WARWICKSHIRE County Council—which is due to shave £92 million from its budget over the next four years—was accused this week of wasting taxpayers’ money on “pointless” videos.
The accusation was made by the Taxpayers’ Alliance after a story appeared in the satirical magazine Private Eye about the council’s year-old 60-second news video. The magazine claimed the service was watched by a very small number of people.
Eleanor McGrath, campaign manager of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said yesterday (Wednesday) that it was “ridiculous” the coun-cil spent the money on a venture like this.
Ms McGrath told the Herald: “What local residents will find particularly irking and ironic is the fact that they have used their money to make a video about local authorities’ budgets and how they need more money.
“Instead of producing overblown PR about budget cuts, Warwickshire Council should focus on finding savings by stopping wasteful spending on things like these unnecessary videos which will in turn save taxpayers’ cash.”
The county council was swift to defend the videos. A spokesman told the Herald: “The 60-second news video is embedded into the WCC news website and will only count as a view on YouTube if users click the logo on the screen. Consequently, it gives an impression of low viewer figures but this is not the case; rather, our analytics show that 60-second news has, on average, around 1,000 views each day.”
The spokesman added: “At Warwickshire CC we use a blend of channels to engage with our residents. It is important to note that video is recognised as being a major driver for digital interaction. It is far more likely to generate traffic to the website and is more likely to be shared on social media channels. Our web traffic has risen significantly over the period that we have used 60 second news.
“We are committed to engaging with residents and to do so we have to make information more accessible across media. If we are to engage with all audiences, we have to embrace all channels and prepare for the changes in mobile technology and how and why residents will access information.”
The spokesman said the video content was produced by a company called Reelcontent and cost the council’s communications budget £12,000 a year. This worked out at around 12.5p per view/engagement or 2.5p per resident per year.
He added: “We’ve been running the service for more than a year now. The most popular video we’ve ever had was on recycling centre opening times on a bank holiday weekend with more than 2,500 views. In the last week we released a video on a woman who almost died from flu, reminding people to get their flu vaccination. On YouTube the video showed just 12 views at the end of the first hour. Full analytics showed that in fact the video had been watched more than 200 times in under an hour.”
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