Wales in a spin over PR costs

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show how much the Welsh Assembly, councils and quangos are spending on PR experts. According to Wales on Sunday, public relations spin is costing Welsh taxpayers more than £4m a year.

The Welsh Assembly Government spends almost £750,000 a year on its 24 member news centre and twenty-two "spin doctors" work for the Assembly Government, at a cost of £666,000. Another two work for the Parliamentary Service, at a cost of £70,000.

Wales on Sunday says the money is spent mainly on press office teams who promote their council, "but often have to put a positive spin on bad news like Council Tax increases and minimise the damage of embarrassments". Major controversies such as the cost of the Assembly building, delays in school renovation programmes and roadworks which will cause chaos for motorists are all subject to a PR strategy to minimise bad publicity, according to Wales on Sunday.

Plaid Cymru opposition leader Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "Tony Blair promised an end to spin earlier this year. On this evidence the public can see spin is alive and kicking in Wales. Let's see how New Labour spins these figures. They should put money into cutting waiting lists and saving schools from closure."

A Welsh Assembly spokeswoman said: "We do not place a high priority on public relations, but we place a very high priority on communication. The Welsh Assembly Government is accountable to the people of Wales - they have a right to know what we are doing and why."

Spun-believable! (Wales on Sunday, icWales website, 31 July 2005)