Community Pride branded 'propaganda' by Philip Davies

Read it on the Telegraph and Argus

By Anika Bourley

A quarter of a million pounds of taxpayers' money is being spent each year on a Bradford Council newspaper which has been described as containing"propaganda" by an MP.

The Council is spending the sum each year producing its Community Pride paper, which has between six and eight editions a year.

MPs on the Commons' Culture, Media and Sports Committee have hit out at local authorities for wasting taxpayers' money on such materials and said if a council wanted to produce a newspaper praising its own work it should be taken out of the ruling Party's budget - not out of the pocket of residents.

Shipley MP Philip Davies said: "It is council propaganda masquerading as an independent newspaper. Taxpayers' money could be better spent on other things. Also it undermines local newspapers.

"The most important thing is local newspapers offer democracy and hold people to account. A council news-paper will not hold anyone to account but saying how great it is.

"Councils should not be doing anything to undermine the viability of local newspapers."

Mr Davies and his fellow committee members grilled three councils this week over their decisions to publish their own newspapers as part of the committee's enquiry into the viability and future of local media.

Mr Davies criticised councils for only providing residents with positive information about their work and not allowing at least half the space for things that had been done wrong.

Responding to Mr Davies's criticisms, Bradford Council's chief executive, Tony Reeves, said: "Bradford Council has a duty to communicate information to residents in the district.

"Community Pride is distributed to every household approximately every two months and is a cost-effective way of ensuring every resident is kept informed.

"We cannot guarantee every resident will see a copy of the Telegraph & Argus, listen to local radio or watch the local news.

"In 2008/9, nine issues of Comm-unity Pride were produced costing £250,000 at about 11p an issue."