Law could curb council’s monthly magazine

NORTH Somerset Council could soon be forced to reduce the number of times it publishes its North Somerset Life magazine.

The Government has confirmed it will introduce a law preventing council newspapers from being published more than four times a year.

North Somerset Life is currently published monthly and includes details on local events, achievements of residents or organisations, council schemes and noteworthy issues as well as letters from residents.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles had previously introduced a voluntary code aimed at curbing what he has branded “town hall Pravdas.”

But some authorities have continued to flout the code, which aimed to restrict council papers to publishing four times a year.

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Mr Pickles has now reaffirmed plans to give the code the force of law with a bill to be introduced in the next session of Parliament.

He said he plans to introduce the legislation to ban councils from publishing newspapers which actively compete with the local press.

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Speaking at a Newspaper Conference lunch in Westminster, Mr Pickles said the bill would aim to stop what he called “a bunch of hard core authorities” who continued to publish council newspapers in competition with the local press.

North Somerset Life costs North Somerset Council �233,868 per year to research, write, design, print and distribute to 91,255 homes.

The authority has always defended its publication, saying it saves money, is not in competition with local newspapers and is a good way of communicating with residents.

A council spokesman said: “We have evidence that shows that people who regularly read the magazine are better informed about the different services that the council offers and provides and it is also a cost-effective method of getting messages out to residents.

“If we were using adverts in other publications and printing more leaflets that would not be as cost-effective.

“It is not a vanity publication.”

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