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Council pays for media training

PUBLISHED: 17:45 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:23 06 July 2010

JUST days after telling hard-pressed residents that its spending could be cut by as much as a quarter, bosses at Endeavour House are believed to have spent thousands telling members how to deal with the press.

JUST days after telling hard-pressed residents that its spending could be cut by as much as a quarter, bosses at Endeavour House are believed to have spent thousands telling members how to deal with the press.

Groups of county councillors have been getting professional training from PR guru Robin Treacher, including being told how to avoid answering difficult questions.

One experienced councillor said: “I listen to interviews on Radio Four and it always annoys me when professional politicians won't answer the question - and here we were being told how to do just that.”

Mr Treacher is a director of Kent-based Quantum PR and said his work helped councillors become more confident when dealing with the press.

He said: “I don't tell people how to evade questions, but I do teach them how to deal with questions to enable them to get their point across.”

Mr Treacher is also working for the council as an advisor on how to explain their waste strategy. He would not say how much his company was being paid because of commercial sensitivities.

The Conservative-run council would also not discuss the fee paid to Mr Treacher's firm.

Deputy leader Jane Storey said: “That is a commercial matter. The training was very worthwhile and it was excellent value for money for the authority.”

She said it was decided to employ an outside firm because councillors would feel happier dealing with an outside body than with their own communications officers.

Opposition leader Kathy Pollard, who was a member of the former Lab-Lib coalition that ran the council from 1993 to 2005 said when they held training days, they were run by the communications team.

“I went to the training day this week and it was valuable - but I don't see why they had to employ someone from outside and spend more money like this. At a time of constraint, we should be saving money,” she said.

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