back to article Council spunks '£100k on how to wash your hands' vid

West Sussex County Council is taking a bit of a shoeing down at the Telegraph for allegedly spending £100,000 on a video showing people how to wash their hands. The paper has rather incautiously put Middle England at serious risk of apoplectic fit by running the headline "Council spends £100,000 on 'how to wash your hands' …


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  1. Ben Rose


    Possibly the oldest story posted on here for a while, although I'm not sure who's responsible for it's re-release as "news".

    Was even covered on BBC Watchdog back in 2010.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As someone who runs a video production company.....

    I work with many councils as a video producer. I provide the full service including kit. Frankly it will work out cheaper to use decent local production companies rather than go it alone. Not only will the cost be spread out, but they won't have to worry about kit that depreciates at a terrifying rate or keeping up with the latest edit software.

    Having seen other councils do stuff "in house" all it does is create a cushy job for someone and buy a load of top of the range or inappropriate kit in using taxpayers money. The results are rarely impressive either as there is no commercial imperative and they end up making videos that aren't needed or viewed just to keep themselves busy or to inflate the egos of management.

    Granted I do have a vested interest here but I also know the economics of it. I couldn't imagine having started my company with 100 grand of startup capital. It's just mad.

    1. Oor Nonny-Muss

      Re: As someone who runs a video production company.....

      >>they won't have to worry about kit that depreciates at a terrifying rate or keeping up with the latest edit software.

      So the kit depreciates - doesn't *usually* stop it working though. Likewise the latest and greatest edit software might be nice to have but it rarely stops the previous 15 versions working. We're talking about a small budget council production (most likely for internal consumption here), not a 3D, HD widescreen epic with a cast of thousands and and Oscar-winning score.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As someone who runs a video production company.....

        I work on tiny budgets, often sub £1500 and it's not unheard to go below £1000 and I have a great deal of experience of getting the most from the clients budget. Low budget doesn't have to mean bad.

        Sure kit depreciates and that's not so important if you don't want to stay up to date. On the other hand staying up to date can deliver significant workflow advantages and time savings. Say they'd started out on their project 3 or 4 years ago and therefore had a tape based workflow? Moving to solid state recording meant an investment up front for me personally but delivers huge savings down the line.

        I have to work on the basis of whatever I do or buy has to pay for itself. The council works on the basis of "there's more money where that came from". Fine for them, not so fine for the tax payers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As someone who runs a video production company.....

      @AC Completely agree, I used to be self employed and end-to-end video production was one of my services. Now I would love to do the same for the Council I currently work at, with some tasty kit to play with but it's just not cost effective when a local production company can produce and churn out a video to spec in half the time and half the cost, which is why I've said we shouldn't bother with in-house video production.

      Completely agree with depreciation as well, software does eventually need upgrading, especially if you want to take advantage of the mobile platforms and codecs.

    3. RISC OS

      cushy indeed

      I bet the reason why it cost so much and why someone like yourself wasn't contracted is because it provides, as you say, a "cushy" job for someone... probably someones son, wife or, daughter's boyfriend.

      Probably why they are so crap and why only 203 people have seen the films... that's probably everyone the person making them has on facebook - plus 50 from him/herself just to see what their films on youtube look like.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are plenty of blokes who could do with watching this video

    When I go to the other office of the small business I work for, I am amazed - with horror - at the number of times the handwash is empty in the gents.

    Trusted colleagues are doing poos, wiping their arses, then merely rinsing their hands from the cold tap. They should be bloody ashamed of themselves.

    1. Sweaty Hambeast

      Re: There are plenty of blokes who could do with watching this video

      I'll go you one better... or worse. I'm often waiting for the one washbasin in the loo here and the number of people who step away from the urinal or, worse, come out of the trap, and then proceed directly to the door without washing their hands is unbelievable! Comments about it are invariably ignored as they wander back to their cubicles and lay their grubby mitts on their keyboards and phones.

      Sorry... this annoys the hell out of me :-(

      1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

        Re: There are plenty of blokes who could do with watching this video

        "and then proceed directly to the door without washing their hands "

        Even better when they proceed straight to the kitchen or vending machines! *shudder*

    2. Jimbo 6

      Re: There are plenty of blokes...

      My thoughts entirely - so many people seem to be baffled by the concept of hand-washing that I'm suprised WSCC didn't get Professor Cox in to explain it.

      In fact I think the aforementioned council could produce a lot more videos, such as "When to use the indicator lights on the car you're driving", "How to put used teabags in the bin", or "Wet towels - hang them up !" and none of them would be a waste of money.

      (I can only hope that trusted colleagues are, in fact, "wiping their arses", and don't need an instructional video on how to do *that*.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There are plenty of blokes...

        > (I can only hope that trusted colleagues are, in fact, "wiping their arses", and don't need an instructional video on how to do *that*.)

        I suspect a few of them have very clean elbows.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There are plenty of blokes...

        I avoid the need to wash my hands when urinating, by simply not urinating on my hands.

        On another note, when I used to work as a chemist, it was always more important to wash your hands BEFORE using the toilet.

        1. Jimbo 6

          Re: work as a chemist...wash your hands BEFORE using the toilet

          Yeah, one of my mates made that mistake when preparing a 'five-alarm' chili. Ooooh oooh ooh the ring of fire....

        2. Benedict

          Re: There are plenty of blokes...

          So I'd take it you'd be happy to shake my hand after I've had it down my trousers, scratching my balls? After all, I don't urinate on my hands either.

        3. Stu_The_Jock

          Re: There are plenty of blokes...

          Re washing hands BEFORE peeing . . . same goes after chopping chilli peppers ! Believe me I KNOW !

      3. David Eddleman

        Re: There are plenty of blokes...

        Indicator lights. If violation of that was an instant point here in Texas it would cease to be a problem.

        For my take on it, go to Youtube and look up "Shoot em up no signal".

        And yeah, sadly, seen the same thing re: wiping/pissing and failing to wersh yer hands. Seems like that and saying please/thank you is going the way of the dodo...

        1. perlcat

          Re: There are plenty of blokes...

          When I see the offenders, I take it out on them on their network login. Occasionally, I use their hard drive as browser cache, and their cost center for all my hardware needs. Kills two birds with one stone.

    3. Some Beggar

      Re: There are plenty of blokes who could do with watching this video

      I avoid this problem by just pooing under my desk.

      1. hplasm Silver badge

        Re: There are plenty of blokes who could do with watching this video

        Under your desk? Are you Management or something?

    4. Lallabalalla

      Re: There are plenty of blokes who could do with watching this video

      And this has been downvoted .... why?? And by who?? I hope I never have to shake *your* hand!

      And to the guy (I presume guy) who doesn't wash "because he doesn't pee on his hands". EWWW! You've been holding YOUR KNOB, FFS!

      1. perlcat


        His knob probably is short enough that it isn't a problem. Probably forgot to wash when handling the sulfuric acid a time or two.

        Also wondering why someone who supposedly worked with dangerous chemicals doesn't understand things like aerosols and backspray.

        Ah, denial, ain't it a wonderful thing!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an "outraged local" can I also mention that WSCC has much more form here than just spending money on useless videos, it has some of the highest paid executives (even though they are *very* reluctant to share exactly how much) in local government. As well as being quite shameless about acquiring the money from its ratepayers (for instance: recently forcing district councils to introduce car parking charges against the will of the DCs, the Chambers of Trade and polls of local ratepayers, axing bus subsidies at little notice, etc etc)

  5. Miek
    Thumb Up

    "Instead, he moderately suggested: "Some councils either have more money and time than they know what to do with, or have a misguided understanding of what their job involves." -- Fantastic

    1. Crisp Silver badge


      There's always the strong possibility that both factors contributed to this huge waste of money.

      (sometimes I wish we could vote on what our tax money gets spent on)

      1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Re: @Miek

        There's always the strong possibility that both factors contributed to this huge waste of money

        Has the council washed their hands of all responsibility?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't tell me...

    ... these papers never pay for a good scoop full of self-righteous indignation rhetoric?

    I figure they should "donate" a nice sum of their proceeds to the council as a thank-you. Should take care of the "problem" of spending taxpayer money reasonably well (compared to some other things, certainly) handily, I say.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No laughing matter

    It is easy to scoff at a council producing a video about handwashing but I'm a Doctor and correct handwashing IS something that can be taught as most of us don't do it correctly. I would guess that the video is possibly aimed at employed careers who often deal with very frail elderly people who are very vunerable to infection. Correct hand washing is a massively effective infection control measure and even if the video cost £100,000 rather than the likely <£2000 then it would still be cost-effective as admissions due to preventable infections cost a lot more. I bet the Telegraph would be the first to bleat about someone dying because of poor infection control measures!

    1. Some Beggar

      Re: No laughing matter

      Quite. But why do they need a Sussex-specific video? Surely one nationwide Charlie Says or Tufty Club video would do*. Handwashing is handwashing regardless of your local council, isn't it?

      (* or whatever the new-fangled modern equivalent might be)

      1. Graham Bartlett

        Re: No laughing matter

        Charlie says, <snort> oh yeaaah, now the other line...

    2. P Saunders

      Re: No laughing matter

      Look where it got Ignaz Semelweiss.

    3. Lallabalalla

      Re: No laughing matter

      Where my sister in law worked they used to say "sing Happy Birthday to yourself - all of it - while washing your hands." This made sure they got more than just a cursory rinse.

      Naming no names. but I don't mind shopping in Morrison's...

      1. ta6rma

        Re: No laughing matter

        Similar thing at our place....

    4. peter 45
      Thumb Down

      Re: No laughing matter

      All good points

      If it had be distributed to all oap shelters, or hospitals or doctors surgerys or...or...or.

      So did they do any of that?

      No? Waste of time and money then.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As ridicilous as it may sound...

    ...such videos may actually be helpful. This particular one improved my standard of living considerably:

    1. The BigYin

      Re: As ridicilous as it may sound...

      He got to age 50 and no one told him he was tying a granny knot?

    2. Mickey Finn

      Re: As ridicilous as it may sound...

      Curious… I took a look.

      I was expecting something really major, like why do the young seem to think that spare lace should be inserted down the sides of the shoe (without tying), and the solution to garish bows for them…

      But no, it was something that I discovered some time back for myself, purely by accident. The reason why he is right, is that the underlying knot in the first example is a "granny" knot, and in the second example, the underlying knot is a "reef" knot.

      Mind you, I was about 50 when I discovered this.

    3. Lallabalalla
      Thumb Up

      Re: As ridicilous as it may sound...

      I just watched that video.

      You win.

    4. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Re: As ridicilous as it may sound...

      Actually, I learned this from Thoreau's journals ( An improved standard of living, as you say, and much excellent reading besides.

  9. JetSetJim Silver badge


    They're hoping they will go viral as everybody logs into gootube to see what sort of stupidity the Telegraph is lambasting. Quids in, if they can get the eyeballs looking at the vids.

    Possibly not something they originally thought of, though...

  10. The BigYin

    What's sad is...

    ...that Brits do actually need these videos. Most never wash their hands after using the lav*, and when they do they often fail to wash thoroughly enough.

    *Now go wash your hands

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's sad is...

      Well, why pick on Brits? I have lived and worked in several places in Europe, N. America, Australasia and Asia. If anything, the Brits are in the better group. Turks, form holiday observations a little off the beaten track, are actually rather better than anyone else.

      I work now in a European country renowned for its cleanliness - not in the post-lavatory session activity I can assure you.

      1. The BigYin

        @AC Re: What's sad is...

        British website, British council, so why not?

        If I had said "Yanks" would you have been so righteous?

  11. DrXym Silver badge

    The Telegraph is getting as bad as the Mail

    Once upon a time it was the Daily Mail that you could rely on for spinning some mundane easily justifiable council action into faux outrage designed to provoke it's mittle England readers.

    Every story is the same - a headline which is basically a lie or gross distortion of the facts, a first paragraph intended to embellish the lie, a second paragraph which lets an opponent of the council rant how its all so unfair or a waste of money, and two lines at the bottom explaining the perfectly reasonable story in context. I assume Daily Mail readers are so outraged they are too busy knawing their own hands to bother reading to the bottom of a story.

    And now the Telegraph is doing it. I realise it is right wing in outlook but it is a broadsheet which is supposed to mean something in terms of the quality and accuracy of its reporting. It seems these days they are less interested in the quality and accuracy aspect and more in the trolling for hits to boost ad impressions aspect. This is especially notable whenever the subject concerns religion, or climate change or councils where the article is deliberately inflammatory.

    I wonder if journalists in these places feel shame at what they're doing. I wonder how much money councils waste answering letters and phone calls, or by mothballing perfectly justifiable projects which targeted by these stupid stories.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Telegraph is getting as bad as the Mail

      They got it from our local rag, the Midhurst and Petworth Observer. The Torygraph is right wing, but then so is our council. Especially, it seems, when it comes to paying themselves.

  12. Spanners Silver badge

    "stop pursuing poor ideas when they have clearly failed"

    I'm looking at you David Cameron and Andrew Lansley. Politicians never stop trying bad ideas so why should anyone else?

    That video needs to go viral. If people in this country washed their hands better, I wonder how much public health would improve.

  13. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Its due to a typical

    council syndrome called "Itsnotmymoneyitis"

    Plenty of councils suffer from it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Its due to a typical

      Coming soon

      "How to breath in" then three weeks later "how to breath out".

      and I thought I'd seen it all with the 'How to use the toilet' video.

      See (with apologies to Douglas Adams) these people are the useless third in our society that nobody (except taxpayers) would miss if they were all eliminated.

      Well done the TPA for turning over the stones to see the leeches clinging to the taxpayers teat.

  14. Some Beggar

    Headline shennanigans.

    Why have you essentially reproduced the Telegraph's exaggerated headline when your own simple arithmetic has calculated the actual cost at under £2k?

    (ummm ... ok ... so what exactly is objectionable about this post?)

  15. Mickey Finn

    This is a party political broadcast...

    It seems to me, from a brief look, that many of the vids are political in nature… Interviews with big-wigs and appointees, adverts for "the big society", and so on.

    I couldn't care less whether the Tory party spends its money on this sort of thing, but in this case it is spending the taxpayers money, albeit not much in the great scheme of things… Far more is wasted by governing parties of every hue on things which were never offered during the election.

    This is really yet another good reason why we need "Referism" in local (and national) government.

    Of course, this is chicken feed when put in the context of a "Red Ken" performance at the GLC/GLA.

  16. Tim Greenwood

    Its a good idea

    The principle is correct, in that thorough handwashing is a major contributor to public health. However, as has been mentioned already, only a national video is required and I am pretty sure that health authorities already have such a thing. The money should have been spent on promoting it and not on making it in the first place.


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