Council media watch ‘worth £40 a week’

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IT costs Scottish Borders Council about £40 a week to monitor the press and media coverage it receives, writes Andrew Keddie.

And that, according to leader David Parker, represents better value for money than that offered by a private company which was engaged for that purpose until May this year.

He denied an allegation that the preparation of a weekly media monitoring file was “simply another preening exercise by SBC”,

That claim was made last week by Borders Party leader Councillor Nicholas Watson who, demanded to know how much the process cost.

“The media montoring record is completed by our own corporate communications staff as part of their routine review of the media on a weekly basis,” said Mr Parker.

“The only cost incurred is staff time, which amounts to less that than two hours a week to cover all media at approximately £20 an hour.

“Until May this year, SBC engaged the services of a company to carry out this process at a cost of around £130 a month.However, there were concerns about the quality and accuracy of the reports being provided and it was felt our in-house team could provide a better value for money service.

“The team has taken the opportunity to amend the monitoring process to improve consistency and quality and the feedback on these changes has been extremely positive.

“Media monitoring is standard good practice carried out by all local authorities, ensuring there is a central up-to-date record of press coverage relating to the council.”

Mr Watson responded: “Is it not the case that before such a file was ever produced no council services suffered, and that this is simply another preening exercise by SBC?”

Mr Parker: “No, I do not agree and there were several service issues which arose when we did not have media monitoring. It is a very sensible and worthwhile task and our in-house team are doing it better.”