Council’s £1,000-a-Minute News Item Slammed

AS redundancy letters continue to hit the desks of Thurrock Council staff, senior officers have been slammed for spending thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on a news item.

To make matters worse, the film continues to add fuel to the criticism that the council is wilfully ignoring local businesses by once again using companies from outside the borough, this time a Hertfordshire-based media production company.

The five-minute news item: “Putting People First” examines the work of the Adult Social Care team with interviews with Corporate Director Lorna Payne and Head of Community Solutions, Lita Walpole.

It was made by Watford-based Media Spaces Limited.

Director Millie Cortizo said: “We were contacted by Thurrock Council and went through procurement procedures and won the contract.”

The film was made in June and then tucked away on it’s website. There was no accompanying press release or promotion of the film. To this date, it has had 25 views on youtube equating to £240 per viewer.

A Thurrock Council spokesperson defended the film. He said: “Funding for the film came from a specific PPF central Government grant. The council was not required to seek various tenders for the work: it cost £5,640.59

Corporate Director Community Well-being Lorna Payne said: “In hindsight, we should have looked at other organisations, including local ones. It’s a lesson we will learn for the future.”

When YourThurrock questioned Leader of the Council, John Kent he confessed that he didn’t even know the council had a youtube channel whilst other Labour councillors have privately admitted that after four months in control they have realised that wresting the council from the grasp of officers may be beyond them.

Other political groups have reacted with anger to the films costs.

Thurrock UKIP spokesperson, Tim Aker said: “Thurrock Council should be ashamed. First they squander taxpayers’ money on a £1,000-a-minute YouTube video seen by a handful of people. Even worse, the council got a company from outside the borough to make it.

“Their first priority should be to save taxpayers’ money, especially with the spending squeeze on its way. Then it should procure from Thurrock businesses to support local enterprise. The council is there to serve us, the residents, after all.”

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