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Welsh councils spend £1m on freesheets, figures show

Local authorities in Wales are spending more than £1m a year on producing free newspapers, it was revealed today.

Figures compiled under the Freedom of Information Act show 16 of the 22 Welsh councils publish a freesheet at least twice a year, with the total cost coming to £1,034,353.

The biggest spender was Cardiff City Council which published 13 editions of its free newspaper at a cost of £267,431.

Only four Welsh councils do not produce a newspaper, while one, Pembrokeshire, produces an online only newsletter.

The Welsh government has said it will review the code governing council publications, but it is unclear whether this will result in a similar clampdown to the one being carried out in England.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles wants a lelally enforceable ban on councils from publishing newspapers more than four times a year.

Linda Roberts, executive editor of the Caernarfon Herald and North Wales Weekly News series, told BBC Radio Wales that she would like to see councils putting their newsletters inside local newspapers, thereby supporting local businesses.

“A million pounds is an awful lot of money, especially when we are seeing councils making cuts in all kinds of things like care of the elderly, social services, leisure services,” said Linda.

“I would also like to know what measures they have in place, that how many people are actually reading these newsletters and what reaction they are getting to them.

“I think the majority of them end up in the bin, to be honest.”

The Welsh Local Government Association says many council taxpayers found the papers useful.

“They were initiated in the first place because central government required councils to locally publish performance information in a non-commercial local paper,” it added.


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  • July 30, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Claiming that all council papers are worthless because they end up in the bin is pretty feeble stuff. I suspect bins and their owners don’t discriminate Likewise more feeble stuff with the revelation that £1m is “an awfull lot of money”. Shock horror. Am I alone in feeling uneasy about such superficial council bashing? The newspaper society courted Eric Pickles to introduce the four times a year ban in England because they claimed council newspapers were causing commercial newspapers to go bust. And it did nothing to halt falling sales and title closures.

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  • August 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Divide £1,034,353 by the 22 councils and it comes to less than 50K each per year. That might get you a third of a multi-use games area.

    Cheap, easy, unjustified (yet predictable) council-bashing, which seems to be all the rage with local newspaper-types who can’t find anything better to write about.

    Linda Roberts says council freesheets are a waste of money – but it would be ok if they were inserted into newspapers to help prop up their own ailing circulations. What kind of diseased logic is that, and where does your sense of entitlement towards your local authority come from?

    Embarrassingly weak stuff.

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