Monday 20 October 2008

Could Barnet Council Organise a conference in a brewery?

One of the things I keep a close eye on are the press releases from Barnet Council. With the huge amount of cash they have lost in recent weeks in Icelandic banks, I'd have thought that there would have been regular updates on the Barnet council website press release page. The press release page would seem a pretty logical place to put this info.

Well something miraculous has happened. The council's press office has gone into overdrive. On Friday, they posted 3 releases and on Thursday 7 releases. That is 10 in two days! Considering they only posted 13 press releases for the whole month of September, that is pretty good going. The old press department is clearly working it's socks off to get the info to us. Now here is a summary of this flurry of exciting news.

17/10/2008 - A blue day for disabled badge fraudsters
17/10/2008 - State of the art library opens its doors
17/10/2008 - International athlete rewards Barnet sporting heroes
16/10/2008 - Sensory garden targeted by vandals
16/10/2008 - New baby changing units installed
16/10/2008 - Finchley nursery spreads the word across Europe
16/10/2008 - Barnet recruits 100th pupil for healthy living programme
16/10/2008 - Barnet's Housing Conference 2008
16/10/2008 - Mayor's 30th walk for North London Hospice
16/10/2008 - Eco home unveiled to public

Hold on a second you may say, no press release about the Icelandic Bank situation. Surely this is the big story in Barnet. Surely this is the story that everyone wants to know about. Surely this is the story which anyone in the press will be looking at the website for. Now maybe I just missed it, but I couldn't see any press release at all about it.

Why such a flurry? Ten releases in two days is far more than I've ever noticed. It is certainly more than any two days on the rest of the press release history (clikc on the above link and check for yourself). We can only wonder why the press department have suddenly become so productive. Is it possible that someone, somewhere in the higher echelons of the council said "Get some news into the papers which will distract people from the Icelandic Bank fiasco". "Get some feel good stories out there. Make us look like we care".

One story which made me laugh was the one concerning the "2008 Barnet Housing conference". This press release was posted on the 16th of October. The conference was on the 17th. This in effect means that there was no point posting it. Surely this was far too late for anyone with an interest in the conference actually to attend. I would love to have gone. Having written several blogs about housing in Barnet, I surely have an interest. I'd also love to have seen all of the expensive conference facilities (nearly £100,000 worth) in action. Maybe if they'd asked me I'd have admitted my criticism was unfounded (ho ho ho).

In light of the old saying, do you think they'd originally planned to serve drinks and hold it in a local brewery? It wouldn't surprise me.


Don't Call Me Dave said...


Surely you are not suggesting that Barnet Council is attempting to bury bad news? As someone posted on my blog, this is an open and honest administration.

Unknown said...

The point of a press release is to give the media a story, not to invite residents to events.

Council's and public organisations post their press releases on their own website purely for reference.

Anyone with an ounce of intelligence would know that Barnet Council's media bods would have short lived careers if they started issuing anti-council press releases and stories to the media.

Rog T said...

It seems yet again that if you have the audacity to criticise Barnet council you get called thick.

I thought press releases about conferences were issued to the press so that they could publicise it for interested parties. Silly me.

When I issue press releases for gigs we are promoting the purpose is to try and ensure a good turn out. Can you tell me why else you'd issue a press release about a conference?

The concept of paying someone to write a press release purely for reference strikes me as rather odd. Why wouldn't you want residents to know about a conference regarding their future?

A very strange post Mr P.

Don't Call Me Dave said...


Why would a council press release on the Icelandic situation have to be negative? The story has been in the local media and on blogs, but there has been no official announcement as to what the council is doing to get our money back or what will happen if they don’t. Why can’t we have a statement on that to reassure residents?

I am willing to bet that if the money is recovered, there will be a press release within minutes.

Rog T said...

The Barnet Council press office should serve the people of Barnet. We have concerns about the credit crunch. If the press office think their job is to protect the interests of councillors or senior officers, then I'd suggest that this is a misuse of Taxpayers money.

I would rather like to see a press release clarifying this from Barnet Council, instead of posts from plausibly deniable sources.

Unknown said...

The press office is actually there to serve the council and inform people.

And, have you ever thought that someone could have a good press week? Hardly likely to publish negative stories are they?

Rog T said...

Alison, I'm sure the council has "good press weeks", but I'd have thought that as the press are interested in the £27.5 Million Barnet lost, it would warrant a press release.

Your idea of the function of the Barnet Press office reminds me of "The Ministry of Truth" in George Orwell's classic 1984.