The local authority is reviewing a brief, currently held by PPS, to promote an urban development on the outskirts of Swindon.
Interested agencies have been asked to pay a £50 fee for information that will allow them to apply for the work.
John Taynton, MD of Devon-based agency PR Dogs, railed against the charge. ‘It is scandalous,’ he said. ‘If there was a genuine cost involved in posting and printing, a small fee might be justified, but as most agencies are happy to receive things electronically, there is no reason to charge.’
Bill Jenkins, MD of Cardiff outfit Quadrant Public Relations said: ‘It is incredible that a council expects companies to pay for information. I have never come across this in 20 years of running a PR agency’.
The council said that all external suppliers are charged to tender and that the charge helps pay for the procurement process.
‘It is standard practice for all contracts. Pitching for business is an expensive exercise with no guarantee of income at the end of it,’ said Richard Freeman, media relations manager at Swindon Council.
The development, called Wichelstowe, will include 4,500 houses, schools, community, youth and sports facilities, open spaces and ‘employment land’. It is a joint project between the council and the developer Taylor Woodrow and is expected to take 15 years to build.