Wigan Council votes against £80k saving on "Borough Life" magazine

Calls for Wigan Council’s magazine for residents to move online to save £80k have been voted down by councillors.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 3:58 pm
Updated Monday, 11th March 2019, 5:08 pm
The "Borough Life" magazine costs 80,000 to print and distribute

Opposition group members questioned how many households read Borough Life, which is delivered to every home in the borough.

They said making it a digital-only publication would save on production and distribution costs that would be better spent on community projects.

But council bosses defended the magazine – which is produced three times a year – calling it “excellent value for money”.

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Conservative leader Coun Mike Winstanley proposed the move as part of an amendment to the council’s 2019/20 budget plans.

He told a meeting of the full council on Wednesday: “Why are we producing a booklet that goes through every single door? We pay to print it and then pay to distribute it.

“I would like to see how much of a review has been done on this and do people actually read it? I know you will say yes, but I don’t believe we need to print this in this day and age.

“It’s not as important as the bin calendar, that does need to be produced and put through everyone’s door.

“We can do it digitally and put it out online.”

The amendment said the cash should be used to supplement the council’s Brighter Borough fund that councillors can access to help community projects.

Council leader David Molyneux said: “People actually do read Borough Life.”

In response to Coun Winstanley, he told the chamber: “Can I keep this reply for next year as well?

“This is a question we get asked on a regular basis, especially from that side of the chamber.

“A recent independent survey showed people appreciate it and it’s a big part of what people say the council should be doing (to) let them know what’s going on.

“When you start to look, we deliver it to 140,000 properties and it costs 19p per Borough Life, it’s excellent value for money.”

The amendment was voted down by members of the ruling Labour group, although deputy leader of the opposition, Coun James Grundy, said the proposal to stop printing is popular with residents as many ‘don’t read it’.

There was a greater degree of cross-party support for the administration’s overall budget for next year though, with Tory members backing Labour’s plans.

Both Coun Winstanley and Coun Grundy said they agreed with the general principles of the financial framework.

The 2019/20 budget includes a freeze in council tax and no cuts to frontline services despite a savings target of £8.5m being set, council bosses said.

Several funding initiatives were also announced, including £10m to boost borough town centres, more than £3m to repair potholes and £1m for extra-curricular activities for school-children.