Friday, 24 April 2009

This Council Stuff Is Boring...

...who wants to go into business instead?
Following on from opening a bank and running post offices, Essex County Council has set up Essex Communications to offer PR services.

Eleven staff are being recruited, with job adverts on the council’s website for account managers and account executives up to £42,000 a year.
Splendid! So Essex council tax payers, instead of funding ‘schools ‘n ‘ospitals’, are funding the creation of a nice little business in peddling lies to the public.

In a recession. When PR firms are already ten a penny.

Can’t see this going wrong. Can you?
Giles Roca, the authority’s head of communications who is running the agency, said it has already secured its first client in independent think-tank the Local Government Information Unit.
You mean, the ‘independent think tank’ set up to ’provide support to councils and champion local democracy’ and which is ‘owned and governed by its members, the majority of who are local authorities’..?

How cozy. Not exactly competing in the cut-throat business jungle, though, is it?
Concerns have been raised at the creation of a business backed with public money.
Yes, I’ll just bet they have...
Mr Roca added: “No business can go from zero to turning a profit straight away, and we see the county council’s funding as like an overdraft, which we hope to have paid off within three years and then start bringing money in.”
Would that be in the same way that Alastair Darling ‘hopes’ to see growth in the UK economy that will bail him out of his ludicrous budget?

Yeah, I think they’ve got about as much chance, frankly...
Tom Smith-Hughes, leader of the authority’s Lib Dem group, said the council needed to become a four-star performing authority before embarking on other ventures.

Mr Smith-Hughes said: “Until they have the maximum four stars and are improving strongly I think they should focus on providing the basic services at a better quality to residents.

“We have had to complain about misleading and innaccurate advertising coming out of County Hall. I think they need to sort out their own PR before looking to do it for others.”
If you were competing in the business market, you’d think so. But if you are just flogging your services to ‘independent think tanks’, and later on, no doubt, other councils, quangos, probably some fakecharities too, you probably don’t have to bother about all...
Labour group leader Paul Kirkman said he has asked the council’s lawyers to investigate the legality of the scheme.

He said: “I’ve got no idea what could be next – perhaps a rocket ship to the moon.

“We’re losing the focus on core services like potholes and looking after vulnerable children.”
And if they do their PR as well as they do those two things, I think we can forget them paying back the ‘loan’.

Ever...

7 comments:

Stan said...

I wonder what sort of clients this PR company will have on it's books. Anyone want to bet they'll be related to the council?

Chalcedon said...

oebbels would be so proud. It's public money chasing public money. It won't generate real wealth, just redistribute existing money! Your idea about fake charities is a good one though.

JuliaM said...

"Your idea about fake charities is a good one though."

Bound to happen. Birds of a feather, after all...

The Great Simpleton said...

Surely they can't declare "market failure" in the PR world? Every man and his dog claims to be doing it.

And what's this about 3 years to turn a profit? This is a service industry. You go out and find business then recruit staff. You start with your prime mover, who is an industry expert, he finds business, delivers it and generates more business. On the back of this success you can start recruiting. I know this, I've run a consultancy and you can't afford people sitting on the bench, you'll be dead in no time Unless you have a limitless supply of magic money....

And if this venture fails? Whose pocket will be hurt! That's rhetorical BTW.

Kill them. kill them all.

Ross said...

If Essex County Council are that good at PR why does everyone associate Essex with Page 3 girls and cockey gangsters?

Umbongo said...

Essex County Council is, BTW, "Conservative". Whether or not Cameron is PM this time next year, I think we should dampen our expectations that anything at all will change. Well, maybe in the Commons the tailoring will be better and the women a little more svelte but that'll be the extent of it. In the real world the public sector will go roaring onwards and upwards.

JuliaM said...

"..maybe in the Commons the tailoring will be better and the women a little more svelte but that'll be the extent of it. "I fear you are right...