Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is to stop local councils from producing their own newspapers in competition to independent news media – and slash the cost to council tax payers.
In some areas of the Yorkshire Dales, residents can receive up to three council papers extolling the work of North Yorkshire Council, Craven District Council and, for Skipton residents, Skipton Town Council.
The Yorkshire Dales National Park also produces a newspaper for its residents.
Keighley-born Mr Pickles, whose father was a left-wing socialist, has already won a reputation as the Government’s keenest cost cutter (See A week in the Country).
Across the UK, council tax payers pay out millions of pounds for council papers – called “propaganda sheets” by many Tory MPs – and it is believed that many of them go straight into the bin.
The employment of public relations officers and journalists to produce such papers has been one of the fastest growing areas of the public sector, which the Government has vowed to cut back. During the Labour Government’s 12 years, some 900,000 people were added to the public pay roll.