As promised last year, Eric Pickles has introduced a new code of conduct to stop councils from wasting money on blatant self-promotion. Councils will be restricted to publishing newsletters four times a year and should not “use public funds for mounting publicity campaigns whose primary purpose it to persuade the public to hold as particular view on a question of policy.”
Local Government Association chair, Lady Eaton, was reported in an article in the Guardian as saying that “Newsletters delivered to people's homes have consistently proved to be the cheapest way for councils to directly communicate with residents and keep people informed about local services”.
Lady Eaton’s view that it is the cheapest way to communicate with residents might well be countered with a question asking how effective this method of information provision actually is. For in spite of the fact that Broadland News is delivered to local people on a quarterly basis and is consistently full of self- promotion and plans for what they will do to the local area a local resident said at the weekend “Surely it has all gone away hasn’t it? They won’t consider going ahead with all this building in the current economic situation and with so much local opposition.” she added “you only have to look in the local paper to see all the letters opposing the plans.”
Local people seem to be blissfully unaware of the recent Examination in Public of the GNDP’s Joint Core Strategy – so it seems that the council’s favoured method of information delivery isn’t actually working! Or was it the case the Broadland chose not to mention the EiP in last Broadland News? It appears that they did not consider it worth bringing to the attention of local residents. In fact here was no mention of the JCS or the proposed Rackheath Eco-town or even the infamous Exemplar project. No wonder people think it has gone away.
Meanwhile GNDP have spent about a quarter of a million pounds on their PR company and design consultants – how this can be justified beggars belief.