Cllr Phil Davies says “I think I don’t see why we need to delay” about Birkenhead community newspaper idea
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Dawn Tolcher (Constituency Manager, Birkenhead)
The second update is around two proposals around improving communication. The first one is the promotion of Wirral Well, that’s been …rated now, it’s been drafted as to what tools we can use. We’re looking at a segmented approach with that as to how we deal with the different members of the community.
You communicate with a sixteen year old girl in a different way to a forty year old man and how we develop that. I was just exploring how we could use the empty shops in Birkenhead to help improve the visual presence of the area, but using them to do some on the streets consultation linked with residents. That’s being developed. The second proposal in terms of publication, Surjit’s going to provide an update on that.
Rt Hon Frank Field MP
Yes, thank you Chair. In so far as the..
Rt Hon Frank Field MP
If you can’t hear at any one time, we will pass the mic back. You know what to do with that don’t you?
In so far as that particular item, this particular item is concerned, there is an issue that we do need to explore with regards to the publicity code to ensure that the proposed publication that this committee has considered, would like to consider doesn’t then interfere with the Council’s broader publications.
There are some areas of discussion that need to be had in terms of the interpretation of both the code and the publication itself at this point in time. The suggestion is that Cabinet considers those and that particular issue further with a view towards a significant finding.
As to the issue with regards to the code and whether or not the publicity code will provide or prevent this committee utilising the publication and using the publication because of the broader ramifications and indeed the implications to the Council of that.
Councillor George Davies
Can I ask a question? I just wanted to make a short comment on that one. Can I just ask the question? Following on from that Surjit and I understood and if I’ve got it wrong I apologise.
I understand that when we actually looked at this, we were talking about and we were convinced that Birkenhead because of its poor publicity, ie that the Wirral Globe, the News doesn’t get anywhere near the publicity that local party people do get.
Birkenhead wanted to be a non-political body’s newsletter being sent out to tell the people of Birkenhead exactly what this constituency is trying to do and trying to achieve. We’re not talking, we’re not saying that that had to be anything to do with Wirral West, Wirral South or Wallasey and this is purely and simply our own initiative to make sure that people there understand how we spend their money.
Yes I know but unfortunately the code itself makes specific reference to newsletters and newsheets being issued and the issue really whether or not what’s been proposed whether that then emulates commercial newspapers in style or content. Now that’s a debatable and indeed arguable point and that requires further examination and it is really on that point again clarification on that particular point, which is the central to the issue which we need to address.
And to a degree I understand the rationale of the publication and what its purpose is and it’s not intended to be commercial in that sense, but I think it would be wise just to take stock and ensure that we don’t run into difficulties in the event that we do launch this particular publication and then the organisation as a whole is constrained because of the provisions of the publicity code itself.
Rt Hon Frank Field MP
Cllr Phil Davies
Yeah I’m a little bit concerned that just because Eric Pickles has issued a Code of Practice that we kind of delay on this and I think the code of, the summary of what the code says about you know lawful, cost effective, objective, even-handed, appropriate et cetera errm I think that’s clear. I think I don’t see why we need to delay, the next Cabinet meeting isn’t until September. By the time you know a further report’s gone back, it’s going to be well into the autumn.
I would have thought, my personal view is that we agreed this was badly needed a long time ago. I think that we should get on with it and you know we need to run it past you as the guardian of the Council’s constitution to check that it ticks all of Eric Pickles’ boxes but I just think a further delay back to Cabinet, it’s going to be halfway through the year before we produce anything. So I, unless there’s any overwhelming reason why, I’d be firmly in favour of getting on with it and just obviously checking before we publish anything if you’re ok with it and it meets with the code of practice.
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