at a DIY store and is hoping for a promotion to assistant manager. Great. Trouble is, whichever frustrated creative at Sandwell Council evacuated this purposeless information from their mind didn’t quite realise that a) Who cares? This isn’t a real person, or even a real cartoon, and b) Very few people are likely to feel an affinity with characters who exist only to preach at us about how we should live our lives according to the bible of local government.
If you know how to tie your shoelaces, then most of the information on these web pages will seem already seem pretty obvious, but here are a few gems:
Steve (Dad) - At work I remember to switch my computer monitor and printer off.
Sandra (Mum) - When the weather is nice I don’t use the tumble dryer. I hang the clothes on the line in the garden. They smell so much fresher.
Grandpa Stan - I remember to switch lights off when I leave the room.
Sam (Son) - Dad has stopped driving me to school. I now walk with my friends or catch the bus. It only takes 5 minutes!
Susie (Daughter) - I’ve been telling mum and dad what they can recycle. We have been learning at school. (a nod to Eco Girl?!)
Scraps the Dog - They all take it in turns to take me on walks. Helps keep them fit and me happy!
All characters plug the fact that Sandwell will send energy advisors around to your home, and any member of the public who cares to email in a money saving/eco-friendly tip gets a free eco-bag complete with an energy saving lightbulb - what more could a heart desire? And yes, we’re paying for this.
If anyone would like to suggest that this council should lead by example – perhaps starting by refraining from burning time, energy and money creating this sort of patronising burble – then the address is firstname.lastname@example.org.