Row over county council YouTube site

A ‘kick in the teeth’ for residents is how West Sussex County Council’s decision to spend £1m on its PR – including a YouTube site – has been branded.

Last week a row erupted at County Hall when Lib Dem members of the council attacked the council for its ‘extravagant’ communications budget when residents are facing cuts to public services.

Cllr James Walsh, deputy leader of the conservative council’s Lib Dem group, said: “At a time of savage cuts to personal care services for vulnerable elderly and young people, it is astonishing the county council can find £1m to fund its PR department, glossy ‘lifestyle’ Connections newspaper, and now even a new YouTube film unit.”

Cllr Walsh said the YouTube film unit cost £40,000 to set up, and would then cost £26,000 a year to run.

But county council leader Cllr Louise Goldsmith condemned the Lib Dems’ comments as ‘scurrilous’ and ‘littered with inaccuracies’.

Cllr Goldsmith said it was important to keep residents informed – particularly at a time when the council faced the challenge of finding £79m.

She added every article in the county’s Connections newspaper was about a public service.

“All stories which appear are approved by an all-party editorial panel of county councillors – which of course includes the Liberal Democrats.”

For the full story see the Observer, out today (Thursday, March 8).