Row over “costly” spin doctors employed at Sheffield Council

Sheffield Council should stop spending money on spin doctors, say opposition councillors.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 2:48 pm
Updated Monday, 11th March 2019, 2:53 pm
Lib Dem Leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed has criticised Labour for spending money on spin doctors
Lib Dem Leader Coun Shaffaq Mohammed has criticised Labour for spending money on spin doctors

Both the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party say getting rid of political PR people would be an easy way to save money after nine years of austerity.

But Labour has hit back at the “cynical political stunt” and says it employs fewer people in communications than comparable cities such as Manchester.

The Lib Dems said the council was spending tends of thousands of pounds on communication officers and “costly consultants” while cutting frontline services.

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Lib Dem Deputy Leader Coun Clement-Jones said: “Labour has protected taxpayer subsidies for trade unions whilst slashing funding to local communities. They continue to spend vast amounts on council spin doctors whilst cutting frontline services and spend millions on costly consultants whilst allowing important road safety schemes to be delayed.”

The Greens said if they were in power, they would cut “political spin from the Town Hall” and  remove the posts of group policy officers from the council payroll, requiring politicians to do their own research and press work.

Peter Garbutt, a Sheffield Green Party candidate, said: “The Green Party budget proposals will yet again include the cutting of three group policy officers that cost us taxpayers £112,000 a year.

“These officers are paid by the council but do political research and press work for the Labour and Lib Dem groups. Labour have voted down our proposals year after year, refusing to bite the hand that feeds their political spin.”

Coun Olivia Blake, Deputy Leader of Sheffield Council, said the council had made £460 million of cuts since 2010 and prioritised frontline services.

She said: “Since Labour took control of the council from the Liberal Democrats we have made savings of nearly £1 million in the communications service.

“Sheffield Council has less people employed in communications than comparable cities such as Manchester, so this is nothing more than a cynical political stunt from the Lib Dems to try to deflect from their responsibility for the cuts they have inflicted on Sheffield.

“The council, like other councils, public and private sector organisations, uses trade union convenors because they play a vital role in supporting the organisation manage relations with the thousands of staff employed by the council.

“This was the same when the Lib Dems ran the council. If we did not do this it would cost much more in performing the duties they do and would be much less efficient and effective.

“This is particularly the case when we are having to deal with unprecedented levels of service reorganisations and loss of staff as a result of the cuts that have been made to our budget.”