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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

HARINGEY council spends too much on promoting itself through PR and not enough on what it supposed to be doing. The Evening Standard reports today that our council spent £19,000 on PR for Sharon Shoesmith (currently suspended by the Children's Secretary using statutory powers, on full pay). Doubtless we will hear excuses for this.

The same paper, also reports today that police are investigating claims that a five year old boy "Child C" was seriously abused while under the care of Better Haringey, our Three Star Beacon Council. The article refers to the increased costs of taking children into care.

If the council would stop spending so much money on promoting itself it would have more money available for front-line services. For example, if their propaganda department were shut down, their current budget could be transferred to Child Protection. By this single measure, hundreds of thousands of pounds currently wasted could help protect our most vulnerable fellow citizens, at no extra cost to the council or to council-taxpayers.

It might also demonstrate that the council has got its priorities right.

Tags for Forum Posts: PR, childrens, council, priorities, protection, service, spin

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It is despicable that Ms. Shoesmith's daughters have been threatened. The poor girls have my sympathy, together with my sincere wishes that the perpetrators are caught. On the other hand, I am inclined to the opinion that even the sickest individual would have been deflected from this extremely unpleasant behaviour had Ms. Shoesmith apologised straight away, admitted she could not handle the job, resigned immediately, and waived claim on her salary and any payoff which might have been her legal, if not moral right. It would have been the honourable course and the one requiring no spin-doctoring whatsoever, saving our hard-pressed borough a packet. Her behaviour, though, has shocked even reasonable people and so has given the opportunity for idiots to work themselves up into a foaming frenzy, lashing out at the innocent.

There is no excuse whatsoever for threats but there is a serious problem in Haringey and most of it comes from the majority Labour Party's default position that whatever emanates from Labour is Good and Right and anyone who disagrees with them is mentally ill. The Stalinist attitude to which you make reference as a refutation is repeated by many other Haringey residents as a criticism -- with the obvious spin-doctoring contained within "Haringey People" often cited first.

The Council apparently have the attitude that if you talk things up enough, everyone will believe it. Some do but then things like Baby P happen and it may serve as a reminder to the Council and to the rest of us that however much money you spend buying rose-petals to shovel over a midden, it still stinks.

Call me unreasonable but I am not shocked; I see men behave this way all the time...

£19,000 of our taxes

Tom, you said that the £19,000 sounds like a lot of money on paper this is a tiny portion of a London council's budget. Regarding that £19,000 paid to PR companies for coaching Shoesmith and Santry to enable them better to handle questions from reporters about Baby P, do you think that this sum was:

(a) too much

(b) about right

(c) not enough

(d) no comment?

(in any answer, please avoid references to other budgets (including personal budgets) and try to think about that amount of cash by itself).

PS A Guardian report last Saturday, about Haringey deceit over Child Services, is here.
Tom I appreciate your entering into the spirit of the question and answering (b) About Right - to spend £19,000 of our taxes on PR companies to coach the councillor and officer.

I thought you would be unable to resist minimizing the figure of £19,000 by comparison with bigger budgets and a 'wider context'. What you say would make sense if budgets were unlimited, but all this money comes out of taxation and that is a finite resource.

Spending £x amount in one area (say, PR) means that £x is not available for spending in another area (say, Children's Services) – this point, of scarce resources, seems to have been overlooked. This is about choices, judgment and the setting of priorities (topic of thread).

I have no sympathy for threats made against Shoesmith's children, nor of newspaper hounding of Shoesmith herself, but neither of these deplorable things should act as post hoc justifications for the spending of this money in these circumstances. The council spends way too much on PR and not just in defending its record over the Child Protection Register. Spending on PR has become a reflex action for Haringey. What does it say about the leadership?

You are obviously a most learned man who quotes Chaucer. But has reading all that Chaucer really dulled you to anger over waste? Of our money? The truth of something does not depend on its being a minority or majority view, but I appreciate why you might not want further to debate the topic of council waste.
Tom, I appreciate that you haven't given up quite yet; but also note that the points about the wisdom of the £19,000 spending hasn't yet been addressed.

I don't know for what period the three public relations companies were employed over Baby P media-handling, but it does look to be at a high rate for what may have been a short time. One wonders how many hours of coaching and 'role play' this represented.

The subject matter, about the council's priorities, is about judgment. I note in each post, we've seen no reference to morality or ethics in the spending of the £19,000 – mainly comparisons with bigger budgets. By this logic, if the council had spent the same amount on employing murderers to eliminate its opponents, then that would okay because £19,000 is small change when put into that "wider context."

Also from Chaucer's Host to the Pardoner:

Gambling is the mother of lies,
And of perjury, and of deceit,
And of Blaspheming Christ, murder, and the waste
Of time and money;
It is a shame and a dishonor,
To be known as a common gambler.
An employer spent the money defending their employee. It is small change compared to what the Sun has thrown at this.

As for morality and ethics, Tom said that the council were RIGHT to spend this money in this way. I agree with him.
John, of the two people who are understood to have received £19,000 worth of coaching and role-playing services, only one could fairly be described as an employee.

Mrs Shoesmith was an employee of the council, but hardly an inexperienced junior or middle manager: she headed the entire Education and Childrens' Services. More of a boss than an employee. As for Liz Santry, she was not an employee.

If we set aside the morality of this expenditure (and you have said it was morally right), has anyone considered what £19,000 represents on an hourly basis? I know PR is expensive, but if each of these two individuals received 20 hours of PR coaching, that is nearly £500 an hour. Was that good value?

Has anyone stopped to think what else £19,000 would have bought?

It's a nurse's salary for one year.
It might be what the nurse gets but it's not what the NHS would have to pay. Employer NI contributions? Pension?

How much does Max Clifford charge? The ES article you linked to above (the second time I've clicked through to something you've put as a reference and felt creeped out) states that it was to three different firms who provided "team roleplay" training. You know what... I bet she was not the only person in that room either. In fact, I put it to you that the two people who received the training that cost 19K were being trained at the same time and that there was only one charge of 19K.
Good grief.
What are the chances that this whole ES story is b*llocks anyway!
Lee, the chances are zero. Did you find the story so preposterous that it was hard to believe? Welcome to Haringey and its huge PR spending. Even John and Tom accepted that the Evening Standard's story was factual.

The sense of denial over the whole Baby P tragedy, from the council and its supporters, runs deep. The council has a problematic relationship with our free press and when it gets defensive, the messenger tends to get confused with the message. The council wants to shoot both! None of the Baby P story (and possibly Child C) would have come to light but for the Court Case, where the Judge had to insist Haringey release documents to the court.

For the sake of the extreme die-hard council apologists out there, The Evening Standard was not the only paper to carry the story about the £19,000 spent on PR for Santry and Shoesmith (possibly other individuals). Other outlets carrying the story were:

The Guardian

The Independent,

The Times,

The Daily Mail,

The Sun,

The Express,

The Daily Star,

The Birmingham Mail,


(These are most of the papers that Google came up with). Perhaps all these newspapers are "bollocks" and the truth will only be revealed in a forthcoming edition of our Three Star Beacon council's Haringey People publication ...
Fair enough, it's not complete bollocks, I agree it probably was a waste of cash too - that's PR generally though! I'm not a die-hard council apologist, I'm sure it's full of box ticking halfwits alongside talented people, and they deserve the boot (the halfwits), I just get fed up with all the crap generally turned out by the papers that people are willing to eat up as fact.

"HARINGEY council spent £19,000 on spin doctors hired to rebuild the image of former head of children's services Sharon Shoesmith, it emerged today." says the Sun, is that really actually how it is? It may be, but I expect it's extrapolated from not much of a story to make it more juicy and give people something to foam at the mouth at. The real facts or context are never really there.

Doh.....now I'm doing it!!!! "HOL lurker enrages locals defending shamed council's spending"



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