Fortnightly Havering Council mag to go quarterly

Havering Council’s controversial fortnightly newspaper Living will be cut to four editions a year from this month.

The change comes about as the government launches a new code of practice limiting council newspapers.

The newspaper has been the subject of several debates in the council chamber, with the Residents’ Association (RA) expressing concerns over cost, frequency and political favourtism.

Cllr Clarence Barrett, RA leader, said “We have long maintained that the newspaper is simply too frequent, too partisan and, at a net �88,000 per year, doesn’t represent good value for money.

“There is, of course, a place and need for council communications. But is that need met by publishing a 24-page newspaper every other week? Perhaps a publication every quarter, but every fortnight is simply a council sponsored, publicly subsidised, newspaper in the business of managing news rather than imparting information.

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“It is noticeable that the stories in Living usually dwell on council successes and quote only Tory councillors. By doing so, the paper is perpetuating the impression that it is propaganda masquerading as journalism - taking on the role of a fully fledged newspaper while being subsidised by council tax payers.

“If local papers cease to exist and the council newspaper is the only publication in town, I believe it would pose a serious threat to local democracy and propels us towards an Orwellian world where the only news is good news and the sun is always shining.

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“Four publications a year is plenty and I will be interested to see what savings will be derived by cutting down on the frequency”.

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