In this post our Youth Officer Ashley Wise reveals the cost of Inside Swale magazine and questions whether it is justified.
Just a few weeks ago it was finally that time of the year. No, I’m not on about summer eventually arriving in the British Isles. Nor am I on about Wimbledon. I’m on about the time of year that sees the residents of Swale receive their summer edition of Inside Swale magazine. The Swale Borough Council funded magazine is delivered to everyone in Swale four times a year – and the vast majority go straight from the doormat into the recycling bin.
Inside Swale could have some benefits. Such a magazine can promote important Council changes and news and can provide valuable advertising for local community projects and business efforts. Indeed Inside Swale does to this to an extent.
However, Inside Swale mentions very little about the controversial decisions the Tory-run Council makes – it promotes the Tory Leader Andrew Bowles a lot and portrays all Council decisions and efforts in a positive light. Unlike local newspapers, Inside Swale does not assess the council’s efforts with a critical eye, it exists to promote the Council.
During the campaign for the County Council elections in April 2013, David Cameron said ‘”If you want good government that costs less, vote Conservative” declaring that Conservatives cut council waste and ‘propaganda’.
Cameron clearly hadn’t looked at Swale Borough Council, run by the Tories for 13 years, it can hardly be described as an example of good governance. Along with the lacklustre Tory MP for Sittingbourne & Sheppey, Swale Tories have failed to get a grip on the major issues such as regeneration, public health and fair housing.
Moreover, it was revealed following a recent FOI request that Inside Swale (a prime example of the council ‘propaganda’ Cameron asserted was not something attributable to Conservative-run Councils) cost Swale taxpayers £42,304.33 in 2011, £33,587.97 in 2012 and is expected to cost roughly the same this year as it did in 2012.
The Tory Leader Andrew Bowles – who recently saw his pay rise by a massive 54% from £11,700 to £18,000 despite opposition from Labour and the smaller parties – refused to back a Labour motion for a small pay rise for those working for Swale Council who currently do not earn a Living Wage.
Central Government is slashing money available to local government, how can this expenditure be justified? The priorities for Swale Tories are pay rises for themselves and spending £30k on a vanity magazine. So much for good government and cutting waste…