Despite the best efforts of councils in various parts of the country, justifications for council-run newspapers which stand up to any scrutiny have been few and far between.
The origins of council newspapers can be tracked back to the period of time when council communications began to be less about keeping the public informed, and more about news management.
Individual communications officers shouldn’t be blamed for this, it was part of a wider culture in which, for example, it was decided the best way for councils and police to score highly in the ‘How safe do your residents feel’ performance indicator was to reduce the number of crimes which were actively reported to the press.
After five years of constant – and thoroughly right – attack and scrutiny by communities secretary Eric Pickles, very few council newspapers are published more than once a quarter. Pretty much the only justification to hold water from councils, in my opinion, is their need to communicate with an entire borough, rather than just readers of any one publication.