Public Sector: Aiken urges councils to 'up their game'

Westminster City Council's head of comms has advised council PROs to 'up their game' to ensure that further PR gaffes such as last week's £190,000 'dormouse bridge', are nipped in the bud.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council in Wales made the news last week when it was revealed that it had spent £190,000 on a purpose-made bridge over a new bypass to allow dormice to cross the road safely.

In this week's public sector column, Alex Aiken suggests that, as the Comprehensive Spending Review approaches, PROs need to 'up their game in this area and ensure the actions of their organisation are in line with the public mood, and must be prepared to intervene at the highest levels'.

Aiken also points to other recent spending gaffes made by councils, such as a £36,000 'virtual' town hall on Second Life and a £5,000 'mid-summer Christmas party'.

He writes: 'It is central to our remit to advise council leaders and chief executives.

' Anything that is not a sensible use of taxpayers' money should not see the light of day.

'It is no longer good enough to simply try to manage the fallout of such stories once they get into the public domain.'

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