Recent scrutiny research by councillor Robin Parker, Liberal Democrat group leader on Stevenage Borough Council (SBC), has revealed that the Labour dominated council pay up to 17 p a copy for council officials to deliver 35,000 copies of the SBC propaganda magazine Chronicle, four times a year. A local newspaper pays its deliverers 4 p a copy – and each newspaper weighs over six times that of Chronicle.

SBC staff who undertake the deliveries are paid:
11 p for a 12 page Chronicle
13 p for a 16 page Chronicle
15 p for a 20 page Chronicle
17 p for a 24 page Chronicle
For any additional publications up to 4 pages, they are paid an additional 2 p an item.

By contrast, Robin also discovered that Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) deliver about 465,000 copies of its propaganda magazine Horizons four times a year at a cost of about £23,000 per issue, which is just under 5 p an item. They use the Royal Mail household delivery service. Horizons is printed on cheaper paper and is lighter than Chronicle.

For comparison:
16 page Chronicle is 55 grams
144 page Comet is 345 grams
24 page Horizons is 49 grams

All costs quoted are for delivery. Production and staff time and materials are extra.

Robin Parker said:

I decided to query the delivery costs when I and my Liberal Democrat councillor and helper colleagues were delivering official SBC flyers for the SBC Chells and Manor Neighbourhood Forum, on 23 June – which we do for free! I wondered why they could not be delivered with Chronicle, since both the Forums and Chronicle are 4 times a year. That led to me querying the payments SBC make to staff for Chronicle.

Having a magazine paid for by council tax payers, stuffed full of good news about Labour councillors, with never any mention of opposition councillors – which has been going on for years – is bad enough, but to pay ridiculously high rates – which has also been going on for years – at a time when the council should be making economies and efficiency savings is nothing short of scandalous.

It is exactly the sort of thing that happens when there is a one party domination. In Stevenage, this is Labour, who do not allow opposition to chair or control or decide any scrutiny issues and who grab everything for themselves.

Robin Parker has already taken up this waste of taxpayer’s money with top SBC officials and has suggested:

  • Chronicle could be delivered cheaper by Royal Mail, or by a newspaper.
  • An even cheaper deal may be possible if SBC joined the HCC deal with Royal Mail.
  • Forum leaflets could be delivered more reliably with Chronicle and/or council tax demands and/or electoral registration forms (currently some councillors deliver them and some do not).
  • There should be a full urgent costs review of deliveries by SBC with a target of at least 50% savings for the benefit of hard pressed tax payers.

See the Story in The Comet.