County chiefs' spin spending revealed

COUNTY chiefs have today defended spending on publicity and advertising after it emerged the amount splashed out has more than trebled in the space of ten years.

COUNTY chiefs have today defended spending on publicity and advertising after it emerged the amount splashed out has more than trebled in the space of ten years.

Last year Suffolk County Council spent more than £3.2million on its press office operations and advertising.

This compares to £884,000 in 1996/97.

Meanwhile, the amount spent by Ipswich Borough Council has dropped from £901,000 in 2003/04 to £851,000 last year.

In total, councils across Suffolk spent a total of £5.5m on publicity in the space of 12 months between April last year and March this year.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the current spending figure includes money paid by other councils and organisations to take advantage of discounted publicity costs.

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He added that the nature of press relations has changed dramatically over the past ten years making it essential for the council to be well resourced in this area.

He said: “The level of public scrutiny has changed enormously over the past ten years.

“Suffolk has been at the centre of five global media stories in the past year alone and we have managed to cope pretty well.”

A spokesman for Ipswich Borough Council said the authority's press and publicity functions have been streamlined over the past decade and added that the figure of £851,000 for the past year is misleading.

He said: “We do feel this figure is not representative as it includes staff recruitment costs and advertising, much of which we can claim back.”

He added that in the past five years the workforce of five full-time members of staff involved in communications, marketing and publicity had been trimmed to two full-time and three part-time members of staff.

Meanwhile there are now two full-time press officers at the borough council compared to three in 2002.

N Is too much money spent on spin by councils in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

96/97 06/07

Babergh £292k £456k

Ipswich n/a £851k

Mid Suffolk £99k £103k

St Edmundsbury £163 £195

Suffolk £884k £3.2m

Suffolk Coastal £154k £229k

Waveney £289k £467k

Total £5.5m

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