PUBLIC SECTOR: Council cuts regional media ad spend

Lincolnshire County Council, the focus of a local newspaper campaign to oust its leader last year, is to slash its advertising spend in the regional media by £180,000.

In revamping its thrice-yearly community magazine, County News, to monthly and adding authority job vacancies, it is estimated that local media will miss out on around £180,000 worth of ad revenue.

This includes The Lincolnshire Echo, which led calls for the resignation of leader Jim Speechley last year, and included a number of special features alongside a regular 'Speechley Watch' column.

PR manager Steve Jackson denied a link between the publication revamp and the Echo's coverage.

Jackson said: 'That's not the case at all. This has been in the planning stage for around a year-and-a-half.'

He says the idea was first conceived in spring 2001 and is modelled on a similar move by East Riding of Yorkshire County Council, whose publication won last year's Institute of Public Relations local government group best publication award.

Jackson added that the new product, County News Monthly, which launches this month and will be distributed via Royal Mail to 312,000 homes, will also help the council in consulting with residents.

The revamp of the publication has cost an estimated £300,000, which includes the hiring of a council journalist.

The Echo's campaign followed a report by auditors KPMG that criticised Speechley over a £150,000 grant to a food company without committee approval. The report also accused him of subjecting senior officers, 'to a climate of fear with regard their jobs ... and being overly powerful within the council'.

Speechley, who has claimed in media reports that the findings of the KPMG report are untrue, resigned as leader in September.

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