Brighton and Hove media firms face threat from council

Posted On 20 May 2010 at 11:48 am

Brighton and Hove City Council is to try to raise more money from businesses through advertising and sponsorship.

The move is a direct threat to billboard, publishing and online companies throughout the city.

One media employer said that the council would be chasing the same advertising budgets as private sector businesses at a time when much promotional spending is being cut.

He said that this would threaten jobs and, in some cases, the survival of businesses in the media sector.

The council already uses its own website and magazine to publish adverts that some media commentators say should appear in independent publications.

The move also comes as MPs prepare for a debate next month on the threat posed to local publishers, like The Argus, by council publications such as City News.

The media employer said: “I can understand why the council wants to use this sort of method to try to bring in more money.

“But it should be focusing on supporting the local economy.

“This sort of policy will only undermine the businesses which need to thrive if our economy is to survive this recession.

“Ultimately, if the council succeeds in attracting more advertising, it will almost certainly be at the expense of jobs and businesses in the private sector.

“And without a thriving private sector, revenue from business rates will fall and we will all end up having to make up the shortfall through our council tax bills and through other taxes, like income tax and VAT.

“The council is threatening the economy of the city and risks putting us all out of pocket by trying to compete on an unfair footing with local employers.”

The policy has been drawn up with the help of consultants from a firm called Pax Consultancy, of King’s Gardens, Hove, which is yards from the council’s King’s House headquarters. The main contact at Pax is Jo Lee.

According to another concultancy, Publitas, which lists him as principal consultant, Mr Lee provides “reputation management and advertising advice to a wide range of councils”.

The council has budgeted £55,000 for Pax’s work, a taster of which can be seen here.

The proposals include putting six “lots” out to tender to generate income for the council.

They are

Lot 1 – Iconic gateways and structures incorporating large format advertising on the five main routes into Brighton and Hove as well as 48 and 96 sheet poster hoardings on council owned land at roadside junctions, roundabouts and on the periphery of regeneration construction sites.

Lot 2 – Building wrap advertising on high-visibility buildings and structures being refurbished or built.

Lot 3 – Sponsorship and advertising on roundabouts, boundary and directional signage and bridges.

Lot 4 – Sponsorship of other items including seasonal displays, sponsorship of events and street furniture (including litter and dog bins), sponsorship in toilets and car parks.

Lot 5 – Six-sheet advertising on the seafront (south of the A259 and between Arundel Road in the east and the A2023 in the west) in pedestrian areas/other seafront and roadside areas in other parts of the city. This would be subject to, and dependent upon, the legal interpretation of the current clear channel bus shelter contract.

Lot 6 – Other small advertising, ie, advertising sales in council magazines and advertising on plasma screens in council buildings, reception areas and leisure centres.

The proposal is due to be discussed by the council’s cabinet at a meeting at Hove Town Hall next Thursday afternoon (27 May).

The full report, by Kevin Kingston, the council’s head of service improvement and review, can be seen here. It recommends advertising the six lots as soon as possible, probably early next month.

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