Only 2,500 people have watched the East Lothian Council mini-dramas on YouTube – meaning they cost taxpayers £4 every time they were viewed.
The River City-style episodes, featuring professional actors, are meant to provide a handy guide to services.
But East Lothian Council recently slashed £1.5m from its budget, meaning cutbacks to adult social care and other frontline services.
Taxpayers’ groups described the council’s foray into the world of small screen drama as “horrendous”.
One critic, who asked not to be named, commented after watching one of the £1,000-a-time films: “Well, that’s 10 minutes of my life I will never get back.”
One of the 10 mini-soaps, called Rent Arrears, involves a distraught woman chatting to a friend in a bar about her rent arrears. After a brief burst of economical nodding, her blank-faced pal delivers the line: “You would be better off going to the council.”
There she is met by a beaming council official who passes on nuggets of advice and a handful of leaflets. The closing shot shows the woman happily throwing bread to a swan as the sun shines in the background.
Another episode, Craig’s Community Care Grant, depicts an unkempt man living in an unfurnished house who gets a visit from a council official who is brimming with empathy.
The visit magically transforms Craig’s life, including his hair and beard. The mini-soap ends with the young man in question grinning broadly as he paints a wall turquoise.
The least-watched of the dramas, Asked to Leave, has only received 144 views in three months, meaning it cost taxpayers £7 a view.
Eben Wilson, Director of Taxpayer Scotland said: “It’s clear from the number of views of these videos that the targeting through YouTube has failed and taxpayers are not obtaining good value for money for the production costs involved.
“We would hope that the council performance managers clamp down on any further waste of our money on ventures like this.”
Andy Silvester from Taxpayers Alliance, said: “One has to wonder whether £1,000 a pop represents good value for money for taxpayers.
“When finances are tight, every penny the council spends should be diverted to essential services rather than horrendously clunky mini-soaps.
“The council has to make savings on luxuries like the marketing budget so that it can still fund frontline work.”
A filmmaker, who asked not to be named, said: “I find it difficult to believe the videos cost £10,000 and I would expect more from such a budget.
“It’s my personal opinion that the information could have been put forward in a much clearer and simpler fashion.”
East Lothian Council said the budgets for the videos were on average no higher than a leaflet campaign and had a longer shelf life and the potential to help more people.
“Each mini-soap highlights escape routes from a life disaster,” said a spokeswoman.
“The characters are engaging and draw you in to their stories. The videos get to the heart of tales of despair,” she added.
By Xantha Leatham
A Home Office spokesperson said: “All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration rules.
“Dr Forman’s application was refused because he could not demonstrate he met the requirements for leave to remain in the UK.
“He has appealed this decision and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
By Katherine Sutherland
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By Jenny Kane
The 58 year-old was last seen at his home in Wakefield at 10:30pm on Wednesday 15th October and his body was recovered around 1800 hours yesterday.
Police stated that there were no suspicious circumstances.
Dingwall and Wester Ross Area Inspector Paul Daley said: “Police Scotland would like to thank members of the public for their assistance with efforts to trace Mark.
“Our thoughts are with Mark’s family and we would ask the media to respect their request to grieve in private at this difficult time.”
The next of kin have been informed and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.]]>