The owners of small businesses across the borough have been left scratching their heads over a covid recovery offer from Croydon Council – after no one at Fisher’s Folly bothered replying to their emails.
That’s because the human dynamos in the council propaganda department published the wrong contact email address for businesses to take up the offer.
It was late last Friday (as usual, much too late for the deadlines of that week’s local newspapers) that the press office, from their bunker under the council offices, managed to put out an announcement of free membership of the Federation of Small Businesses, worth £177 to small and medium-sized enterprises looking for advice and networking as they chart their recovery after two years of covid.
The council’s PR department managed to craft some suitably vacuous quotes from Manju Shahul-Hameed, the Labour councillor and cabinet member supposedly for “business recovery”.
“As part of Croydon’s recovery from the pandemic blah, blah, blah….
“We are working blah, blah…
“…to ensure that funding is made available to support our much-loved blah, blah, blah.”
The only problem was that the council contact email address issued with its own press release, probably the most vital piece of information in the entire exercise, was wrong.
The press office provided this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The correct address is, in fact, email@example.com.
A small, but very significant point, you might say.
Eagle-eyed Inside Croydon readers quickly noticed the latest council gaffe.
“This is a very generous offer by Croydon Council,” said PR specialist Claire Kerr. “Shame the email address doesn’t work!”
A day later, Kerr tried again. The following morning, she discovered it had the same result. “Nope. The email address doesn’t work. You get a failure message after 24 hours to say that delivery has failed.”
Other readers also noticed, and suggested the alternative, correct, email address, removing the errant full point.
By yesterday evening, Kerr had solved the riddle posed by the council’s press department. “It takes 24 hours until you get a fail. I think I’ve worked out that there’s shouldn’t be a full stop in the middle of it.”
By this morning, five days after their original press release, even the council’s propagandists had woken up to their latest clanger, and corrected the email address on the council’s website.
That correction might be too late, though, before the wrong details appear in print in the diminishing circulation local papers this week, usually published on Wednesdays and Fridays.
It is thought that the “comms team” at the council has at least four staff who could check and proof-read all materials before they are put into the public domain. Cabinet members, when quoted in council press releases, are also usually expected to check the material for accuracy.
The council, and Shahul-Hameed, have a bit of a knack of dropped bollocks over business.
It was the same Shahul-Hameed who, when in Tony Newman’s council cabinet in 2020, found it difficult to distribute hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of free money.
Government covid grants during the first lockdown, intended to tie over businesses suffering the immediate shock of their cashflow being cut off, took Croydon Council five months to organise and distribute the cash – much longer than most other local authorities. For some struggling Croydon businesses, the covid grants came too late to save them.
Inside Croydon has written to the not-very-businesslike council to ask about the FSB offer and the email address.
We’re still waiting for a reply.
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