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Council spunks '£100k on how to wash your hands' vid

Outraged Telegraph administers West Sussex a righteous shoeing

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West Sussex County Council is taking a bit of a shoeing down at the Telegraph for allegedly spending £100,000 on a video showing people how to wash their hands.

The paper has rather incautiously put Middle England at serious risk of apoplectic fit by running the headline "Council spends £100,000 on 'how to wash your hands' video".

In fact, the video in question is one of 92 the council has put together since setting up its own film unit five years ago, for a capital outlay of £40k for cameras and editing kit, plus £26k a year running costs, which include a part-time cameraman and editor.

By our reckoning, that makes an average of £1847.83 per video, most of which can be seen down at the council's YouTube presence.

We say most, because there are currently only 85 videos on offer, which leads us to suspect that West Sussex has pulled the handing-washing tutorial, as well as its "How To Use a Mobile Phone" sister production.

We can't really blame the council for binning the least plausible of its offerings, since it is only a matter of time before the Daily Mail joins the Telegraph in tracking down outraged locals willing to vent their spleen in print.

The council's Lib Dem leader, James Walsh, has already got the ball rolling, having "claimed only 200 people out of the county's 750,000 population" had watched the videos.

He said: "That doesn't seem like good value to me. It's a kick in the teeth for all those elderly and younger adults who have had their care packages reduced or stopped, in the name of saving cash for the county.

"Can the Tory leadership really believe that a YouTube film unit is a higher priority than providing care packages for the frail elderly or residents with a learning disability?

"This luxury enterprise seems yet another step too far, and demonstrating how far the Tory county council is divorced from reality."

A spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance was presumably listening to a whalesong chill-out CD when the Telegraph got in touch, since he disappointingly failed to blow steam from both ears at the news that a council had spent money on something his organisation didn't approve.

Instead, he moderately suggested: "Some councils either have more money and time than they know what to do with, or have a misguided understanding of what their job involves.

"Publicity and communications has long been an area where some councils simply don't seem to understand what is a good idea and what isn't.

"More worryingly, some of them don't seem either able or willing to learn from their mistakes and stop pursuing poor ideas when they have clearly failed." ®

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