Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Belfast City Council spends over £116,000 updating Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts

By Claire Cromie

Belfast City Council has spent £116,361 on social media in the three years since the start of the Government's austerity programme.

Across the UK public spending has been cut by billions, but many councils have been spending increasing amounts of taxpayers' money on pushing messages through sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Belfast City Council is among eight councils which have spent more than £100,000 on social media, from Twitter and Facebook to YouTube and Flickr.

Robert Oxley of the TaxPayers' Alliance blasted the figures, saying "town halls should focus on keeping council tax low, not wasting it on barely followed Twitter accounts."

But the account @BelfastCC is followed by 25,600 people - almost a tenth of the city's population.

A spokesman said the council was responding to a demand from residents "to be able to get information where and when they want it".

“With almost 17,000 Facebook and 26,000 Twitter followers, social media thus has become one of the primary means by which the council engages with the citizens of Belfast, visitors to the city and those interested in doing business here," he said.

Belfast City Council's Twitter page

"Its benefits have been felt during emergencies, such as the water crisis of 2012, when the council has been able to communicate information to ratepayers quickly and clearly. It also allows us to respond to questions and requests from our ratepayers much more quickly than in the past."

The £116,361 spent by the city council relates to the proportion of the salaries of staff who have responsibility for managing, among other duties, the council’s social media channels.

"The increased use of social media also has enabled the council to promote events and attractions in the city to wider audiences, and in a much more cost effective way than before," added the spokesman.

Do you think the council is right to spend this much on social media? Tweet your views to @BelTel

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Belfast City Council's YouTube channel

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