Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Whilst others might be worried about cuts, up in Sheffield the Socialist Republic has just spent £15 000 on a new logo for the city.

This is what they got for their money. Amazing, I'm sure you'll agree. Why did they not simply hold a competition in the local schools with a £250 prize for the winning effort?

Ah, I know- because it's not their own cash they are spending.


rippon said...

The headline to the piece (that is linked in Frank’s post) is: “New ‘brand’ to boost city trade”

This nonsense by Sheffield Council, rather than being a flaw of a “Socialist Republic”, is actually an example of the spreading infection of capitalist culture into our public bodies.

A socialist council wouldn’t even be into ‘branding’ and ‘attracting business/investors’; it would simply get on with solid basic tasks like cleaning the streets, staffing schools and hospitals, running the buses, etc..

But successive free-market-disciple governments (e.g. Thatcher, New Labour, Cameron) insist that councils (all public bodies, in fact) don’t do these functions themselves, at modest cost to the taxpayer, but put contracts for these tasks out to tender – the theory (fantasy) being that, since that introduces ‘competition’, that will ensure the taxpayer gets the best ‘deal’.

Councils are expected/encouraged/directed to behave like businesses doing deals with other businesses (instead of simply being public bodies serving the public at minimal/modest cost to the taxpayer). In that case, then, it makes perfect sense for Sheffield to spend silly sums on ‘branding’ – because that is exactly what happens in the business world. Then, in fact, this is not silly behaviour at all because, in that world, getting your branding right is regarded as crucial to the long-term success of your business.

So, once again, Frank has misidentified the locus of the problem: he attributes it to socialism when, in fact, it should be attributed to capitalism.

rippon said...

Another example of ridiculous behaviour by councils, at great cost to the taxpayer, is the six-figure salaries that they pay to big-shots in their organisations. That, again, is not a flaw of ‘socialist’ councils, but the result of councils embracing capitalist culture, where the recruitment of senior-managers is regarded as a necessarily expensive business in which eye-watering salaries must be offered to ‘head-hunt’ and retain the ‘best’. Investment banks behave like that and, because we are in awe of those big-shots (whilst contemptuous of chavs on benefits), we believe councils too should behave like that – because bankers are seen as ‘successful’ people (even though, actually, they are unmitigated failures). But then we complain when councils cost us more by paying their big-shots such ridiculously high salaries. We can’t have it both ways: councils can’t behave like capitalists by operating on socialist budgets.

Anonymous said...

Frank I did warn you about limpets!

rippon said...


I like that name; I might use it in future. :)

Boy on a bike said...

"Limpet" - that's what you can call your blog, rippon.

Anonymous said...

Sheffield has always been run by idiots. I lived there in the late 80's and early 90s after Blunkett got rid of all the decent Grammar Schools and messed up the World Student Games so badly that the locals are still paying for it on their Council Tax!

Since then they've managed to build an airport that was too short for planes and closed it again.

Rachel said...

I lived in Sheffied too, all thoughout the 80's to 1995.

I totally agree with anon about the World Student Games and airport.
Another thing that I hated was what the mess council made of the roads in the city centre. The roads and transport system in the centre used to be good in early to mid 80's. Suddenly the council decided it must be a "greener" city with less traffic and bicycle lanes must be built everywhere in the centre, even though it is a very hilly cold northern city and no one rides bikes. It cost a fortune. After that they inserted umpteen no entry signs only for cars just to punish anyone with a car wanting to get to town.
Businesses closed, the city became poorer and everyone deserted it for the new sterile shopping centres. ...Oh and all this cost a fortune.

I disagree with Rippon that this is a capitalist culture phenonmenon. It's more a lack of common sense thing. It's not "capitalist" because a private business wouldn't mess around with branding at such huge cost if it meant cutting out more essential things to the business.

Didn't you used to get expensive useless projects in communist countries in the past?
Romania under Ceucescu comes to mind with his building huge factories in the middle of nowhere.

Anonymous said...

Anyone with a brain disagrees with Rippon

Suede Oasis said...

I actually think that Ripon has a few valid points to make, and makes them very well. I have also lived, albeit briefly, in Sheffield, if that's important.

I think it's good to have a diversity of different opinions, expressed more or less coherently. Frank needs a rough edge or two to bounce off, otherwise his writing gets a bit stale.

rippon said...

"Anyone with a brain disagrees with Rippon"

Anyone with a brain would explain how/why I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Sheffield. How I remember fondly my four years there as a student. The Council managed to not negotiate any TV coverage for the World Student Games, which ensured that they made a huge loss and then all the merchandise mysteriously disappeared in a 'burglary'

They also used to run a 'Socialist Bookshop' in the city centre near the library, which was a fantastic use of the Council Tax (or whatever it was called back then) Thank God as a student I didn't have to pay it.

Anonymous said...

£15k isn't all that much to get a new logo if you take into a account a few meeting and other expenses. Even if you offered the competition to schoolkids it'd end up costing that much as you had a few presentations to the kids.
I bet that 15k doesn't include the cost of re-printing a load of stationary with the new logo though …still, at least black and white is cheaper to print then colour.

Regardless of the cost, it's a bloody horrible logo.
It looks like something that would be stencilled onto the back of the inmates of Sheffield Prison.

Anonymous said...

I work for a council and we have been told to save 5% on our budgets and in the next breath they are fitting computers to all the kitchens so the cooks can do their ordering on-line! it will be used twice a week!
yet we have three other computers in the centre (for special needs)

but IT are doing it because they have been told to!!

Dack said...

Actually I quite like it. It looks 'steely'. I'd have done it myself with a stencil, though.

The best thing about Sheffield is the short trip to decent countryside to the west... until you hit Stoke, then it all goes tits up.

Tawera said...

Don't us the public competition line either as you end with the design for the new Auckland(NZ)City Council. Especially as the winning design was almost identical to the Auckland Regional Council Parks Dept. logo and no-one noticed until it was too late!


Anonymous said...

its a lib den council