The Coalition Government has been waging war on councils who have produced their own newspapers at the expense of the taxpayer. According to the Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, these often amount to little more than ‘town hall Pravdas’ which ‘end up in the bin’ and at the same time undermine local newspapers which are currently struggling to survive.
There are of course extreme examples of this, although research shows them to be relatively rare. Apparently though one London Borough produces a free weekly rag with television listings and restaurant reviews while the commercial local newspaper is experiencing dramatically falling sales.
This seems all rather distant from our own ‘Babergh Matters!’ which until now has been distributed several times a year to all homes around the District. I have always rather liked it, and feel that it covers Council activities, which are often ignored elsewhere, without bias or political spin. However, unprompted by Government opprobrium, it has been decided that, for financial reasons, the latest edition will only be a web-based affair accessible from the Babergh Website.
The budget for Babergh Matters! will now be diverted to special communications to residents about proposed increased co-operation with Mid Suffolk District Council.
I do hope that this will not be a permanent state of affairs, although I am told that at present there are no plans to produce another edition of the magazine in its paper form. Communication over the web is alright as far as it goes, but it remains the case that around 30 percent of households still have no access to the internet. It seems wrong that a lot of people will find it hard to find out, in a user friendly way, how we at Babergh are spending their money.
The latest edition of Babergh Matters! Can be reached by clicking on: http://www.babergh.gov.uk/Babergh/Home/Community+-+people+-+living/Babergh+Matters/Babergh+Matters+Winter+2010.htm