Thursday 13 August 2009

Attack on 'ego-trip' council newspapers

On, Mark Wallace, campaign director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, lays into council newspapers.
Wallace notes that an increasing number of councils now produce their own free newspapers distributed at taxpayers' expense to every home in the local area.
He says: "With the recession making times tough for just about every business, having a taxpayer-funded, free-of-charge competitor appear on your doorstep is the death knell for a growing number of local papers.
"How did this come about? Councils of course have to publicise their services - particularly amongst hard-to-reach vulnerable groups such as the isolated elderly. From that basis, though, there has been a huge degree of mission creep. What started off as simple fliers distributed when necessary to notify people about new services or bin timetable changes has been transformed into a flurry of glossy, full-colour publications that are stuffed full of 'news' about how great councillors and their senior officers are, with only occasional boxes devoted to actual services.
"Part of this is down to human nature, and part down to cynical politics. It is human nature to empire-build. An officer responsible for designing and printing simple black and white fliers listing when people's bins are going to be collected will naturally hanker after something more prestigious, more impressive and better paid. It was only a matter of time before bold officers proposed a radical upgrade from flier to fully-fledged council newspaper."
He adds:" TaxPayers' Alliance research using the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that the average council now spends £1 million a year on publicity alone - of which a sizable amount is newspapers and magazines. These ego-trips have become utterly unaffordable."

1 comment:

Rich Simcox said...

Ace. I knew I was right not to leap on the council-newspapers = satan-in-newsprint bandwagon.

I'd be gutted if I had, just to be asked to budge up to make room for some well-fed Tory from the Taxpayers "Alliance".