The battle to save the Marksbury Road Library, situated in the middle of one of the most deprived areas of the city, takes a new turn.
The Bristol Green Party is proposing that the extra £100,000 earmarked by the Labour Party in next year’s council budget for spending on the council’s pointless PR leaflet, Bristol News – now thrillingly rebranded as Our News – should instead be spent on keeping the library open.
Green councillor Charlie Bolton blogs that he is happy to put forward such an amendment at the council’s budget meeting taking place on 26 February. However, as as the lone Green councillor, Charlie currently lacks anyone to second this amendment.
Shouldn’t be too much of a problem though as the Lib Dem chief whip and councillor for the library’s Windmill Hill ward, Mark Bailey, has already stated on the record that he would fight the library’s closure regardless of which party attempted it. Looks like it’s time for Bailey to put his signature where his mouth is then and back this eminently sensible proposal.
Whether the amendment succeeds will, however, depend firstly on the Lib Dems who are probably likely to vote for it as, if nothing else, it’s an opportunity to give the Labour Party a bloody nose in the Council House.
Then it will be up to the Tories. In the past they have been highly critical of the council’s expenditure on PR in general and on the Bristol News in particular. But under Bunter Eddy’s bizarre leadership they have increasingly dropped their own policy positions and chosen to back any daft Labour Party proposal going. Will they do it again?
Labour’s proposal to spend a further £100k next year on PR comes after a report published last month by the Tax Payers’ Alliance claimed Bristol City Council’s spending on PR has increased by 275% over the last ten years. The report also says the council’s PR budget of nearly £4m is the 19th largest in the country, while Bristol City Council is only the 40th largest local authority in the country.
And despite this massive increase in funding for PR, the council can provide no evidence that communications with the public have actually improved! In fact many local journalists would suggest it’s got worse.
Indeed The Blogger can remember a time, back in the 90s, when a journalist could just pick up a phone and speak to any council officer – often experts in their field – they liked in order to get the information they wanted. Not now. Since the arrival of New Labour and their obssessive culture of spin, journalists are forced to speak to a council PR officer, who will then speak to the officer and “report back” what they choose to the journalist.
Not only is this an expensive and unnecessary new layer of bureaucracy the council has devised but information for journalists – and therefore the public – is now being deliberately manipulated and mediated for us by a team of well-paid PR non-experts often working to a pre-arranged script … That’s progress!