Elected members of Greystones Municipal District have deferred a decision on Greystones Town Team’s funding request for social media.
Recently the members received a presentation from representatives of the local group, who asked for €12,000 in funding to employ an agency part-time to assist with the running of the Greystones.ie social media channels. However, councillors expressed concerns about the amount requested by the town team from the limited economic development budget available to the district.
David O’Brien, Greystones Town Team volunteer, told councillors that Greystones.ie social channels had seen a growth in followers, engagement and reach in the space of one week. Volunteers are working on a Christmas strategy, as social media would be important to creating a festive spirit in the town.
Ritchie Power, chair of the Greystones Town Team communications subcommittee, said the management of the social media channels would remain volunteer-led, however, Greystones Town Team hoped to outsource some of this work on a part-time basis to an agency, which would cost around €12,000.
He noted there is a risk that the social media management could become “patchy” when volunteers are busy. He gave details of the experience of the volunteers involved in the Greystones Town Team communications subcommittee.
The district already allocates €3,000 a year towards the costs of Greystones.ie, and if additional funding was not agreed by councillors, the volunteers would take a “best effort” approach.
Mr Power told councillors that Christmas is expected to demonstrate positive results from their approach. Local businesses had also been informed that a portion of their contribution to the Christmas lights would be used towards social media.
Cllr Gerry Walsh welcomed the proactive approach taken by the town team to promoting Greystones, but asked for more information about how the funding would be spent if agreed by councillors.
Mr Power said the money would be used to employ an agency on a part-time basis, which would be focused on generating content for the social media channels. This work could include graphic design and coaching local businesses and groups to prepare pieces for social media.
Cllr Derek Mitchell asked how the Greystones.ie social channels would relate to other local social media pages.
Mr Power praised Greystones-based social media pages and said all pages could co-exist together while providing different services. Greystones.ie would be “impartial” and without a commercial agenda, he added..
Responding to a question from Cllr Mitchell, Myra Porter, district administrator, told councillors that the economic development budget available for 2022 would be €38,000.
Of this, the district contributes €5,000 to Christmas Lights and supports Tidy Town groups. The budget is also used for town twinning projects and civic receptions.
The district had committed to contribute €3,000 towards Greystones.ie, but this had not been allocated for 2021. Councillors could agree to provide €3,000 in 2022, which could mean a potential to allocate a total of €6,000.
Cllr Mags Crean expressed her appreciation for the work carried out by the town team to promote the area, but said she had concerns about the amount of money requested. She pointed out that town twinning activities and festivals are being planned.
Cllr Crean also noted €12,000 is a substantial amount of money to allocate to one group in the district.
Cllr Lourda Scott said a “significant amount” had been requested from a limited budget. She asked for the town team to provide a more detailed breakdown of the proposal and comparative figures from other districts.
Mr Power said a satisfaction survey would be circulated to local businesses following the festive season and other data collected over this period to assess the success of the social media campaign.
From speaking with other town teams in the county, he said Wicklow spends around €10,000 per year on agency support, but this figure does not include major festivals or events. Mr Power said Bray Town Team indicated they spend around €12,000 excluding major festivals or events.
Mr Power said the requested budget equated to 50c per resident of Greystones and argued that the town was “operating on a different level” to other similar sized areas. The Town Team’s restructuring into a limited liability company meant they could also look for other sources of funding to supplement the social media budget. These could include LEADER funding.
Tom O’Mahony of Greystones Town team also gave a presentation to councillors outlining the Team Team’s decision to re-structure as a limited liability legal entity, which would allow the local group to apply for alternative funding programmes. He emphasised that volunteerism would remain central to the Town Teams group, with the new structure intended to “energise volunteers”.
The group would be non-political and collaborative in its approach. He confirmed that Greystones Town Team has started work on its plan for the next three years, and they hope to build on the legacy of Greystones 2020.