Marketing Edinburgh, the organisation behind the controversial “Incredinburgh” marketing slogan has been handed an extra £122,000 of council tax payers’ money.
Marketing Edinburgh’s funding from the council was due to reduce by ten per cent a year as it drew in more support from the private sector.
But just months after the “Incredinburgh” fiasco, council chiefs said the economic climate meant the public contribution to the arms-length company had to be maintained at its current level of £1.22 million for the next financial year.
Community campaigners said the extra handout, approved by the council’s economy committee yesterday, was the wrong decision.
John Mulvey, chairman of the Granton Information Centre, said: “Lots of organisations are constantly faced with reductions in their budgets. This is going to seem a strange priority for all these groups trying to hold communities together in the face of austerity measures.”
Schools campaigner Tina Woolnough said she was worried about the impact on other council departments, especially those working with children and older people.
She said: “I wish the council would look equally favourably on the cuts made every year in the children and families budget and reinstate some of those.”
Green finance spokesman Gavin Corbett, who voted against the move, said: “I am utterly astonished by this decision to add an extra £120,000 to the budget of a company which, in recent months, has been a laughing stock after the ‘Incredinburgh’ debacle.
“I am sure that it will go on to recover from that but we are a day away from setting a budget in which funding has been reduced for secondary school pupil support, nursery schools and janitors and other vital council services.
“To put money into Marketing Edinburgh sends out an appalling message as to what the council’s priorities are.”
Conservative economy spokesman Jason Rust said: “This was effectively a bid for new money. It seems misleading to dress it up as reinstatement of funding. There was an agreed business plan and I would seriously question the vague measures of success we were presented with.
“The media coverage of Marketing Edinburgh has been appalling lately and at a time when the council is under pressure in various areas, agreeing to this sends entirely the wrong signal.”
Conservative, Lib Dem and Green councillors opposed the extra money, but it was passed by Labour and the SNP.
Economy convener Frank Ross said: “Given the current economic climate and additional support Marketing Edinburgh has given retailers, it is important we give them this extra financial support.”
He said the cash would go to new campaign activity, air routes and conference support.
A spokeswoman from Marketing Edinburgh said: “The council is an important stakeholder in Marketing Edinburgh and we appreciate their support and confidence in our plans.”
She said more than 177 private sector organisations, including Edinburgh Airport, Edinburgh University and the Sheraton hotel, had signed up to work with Marketing Edinburgh. She said: “Marketing Edinburgh provided additional support to the retail and leisure sectors last year in response to a difficult economic environment. Private investment in the promotion of Edinburgh has been very encouraging.”
THE “Incredinburgh” slogan was an attempt to rebrand the Capital, but failed miserably to convince city leaders.
At the launch of the winter promotional campaign last year, Marketing Edinburgh dropped the “Incredinburgh” tag but stuck with a range of other slogans based on wordplay, such as “paint the town redinburgh” and “shop here instedinburgh”.
The campaign was labelled “appalling”, “clunky” and “meaningless”. One council source said the company’s persistence with an unwanted slogan was “one very long suicide note”.
Advertising guru Gerry Farrell was suspended by the Leith Agency, which produced the slogan, after he launched an e-mail tirade against deputy council leader Steve Cardownie, one of the strongest critics. Lucy Bird, above, quit her £100,000-a-year job as chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh after just 18 months in the wake of the row.