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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Michael Kenwood

Belfast Council £280,000 advertising budget questioned by councillor

Belfast Council’s £280,000 budget on advertising this year has been questioned at City Hall.

At Belfast City Council ’s recent meeting of its Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Sinn Féin Councillor Matt Garrett raised the issue before council officers while receiving an update on council contracts.

During the committee elected representatives approved two contracts for £140,000, for up to 18 months, awarded to Clear Channel for advertising at bus stops, and a contract for £140,000, for up to 18 months, awarded to Global Outdoor for bus internal and external advertising.

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Councillor Garrett told the chamber: “Whenever we approach things in the council, we have to have a strategy, which is obviously about publicity, and what other services we put in place to try and bolster all of that.

“I have raised this as far as particular campaigns within the council, but the question is whether this is value for money."

He referred to recent advertising around responsible dog ownership, stating: “For £280,000, if you ask any of my constituents, they would ask for another four dog wardens. We are also getting it right across the community in terms of cleansing. People are cracking up.

“If only we had the opportunity to pull back on our advertising budget. I don’t have the figures, but if everyone that gets on the bus and sees the advertising, does that necessarily mean it is hitting home? However, if they saw dog wardens in the community, they would support it.”

A council officer replied: “Clear Channel and Global Outdoor are the sole providers, but that doesn’t mean we spend that amount of money, in fact we don’t spend that with those providers. The reason we put in that amount is in case there is a city event that means we have to spend more money that is not in the business plan.

“We are really careful, more than ever in the last 18 months, in what we are spending on traditional advertising channels like bus sides, and ad shells. More than ever now we see digital channels working better.

“It’s not to say we don’t spend money with these advertisers, but I am very, very picky. However I have to mitigate, unless we have God forbid, a Primark, or a civic situation where we have to spend a lot of money in a rush. I need the tender to copes with that."

She added: “In terms of the dog fouling, and the success and awareness stats around that, it was 92 percent. But does that prevent people allowing dogs to foul and not picking it up? Not always.

“It is a behavioural change. We are constantly looking at ways, especially in relation to dog fouling and recycling, of getting into schools, and educating kids so they can go home and educate their parents.” She added: “I really want to assure you we don’t just throw that money at 48 sheets.”

Amongst a series of contracts mentioned in the committee report was a recommendation of approval for a contract involving council port checks relating to the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.

The report refers to “a contract for £73,745, for up to four years, awarded to East Suffolk Council for the continued use of the Port Health Interactive Live Information System (PHILIS). Developed by Suffolk Coastal District Council and which has become the industrial standard for Port Health imported food system.”

This contract and all the others recommended to the committee were approved.


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