THE organisation that was blamed for the capital’s disastrous “Incredinburgh” campaign has been handed a further £122,000 by the council.
Despite the resignation of Marketing Edinburgh’s boss and the suspension of the ad man behind the campaign, council chiefs approved the extra cash this week.
Marketing Edinburgh was widely ridiculed for trying to attract extra visitors to the city with slogans such as “paint the town redinburgh” and “shop here insteadinburgh”.
The campaign was branded “appalling”, “clunky” and “meaningless” and even senior councillors joined in the criticism.
The arms-length company was due to have its £1.22m-a-year contribution from Edinburgh Council slashed by 10% this year.
But council chiefs performed a U-turn on Tuesday by deciding to give the organisation the £122,000 it had supposedly axed.
They said the economic conditions meant the level of funding had to be maintained.
The council’s Green party spokesman on finance was one of those who voted against the move.
“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.
“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.”
Schools campaigner Tina Woolnough 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.”
And John Mulvey, chairman of an information centre in the city’s Granton area, complained: “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.”
Last year’s row dragged on for months and caused enormous shockwaves within Marketing Edinburgh.
Advertising guru Gerry Farrell was suspended from his job at the Leith Agency, which dreamed up the campaign, after launching an email tirade against the deputy leader of the council, Steve Cardownie. Mr Cardownie, despite his senior position, had strongly criticised the campaign.
Ultimately, the row claimed the job of Marketing Edinburgh’s £100,000-a-year chief executive Lucy Bird, who had only been in the post for 18 months.
The council’s economy convenor, Frank Ross, said: “Given the current economic climate and additional support Marketing Edinburgh has given retailers, it is important to give them this extra financial support.”
Cllr Ross said the extra cash would be spent on new campaign activity, air routes and conference support.
A Marketing Edinburgh spokeswoman 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 the city’s airport and Edinburgh University, had signed up to work with them.
“Private investment in the promotion of Edinburgh has been very encouraging,” she said.