Wirral Councillors Vote To Scrap Council Paper
Councillors in Wirral have voted to axe the council’s monthly newspaper Wirral View stating that more than £400,000 had been wasted on a publication which had “failed against every measure the cabinet set for it.”
The council faced a backlash when in 2016 it became the first local authority to launch a monthly council newspaper after Government guidelines designed to protect independent local press from unfair competition were introduced.
The NMA has been at the centre of the campaign to get council newspapers which compete with independent commercial titles for readers and advertisers abolished, leading to the Communities Secretary at that time Eric Pickles to introduce new government guidelines which state that council publications should be published no more frequently than quarterly.
In June, a High Court judge dismissed a bid by London authorities Waltham Forest and Hackney to challenge the Government’s position saying that restricting council papers promotes freedom of expression by “encouraging the development of the local independent press.”
This week, following that decision, the Hackney Gazette reported that Hackney council had suspended its fortnightly Hackney Today publication but that it had been replaced by a different publication called Hackney Life.
The Wirral Globe reported last week that 31 Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent councillors had voted to abolish the local authority’s Wirral View newspaper while 29 Labour councillors voted to keep it but to carry out a review at the end of the year.
Councillor Tony Cox, who proposed ending publication, said: “We must not waste another penny on this so-called newspaper. It has failed against every measure the cabinet set for it.
“£402,000 has been wasted. Half the borough doesn’t get it and the other half doesn’t want it. I’m delighted that a majority of councillors agreed and would ask the cabinet to urgently accept the decision of council and ensure that no further money is thrown down the drain.”
“The Government’s guidelines against this kind of publicity are there for a reason – council newspapers don’t work. Sadly, Wirral has learned this the hard way.”