Issue - meetings

Contract for Statutory Notices and Advertising

Meeting: 09/06/2011 - Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Item 2)

2 Contract for Statutory Notices and Advertising: call-in pdf icon PDF 168 KB

All Wards

(Report No. 44-11/12 and Appendices)

 

Contact for enquiries: Vicky Hardman, Head of Media Relations, 020 7926 0474, vhardman@lambeth.gov.uk

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(All Wards) (Report No. 44/11-12)

 

Special Circumstances Justifying Urgent Consideration

 

The Chair was of the opinion that although this report has not been available for at least five clear days before the meeting, nonetheless it should be considered now as a matter of urgency because the process for arranging a call-in meeting does not always enable the provision of five clear working days notice (paragraph 16.1(c) of the Scrutiny Procedure Rules).

 

The Lead Scrutiny Officer explained the process by which the call-in would be considered following which Councillor Jeremy Clyne was invited by the Chair to outline his reason for the call-in.

 

Following concerns raised by Councillor Clyne pertaining to pricing and the decision notice, the Legal Adviser responded as follows:-

 

  • That information pertaining to pricing of companies was considered commercially sensitive but if members wanted to discuss this issue, then this would need to be considered under Part 2, following a resolution to exclude the press and public.
  • That, although it was considered best practice to disseminate information to the community, there was no general statutory duty on the council to do so, other than in respect of statutory notices.

 

Councillor Clyne then proceeded to raise concerns pertaining to the officer’s responses.  He made reference to pages 3 – 7 of the report and raised issues regarding promotion of services; printed publications; assurances that matters of political controversy were dealt with fairly; quarterly publications; partnership newspaper and whether this is permitted under the Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity; the challenge of editorial advertorials; the tendering and bidding process with independent local newspapers; the lack of financial details to ascertain why certain bidders had been chosen than others.

 

In response, the Divisional Director of Campaigns and Communications firstly acknowledged the support received by the procurement and legal divisions and also responses received from the South London Press and Southwark News who had put a lot of work into the tendering process.  He, along with the Head of Media Relations, proceeded to make the following points:-

 

  • Officers had adhered to the publicity code more closely than some other boroughs.  As a result, the council had to stop publishing Lambeth Life and had lost staff in the process.  With the statutory notices contract the council were not emulating a commercial newspaper or creating a council newspaper.  All the relevant processes had been cleared by procurement and legal.  One other Divisional Director had also been involved in the tender process.  Therefore, all the necessary requirements had been met.
  • Editorial stance.  The council would not have a contract with a newspaper that was deemed racist or only served one particular part of the community.  Therefore, the council had a responsibility to question the editorial position of the paper.  However, the council would not have editorial control regarding pictures or newspaper articles. If the local community was factually misrepresented then they would expect to challenge the paper
  • The pages published in the newspaper (the advertorial) would be clearly identified as council content. In  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2