£1.6m spent on ‘propaganda’ magazine

Campaigner Andy Strangeway with a copy of the Your East Riding magazine.
Campaigner Andy Strangeway with a copy of the Your East Riding magazine.

East Riding Council has spent more than £1.6million over the past six years on printing and distributing magazines carrying articles about the services it provides, and a campaigner is now calling for the authority to stop producing them.

The council’s ‘Your East Riding’, launched in March 2011, is a quarterly magazine delivered to all households across the area. Before this, the authority used to send out a magazine every month to households, called ‘East Riding News’.

A Freedom of Information request has found that the totalprinting cost for Your East Riding and its predecessor for the past six years is £578,562 and the distribution cost is £1,063,461. This cost is offset by advertising income which totals £559,347 over the past six years leaving a net cost for print and distribution of £1,082,676. This equates to £1.18 per household a year.

Andy Strangeway, 50, of Full Sutton, believes the council has “wasted” £1.6million by producing the magazines over the past six years and is campaigning for Your East Riding to be scrapped.

He said: “The magazine is merely an East Riding Council propaganda publication as any useful information contained can easily be shared with residents via customer service centres and the East Riding Council website.

“It needs to be scrapped. North Yorkshire County Council have done that with their magazine.”

He added: “You could employ 20 staff with that money. We are in hard economic times and it is a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

A spokesperson for East Riding Council said: “Direct communication with residents is a priority for all councils, as we have a duty to keep residents informed of what we do in terms of issues like new initiatives and services, and how they can access those services, how we prioritise our spending, and other matters of great importance to all council tax payers. Equally, residents have a right to know what their local council is doing and what services it provides.

“The council uses a variety of methods to communicate with residents, including its website and social media; however not everyone has internet access and indeed many people prefer to receive their information in print format.

“The council also publicises information via the media; however, unlike many other local authority areas, there is no single newspaper which covers the whole of the East Riding and, given the falling circulations of newspapers, it is felt that Your East Riding is a cost-effective way of communicating with all its residents and guaranteeing that all households receive information.

“In common with all other local authorities, we constantly seek the most cost-effective and engaging way to supply that information - in recent years, for example, we have changed the frequency of our residents’ publication from monthly to quarterly, which is in line with government legislation.”

East Riding Council says that while customer service centres are excellent facilities for providing information, answering residents’ enquiries and also allowing transactions with the council, it is not feasible to have them in every town and village and not every resident will be able to regularly visit one.

The council spokesperson added: “We constantly strive to ensure that more and more people in the East Riding do access our services online, alongside our more traditional communications methods. However, research shows that many people still prefer to receive a printed copy of Your East Riding for their council information and news and find the publication interesting, informative and useful.”

Your East Riding is delivered to every household by the second week in March, June, September and December.

• What do you think about the council spending £1.6million over the past six years on the Your East Riding and East Riding News magazines? Send us your views to news@pocklingtontoday.co.uk