Council’s plan for extra income

COUNCIL bosses are using an innovative approach to media relations in light of budget cuts.

Hartlepool Borough Council has started representing a number of companies and organisations in an attempt to generate income.

It comes after the media relations team was told to save £27,000 during the last budget process, which saw the council receive £14.2m less in government grants than last year.

The three-strong team is now representing Cleveland Fire Brigade, Wynyard Business Park and the majority of schools in town.

The team has also managed to generate enough income to produce the community magazine Hartbeat, which is delivered free to 41,000 homes in town, at no cost to the council.

Labour councillor Jonathan Brash, cabinet member for performance, said: “This is a great example of how the council can utilise its expertise in a particular area to provide a service to other organisations, which generates income, creates savings and helps protect front-line services for the public.”

Alastair Rae, the council’s public relations manager, added: “Like many areas across the council, public relations has had its budget cut and we were faced with the option of either reducing our three-strong team or generating additional income.

“We seized on the opportunity and very quickly negotiated contracts with a range of organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to achieve our income target for 2011-12.”