Brighton and Hove council magazine faces cuts

Posted On 29 Sep 2010 at 12:15 pm

Brighton and Hove City Council magazine City News looks likely to be published just four times a year under new rules announced by the Government today.

The council presently publishes the magazine ten times a year.

The cut in frequency – and almost certainly in budget too – follows an announcement by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

He spelt out proposals to tighten up the publicity rules for councils to guard against campaigning with public funds.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said: “In recent years there has been a major growth in the frequency and scope of council publicity techniques that use taxpayers’ money while local papers have struggled in a saturated news environment.

Mr Pickles, said: “An independent local press is an essential part of our open democracy helping local people scrutinise and hold elected councillors to account.”

The proposals set out today are intended to stop council newspapers being published more than four times a year and to end the hiring of lobbying contractors.

They are also aimed at giving more transparency and certainty to local authorities and political parties about paying for stalls at party conferences.

The rules will, for example, distinguish between the promotion of a local area for tourism purposes and the taxpayer-funded lobbying of politicians.

Mr Pickles said: “The rules around council publicity have been too weak for too long allowing public money to be spent on frivolous town hall propaganda papers that have left many local newspapers looking over the abyss – weakening our free press – or to use ‘hired gun’ lobbyists that operate in the shadows to bulldoze special interests through.

“The proposals I am publishing today will close off these inappropriate practices and make sure that councils focus taxpayers’ money on where it should be spent – protecting frontline services.”

City News carries a limited amount of advertising although the council has undertaken a review to consider ways of generating advertising revenue, although this would not be limited to publications.

While City News poses no commercial threat to The Argus, last week the council’s cabinet was told that the council had cut its advertising spend from £900,000 a year to less than £300,000 by putting job adverts online rather than in newspapers and magazines.

  1. Paul Perrin Reply

    It is shocking that it has taken the deficit reduction plans to identify this massive waste that must have been going on for years. How many millions have been wasted over the years on this, unnecessarily?

    No wonder a dedicated website to recruit the new ‘strategic directors’ seemed cheap to our profligate council.

    How much millions more is being wasted by our council, that no one is even looking to save?

    Mind you, as the council don’t bother to distribute their useless magazine to Ovingdean, maybe we could have a refund on the full amount?

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