Wirral considers 'town hall Pravda'

By Laura Sharman | 17 June 2016

Wirral MBC is considering defying government guidelines by launching a new monthly publication.

The council is exploring using part of its current advertising budget to fund the publication despite the Government urging councils to only produce magazines or newspapers four times a year.

Eric Pickles took a tough stance on council publications during his time as communities secretary, hitting out at what he called ‘town hall Pravdas’.

Wirral said its new communications approach - which includes a new website and social media content - was needed after a survey showed six out of ten residents do not feel well informed about local services.

Kevin MacCallum, the council’s senior manager for communications and marketing, said: ‘Our residents’ survey last year told us very clearly that people in Wirral wanted more information. 

‘These findings were a rude awakening for us: they told us the tools we currently use to communicate with residents aren’t powerful enough and aren’t getting the job done.

‘Keeping residents well-informed is incredibly important and that’s why we are making communicating with residents a top priority.’

If approved, the publication will be delivered once a month to homes and businesses from the autumn.

Current communities secretary Greg Clark has recently faced resistance after writing to Luton Council and Newham, Waltham Forest, Lambeth and Hackney LBCs ordering them to comply with the publicity code.

Cllr Lib Peck, leader of Lambeth, which publishes its magazine every month, replied: ‘The commitment towards devolution to local government must be more than rhetoric and if it is to be meaningful must acknowledge the right of local government to make decisions about what is suitable for the people we serve.’

Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe, said: ‘Time and again, in writing and in person, we have told this secretary of state and his predecessor that we will voluntarily reduce the frequency of publication of Hackney Today when they lift the outdated requirement to publish statutory notices in a printed fortnightly publication.’

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