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Council to scrap monthly newspaper

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: July 16, 2009

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CORNWALL Council is to scrap its much-criticised newspaper, which cost the taxpayer almost £700,000 in just 11 months.

The new Conservative-dominated authority is getting rid of Your Cornwall – which was introduced by the last Liberal Democrat administration of Cornwall County Council with a budgeted cost of £423,000 a year.

But the paper was beset by problems – it lost its first editor before it even printed a single copy – and has been cancelled in favour of a more localised – and cheaper – approach to publicity.

It eventually cost £693,000 for 11 editions – an overspend of £270,000.

The council now says it can free around £65,000 for frontline services by binning the paper in favour of using traditional forms of media to reach the public, such as existing local newspapers and radio networks.

The authority said it is also to embrace new forms of communications, including social networking websites Facebook and Twitter, alongside blogs by councillors, to connect with the electorate and focus on local issues.

Coun Alec Robertson, leader of Cornwall Council, said: "We are serious about delivering improvements for the people of Cornwall, both in our frontline services and in the way we let people know what their council is doing. It is important to face up to what is and isn't working with honesty and to take appropriate measures at an early stage where changes need to be made.

"It is clear that Your Cornwall, which was part of the former county council's plan to improve the way it communicated with the public, is not working and is costing too much."

The newspaper faced criticism and ridicule from the start.

In May last year, the Western Morning News reported how the then Cornwall County Council had spent more than £42,000 on the scheme before a single edition appeared.

Stephen Bough was hired by Cornwall County Council in April 2007 as managing editor on a salary of £40,000 a year. But he quit and left after just over a year, also in May 2008.

The council budgeted £400,000 a year for a free, colour, tabloid newspaper of up to 24 pages, to be published once a month, with around 250,000 copies printed.

In July 2008 it was revealed the newspaper had been classified as "junk" by the Royal Mail, which refused to deliver it.

The first edition also ran without adverts – meaning the council lost thousands of pounds in revenue – because it would have missed Royal Mail's deadline for delivery if they waited for the information. In June this year it was criticised during the election for the new unitary council after the then Lib-Dem controlled body sent out an edition just days before the poll.

Independent councillor Mark Kaczmarek, a long-term opponent of Your Cornwall and now cabinet member for housing, proposed cancelling the paper. He called the project a "disaster", adding: "We should be using our local newspapers to communicate with local people.

"There will be a few quick fixes for the new administration, and this was one of them."

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  • Profile image for This is Cornwall
    Dr Williams, Lambeth  |  July 20 2009, 2:12PM

    This Y.C paper was a right waste of money!!

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    JohnG, Bude  |  July 20 2009, 10:51AM

    1. Sad to see petty personal bickering on a very serious issue. 2. YC was useful for those who don't Twitter, Blog, have a PC etc. or can't see Cornwall Council website. 3. Local newspapers haven't a good reputation for coverage of important local news items. 4. Who decided to scrap YC? Was it the newly elected council or the unelected officers? 5. Do the council tax-payers have a say? 6. Do we know ALL the reasons why YC was stopped? Anything to do with cutting advertising in other places? 7. I thought YC filled a useful gap - and I'm not sure local newspapers will do any better. Perhaps we need a cheaper, sharper, more focussed and more compact alternative, but politics, finance and power will still take over.

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    Robert, St.Austell  |  July 20 2009, 9:07AM

    Chris, For Your information smug people like me as you put it do not owe people like you a living.

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    Mark, Holsworthy  |  July 18 2009, 6:59AM

    What was even more absurd was the newspaper being delivered into adjacent parts of Devon like Holsworthy.

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    Chris, Truro  |  July 17 2009, 7:00PM

    You're right Robert. If I do lose my job do you think we can find a way for your smugness to feed my child whilst I try to find another job?

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    Justin, Cornwall  |  July 17 2009, 10:25AM

    The council certainly will be efficient for all the wrong reasons. An unelected waste of space,that's for sure. The unitary system will cost us dear in the future,far MORE so than the old regime at County Hall,and that was bad enough. What is the point of councils in the first place?. We might as well have central govt running the shop. Once the money runs dry for Cornwall Council. . .what next? Start raising taxes which won't go down well with it's supporters and council taxpayers who thought it would be a better service all round. Privatizing parts of the council would be the only option open for the council in the long term,if taxpayers don't cough up the short fall. Hold a gun to your head and cough up to save vital services. The unitary system is bad news for Cornwall in the long term. You'll wish we had the old system back overtime,and that wasn't perfect by any means.

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    Robert, St.Austell  |  July 17 2009, 9:46AM

    Chris Dont get too comfortable in your one -stop- shop.You might not be there next year.

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    Pawl, Kernow  |  July 17 2009, 8:17AM

    I look forward to the day when Cornwall's Unitary Authority becomes a fully empowered Assembly or Parliament.

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    Chris, Truro  |  July 16 2009, 7:09PM

    Yes Robert I do, proud of it as well!

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    Kevin Bennetts, Redruth  |  July 16 2009, 3:56PM

    At the recent election the peole of Cornwall voted decisively for change. While it is still early days there are encouraging signs that the new more inclusive regime at County Hall mean business and are serious about curbing the fecklessness that defined the former majority. Two of the greatest divisions between the electorate and the former administration concerned the logo and the community newspaper which was basically a propaganda sheet. The logo was previously canned in the face of furious opposition but too late to save the skins of those responsible. In the recent past our elected representatives have singularly failed to adhere to budgets or deliver good value more significantly they have failed to listen to or communicate coherently with their electorate. There does appear to be a genuine desire to effect change for the better, the new Chief Executive appears to be more effective than his lacklustre predecessor. Hopefully we are not witnessing the proverbial new broom at work rather a well rounded and representative new Council that will perform increasingly well over its term in office. THIS IS WHAT THE HARD PRESSED CORNISH ELECTORATE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO EXPECT I WISH OUR NEW COUNCIL AND ITS OFFICERS WELL.