Camden Council criticised for spending £165k on ‘pro-Labour’ magazine

Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland has criticised the council over its Camden Magazine. Picture: Polly Hanco

Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland has criticised the council over its Camden Magazine. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

A war over words is being fought between the Labour leader of Camden Council and her opposite number in the Conservative party after the council decided to again snub government guidance and continue producing its near-monthly council magazine.

The Camden Magazine, a free 32-page publication put through the letterbox of every Camden household, features council and local news.

In August last year, the Ham&High reported how the council would disregard government guidelines by spending £165,595 on upping quarterly production to 10 editions a year. Leader of the council, Cllr Sarah Hayward, reassured readers this spend would be a “temporary measure”.

But the Ham&High now understands that council taxpayers will continue to fork out for more frequent publication.

An unhappy Cllr Claire-Louise Leyland, Conservative leader for Camden, said: “It costs a great deal of money when the council is trying to make savings. Residents I speak to never read it and it goes straight into the recycling bin.

“And it seems to be a Labour Magazine. It only ever includes pictures of Labour councillors.”

A glance through the last 10 editions of the magazine and, sure enough, there’s just one picture that includes non-Labour councillors.

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Pictures of Cllr Hayward appear on average three times per issue, often flanked by Labour colleagues.

And it’s not just the image that concerns Cllr Leyland but also the “message”.

The magazine is supposed to be apolitical with the borough solicitor ensuring compliance with the law.

But with readers welcomed to each edition with a column from Cllr Hayward, ink has been used to criticise the Tory-led government, from its education programme to the High Speed 2 rail link project.

Cllr Hayward defended the magazine as “the most cost-effective way we have of informing and involving our residents of the massive cuts Cllr Leyland’s government is meting out on Camden.”