Lambeth Council set for £175,000 deal with South London Press to carry ads

Lambeth Council is set to sign a three-year £175,000 deal with the South London Press to carry ads. The current deal with Southwark News is due to end next month.

The Planning and Highway Notices Procurement 2017 report [pdf] may seem a little dull. There is a little more behind the headlines though.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, the Cabinet member for Business, Regeneration and Culture has been asked to:

“Award a contract for expenditure on statutory planning and highway notices to Capital Media Newspapers Ltd, publishers of the South London Press. The Council is required by legislation to publish planning and highway notices in a local newspaper.”

The agreement is for a three year deal worth £175,000. There is an option to extend this for a further two years, costing £324,000 in total.

Two other publishers pitched in with a bid for the contract. Brixton Buzz wasn’t one of them…

The switch back to the SLP for Lambeth Council is an interesting move. The Nu Labour administration was responsible for starting a slanging match with the SLP under the previous Leader Steve Reed MP.

Reed made sure that the Council withdrew any advertising from the paper. This was a protest at the ‘adult ads’ that the SLP was happy to publish. The current MP for Croydon North stated in 2010:

“It goes without saying that this sort of advert will never appear in any Lambeth Council publication.”

The former Council Leader then shifted his attack to his perceived agenda of the SLP:

“It would help if they could be a little more positive about the area. The South London Press has become a paper for bad news.”

That paper now appears to be the preferred partner for Lambeth Council.

Tell It Like It Is, etc.

The little local difficulties with the SLP at Lambeth Town Hall led to a DIY approach to publishing. The Council hit back with the publication of Lambeth Talk.

South London Press claimed it was losing £500,000 in advertising because of the Council boycott.

The Council was told to stop publishing Lambeth Talk in 2014 by Sir Eric Pickles MP, the then Secretary of State for Communities. A deal was brokered between Lambeth Council and Southwark News. This led to the publication of Lambeth Weekender.

This was an ‘objective’ local magazine published by the Council’s partner. It also carried the statutory Planning and Highways notices.

The deal was worth £1m to Southwark News. This will stop at the start of April, leading the way for the SLP to patch up its differences with the Council.

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The new SLP deal differs to the Southwark News contract. The report for Cllr Hopkins adds:

“The new contract does not include a similar communications package.”

This refers to the two page of freebie fluff that the Council was given by in the Weekender. It used this to plug the happy messages coming out of the Town Hall.

It will be interesting to see how the SLP proceeds with the reporting of Town Hall matters. Concerns over objectivity with Southwark News were brushed aside as the business was based in a different borough.

Cllr Lib Peck

The spin coming out of Town Hall under both Reed and the current Leader, Cllr Lib Peck, has taken another twist in recent weeks. Julian Ellerby, the former Director of Policy and Communications at Lambeth Council has now been poached to carry out a similar role… at Croydon Council.

Reed hired Ellerby as his Director of Communications at Lambeth Council back in 2007. Ellerby at the time was the Regional Director of the London Labour Party. This led to claims of ‘cronyism.’

Ellerby went on to set up Lambeth Communications – an internal PR agency that Lambeth pimped out to other local authorities.

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