Shropshire Star

Mark Andrews: Disgrace of Letby hospital's PR campaign and Edinburgh Fringe in a nutshell

While police investigated the murders of seven children at the hands of Lucy Letby, the hospital which employed her spent £325,000 on public relations consultants to mitigate the damage to its image.

Lucy Letby

Says it all, doesn't it? This was over a period from 2019 to 2023, so while the NHS grappled with the coronavirus, the Countess of Chester Hospital was blowing the budget on its media profile.

Public-sector spending on marketing and PR spin is one of the great scandals of our age. Local authorities, NHS trusts and government departments waste millions on 'corporate branding', 'mission statements' and staff whose primary aim is to keep the public in the dark about their failings.

There will now be an utterly useless public inquiry into the Letby affair, which will rumble on for years and tell us 'lessons will be learned'.

I wonder how much money will be spent on public relations to manage the fall-out from that.

* * *

Each to their own. Stacey Jackson, 34, and Carl Jones, 42, have been banned from the centre of Walsall because of their bizarre penchant for urinating in public.

While some people like trainspotting, Stacey and Carl prefer taking a Jimmy in front of an audience.

Carl was the more prolific, managing six offences in the space of three months, while Stacey took it a bit steadier, getting on the scoresheet four times between January and May.

Still, if they must behave like a pair of tomcats marking their territory, it is marginally less antisocial than doing it with graffiti.

One wonders whether Walsall Council is missing a trick though, when it could instead seize the opportunity to jump on the inclusiveness and diversity bandwagon.

A new report by retail consultants suggests ailing town centres should develop 'unique selling points' to differentiate themselves from their rivals.

Wouldn't it be a great metaphor for 21st century Britain if Walsall declared itself as the town that provides a warm welcome to people who enjoy peeing in public?

* * *

The Edinburgh Fringe festival in brief: Father Ted creator Graham Linehan had to perform on a makeshift stage in the street, because the normal venues banned him for not being woke.

Meanwhile, Lorna Rose Treen won the award for best joke with: "I started dating a zookeeper, but it turned out he was a cheetah."

Now which of those two acts would you rather watch?

* * *

The ray of sunshine that is Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff attributes an increase in truancy to 'a rising tide of anxiety making children want to hide beneath a duvet', and ponders what is making teenagers so miserable.

Dunno, Gaby. Could it be anything to do with terrifying threats about global warming and guilt-tripping them about slavery and gender issues? Just a thought.