The Melbourne City Council is about to embark on a PR spending spree costing ratepayers $4 Million dollars to try and improve its image.
Media consultant Hayden Cock has been appointed on a $230,000 annual salary to head up a Million Dollar image make-over media unit of 25 plus staff.
If the City Council is this much flushed with cash and wants to improve its image then why did it up the cost of on-street parking by 48%? Maybe the Lord Mayor's $100,000.00 Limo driver need a pay rise or Gary Singer needs more money to spend on lurks and perks.
Was it a decision made at a secret clandestine meeting of the Council - Councillors' Information Exchange Sessions?
There was no mention of this to our knowledge in the Council papers and certainly not in the Council's 2005/2006 budget. Councillors were not part of the selection process. Normally the Chairman of the Finance committee would be on the selection panel for a senior director's position. In this case the selection was left solely to the CEO, David Pitchford. It is unclear at this stage if the Lord Mayor's press secretary will come under the umbrella of the new mega-media department or will work independently.
The decision was announced by the Lord Mayor, John So, the day before Christmas eve (seven days after the appointment was made) so as to avoid a backlash from the Melbourne business community and ratepayers who will be footing the bill. This is not just a case of redeployment it is a whole new job at the top. One CEO, seven Directors, and a host of top-end to middle line managers.
If the Council has this sort of cash to flash around then it can afford to give ratepayers a rate cut.
It's not spin-doctors the Council needs, it is a dietician.
Someone who can go though the council trimming the fat and reducing the cost burden on the City. In dietary-health terms the Council is obese. Savings not expenses is what is required.
$4m for council image
Ellen Whinnett 23dec05
MELBOURNE City Council is spending more than $4 million on a 25-member team of spin-doctors to improve its image.
The council has formed a new corporate affairs division, pooling its media and communications branches to improve its image with ratepayers.
And a media relations specialist, Hayden Cock, has been appointed to the newly created position of corporate affairs director at a cost of more than $200,000.
Council chief executive officer David Pitchford yesterday confirmed Mr Cock had been employed on December 15 in the corporate affairs role but declined to say what he would be paid.
It is believed he is earning well over $200,000 -- almost double the $120,000 package paid to Lord Mayor John So.
There will be no additional cost to the ratepayers, with Mr Pitchford saying the new corporate affairs divisions would be resourced using the existing budgets. The council has 1101 employees and an annual operating budget of $236 million.
"The establishment of the corporate affairs division will enable the City of Melbourne to lift its performance in line with community expectations in this age of rapidly changing technology and communication," he said. "The division will have a strong external focus."
"It will redefine the way we approach stakeholder relations, develop vastly better ways of communication with customers and develop new approaches to relationships with the media."
The council will spend $1.8 million on salaries for its team of corporate and media relations staff, and a further $2.3 million in operating costs.
The move comes after the council faced criticism on several fronts, particularly over Deputy Lord Mayor Gary Singer, who was fined $10,000 for failing to cash cheques while he was a partner in a law firm.
There was further controversy yesterday when it was discovered Cr Singer's partner, Geoffrey Smith, had been appointed to a committee to advise the council on art.