Wirral Council awards new £750,000 contract for Wirral View newspaper
Wirral Council have awarded a 3 year £750,000 contract for its controversial Wirral View newspaper. The contract also has an extension option that can be exercised to extend it for a further two years.
Printing of the Wirral View newspaper has been awarded to Trinity Mirror Printing (which is a trading name of Trinity Mirror Digital Media Limited). Trinity Mirror Digital Media Limited’s “ultimate parent company, immediate parent undertaking and controlling entity” is Trinity Mirror PLC. Trinity Mirror PLC own one of the local newspapers called the Liverpool Echo.
Distribution of the Wirral View newspaper has been awarded to Smart Distribution Solutions Limited based in Heswall.
The contract for sales for the Wirral View newspaper has been awarded to Let’s Go! Publishing Ltd.
The new contract starts on the 1st December 2017.
Despite government guidance (see paragraph 28) called the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Publicity stating “Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, newssheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly” Wirral View (apart from during election periods) has been published on a monthly basis starting in October 2016.
Section 4(1) of the Local Government Act 1986 requires Wirral Council to “have regard to the provisions of any such code in coming to any decision on publicity”. Wirral Council claims that it has received legal advice advising it can ignore the Code and publish monthly. Wirral Council received information requests for the legal advice. Those information requests were refused and the reasons for the refusal are outlined in decision notices FS50651166, FS50646730 and FS50646655.
Since the start of Wirral Council publishing Wirral View on a monthly basis, one of the two local free newspapers called Wirral News has ceased publishing.
The government minister does have powers in s.4A and s.4B to force Wirral Council to comply with the frequency requirements in the Code, but has so far (to my knowledge) failed to use these powers with respect to Wirral Council’s publication of Wirral View.
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