Call To Scrap 'Money-Wasting Propaganda Sheet'
New data shows Around Ealing cost over £1.2 million in eight years
A call is being made by the opposition on Ealing Council to scrap the borough’s magazine Around Ealing after a Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed that the publication has cost over £1.2million over the last 8 years.
The request made by local resident, Simon Hayes, shows that this has been offset by just £280,000 in advertising revenue and much of this comes from organisations also funded by the tax payer.
In the most recent year production budget for the magazine was £148,000 which Mr Hayes estimates will result in a deficit of over £100,000 if advertising revenue is similar to previous years. This figure includes distribution costs contrary to what we reported earlier.
In an email to Council Leader Julian Bell he said, “I know that most councils produce publications trumpeting their achievements but I cannot see how you can justify operating at such a loss year on year, particularly when you use its pages to claim how hard up the Council is and how so many savings need to be made.”
Cllr. Gregory Stafford, Conservative Leader of the Opposition said, "These shocking figures prove what we have been saying for nearly a decade, that Around Ealing is a money-wasting propaganda sheet which has been slowly creeping from an informative newsletter, to a blatant self-promotion rag for the Labour administration.
“All pretence of impartiality has been ditched and the only informative pages - the contact details of all the local Councillors - were quietly removed after the recent local election.
“The Labour council should take up the local Conservative manifesto pledge to scrap this loss-making propaganda sheet.”
Councillor Gary Malcolm, Liberal Democrat Leader, said, "We were told that the advertising income with Around Ealing covers the cost but clearly this is not the case. Although it is important for the Council to inform residents about important local matters, sometimes they quote the politicians running the Town Hall giving them free publicity. The Council should look to bring in more income from advertising."
When we asked him about the impact this might have on other media in the area looking to this as a source of revenue he said, ‘there is always more advertising’.
In response to Mr Hayes, Cllr Bell disputed the claim that the Council was being extravagant in its spending on the magazine and pointed out that the expense of Around Ealing has been reduced over the last five years. He claimed that they publish and distribute the magazine to all homes and businesses in the borough six times a year for the equivalent cost of a second class stamp.
He added, “Given the duty that the council has to communicate with its residents, I believe this represents value for money. Further, it is far more cost-effective in communicating information and changes to services through a single magazine rather than multiple stand-alone communications through people’s doors. We do, of course, encourage residents to access information on services online – and this has enabled us to reduce the number of editions of Around Ealing each year – but some residents prefer to receive information through the door. “
He also disagreed that the magazine was not politically neutral and said that it adhered to the Government’s publicity code for such publications. He also asserted that Around Ealing was not ‘in competition’ with other local media and clearly badged as a council publication.
Cllr Bell said that the Council’s communications strategy was under review at each budget setting and they would be looking to identify more savings and ways to increase income for Around Ealing as well as looking at ways to provide residents with more information digitally.
February 24, 2019