Haringey Council faces government probe into 'rule-breaking' magazine
- Credit: Google Streetview / Polly Hancock
Government officials are investigating Haringey Council over its publication of what opposition councillors have called a “propaganda magazine”.
Rules say council publications should go out no more than quarterly – but “Haringey People” has published five or six editions per year since 2011.
“They are clearly flouting the rules,” said Lib Dem leader Luke Cawley-Harrison.
Figures released by the council last year said each edition cost almost £21,000 to produce and distribute.
Lib Dems say this means the surplus editions published over the last decade have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
But Haringey insisted this week: “We have no plans to reduce its frequency.”
Government minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh announced last week: “My officials are looking into concerns regarding Haringey Council’s magazine publications.
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“A senior official will take up the matter directly with the council’s chief executive in the first instance.”
Haringey said it had “a duty to ensure that residents are adequately informed” about council decisions and services and the magazine was “crucial” for residents who could not access the internet, especially during the pandemic.
“We believe it constitutes the right balance between keeping the public informed about local authority services and any changes to those services, especially in these heightened times,” a spokesperson said.
They claimed the magazine was popular, with the latest survey finding “nearly 70%” of people said it was their “preferred source of council information”.
But Lib Dems said it was not known how many people answered that survey, nor how many of them were alerted to it by the magazine itself, meaning the results could have been skewed.
In December the council held a Twitter poll asking how often residents would like to see the magazine published. There was no option to cease publication.
The most popular choice was “once a year”, with 41% of the vote. The majority of written replies said residents would prefer it was stopped altogether.
“There is a general consensus from people we speak to on the doorstep that it’s a waste of money, which could be better spent on other things,” said Cllr Cawley-Harrison.