Former councillor slams magazine as 'waste of public money'
- Credit: Graham Jones/NNDC
The relaunch of a council magazine has drawn fire from a former councillor, who has labelled it "a shocking waste of public money".
But North Norfolk District Council says the publication, called Outlook, is a way of reaching residents who are not online, and the first edition had been met with " a lot of positive feedback" and only one formal complaint.
The council last published Outlook in 2012, and in February a 'cabinet working party' approved a plan to produce two more editions this year.
The council says 50,000 of the full-colour, 24-page magazine have been distributed across the district.
NNDC said this magazine and another edition later in the year would be paid for out of a £46,000 set aside as part of a £253,547 funding pot called the corporate directorship budget for communications.
The council said the magazine has been brought back on a trial basis, and is in line with similar publications produced by Norwich City, Breckland, South Norfolk and Broadland councils.
But Graham Jones, a former Lib Dem county and district councillor and now Labour party member, said the magazine was a "democratic misuse of public money" which should never have gone ahead.
Mr Jones, who lives near North Walsham, said: "The is a major scandal and a shocking waste of public money at a time when the council has increased parking charges and north Norfolk residents are facing huge cost of living rises."
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A spokesman from the council said it was committed to communicating regularly with its residents about its activities, and the services it provided.
The spokesman said the council's online channels reached more than 45,000 of the district's population.
He said: "While it’s pleasing to report substantial and continuous growth of our digital audience in the district, these figures still suggest there are thousands of residents who are not regularly receiving information from us in this way.
"Indeed, Ofcom findings suggest a few thousand residents do not regularly access the internet."
The magazine has articles on issues including car parking, Covid support, how to book beach wheelchairs, the regeneration of North Walsham and affordable housing.