Tag Archives: Newham Mag

Letter to the Editor

8 Aug

A reader writes

Dear Sir,

What on earth is going on at the Newham Mag? I had always thought it was the Mayor’s personal publicity freebie, distributed fortnightly to the adoring masses, and a snip at just £20,000 per issue.

But in the current edition there are only seven (7!)  photos of our Mayor (compared to 20 in the previous edition) and of those, in only 4 is he wearing the Mayor’s ceremonial chain of office. In one photo, he is not even wearing a tie and looking very much the worse  for wear, but possibly this photo shoot was carefully crafted to blend in with a very messy dwelling whose landlord the Council is aiming to prosecute.

And what’s worse there are more photos of the Deputy Mayor (Statutory) and Cabinet Member for Community Neighbourhoods, Ken Clark – he has eight.
Has there been a midnight coup?

Has Clark seized the Mag as part of  his own ruthless drive to succeed the man who has created his Deputy (Statutory)’s political career out of nothing? I think the people deserve an explanation before disllusion and consternation start to take a grip as election year approaches.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Mansell

All excellent questions.

To which can be added, when will the council comply with the direction issued by the secretary of state for Communities and Local Government last December and reduce publication of the Newham Mag to just four times a year?

Calling time on the Newham Mag

16 Mar

Newham Mag fake

According to The Times this morning (£) Sir Eric Pickles is a step closer to victory in his war on “apparatchik printing presses powered by taxpayer pennies” after the last council weekly newspaper announced its closure.

Greenwich Time’s last weekly edition will run in June, while Tower Hamlets’ East End Life, which moved from being a weekly to fortnightly newspaper in January, will go quarterly from May.

With that battle won…

…the government is now shifting its attention to the remaining nine councils flouting rules on local authority newspapers. Enfield, Hackney, Hillingdon, Lambeth, Luton, Medway, Newham, North Somerset and Waltham Forest are still publishing fortnightly or monthly freesheets, despite rules telling town halls to restrict the publication of council newspapers to no more than four a year.

All these councils have been served written notices by the government.

We’ve been here before. The Newham Mag briefly shifted from its fortnightly schedule after being being issued a formal notice from government, but quickly went back once the heat was off. The council hilariously attempted to argue that residents’ human rights would be affected if they weren’t able to see dozens of pictures of Sir Robin every fortnight.

Closing the Mag, or reducing it to four issues a year, will save hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and an untold number of trees. The sooner Sir Eric prevails, the better.

Quarterly?

14 Aug

Screenshot 2014 08 14 11 54 31

Your new ‘quarterly’ Newham Mag

Paragraph 28 of the government’s Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity says:

Local authorities should not publish or incur expenditure in commissioning in hard copy or on any website, newsletters, newssheets or similar communications which seek to emulate commercial newspapers in style or content. Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, newssheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly

Issue 300, the bumper ’summer edition’, of the Newham Mag appeared at the start of June. The latest issue, number 301, bears a publication date of 8 August – an interval of just 10 weeks. A quarterly schedule would have 13 week gaps between issues.

The council’s Budget Book for 2014/15 still describes the Mag as a fortnightly publication and details the net cost for this year as £446,000. This is down from £523,000 in 2013/14, but surely a reduction from 26 issues a year to just 4 would offer than a 14.7% saving?*

Is Sir Robin hoping Eric Pickles and isn’t paying close enough attention to notice an extra issue or two slipping onto residents’ doormats?

* As an aside, an FOI response listed on page 5 of the June 2014 disclosure log states that the annual cost of the Newham Mag for 2013/14 was £388,372. This is far from being the first time that Newham’s FOI responses have been at significant variance from information published elsewhere by the council.

Money (that’s what I want)

13 Jun

 

The best things in life are free, but you can keep them for the birds and bees

Details of the allowances paid to the mayor and councillors in the last financial year (2013/14) have been published in the ‘Summer Edition’ of the Newham Mag.

The Mag’s version of the table lists councillors in alphabetic order (except the mayor, obviously, who is always on top) and doesn’t include any totals. So it’s hard to see exactly how much is being paid and to whom.

I’ve taken the data, added up totals for each councillor and sorted them into rank order:

Name Basic* SRA Total
RA WALES 0 81,029 81,029
AR BAIKIE 10,734 31,042 41,776
IK CORBETT 10,734 31,042 41,776
RJ CRAWFORD 10,734 31,042 41,776
U DESAI 10,734 31,042 41,776
CW FURNESS 10,734 31,042 41,776
LT HUDSON 10,734 31,042 41,776
C MCAULEY 10,734 31,042 41,776
A KELLAWAY 10,734 26,901 37,635
EH SPARROWHAWK 10,734 22,765 33,499
E ROBINSON 10,734 22,720 33,454
Q PEPPIATT 10,734 18,624 29,358
F HUSSAIN 10,734 18,039 28,773
RA MIRZA 10,734 17,877 28,611
RN MANLEY 10,734 14,488 25,222
AB MCALMONT 10,734 14,488 25,222
T PAUL 10,734 14,488 25,222
WT VAUGHAN 10,734 14,488 25,222
NJ WILSON 10,734 14,488 25,222
A SINGH 10,734 10,347 21,081
K SCORESBY 10,734 9,362 20,096
J ALEXANDER 10,734 5,176 15,910
F BOURNE 10,734 5,176 15,910
S BRAYSHAW 10,734 5,176 15,910
A CHOWDHURY 10,734 5,176 15,910
D CHRISTIE 10,734 5,176 15,910
R RAHMAN 10,734 5,176 15,910
L SHAH 10,734 5,176 15,910
J GRAY 10,734 3,621 14,355
PW SCHAFER 10,734 3,449 14,183
S AHMAD 10,734 0 10,734
PM BRICKELL 10,734 0 10,734
L CAMERON 10,734 0 10,734
NK CHADHA 10,734 0 10,734
AA CHAUDHARY 10,734 0 10,734
B COLLIER 10,734 0 10,734
MS COLLIER 10,734 0 10,734
JH CORBETT 10,734 0 10,734
C FIBERESIMA 10,734 0 10,734
O GANGADHARAN 10,734 0 10,734
A GRIFFITHS 10,734 0 10,734
PM HOLLAND 10,734 0 10,734
KJ JENKINS 10,734 0 10,734
KR KAZI 10,734 0 10,734
JH LAGUDA 10,734 0 10,734
S MAHMOOD 10,734 0 10,734
C MCLEAN 10,734 0 10,734
P MURPHY 10,734 0 10,734
F NAZEER 10,734 0 10,734
FA NEKIWALA 10,734 0 10,734
M NICHOLAS 10,734 0 10,734
M PATEL 10,734 0 10,734
S PATEL 10,734 0 10,734
G PEARSON 10,734 0 10,734
P SATHIANESAN 10,734 0 10,734
PJ SHILLINGFORD 10,734 0 10,734
MM SKYERS 10,734 0 10,734
R TALATI 10,734 0 10,734
A TAYLOR 10,734 0 10,734
S THOMAS 10,734 0 10,734
H VIRDEE 10,734 0 10,734
Totals: 644,040 560,700 1,204,740

*net of £95 deducted at source for home use of a council-supplied computer and data registration fee

A few things worth noting:

  • 29 out of 60 councillors received some kind of ‘special responsibility allowance’ on top of their basic
  • The top 10 recipients of council cash, including the mayor, were all men
  • Only one woman, Forest Gate’s Ellie Robinson, is in the top 20 earners from councillor allowances
  • Of the 29 councillors with ‘special responsibilities’, just 6 were women
  • Including the mayor, 14 elected members got more in allowances than the average Newham household income
  • Prior to the change to the mayoral system in 2002 councillors received a basic allowance of just £533 a year

There has as yet been no public announcement about the allowances to be paid to the cabinet members and mayoral advisors Sir Robin has appointed following his re-election, but you can bet that they won’t be stinting themselves.

Public service can be so rewarding.

Newham Mag celebratory edition

22 May

Newham Mag fake

The council spin team has been hard at work preparing a special commemorative issue of the Newham Mag ahead of the joyous news.

Fair and balanced

2 May

Despite the election, the council website continues to promote Sir Robin and his fellow Labour candidates

The small handful of residents that actually open the Newham Mag will have been surprised that the past two editions have been entirely free from pictures of Sir Robin Wales. This is because election rules require public authorities not to do anything that would appear to favour one candidate or party over another.

Strangely, that memo doesn’t seem to have reached the editor of the council website. The homepage continues to display a prominent picture of Sir Robin next to the caption ‘Meet the Mayor’. Clicking through takes you to a page with four more pictures of him.

The latest news section has a carousel of five pictures at the top, two of which feature the mayor. The picture accompanying the ‘Every OAP a ping-pong player’ story (shown above) also features several prominent Labour candidates for council.

But the council website is relatively restrained compared to the Newham Recorder. As an independent publication it is not bound by the election rules that constrain the Mag.

The three editions since the election was formally announced have featured Wales’ picture ten times. He’s been mentioned in stories sixteen times; the other candidates have been mentioned just once each, in a list.

The most recent edition even included a lengthy opinion piece by Sir Robin on why it is important we should vote, accompanied by a large photo of the man himself, just to remind you who it is you are meant to vote for.

The Recorder has pulled out all the stops to ensure maximum coverage for the man they know will be signing off the council’s advertising budgets for the next four years.

There’s nothing illegal about what the Recorder is doing, but readers are entitled to ask where the coverage is of the other candidates? If it’s important that we vote – and it is, it really is – then it’s vitally important that we make a properly informed choice.

Besides Sir Robin there are Tory, Liberal Democrat, Green, UKIP, Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition, Communities United & Christian Peoples Alliances candidates for mayor. That’s quite a range of choices. Doesn’t the Recorder think its readers deserve proper coverage of all mayoral candidates, including opinion columns & pictures?

Local newspaper publishers have been vocal in calling for central government to get tough on council newspapers like the Newham Mag, which they characterise as ’town hall Pravdas’. Their case is undermined when supposedly independent papers like the Recorder fail to be, er, independent.

In the US the utterly biased right-wing ‘news’ channel Fox News has long used the slogan ‘fair and balanced’ to describe itself. The Newham Recorder should consider adopting it too.

Hat-tip to Mike Law for the stats on the Recorder’s coverage

Image

16 shades of Robin Wales

25 Nov

16 shades of Robin Wales

The current issue of the Newham Mag contains an extraordinary 16 pictures of the Mayor.

Even by the Mag’s Pravda-like standards, this must be some kind of record.

Could there be an election coming up, I wonder?