Yana De Silva: Four issues a year is laughable

Each morning one wakes with the feeling that the Coalition Government is most definitely taking a broom to central government.

Yana De Silva: one size does not fit all
Yana De Silva: one size does not fit all
And that is a sentiment that is very much at the forefront of our minds with the launch this week of Eric Pickles consultation on the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.

The new government’s agreement, ‘Our Programme for Government’ surprised some with what can only be classed as an attack on local government publications.

It certainly seemed as though newspaper moguls might well have been lobbying those previously in opposition about getting this on the agenda. So it’s highly ironic that lobbying, which has proved so successful for some, is now being lambasted.

Yes, we must ensure that local taxpayers money is not being misspent – but this imagery that is being presented of David and Goliath, with the local newspaper in the unlikely role of the small hard done by organisation, is more than most of us can swallow.

Local papers are facing tough times. Not as some have argued because local council publications are putting them out of business, but because with the advent of online and social media, many people are accessing the information they want and need in other ways.

For some smaller councils producing just four editions a year is more than enough – for larger authorities it’s laughable. Indeed, no more than paying lip service to the role of communicating information.

Lobbying may leave some of us divided – again there is cause for concern about how tax payers money being used.

Will the changes extend to organisations such as TFL, or the BBC, who certainly want to protect themselves from possible changes? Lobbying is crucial is raising public opinion and that in turn attracts the attention of central government as the almighty tax payers vote is indeed worthy of attention.

Councils and other local public services which don’t do everything in their power to draw ministers to their causes are surely failing their residents.

Yana De Silva sits on the CIPR Local Public Services Group and is group manager communications at Buckinghamshire County Council.

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