A MARKETING agency which organises events and aims to attract businesses to Sheffield is costing council tax payers £507,000 a year to run.
Marketing Sheffield was set up by Sheffield Council after cuts to public spending started in 2010 – the cuts have seen £134 million axed from the authority’s budget and 1,400 jobs lost so far.
The cost of the agency has been revealed as part of The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign.
Marketing Sheffield says it attracts about £200 million to the city’s economy each year.
But trade unionists have questioned why private businesses which benefit cannot help cover running costs.
Jon Mordecai, Sheffield-based regional organiser for Unison, said: “One can understand the payback of Marketing Sheffield’s activities for the local economy, but the cost is not repaid to the council’s budget.
“There are a number of joint bodies involving the council and businesses and you would expect funding for these activities could be contributed to by all parties, rather than just council tax payers, when services they rely on are being cut.
“It is difficult to see the difference between Marketing Sheffield and the council’s in-house PR team.”
Marketing Sheffield said its annual budget was £507,000, which funds 13 full-time staff and marketing activity.
It has an ‘external focus’, promoting Sheffield to audiences which will help the city attract trade and tourism.
Brendan Moffett, Marketing Sheffield director, said: “Our success is measured by the visitor economy to Sheffield, which sustains more than 20,000 jobs in the hospitality sector.
“In 2011, overnight visitor numbers to Sheffield rose by 12 per cent to 1.283 million, spending £114m.
“Marketing Sheffield leads on attracting conferencing and events to Sheffield – the value of this business was £94.9m in 2011 based on delegate and visitor spend.
“Marketing Sheffield has been responsible for the creation of two new business events, MADE: The Entrepreneur Festival and the Global Manufacturing Festival, which have significantly enhanced Sheffield’s reputation as a business friendly city.
Mr Moffett said MADE, whose speakers this year included The Duke of York and Peter Jones, star of TV show Dragon’s Den, was attended by 4,000 entrepreneurs in 2012 - up 25 per cent on 2011.