Council presses on with closure of newspaper

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Darlington reporter

A CONTROVERSIAL council newspaper has been axed in favour of a trial scheme that will see the authority work with local newspapers.

North Yorkshire County Council has published 11 editions of the NY Times each year since 2006, at a cost of more than £400,000 a year to the taxpayer.

Members at an executive meeting of the council yesterday voted to scrap the paper, in favour of a six-month trial that will see the council pay for editorial space in local newspapers to publish statutory public notices and announcements.

The council hopes to save £244,000 a year through the move and discussions have taken place between the council and Newsquest, publishers of The Northern Echo, as well as Johnston Press, which owns the Yorkshire Post.

Councillor Carl Les, executive member for corporate services, told the meeting: “Distribution is the major cost in producing the NY Times. We have looked at everything, from using drop-off points to reducing pagination, but it does not save money.

“Our best option is tie up with local media and also continue to publish news and information online.”

Under any arrangement with newspaper companies, the council would receive a set amount of space to publish information previously printed in the NY Times.

The council would have editorial control of these pages.

In return, the newspaper companies would get a guaranteed income from public notices and adverts previously placed in the in-house publication.

Critics of in-house council publications say they are a waste of money, but Councillor John Weighell, leader of the county council, defended the NY Times.

“When we were in a normal economic situation and recruiting a lot of staff, the NY Times paid for itself,” he said.

“The NY Times was the only written publication that was delivered to every house in the county. At the time it was created it was useful, but now we are not doing so much job advertising it does not stand up financially.

“From my point of view it has been a great success.”

Councillors also agreed to increase its use of electronic communications to reach the public, but with only 55 per cent of the county able to access broadband in their home it was acknowledged that the internet is a limited tool.

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