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Mayor brings back axed council magazine at cost of £34,000

A city mayor has defended the revival of an axed council magazine at a cost of £34,000.

Bristol City Council decided to scrap its Our City publication as a printed title in 2011 to save money and the last issue was published in January 2012.

But now the magazine has been brought back as a one-off trial despite criticism from fellow politicians who feared it was wasting taxpayers’ money.

Council newspapers came under fire from former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, who brought in a law to limit them, in a bid to protect the local press.

Our City


The latest 20-page Our City magazine has been distributed to all households in Bristol and contains information on councillors, how to access council services, a what’s on guide and news about council initiatives.

Bristol mayor George Ferguson said the one-off magazine was “extremely good value” and said it would provide information to people who did not have internet access.

But politicians have told the Bristol Post that they were concerned the publication was just about self-promotion for the mayor a year before he stands for re-election.

Conservative councillor Richard Eddy said: “This ‘trial’ run is deeply worrying. Conservatives campaigned long and hard for this publication to be scrapped for a host of reasons – all of which remain equally valid today.

“This rarely read ‘rag’, is unsolicited mail prepared by political spin-doctors. If or when you do review its contents, one quickly becomes aware that it is nothing less than naked, political self-promotion for whoever is in charge of the city, in this case, Mayor Ferguson.”

He added: “Furthermore, I recall the Department for Communities and Local Government previously issuing guidelines on ways to make ‘sensible savings’ in council budgets which explicitly recommended ‘scrapping the town hall Pravda’.

Bristol Labour Party vice chair Helen Godwin said: “Why has the Mayor decided to spend £34,000 of Bristolians taxes on a one off glossy magazine less than a year from his re-election?

“If the real purpose is to inform people who their councillors are and plans for the city it should have waited until after the elections next May when the administration and strategy will be set for the following four years. This is a shameless raid of taxpayers’ money for political purposes and the Mayor should be ashamed of himself.”

Mr Ferguson said that the last Labour administration had spent more than £300,000 on ten council magazines in 2008/09.

A spokesman for Bristol City Council told the Post: “Our City is an approved city council publication and is not aligned to any political party or individual.

“It is produced in compliance with the Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authority Publicity.

“Whilst the Mayor is featured this is in his capacity as leader of the council, and you’ll see Assistant Mayors are similarly featured.”

He added the figure spent on the magazine by the council was actually nearer £25,000 because of an advertising contribution from Bristol 2015, a company set up by the council to run events for its year as European Green Capital.

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  • June 9, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Oh that’s ok then – the money was given by another body funded directly by Bristol City Council… aka the Council tax payer!!. This was the issue raised by the Chartered Institute of Journalists. We pay our money for council run services and not in competition to local newspapers which DO hold the Council to task???

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