A council publication will be scaled down to save at least £100,000 in the wake of a clampdown by the government on ‘town hall pravdas’.
Your Croydon is currently published monthly by Croydon Borough Council at a cost of £250,000 a year, but the authority has decided to publish it just four to six times a year instead.
The final edition of the magazine in its present format was published this month and from March it is expected to appear in its cheaper version with fewer pages.
Councils have been under pressure to reduce spending on their own publications by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who announced proposals to crack down on them earlier this year – to prevent them damaging local newspapers.
Croydon Advertiser news editor Stuart Woledge has welcomed the news, saying: “Newspapers operate in an increasingly competitive market and local government free-sheets, such as Your Croydon, certainly don’t help.
“That said, these publications cannot be considered a replacement for proper journalism.
“In this so called ‘age of austerity’, surely it makes financial sense for councils to stick to their traditional role of providing services, and leave the scrutiny to newspapers.”
But council leader Mike Fisher said Your Croydon had never been in direct competition with local papers and its aim was to get the council’s message across.
He said: “I don’t believe Your Croydon has been a waste of money but we have got to make spending reductions.
“It costs £250,000 a year at present and by making the changes we will be reducing the costs by at least £100,000. It will still, however, be delivered to every home in the borough.”
Meanwhile, the Lynne Anderson from the Newspaper Society and Simon Edgley of Trinity Mirror Southern have given evidence this week to a Parliamentary select committee looking into the government’s plans to curb council newspapers.
They told a one-day hearing on Monday that councils were competing with local newspapers for advertising without having to run a business on a commercial basis.
Said Lynne: “You don’t need your local council competing with you for scarce advertising revenues…those are the very ad revenues which keep journalists in their jobs. Councils should not be in the business of competing.”
The NS’ response to the government’s consultation said its crackdown on council papers should include a ban on advertising.