Row over £600 council advert

PUBLISHED: 11:45 09 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:37 06 May 2010

A ROW has erupted over hundreds of pounds of tax payers money spent on an advert placed seemingly without approval. The full-page advert for Letchworth Garden City Council appeared in the January 26 edition of The Comet, at a cost of £600. A concerned r

A ROW has erupted over hundreds of pounds of tax payers' money spent on an advert placed seemingly without approval.

The full-page advert for Letchworth Garden City Council appeared in the January 26 edition of The Comet, at a cost of £600.

A concerned resident contacted the paper to say he could not remember it being approved by the council.

David Levett, from Rushby Mead, Letchworth GC, said: "I have attended most of the town council and communications committee meetings as a member of the public and did not recall any expenditure being approved for this advert."

Mr Levett claims that in the open forum section of the council's communications committee meeting on February 1, he raised the issue of the advert.

He said he was told by Raymond Smale, the council's chairman, he could not ask those questions as the advert was not an agenda item.

Mr Levett said that later at that meeting, as part of his report, clerk Peter Evans said the advertisement was not authorised by the council, and although a draft of the advert had been delivered to Philip Ross, the chairman of the communications committee on the Sunday before it was published, it had not been proof read or agreed before it appeared.

The Comet contacted Mr Ross who said that his understanding is that the budget was approved for the advert in October.

However, he did admit that the designer who created the ad had "jumped the gun" by placing it before its content had been finally looked over.

He said the advert was originally looked at before Christmas but didn't come back to the council before it appeared.

He added: "It should have come back to us but the designer was under the impression we were all happy.

"Basically it appeared earlier than expected."

Mr Ross admitted that had it been given the chance to proof read the advert, the council "may have changed some of the text" and conceded that "some people are a bit angry that we didn't put it through the full council".

However, he said that personally all he would do is "tone down" a paragraph citing North Herts District Council's "failure to consult" the town council, as relationships between the two councils appear to have improved.

Letchworth Garden City Council clerk Peter Evans would not confirm who placed the advert, but did say that the matter would be discussed at the council meeting on February 20.

He added: "Until it's discussed and approved at full council it can't actually be discussed outside.

"The placement of an advert had been on previous agendas of the communications committee but the whole thing needs to be discussed on February 20.

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