Leader de­fends pub­lic­ity spend af­ter UKIP row

Ac­cu­sa­tions of ‘lack of un­der­stand­ing’

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

The bor­ough’s Tory leader hit back af­ter UKIP’s par­lia­men­tary can­di­date for Uxbridge and South Ruis­lip, Jack Duf­fin, crici­tised the coun­cil for spend­ing £8,435.54 ad­ver­tis­ing on Face­book dur­ing the 2013/14 fi­nan­cial year.

The fig­ure was up 71% on the pre­vi­ous year, when the coun­cil spent £4,940.63 on click­through ad­ver­tise­ments link­ing back to its web­site.

So far this fi­nan­cial year the lo­cal author­ity has spent £6,389.07 on so­cial me­dia ad­ver­tis­ing.

Mr Duf­fin, who ob­tained the fig­ures via a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion re­quest, said: “Our pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions re­vealed that Hilling­don Coun­cil spent nearly £100,000 on their pro­mo­tional mag­a­zine, Hilling­don Peo­ple, in 2013.

“Now we see that they are top­ping this up with ad­di­tional spend in on­line ad­ver­tis­ing.

“Mean­while, they have cut front line polic­ing num­bers and the main­te­nance teams who look af­ter our so­cial hous­ing. Is this a proper use of lo­cal tax­pay­ers’ money?”

He said UKIP would axe the Hilling­don Peo­ple mag­a­zine and re-chan­nel the cash to front­line ser­vices such as the po­lice, street clean­ing and the NHS.

Mr Duf­fin added: “We would en­cour­age more in­ter­ac­tion by lo­cal coun­cil­lors with their con­stituents and en­gage­ment with lo­cal me­dia out­lets to get in­for­ma­tion out.”

Coun­cil­lor Ray Pud­di­foot re­sponded by say­ing Mr Duf­fin’s state­ment showed UKIP “clearly have no idea of what is re­quired to run a fi­nan­cially-ef­fi­cient coun­cil”.

He added: “Firstly Hilling­don Coun­cil is not re­spon­si­ble for the NHS and po­lice bud­gets, and se­condly we have re­duced the cost of run­ning the coun­cil by £80m since 2010.

“I am afraid that I could not even give them one out of ten for fi­nan­cial abil­ity.”

In 2013/14, the coun­cil, which re­cently ap­proved its bud­get for 2015/16, spent £91,723 pub­lish­ing its mag­a­zine, Hilling­don Peo­ple, which it prints six times a year.

Last year, Kris Hop­kins, lo­cal gov­ern­ment min­is­ter at the time, sent the coun­cil a warn­ing let­ter, say­ing coun­cil mag­a­zines should not be pub­lished more than quar­terly, which the coun­cil de­fied.

Mr Pud­di­foot said: “The Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion is com­mit­ted and de­lighted to be able to keep res­i­dents in­formed about what is go­ing on in the bor­ough, which we re­gard as part of ‘putting res­i­dents first’.

“I can, how­ever, un­der­stand that with the mess that we would be in with ei­ther Labour or UKIP in charge, this would be some­thing that they would not want to share with res­i­dents.

“They sim­ply do not un­der­stand that keep­ing res­i­dents in the dark is bad pol­icy, or that the cost of do­ing so is not a prob­lem for the Con­ser­va­tive ad­min­is­tra­tion, although again I ap­pre­ci­ate that it would be for them.”

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