Should taxpayers’ money be spent on saving a failed council’s reputation?
Posted By Peppermint Soda
A story in today’s Daily Mail reported how Birmingham City Council spent £113,000 to draft in ‘PR guru’ Terry Brownbill, his role being to defend its reputation and protect it from criticism and to improve the image of social workers.
This measure has been taken after the council’s social services department caused public outrage when seven-year-old Khyra Ishaq starved to death at the hands of her mother and step-father, despite social workers allegedly closely monitoring the case.
£113,000 (or £800 a day) does seem like an incredibly large sum for one person’s wage, especially since the Birmingham City Council had voted just weeks earlier to cut £69 million from its budget with the expected loss of 2,000 jobs. Though crisis management is an important step to take, would it not have been much more admirable and affordable for the council to apologise?
For a disgraced council the size of Birmingham’s to improve its public perception, a top quality, experienced public relations team is required. However, according to Birmingham Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood, Brownbill was “employed to cover up inadequacies and deficiencies”. Using clichéd terms like “spin doctor”, the Daily Mail has described Brownbill’s approach as “pull-no-punches” and he admitted in Community Care magazine, “I play hardball with the media.”
What happened to Khyra Ishaq was the fault of her horrendously neglectful parents, but it was also an irresponsible and unacceptable oversight by the Birmingham City Council’s social services division. Birmingham City Council seems to have made a bad situation worse by hiring the expensive expertise of Terry Brownbill, when an apology and a vow to improve would have been far more effective.