LEEDS City Council chiefs spent more cash on public relations than other councils in Yorkshire over the past year, new figures have revealed.
With 34 staff, Leeds City Council had an annual 2016/17 public relations (PR) budget of £1.62m – which has been cut to to £1.5m this year.
Wakefield Council had a 16-strong communications team and a 2016/17 budget of £708,000 for 2016/17.
Kirklees Council had a communications and marketing budget of £1.3m for 2016/17, with 25 staff employed. This has fallen to £895,000 this year.
Leeds City Council stressed it has a “statutory responsibility” to ensure it effectively communicates with residents about services, as well as playing a key role in promoting the city’s economy including the lucrative tourism industry.
A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “This work undertaken by the council’s communications and marketing team, which is half the size in number compared to 2010, includes many different roles; from engagement to explaining our proposals and policy, to changing behaviour and responding to unforeseen emergency situations. To support this work we use a variety of tools and channels not just externally, but also internally with council staff.”
Cash is also spent on PR among local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) - partnerships where local authorities and businesses decide the investment priorities for roads, buildings and facilities.
The Leeds LEP team employs four people with a budget last year of £267,000.
Despite huge cutbacks in council budgets, more than 250 people across the county are currently employed as communications staff for local authorities and LEPs, who spent a combined £8.7m on PR services in the last financial year.