County has responsibility’ to inform public

PUBLISHED: 16:36 31 October 2007 | UPDATED: 15:17 12 May 2010

HERTS County Council has said it has a statutory responsibility to communicate with residents. The statement comes after the Liberal Democrats group at County Hall called for swingeing cuts in the almost £1.5 million public relations budget. In a st

HERTS County Council has said it has a "statutory responsibility" to communicate with residents.

The statement comes after the Liberal Democrats group at County Hall called for "swingeing cuts" in the almost £1.5 million public relations budget.

In a statement, the county council said: "The council has a statutory responsibility to communicate with residents about some services.

"The majority of communications work is not about promoting the county council, but about providing information to the public."

There are 27 people working in the county council's public relations department: six of these are press officers providing a "round-the-clock" service to all media.

Other in the public relations department work on the county council's website and play a role in organising events and campaigns.

The county council said it achieved "editorial coverage" through the work of its public relations department and would otherwise have to pay for advertising.

Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats group, said it was "staggering" that the department was spending an estimated £4,000-a-day.

"With services for vulnerable people being cut back, it beggars belief that this department has 27 staff and has been increasing its spending by nearly three times the rate of inflation," he said.

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