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Brent Council's magazine is losing nearly £1,000 a month

PUBLISHED: 10:57 29 September 2011 | UPDATED: 16:35 30 September 2011

Brent Magazine is losing the council on average £1,000 a month

Brent Magazine is losing the council on average £1,000 a month

Archant

Publication is running at a loss while town hall axes libraries and day centres to save money

A magazine published by Brent Council 10 times a year is losing the town hall nearly £1,000 a month on average.

Between January and June this year, the local authority spent nearly £100,000 of taxpayers’ money on The Brent Magazine which is delivered to 99,000 homes in the borough.

Meanwhile, it is trying to save £100million over four years by cutting services including libraries, day centres for the disabled and jobs.

In April last year, secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles, introduced a new code for councils which said they should only release publications four times a year.

But Brent has ignored the call and will continue to distribute it 10 times a year.

Local government minister, Bob Neill, said: “We have introduced a new code of practice that ends improper council publicity.

“These rules make it crystal clear that taxpayers’ money should be for protecting front line services, not for printing Town Hall pravdas.

“Any concerned residents in Brent should contact their district auditors.”

The council claims that during the first half of 2011 the magazine made £84,777 in advertising.

But £35,271 of that came from other council departments, according to figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

The magazine makes on average just over £14,000 a month but its monthly outgoings are just over £15,000.

Despite this, the council says it represents “extremely good value for money”.

A spokesman said: “The council has chosen to spend less than £1,000 per month on communicating news about its services.

“A number of council services chose to contribute to the production costs by placing advertising in the magazine as it is the most cost effective way in Brent of getting important information to the widest possible audience.

He added: “The code of practice is guidance to councils. We have chosen to publish 10 issues a year as research shows residents say The Brent Magazine is their favourite source of information about the council.”

Andrea White is the borough’s district auditor.

To contact her email a-white@audit-commission.gov.uk

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