The government has announced its white paper 'Digital Britain'. The national headlines were about broadband, but slipping under the radar was the white paper's concerns over the uncontrolled growth in councils' newspapers.
"While local authority information sheets can serve a useful purpose, they will inevitably not be as rigorous in holding local institutions to account as independent local media..." is one part of its assessment.
The trucks and other road transport, delivering the hundreds of thousands of the latest paper copies of Derbyshire County Council newspaper Insight all over the region, provided residents with the following important information:
- 'For every person in Derbyshire we will spend £18 on contingency' (page 4);
- 'The hunt is on to find the location of a view featured in a 1842 watercolour just acquired by the county council'. Councillor Bob Janes said "It's a lovely painting." (p5);
- 'We've been named as the 63rd top gay employer in the UK' (p8) [note: not that there's anything wrong with that];
- People should look out for the new Gold Card magazine, which will 'hit the streets' shortly (p9);
- 'We've now sold 50,000 compost bins to keen recyclers across the county' (page 7)
- 'Around 35 couples tie the knot every year at our County Hall headquarters in Matlock' (page 2);
.- 'We've sold 50,000 compost bins to householders around the county' (this time on page 10 - they've done an interesting bit of recycling themselves there);
We stopped the review of 24-page Derbyshire County Council Insight at page ten. As News of the World reporters used to say, at this point 'we made our excuses and left.'
The same Labour crew has had its feet under the desks in County Hall for 28 years. On the latest figures, the total spending by Derbyshire County Council is £1,104,000,000. In a year. Not forever, just in a year.
It is possible - just possible - there may just be a chance - that the brand new administration at County Hall might be able to find some efficiency savings somewhere.
The copy of Derbyshire County Council Insight from which the above extracts are taken was headed 'March 2009', ran to 24 tabloid-sized pages of newsprint and ink and had a self-ordered print run of 330,000.
For more DCC adventures see also: