The previous government asked the Audit Commission - a body Neill's Government intends to abolish - to look into whether the local press suffers 'unfair' competition from council newspapers. It found just five per cent of council papers are published more than once a month and that the money spent on council newspapers was 'not unreasonable'.
The argument that council newspapers have left the local press 'looking into the abyss' is bilge. The harsh truth is council newspapers have been used as an excuse for failure by newspaper groups that have not invested in their titles, increasingly ignored local issues and posted their content online for free. The fact they concentrate their ire on the handful of London-based weekly titles that probably do cause some problems underlines that.
Neill is obviously an avid reader of PRWeek. So he will doubtless be glad to answer this challenge through the letters page. Name me one local newspaper in an area not served by a weekly council newspaper (basically, anywhere outside London) that can categorically demonstrate that it has been damaged by a council newspaper 'unfairly' competing with it.
And by the way Mr Neill, drop the 'town hall' Pravdas line. It makes your argument look even sillier.
Robert Webb, communications director, Monmouthshire County Council.