Cessation of the Council Publication Known as 'Voice'
Meeting: 07/01/2014 - Cabinet (Item 7)
Report of Ian Sherwood, Executive Member for Communications, Organisational Performance, Development & Public Protection.
The Executive Member for Communications, Organisational Performance, Development and Public Protection presented the report and Dominic Chessum, the Joint Marketing and Communications Team Leader was in attendance to answer any questions.
Members were informed that this was a decision that Cabinet had agonised over for a long period of time. Not everyone had agreed with the decision to cease the publication of ‘Voice’ at the meeting held in May 2013 but since then the magazine had been in suspension which had allowed further validation of communication channels. Now was the time to stop as there were other ways to communicate to the public, and the views of the residents as to how they ranked the importance of ‘Voice’ compared to other services through the ‘Could We Should We’ consultation, which was to cease the publication to achieve savings, should be acknowledged. There were, in his opinion, less and less published publications as people nowadays were inclined to use social media as their preferred means of communication. He pointed out that the key to communication was through Elected Members by keeping Parish and Town Council meetings informed, or by communicating through the Parish magazines. He knew that not everyone would be in favour of the recommendation but he asked for Members to support the cessation of ‘Voice’.
Councillor Williams said that he still received many publications from various bodies which he welcomed as all were very informative and were all doing a specific job. He felt that ‘Voice’ was a publication that had allowed the Council to communicate and should be continued even if it was published just twice a year.
The Executive Member for Corporate Services and Quality Assurance stated that he had been consistently opposed to the cessation of ‘Voice’ as he knew how important the publication had been to many of his constituents. He pointed out that the satisfaction levels had actually increased when the publication had been upgraded. He was well aware that most people preferred to read a magazine rather than visit the Council’s website. He said that whilst he understood the reasons behind the decision, he thought it was too soon and would therefore be voting against the recommendation.
Councillor North had always been a strong advocate for keeping ‘Voice’ as not everyone had access to computers; however, she pointed out that since the suspension of the publication, she had not received any comments about what had happened to it. She felt that Breckland Council had a good Communications Team but wanted to know how the Council proposed to get its communications across in future.
Councillor Chapman-Allen thought that Members were missing out on a very valuable point; there was a great deal of difference between towns and villages. In towns you were more likely to hear about what was going on in Breckland rather than if you lived in a village. There were also many residents in her Ward that did not have access to computers and many would not contemplate attending Parish meetings. ... view the full minutes text for item 7