The Councils newsletter features the work of a pantomime dame
The Council is threatening to deliver another edition of their “Our City” newsletter to every home in the City.
A contract for printing the publication was awarded in the summer for £192,000.
To this must be added the costs of delivery.
Value for money?
A higher priority than keeping roads and footpaths safe?
We don’t think so
With crime levels increasing in parts of York, a consultation survey has begun.
It asks whether the police tax should be increased by 1.99% next year.
Recently the government announced that there would be no reduction in the grant that it gives to Police forces.
The survey can be completed by clicking here
The Crime Commissioners Office only hints at how any extra money raise could be spent although residents have an opportunity to “write in” comments.
There are elections for a new Police and Crime Commissioner on 5th May 2016
More information is available here. The last PCC elections produced the lowest elector turnout ever recorded (15%).
York Council budget and newspaper
The York Council is also conducting a survey of residents views on its new budget. It can be completed here “on line“
The Council is delivering another “Our City” newspaper with a survey form enclosed.
However, they are not giving residents an opportunity to give a verdict on the likely local increase in Council Tax (expected to be 3.99%)
The Council newspaper – which costs residents around £40,000 a year – also has a section devoted to “local news” which appears to be aimed at encouraging participation in how Ward Committee funds are spent.
click to access
Click to access
The “Our City” newspaper, published by the York Council, has racked up a bill of nearly £40,000 so far since July.
The total of £38,624 covers four editions the last of which will be delivered in January. All households are supposed to have a copy delivered free of charge.
Not all of the costs will fall on York Council taxpayers. Contributions have also been made by “partner” agencies such as the Police (although it is mostly public money in the end).
The newspaper content and design has been criticised for being “dull”. Copies can be downloaded from the Council’s web site (click)
In October copies of the newspaper were dumped in the communal areas of flats and clearly never reached the intended readers.
The suppliers includes Newsquest (publishers of The Press) who design and print the newspaper while the “Local Link” free advertising magazine undertakes delivery.
The editorial content is written “in house”.
The Council has failed to include the “cost per household” figure on recent editions (it works out at about 12p per taxpayer for each edition) as was agreed would be provided, on all Council literature, more than a decade ago.
While normally £40,000 might be regarded as a small bill for the (worthy) objective of keeping residents informed, the expenditure comes against a background of cheeseparing cuts to basic public services such as street cleansing and weed control.
The new Council didn’t openly debate its policy on public communications when it took office in May, so we do not know what relative priority it gives to the burgeoning use of social media – which provides up to date news each day – nor the plans to re-introduce a, more locally focused, “Ward Committee” newsletter.
To their credit many Councillors do produce their own newsletters – the LibDem version is Focus – which are published and delivered without any cost to taxpayers.
The Council has published another “Our City” newspaper.
It is a dull read and it even manages to use most of its front page up with an article on the Council “budget” which says absolutely nothing – other than that there will be one next year!
The articles have all appear to have been recycled from social media and the commercial press.
Once again the Council has broken its own ten year old protocol which requires that any leaflets that it may produce, must show the cost of production and distribution.
There are better things to spend taxpayers money on.
Copies of a Council newspaper that cost thousands of pounds to publish have been left in the stairwells of Council flats in the Windsor Garth area.
Copies of Council newspaper dumped in flat stairwells
The newspaper has apparently been delivered together with with a “Local Link” advertising magazine and various other bits of junk mail.
Many haven’t found there way through letterboxes and local residents say that anything left in communal areas is likely to be put straight into recycling containers.
The newspaper has also courted controversy as it fails to include details of the cost of production – something that the Council agreed to print on all its publications more than15 years ago.
If design, printing and delivery costs are included, then a newspaper can cost around £10,000 to distribute to all (80,000) homes in the City
The publication has been described as a “waste of money”.
In the Kingsway area residents point to three Council funded noticeboards which have not had anything displayed on them for over two years.
click to download
It looks like the new – coalition run – York Council plans to continue the funding of a Civic newspaper.
“Our City” is delivered free of charge to local homes although anecdotal evidence suggests that not every house gets one.
The publication is also available on line (click here)
Much of the information included in the latest edition has been available via social and commercial media for several weeks and we really do doubt the priority of spending tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on a publication which combines the anodyne with the partisan.
Put simply, there are higher priorities for the use of taxpayers money. Even the most cursory of glances around many streets will reveal that public services need to enjoy as large a share of the Councils budget as possible.
The Council should improve the amount and accessibility of the information that it provides using free social media channels along with passive options such as notice boards, the Press and local radio.
Good ward Councillors will regard it as one of their duties to fund and deliver information to the people that they represent.
In that respect, all LibDem Councillors produce regular Focus newsletters which are paid for by voluntary donations while maintaining web pages like this one which are updated each day.