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Ealing and Northfield

Labour ignores its own publicity promise

Only yesterday I got another picture of Cllr Bassam Mahfouz attached to a press release in my inbox. Between council leader Julian Bell and Mahfouz you may feel that you have seen a lot of these two recently.

This is at odds with Labour’s manifesto which promised that they would:

Reduce the Council’s bloated communications budget and stop money being wasted on party political propaganda.

This subject always gets a lot of people exercised (including me but not in relation to Ealing which is sensible on the whole in this area). If you look at the statement of accounts and search for publicity you will see that Ealing has consistently spent about £3 million on all aspects of publicity for eight years. Note this includes about £900K per annum for printing such documents as agenda papers, etc and £700K in recruitment advertising which is hard to avoid as much as many right thinking Tory types will rave about the monopoly of the Times Educational Supplement and the Guardian Society pages on a Wednesday. Any budget which stands still in cash terms for 8 years is probably not the biggest problem we face.

Labour’s manifesto promise is particularly disingenuous because when they were last in power, according to Grey CPAs, they used an accounting trick to put the council’s web services team on the Response capital budget to disguise their expansion of spending in the communications area. When the Tories came to power in 2006 we re-jigged the 2007/8 budget to put this right and in the process made a saving of £379K in marketing and communications budgets. It will be interesting to see if Labour can match this kind of saving. Not at the rate that they are going.

I thought that it would be interesting to see if Labour was going to match its manifesto promise with action so I asked this question at the last council meeting:

How many publicity photos have been taken by the Council since the election and how much did each one cost?

In the period from 6th May to 15th June the new council organised 17 photo shoots at a total external cost of £1,681, see here.

The full list below:

  1. Team Ealing member – for a feature in Around Ealing. The photographer was a council officer. Cost £0.
  2. Team Ealing member – for a feature in Around Ealing. Professional photographer used. Cost £40.
  3. Children enjoying the maze at Brent Lodge Park – for a feature in Around Ealing. The photographer was a council officer. Cost £0.
  4. Cllr Bassam Mahfouz in Ealing Broadway – for a feature in Around Ealing. The photographer was a council officer. Cost £0.
  5. Cllr Rajinder Dheer outside Ealing Town Hall – for a feature in Around Ealing. The photographer was a council officer. Cost £0.
  6. Cllr Rajinder Mann at home – for a feature in Around Ealing. The photographer was a council officer. Cost £0.
  7. The clean up of the canal at Greenford involving the Council Leader Cllr Julian Bell – for issue with a press release. Professional photographer used. Cost £40.
  8. The launch of Saturday Street Cleaning involving Cllr Bassam Mahfouz for issue with a press release. Professional photographer used. Cost £150.
  9. Walk to School shot involving the Council Leader Cllr Julian Bell. Professional photographer used. Cost £40.
  10. New Cabinet Members (group shot) for initial issue with a press release. Professional photographer used. Cost £205.
  11. Head and Shoulder shots of all newly elected Council Members for the Council website and special leaflet issued with Around Ealing. Professional photographers used. Cost £686.
  12. Southall Manor House featuring the Council Leader Cllr Julian Bell for issue with a press release. Professional photographer used. Cost £40.
  13. Offender doing community payback at the Brent Lodge Park for issue with a press release. The photographer was a council officer. Cost £0.
  14. Cllr Bassam Mahfouz at Otter Road for a press release re Yellow Box Junctions. Professional photographer used. Cost £40.
  15. Southall Broadway shop front improvements. Professional photographer used. Cost £40.
  16. Photography of the Mayor making commissioned by the Mayor’s Office. Professional photographer used. Cost £400 (422 images).
  17. Cllr Julian Bell raising England flag at town hall. The photographer was a council officer. Cost £0.

You may feel that £1,700 is small beer (although that figure ignores the hidden cost of having council officers trailing around taking photos). One the other hand someone has paid council tax for a year to pay for these photos. What is clear is that our new cabinet are spending a lot of time and money having their photographs taken.

2 replies on “Labour ignores its own publicity promise”

12.Southall Manor House featuring the Council Leader Cllr Julian Bell for issue with a press release. Professional photographer used. Cost £40.

I thought you said it was a photoshop..oh wait another change of mind eh phil??

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