Magazines and newspapers published by councils are still a topic of controversy, with the government aim to crack down further on them. The government believes they are often used for council propaganda, and can be unfair competition for local newspapers.
Some boroughs are insisting on publishing, however, saying that they are a useful form of communication with their residents.
When the new restrictions were applied, Redbridge reduced the frequency of its newspaper Redbridge Life, and now prints and distributes it just four times a year. Each copy costs 10p per house, and the council says 65% of residents read it, with more than a third saying it was “their main source of information about the Borough”.
The council has now launched an iPad app for the newspaper – and is one of the first councils to have done so. Though development costs of apps can be high, distribution of material is much cheaper. Whether it will reach a significant audience remains to be seen, but other councils will no doubt be watching to see if it is a success.