Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Libraries or logos?

One of the first lessons I was given in civic finance was that when times get hard it is libraries, community centers, dial-a-ride and services like that which are targeted for the first cuts. These guarantee front page news and interviews with the poor, downtrodden and disadvantaged people who will be worst affected. The same level of public concern would not be generated by slashing the printer cartridge budget or moving down to 70gsm paper from 110gsm. It would hardly be front page news if heartless government was forcing Council to use thinner paper and only print in black and white.

Targeting high profile services over backroom savings also means that should the Mayor manage to “find” the money to keep the services open then this generates more headlines about how caring and sensitive he is and how hard he is working for the town. It is unlikely that the public would applaud the Mayor’s hard work in re-instating full colour printing in the civic centre!

How times have changed, just two years ago a "working group" spent months “refreshing the corporate image” of Hartlepool Council by adding a new wave under the logo. How much did all that cost and how long would it have kept a library open? Of course in those days money was no object and those in power thought the good times would continue for ever. Unfortunately the money is now all gone and the bills are coming in and it is the people of Hartlepool who have to pay them!

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