Westminster Council urged to follow Pickles’ advice and save the Council’s £350,000 Arts programme

Labour Councillors have urged Westminster Council to follow Eric Pickles’ advice and to save money by doing things more efficiently so that there is no need to scrap the Council’s entire £350,000 a year Arts and Culture budget.  Mr Pickles published, “50 ways to save: Examples of sensible savings in local government” in December 2012 – https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/39264/50_ways_2.pdf

Among Mr Pickles’ suggestions that Labour say that Westminster should follow are;

  • Not replacing the outgoing £125,000 a year Director of Communications, but sharing the position with tri-borough neighbours Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham Councils. This would save over £80,000 a year and be directly in line with Mr Pickles’ top recommendation “Share back office services: from planning to press, from HR to legal.” In addition, Number 23 on Mr Pickles’ suggestion list is “Share senior staff:”
  • Cutting the amount spent on expensive agency staff from the current figure over £14 million a year. Saving £350,000 a year on this item alone would save the entire Arts and Culture budget. Number 27 on Mr Pickles’ list is “Cut spending on consultants and agency staff:”
  • Save over £120,000 a year by following Mr Pickles’ advice to “Cut spending on head hunters and expensive adverts” (Number 29)
  • Save over £40,000 a year taking Mr Pickles’ advice to “Reduce the number of publications and media monitoring” (Number 35)
  • Save £200,000 a year by scrapping the ‘Westminster Reporter’ which is directly in line with Mr Pickles recommendation to “Scrap the town hall Pravda: Local authority newspapers undermine an independent local press.” (Number 38)
  • Cut the free food and drink at meetings for Councillors and save £15,000 a year by adopting Mr Pickles advice to “Stop providing free food and drink for meetings” (Number 39)

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;

“Westminster Council can save its entire £350,000 Arts and Culture budget by making the savings suggested by Eric Pickles. This would be a realistic and practical way forward, in line with the Secretary of State’s advice. It would be an act of civic vandalism to axe Westminster’s entire Arts and Culture programme when Westminster’s economic future depends on the success of the creative arts and attracting more visitors to the West End to see and experience our world famous art and culture.“

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