18 Oct 2016

Wirral councils monthly newspaper

Following last night's special council meeting Labour will be going ahead with a monthly council newspaper. This is despite strong arguments against. Below are the points I raised in opposition or you can watch John Brace's video from 28:35.

It's a very big step from a survey indicating residents would like to feel well informed to a monthly newspaper paid for by those same residents.

In the supporting information for this proposal it says this newspaper “is a direct response to survey findings.”

In fact it's an indirect response. The council has not directly asked residents if they would favour a monthly council newspaper.

Perhaps this is because they know what the answer would be.

But, for the record, I have already asked that question.

Out of almost 200 responses, 66% says its a bad idea. Only 15% think it's a good idea.

Moreover, where is the evidence this newspaper will actually be read be the people we want to reach?

The proliferation of “no junk mail” stickers on letter boxes is a strong indication that people already receive far more unsolicited mail than they would like.

On page 31 of today's council agenda we are told about “the great Wirral door knock” and what a huge success this was in in referring residents to appropriate services.

Surely the lesson here is that better intelligence about our residents combined with direct outreach is far better than mountains of newsprint that few will read.

Finally, it is self evident that this publication will harm local newspapers. The first business pledge in the 2020 vision is to create and safeguard jobs. This publication clearly threatens existing jobs in the print media.

In conclusion, this publication will:

  • antagonise those residents who don't want it
  • divert resources from more important and effective outreach work
  • not be read by many of the people we are trying to reach
  • impact negatively on existing local newspapers

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