Conservatives Pledge To Cut Council 'Propaganda'

Local government spokeswoman condemns tax-payer funded media

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The Conservatives have spoken out against taxpayer funded media - pledging to force councils to focus on services instead of publicity.

Shadow Communities and Local Government spokeswoman Caroline Spelman said local authorities were now spending around £430m on producing their own newspapers and magazines.

According to figures released after a Freedom of Information request, Ealing Council allocated £102,250 from its budget last year (ending 31/03/09) to produce and distribute its monthly publication 'Around Ealing'. However the real cost (not including staff salaries) stood at three times this amount - £376,081.

Advertising revenue from council departments and other public bodies made up the shortfall but no jobs in the council were advertised in the magazine last year.

The information released suggests that the revenue from external sources is minimal.

Should they win the election, the Conservatives would tighten the Local Authority Publicity Code demanding councils publish online exactly what they're spending with a full breakdown of print costs, design and delivery, and editorial.

Local Labour MP Andy Slaughter welcomed the move praising the party's pledge to force local authorities to come clean on their promotional publication expenses.

He said, "I fully support this position and have made the point in several Commons debates that local authority-funded newspapers which seek to replace the local media are both wasteful of public money and undermining of local democracy, whichever party is promoting them."

 

March 20, 2010