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Council urged to scrap newsletter amid ‘propaganda tool’ claims

A county council has been urged to scrap its in-house newspaper amid claims it is being used as a “propaganda tool”.

A call has been made to Conservative-run West Sussex County Council to get rid of its ‘West Sussex Connections’ newsletter, is delivered to approximately 381,000 households three times a year.

Bob Smytherman, a councillor sitting on the opposition Liberal democrat Group, has told the West Sussex County Times he believes Connections should be scrapped given the “huge budget pressures” the authority is facing.

Councillor Smytherman has previously successfully campaign for Worthing Borough Council to stop producing its magazine.

West Sussex Connections

He told the County Times: “I have long argued that idea that local councils producing ‘glossy’ magazines that are nothing more than a propaganda tool for the Tory administration should be scrapped.

“I successfully persuaded Worthing Borough Council to stop producing their magazine some years ago and West Sussex ignored the same calls, well I am now renewing my calls in the light of the latest round of swathing cuts to front like services such as housing support that the county council once and for all stop wasting limited taxpayers’ resources on delivering this ‘lifestyle’ magazine to every home in the county at huge expense.”

In response, a county council spokesperson said: “Connections is published three times a year and is delivered to approximately 381,000 households across West Sussex at a cost of around 10 pence per household. It is also online, and an audio edition is produced for residents who are blind or partially sighted.

“The newspaper does not carry any political opinion pieces by or photographs of county councillors. It contains helpful and important information for residents on the wide range of services provided by the county council and its partners.

“For example, the latest issue included articles on school application deadlines, useful phone numbers and emergency contacts for support during the winter months and information on the assistance available for people who are caring for family members as well as working. It provides information residents would otherwise not have or know where to look for.

“We are constantly reviewing West Sussex Connections and the best ways to deliver useful information to residents – via our county local committees, our website, social media and through the press.”

2 comments

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  • November 7, 2018 at 10:35 am
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    Council newsletters have become a thorn in the side of local papers but like it or not local rags no longer reach the populace promoting councils to look elsewhere or do their own thing.
    When weeklies sold tens of thousands and had a high household penetration they were the automatic choice for public notices, planning apps and council services notices, often the only choice due to the paper having the monopoly and charging top dollar to advertise in these sections, now with more choice and by using their own newsletters they can get the reach without the cost.
    Advertising helps offset the cost and with local papers selling hardly any copies compared to years ago,content aside,newsletters themselves really are no threat or competition, it’s very much a case of sour grapes at losing what was deemed armour plated ad revenue.

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  • November 7, 2018 at 4:56 pm
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    How many copies does the local weekly sell. A few thousand I would guess. How can the council get its message over with such poor circulation of local media?

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