The £3.5m cost of spin at Haringey Council
HARINGEY Council has spent almost £3.5million on publicity in the last year – one of the highest in the country. The council has also spent almost £19,000 on spin doctors to handle the media frenzy after the tragic death of Baby P. On Friday, campaign g
HARINGEY Council has spent almost £3.5million on publicity in the last year - one of the highest in the country.
The council has also spent almost £19,000 on "spin doctors" to handle the media frenzy after the tragic death of Baby P.
On Friday, campaign group the TaxPayers Alliance released a report showing how much councils across the UK had spent on "propaganda and spin doctors".
The report revealed that Haringey has spent £3,405,000 on publicity, three times higher than the national average and a 25 per cent increase on the previous year.
It also spent four times more money that 10 years ago, making it the eighth highest increase in the UK and third highest in London.
And, of more than 450 local authorities across the UK, Haringey ranks 27th highest expenditure on publicity. The highest in the country is Birmingham.
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Susie Squire, campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "An outrageous amount of taxpayers' money has been squandered on publicity by Haringey Council.
"Haringey has increased the budget for this by £675,000 from last year, instead of cutting unnecessary costs and delivering savings to taxpayers.
"At a time when ordinary people are tightening their belts in the credit crunch, to spend three and a half million pounds on spin doctors and publicity is a disgrace."
Matt Cooke, Haringey's community cohesion boss, said: "Residents need to know about council services provided for them, and we have a duty to provide information [which] means we need to communicate more widely and the way we communicate needs to be of ever-improving quality.
"It's important to put this amount of money into perspective. The total is under 0.9 per cent of the council's total spending and yet the figure includes all statutory notices, recruitment advertising and public information.
"We recruited a large number of new staff this year so the figure has increased on last year.
"As a major employer committed to equal opportunities it is also important that our job opportunities are widely and openly advertised."
Cllr John Oakes, Lib Dem community cohesion boss, said: "It is still the fact that we see Haringey frittering away thousands, which don't buy residents a single tangible benefit, while it struggles to find £7,000 to repaint its zebra crossings."
Earlier this month, on Decem-ber 1, Haringey council revealed they had spent £19,000 on media advice but would not reveal the names of the consultants.
Cllr Dave Winskill said: "The first response is why is Haringey refusing to make public the names of the PR companies working for them?
"£19,000 is a very substantial amount of money which prompts the question; why was the Haringey response, particularly Sharon Shoesmith's television interview, so absolutely dreadful?
"The reputation of the borough is important and to have had this amount of money for such patently dreadful advice will be followed up."
Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said: "It is absolutely outrageous that this money has been wasted on spin doctors. Every single penny of this cash would have been better spent on improving our children's service."
A spokesman from the council said: "Under local authority access to information rules we are unable to disclose the identity of the suppliers.