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Outcry at council's £29,000 wheelie bin publicity campaign

Cash-strapped Birmingham authority spent funds to get public behind controversial scheme

The new wheelie bins are delivered to Brandwood

Birmingham City Council has been criticised for splashing out almost £30,000 on trying to persuade residents wheelie bins are a winner.

And critics have asked, ‘what’s the point?’ Most Brummies will get the bins whether they like it or not.

The council’s fleet and waste management department has even hired a crisis media management consultant to combat criticism from opposition councillors and residents.

Fleet and waste management secured a £30 million government grant to introduce wheelie bins and bring the city’s refuse service into the 21st century.

The first two areas, Brandwood and Harborne wards, received their bins this month.

But with only five per cent of the city covered so far, an opposition councillor fears the publicity bill could spiral as the scheme is widened.

Tory bins spokeswoman Coun Deirdre Alden (Edgbaston) said: “At a time of economic hardship, for the council to spend nearly £30,000 publicising something which is going to happen anyway, will seem to many hard-stretched Brummies to be an extravagant waste of tax-payers’ money.

“I notice that one of the companies used, Dyson Media, specialise in ‘crisis media advice to high profile individuals and blue-chip organisations’.

“At a time when basic services such as blacks bags have been axed, and leisure centres are threatened with closure by Labour, I do not believe it is a good use of tax-payers’ money for the Labour Council to try to generate some good publicity for their unpopular wheelie bin scheme.”

In an official written question, Coun Alden was told that £29,206 had been paid to outside organisations for publicity and marketing including Service Birmingham, Amey and Dyson media, which is headed by former Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson.

Cabinet member responsible for wheelie bins, James McKay (Lab, Harborne), said that the changes were always intended to involve a publicity campaign, both through the media and door to door leaflets.

He added: “In addition to city-wide campaigns, significant communications have taken place in the two pilot wards of Brandwood and Harborne to ensure that residents are aware of the changes and how to use the new services.

“There is a substantial budget provision within the £30m awarded by DCLG to undertake these promotional activities and the expenditure to date is well within the overall budget envelope.”

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