Councils are a great advert for wasting our money
IT would appear that the waste of ratepayers' money within Northern Ireland local government continues to escalate out of control - even before the establishment of the super councils. That is judging by the responses to some recent Freedom of Information (FoI) requests.
For example, since October 2009, Lisburn City Council has being paying a marketing firm some £150,000 annually to promote Lisburn in its 'City For Life' and 'You Got It' campaigns. This equates, over a five-year campaign period, to a total of £750,000.
When asked for the precise rationale behind the marketing campaign, the council's FoI response was somewhat nebulous: "Regarding the rationale, the city of Lisburn has to compete with other cities, towns and shopping centres to attract customers, businesses, families and new residents, all of which generate economic growth which benefits the whole community."
In the present economic recession, shelling out £150,000 per year for marketing slogans on bin lorries does seem quite ridiculous. The £750,000 could have been better spent on improving the existing arts and other cultural events in Lisburn, which would have actually attracted some visitors and served the surrounding local community. One wonders what will happen when the actual total cost of Northern Ireland local government reform is finally revealed, given the vast salaries and the redundancy payoffs involved.
It could lead to another "cap-in-hand" episode to Westminster by Stormont.
Hillsborough, Co Down