Back in November, the latest edition of Labour Lambeth’s propaganda rag dropped through my letter box. I’m not a fan of councils wasting huge sums of taxpayers’ cash to blow their own trumpets and have a record of campaigning against council newspapers.
I’ve also highlighted previously the use of Lambeth Talk to promote the Labour council’s agenda during election purdah.
But this edition was particularly frustrating. The council chose to use it as a mouthpiece to justify cuts in services, carrying their now famous scissors image attacking government cuts.
What price do we, council taxpayers, have to folk out for this?
My recent FOI Request reveals Labour Lambeth spending £210,600 a year of council taxpayers’ money on this pointless publication. That is the equivalent of the total Band D council tax of more than 172 households.
This is before accounting for the time of the communications team in writing copy for the publication.
“Lambeth Talk is overseen by a communications officer who edits the magazine and a designer. It also has contributions from the communications team, the wider council and partner organisations. The officers who oversee the magazine also have other responsibilities as well and only spend a percentage of their time working on the production of the magazine.”
Lambeth’s communications team has 15 staff and a budget of £1.25 million.
Perhaps even more shockingly, in a time of council austerity, Labour have chosen to expand the production of Lambeth Talk from four editions a year to monthly publication, while cutting other services.
Labour Lambeth have increased the ‘design, print and distribution costs’ of Lambeth Talk from £86,064.73 in 2011/12 to £191,238.77 in 2013/14, with a budget of £266,520.24 this year. A threefold increase in Labour’s self-promotion budget while, in their own words “Lambeth’s savings challenge means council services will stop and more staff will lose their jobs”.