At the latest meeting of Full Council, I discovered that the cash-strapped Conservative controlled City Council have wasted well over £260,000, in less than 2 years, on hiring external bods to undertake communication and marketing work, that many people would think their own staff should be able to manage?
- You may have spotted that the Peterborough Telegraph themselves recently reported that between Jan 1, 2016 and Nov 22, 2017, they also spent £12,520 with The Creative Marketing Studio run by a former PECT employee and £12,520 with PS Media, on their funding campaign through the production of video and audio clips.
Last year, I discovered the Council had spent OVER £300,000, using a city based company called Athene Communications, and only did so, after being contacted by a couple of Council staff, who had “concerns” about how much money was being spent and the reasons for choosing which companies the Council would use.
This time round, I stood up and asked the Leader of Peterborough City Council, Cllr John Holdich:
“In December 2016, you told me you’d paid Athene Communications over £300k in less than two years, to do work, that many in this city believe should be able to be done by your own Media and Communications Team, more recently you disclosed further external spending on PR exercises.
“Therefore, could you a) Let me know exactly how long many years you have been using Athene Communications and how much you have paid them. b) How much in total you will be paying PS Media and what the contract/agreement entails and c) Why when there are at least 50+ other marketing companies in our city do you keep using Athene?”
In response, the Tory leader told me they had “used Athene in each of the last three years” having paid £79,852 so far in this financial year.
While last year (2016/17) they were paid £182,000 (that’s MORE than £15,000 a month).
Cllr Holdich also claimed that Athene had been used as and when “required“, including on areas like “upcoming elections and homelessness.”
Sadly, he failed to explain why they always get used, ahead of all the other local PR or media companies in the city, but did claim Athene had “relevant knowledge of our organisation,” – which I’ve no doubt they have, given the extensive use of them, by bods at the Town Hall!
I followed up by pointing out that:
“It would seem from this response that previous ones that comms are spending even greater than we first thought.
“Presently frontline staff are struggling, the average individual in this city are having their money stretched and the Council tax is set to rise significantly.”
I concluded by asking him, whether he agreed with me that “the idea of chucking money at your mates and their businesses or handing hundreds of thousands of pounds at external PR and media companies to do the work that our own comms internal marketing officers should be able to do, must end now!”
At a time when serious services are facing cuts and reductions, I am simply appalled that the Conservatives have once again been happily throwing huge amounts of tax payers money around in this way.
- But then, this is the same Tory regime who wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds on a propaganda newsletter ironically entitled Your Peterborough, wasted thousands of pounds providing unused and un-required websites for elected members and even once offered £90k for a Head of Communications – for that amount you’d expect them to be quite able?