DID you see story the other day about the council advertising for a new communications and engagement manager?
They’re offering £45,000 a year for somebody whose main duties will apparently include putting a positive spin on the cuts.
As I’m thinking of applying for the position myself, I’ve put together some sample press releases for the recruiters.
Each deals with a tricky scenario, some relating to challenges currently facing many a council and others a bit less realistic but still useful as PR exercises.
On the more realistic side of things, my efforts include: “I can confirm that we will be closing this children’s centre as part of our constant efforts to improve services to children.
“Instead of having to go through the inconvenience of travelling all the way to the children’s centre, which might include crossing roads and being caught in the rain, the children will now be able to remain in their homes and wait for services to be brought to them instead.
“With the availability of those services being somewhat limited because times are hard, the children and their families may have to get along on their own for a while, but this will encourage independence.”
The issue of involving the private sector in local amenities is also a hot one, so I’ve written a sample press release: “We are pleased to announce the granting of a 500-year lease on the park to Giant Bulldozer and Excavator Theme Parks Ltd.
"This will safeguard the future of an amenity which has been at the heart of community life for years, as well as freeing up useful funds. Lovely, lovely money. “Ill-informed protesters have pointed out that the main business of Giant Bulldozer and Excavator Theme Parks Ltd is the creation of parks themed around giant bulldozers and excavators, and that the firm has a 30-year history of taking over public spaces, bulldozing them, excavating them and discarding the resulting oily mud into the nearest available duck pond.
“However, we wish to stress that the lease we have signed with the company specifically forbids it from placing a single bulldozer or excavator anywhere near the site until the ink is dry.”
Fantasy PR scenarios are another way of testing the mettle of would-be communicators, so I’ve tried to come up with something suitable: “Commercial confidentiality rules prevent us from revealing the full details of our deal with a dirty great band of ravenous vampires, but everybody can rest assured that what we have agreed is good for our community moving forward in these challenging times.
“In exchange for their financial input, we have given the vampires exclusive rights to bring their unique expertise to residents in our community.
“Within a short period of time we envisage a number of immense benefits, including a reduction in rush-hour traffic congestion as fewer of us work during the hours of daylight.
“We also expect a substantial reduction in food poverty as people explore other options.”
I’ve also written imaginary scenarios highlighting the positive side of every Biblical plague, a resurgence of smallpox and the emergence of the Antichrist.
I’ve even written one fearlessly condemning Whitehall for the savage cuts it obliges councils to impose.
It says: “We don’t care about political fallout from voicing our horror at what is being done to our community, because our first duty is to the people who elected us.”
On reflection, that one might be a bit silly.
Bridge-blocking truckers are the height of stupidity
YET another lorry has got stuck beneath the railway bridge on Wootton Bassett Road.
Admittedly the laser-activated warning lights were out of action, having been hit by another vehicle a while back, but the conventional warning signs and the fluorescent stripes on the bridge itself seem to have been all present and correct.
Thankfully nobody was hurt, but the road was blocked, trains were delayed and the number of busy people for whom the accident was a spanner in the works must have run into the hundreds.
Unless I’m mistaken, the council, the railway folk and various other official bodies have tried countless combinations of measures to prevent these potentially dangerous collisions.
Maybe we’ll have to wait for technology to reach the stage when the underside of the bridge features a large shelf with enormous spinning blades at either end.
A few trucks heading back to the depot with the top couple of feet of trailer missing might prompt a bit more caution. In the meantime a new bylaw specifying a 10 grand unwedging fee with no exceptions might do the trick.