“Council makes controversial decision”

Written by: Paul Morris

August 4, 2014 - 10:36 am
Categories: Communication , Lambeth , Local Government , Public Affairs

Rarely do councils go out of their way to be controversial.

How many times have you seen the headline “Council makes controversial decision” played out against a backdrop of planning permissions, waste collections or budget announcements?

Sometimes decisions must be made which inevitably cause rows and rumpus.

And it’s our job as communicators to explain the rationale behind them.

But rarely do councils seek a storm for the sake of it.

And while I’m not advocating being deliberately provocative, it does have its benefits.

At Lambeth, we’ve courted controversy to support our campaign work on several occasions.

Yes, it’s got us in hot water at times, and prompted a stern letter from higher up.

But we’ve achieved our desired outcome, and that’s a better deal for our residents.

For example, a poster that cited the implication of benefit cuts in stark terms – illustrated by a pair of scissors – led to claimants seeking help before those cuts took effect; the right outcome.

Or a campaign to save a local fire station that used mock up headlines of situations that could happen if that closure happened caused hullabaloo.

It also got people talking about our campaign, firing off letters to the Mayor, signing petitions, attending events and ultimately, the retention of a cherished community asset; the right outcome.

Ealing Council in West London also courted controversy when they published leaflets explaining how people could dodge the bedroom tax by becoming foster carers.

Controversial tactics will inevitably upset some, but carefully chosen and implemented intelligently, you’ll get engagement and debate. So be bold and brave and stir-up some storms!

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