Suffolk County Council's cabinet on media training trip to Elstree film studios
PUBLISHED: 10:36 28 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:36 28 November 2015
The day after Suffolk county councillors discussed cutting millions from the authority's budget over the next two years, its cabinet members went on a £4,000 training course at the world famous Elstree studios.
The cabinet received media training at the home of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pointless, and Strictly Come Dancing yesterday (Friday) – and most will have spent the night at a hotel before the course.
All nine members of the cabinet were due to be at the studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, receiving training from Hertsmere Council leader Morris Bright – a professional film-maker and TV producer. Most of their training is expected to be concentrated on television interviews.
The course is costing £3,950, and the councillors were staying at a nearby Premier Inn so they could be at the studios in time for the 9am start.
A spokesman for the council said it was necessary to send them to Elstree because there was no suitable training available in Suffolk.
The company that is providing the training is recommended by the Local Government Association – the body that represents councils across the country.
Council leader Colin Noble, who was one of those receiving the training, said: “All cabinet members are volunteers who are elected by their community. They are frequently called upon to take part in high-pressure media interviews on subjects that affect all council tax payers in the county.
“It is important that they are given the opportunity to understand how the media undertakes its work and understand the preparation and expectation placed upon them by the media under such scrutiny.”
Labour councillor Sandra Gage, who had spent the day in the scrutiny committee looking at the authority’s proposed cuts, was not impressed to hear about the training.
She said: “It smacks of double standards to me. They are happy to spend thousands of pounds on training like this which is hardly essential, but voluntary bodies are getting their grants cut and people are suffering as a result.”