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Caerphilly council accused of wasting £100k by hiring PR firm

09 May 2023 3 minute read
Councillor Lindsay Whittle

Martin Shipton

A council has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money by employing a PR company to promote a local regeneration masterplan when it has its own in-house communications team.

Caerphilly council’s  Plaid Cymru opposition leader questioned the decision to employ Cardiff-based Cowshed Communications at a cost of £100,000 on the Caerphilly 2035 project.

Councillor Lindsay Whittle said: “The Labour leadership is brilliant at pleading poverty and hiking council tax bills. But they don’t seem to bat an eyelid when it comes to shelling out public money on consultants. I suppose that’s not surprising, as it’s not their money.”

“What is happening here is that council taxpayers are helping to fund the operations of a PR company employing more than 30 people based in Cardiff’s office heartland.

“While the Welsh Government is funding 50% of the bill this still represents a significant outlay for Caerphilly council taxpayers – money that could have been spent on improving frontline services, such as filling in potholes.

“I note the council is arguing that the private PR company’s role is broader than what the in-house communications team can provide. That begs the question why doesn’t the council’s 16-strong team of communication staff have the breadth of experience needed for this task.

“If they are considered unable to carry out this project, as seems to be argued, then there is a need to change the structure so the in-house team can carry out this type of work in the future and save taxpayers money.”

Ambition

Labour council leader Cllr Sean Morgan said: “Cllr Whittle has called on the cabinet to reconsider the Market development at Park Lane, and has also stated publicly that he needs a new Transport Interchange in the town, ‘like a hole in the head’. So it’s understandable that he is questioning money spent on actively consulting with residents on important, progressive, regeneration within the county borough.

“Cllr Whittle also fails to recognise the Welsh Government’s ambitions for Caerphilly Town, by paying 50% of the project fees.”

A council spokesman said “It is important to note that this contract is much wider than just providing PR support.

“It was recognised in the early stages of the Caerphilly 2035 placemaking plan that there would be a need for extensive business and citizen engagement, a detailed marketing strategy, a communications plan and a new brand identity for the town.

“Cowshed was appointed, following a tender process, to provide these necessary services as the council does not have the internal capacity to service these complex and resource intensive requirements. This is common practice for significant, long term schemes such as this.

“Also important to note is that Caerphilly 2035 involves a range of partners, not just the council. These include the Welsh Government, Cadw, Transport for Wales, Linc etc. Cowshed will be supporting the needs of the wider Caerphilly 2035 partnership.”

The main elements of the Caerphilly 2035 project include a new multi-million pound transport interchange; a major £15m mixed retail and residential development; the creation of a new ‘boutique’ hotel development; and a £5m investment in new visitor facilities at Caerphilly Castle.


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Frank
Frank
9 months ago

Have you noticed how local authority councils can never get work done for less than hundreds of thousands of pounds? What’s happened to a few hundred or even a few thousand? Who are these companies who charge so much? Why do they charge so much? Are there different/higher rates for councils? Do council executives have associations with these outside bodies? We, as council tax payers need to show more interest in council dealings and start asking questions and also ask for detailed breakdowns of all accounts down to the last penny. I’m sure we have rights of access seeing we… Read more »

Malcolm Jones
Malcolm Jones
9 months ago

Nothing new for this council too waist hundreds of thousands pounds

George Bodley
George Bodley
9 months ago

Regeneration schemes tend to fail in the long term jobs are rarely permanent as companies face higher and higher cost over time that will see them fail ,history tells us this ,ask yourselves how many regeneration schemes have endured overall .Take a look at the festival park in Ebbw vale what’s left of it now nothing ,and thsts just one example .

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