Thurrock BC could cease printing its own newspapers if a scheme to allow independent media companies bid for council advertising proves a success, it leader has announced.
John Kent (Lab) said creating a partnership with the media would stimulate the local economy and make “substantial savings” for taxpayers.
He added: “In the next month or so we will therefore be inviting print media to bid for our advertising and to offer us room to use their pages to publicise the council’s many services.
“We will then look at what’s on offer and make a decision. If it works we will stop publishing our residents’ magazine and potentially other publications.”
In response to a freedom of information request submitted in August, the council said it spent around £40,000 a year on producing its own newspapers from 2007 to 2010.
According to local media reports in June last year, the then Conservative-run council was planning to spend £100,000 in launching its own publication.
The project was abandoned following opposition from the authority’s Labour group.
In a separate development, Hammersmith and Fulham LBC announced it is looking to set up a public-private partnership with a local news provider.
The scheme is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK and will guarantee total editorial independence.
Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh (Con) said the authority’s current publication, H&F News, had created an advertising market worth £500,000 a year.
He added: “Local newspapers and local authorities should work together more closely. We expect to be criticised when we get things wrong and we want a newspaper that reflects the view of the community, particularly at a time when all councils face tough spending decisions.”
Last week the Department for Communities and Local Government launched a consultation on draft guidance that would prohibit councils from publishing their own newspapers in competition with local press.