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SALFORD COUNCIL MAD MAG COSTS
 

Star date: 26th January 2010
A Salford Star Exclusive 

COUNCIL MAG COSTS ALMOST £28,000 AN ISSUE…
as the Audit Commission states that "Claims about the value achieved by communication spending are not well supported by evidence"…

While the Salford Star struggles to get back into print, and the Salford Advertiser gives up free delivery to homes, we can reveal that Salford Council is spending almost £28,000 per month on its own Life In Salford magazine, the vast bulk of the costs being met by council taxpayers…

Full story here…


DEMOCRATIC STRIFE IN SALFORD

In the October 2009 issue of Salford Council's Life In Salford, a lady called Lyn, from Boothstown, wrote in saying that she'd like to see the magazine scrapped and the money spent on "necessities and not sending free magazines to all the households in Salford."

The reply, presumably from the Council, stated that "If we stopped producing the magazine we would not save any money as we would have to publish all our notices in a newspaper…and place adverts for events like Proms in the Park in local newspapers…"

Er, just one problem – for the vast majority of people living in Salford there is no `local newspaper' unless they're willing to fork out for it in local newsagents. Is it pure co-incidence that ten months on since Salford Council withdrew thousands of pounds worth of its advertising from the Salford Advertiser, the paper is no longer being delivered free to homes in Salford?

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that over the eight issues of Life between March 2009 and October 2009, the Council spent just over £63,000 of its own advertising budget on Life in Salford magazine, as well as a further £36,664 subsidy to prop it up.

The average costs for actually printing and delivering Life in Salford over the eight issues were £107,719 (or £13,464 per issue). And while the Council says that it "does not hold records allocating staff costs to the publication", a report circulated to councillors as Life went monthly shows staff costs (`writing', photography, layout, graphics etc) at £1,870 per issue.

If our sums are right, the Council is spending an average of £15,335 per issue on actually producing the magazine, plus £7,879 from its own advertising budget which it puts down as `income', plus a subsidy of £4,583. This makes a total of £27,797 per month on Life in Salford magazine, or a yearly average total of £333,564.

Advertising income from outside the Council for these eight issues amounted to just over £19,000, most of it coming from publicly funded bodies like the NHS, The Lowry and government departments.

As the Council spends almost £28,000 per month on Life, an Audit Commission Review of Council Spending on Communication with the Public, published yesterday, states that "Claims about the value achieved by communication spending are not well supported by evidence"…

While the Review looked at `council periodicals' from a national perspective and therefore didn't come to any major critical conclusions, it did add that  "Councils need to assure themselves of the quality of their communications and the value of their communication spending".

Quality wise, some might say that Life has a lot to answer for – the current issue interviews the same businessman twice, the November issue carried two photos of Council Leader, John Merry, subliminally claiming responsibility for easing unemployment, and just over a year ago Lib Dem councillor Steve Cooke, resigned from Life's editorial board arguing that the magazine "provided a thin veneer of democratic respectability to an often misleading and relentlessly and unjustifiably upbeat publication".

We would argue that Salford Council spending £333,564 of Salford residents' council tax on its own publication has profound implications for democracy and accountability. While the Salford Star and the Salford Advertiser are only available free online, an estimated two thirds of Salford's population do not have access to the internet.

The only free printed information people are now getting about their city comes courtesy of Salford City Council and its Life in Salford magazine. With no criticism of the Council, no debate, no accountability, low quality content and bucket loads of public money showered all over it…

What Salford Council spends just on staff for Life magazine per month (£1870) would sustain the printing and production of the Salford Star indefinitely…

 


* The Salford Advertiser has stopped delivering to sections of postcode areas M4/M5/M7....while M3 never got it.

Brian wrote
at 09:00:48 on 31 January 2010
David, i don't know if you know this but our dear SALFORD advertiser stopped delivering in our neck of the woods Many Many Moons ago(I call it Ordsall, They now call it Central Salford, Or the Quays - depending on who you talk to), . The Advertiser Group (part of GMEN plc) closed down the Liverpool St end of their operation when the reporter & advertiser amalgamated - till then they were a seperate organisation, with their own editor, sub-editor and area reporters and photographers Upon Merging they were flung to the five corners of the advertiser groups empire - Rochdale, Bury, South Manchester and all, if i recollect correctly the deputy ed ended up in Rochdale. Liverpool St Closed and a skeleton staff moved into Church St (Eccles). As a result Deliveries stopped in my area (Central Salford), but you could still get it for 30p (at last purchase)at your newsagent (And i Thought it was a freesheet!!!) Thing is now the Advertiser brand has been swallowed up by the Guardian Group, there's going to be no news on the local community unless theres somekind of political slant to it, and having heard our Humble leaders have got their pawprints truly and honestly on the newsprint, It no longer fits the purpose on which it was supposed to serve. In addition The 4 other S's on the city badge keep on insisting they're mancunian (or from bury/bolton/wigan - depending on the border) so they get the advertiser just to remind them where they are!!! Whats required is a freesheet that serves the people of the community of salford, giving news in an independant and fair view of the areas of salford. We had it in the Salford Star (till one or two decided to be a little overzealous and bit the hand that fed you), but this publication needs to be back in print - not just on here!
 
satnav2000 wrote
at 05:44:47 on 29 January 2010
As Brian above has stated,i have also notest the advrtiser seem over the last 3 months that it sertenley seems (yery concerninglay) to be now giving a slanted view in favor of certain prominent council figers and MP why is this just of late one must ask? Should not a local paper take a neatrel stance? Or has it anythig to do with the forth coming elections.I am not alone on thinking this as outher Salford pople have also exsprest this to me.
 
Salford lad wrote
at 21:35:49 on 28 January 2010
Just a thought - why don't you do a newspaper instead of a magazine? It is much, much cheaper.
 
David Henry wrote
at 08:25:26 on 28 January 2010
Brian has a point, although it's great we can read the Advertiser online there are articles omitted from the web version, not to mention all the local classifieds which many smaller local businesses and trades-people rely upon... Those 2/3rds of Salford residents who do not have regular internet access or skills who will also no longer get a printed copy may be more understanding IF the Advertiser pledged to roll it out to ALL newsagents as they do with the M.E.N several times a day - especially in the areas that home deliveries have ceased. I've asked all the local newsagents within a mile and a half radius of M7, none of whom stock it (Broughton Wines on Great Cheetham Street tell me they stopped selling it in August as they stopped receiving it - but would sell it otherwise). Plus - where are we "peasant-folk" going to read the utterly interesting "Hazel Blears" column now?! :) Surely Hazel's office must be informed!
 
Brian wrote
at 18:30:58 on 27 January 2010
wouldn't it just be better for the council to just buy the advertiser off the guardian group ? All i can see at the moment are two publications with a council-slanted view of things. Of course, if the advertiser remembered they are a local newspaper and sent copy to all newsagents in the area, we might forgive its shortcomings.
 
Em 3 wrote
at 18:30:12 on 27 January 2010
this is scandlous! I'm interested that the Lowry are paying for adverts as they don't seem to have the money to offer their own staff proper contracts and any security at all. Some were very frightened of speaking out + even more frightened of getting ill or pregnant - because that would mean you'd lose your job! When will the council realise that a good council is one that invites both positive and negative comments. People want a paper that gives them a voice - not a glossy load of lies. Some of the real truth came out on the recent NEWSNIGHT. I hope the councillors felt their necks go red with shame when they watched it.
 
john wrote
at 17:55:46 on 26 January 2010
£28.000 and it goes straight in the bin why because there is not one derogatery remark in it how can this be true of salford council everything is sweetness and light according to there propoganda sheet . may i suggest the good people of salford write to the council asking them to scrap the the mag and knock the £333,564 off the next council tax increase
 
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