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Local Newspapers — [Mrs. Janet Dean in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 13th January 2010.

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Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow Shadow Chief Whip (Commons) 2:30 pm, 13th January 2010

If I could make a little more progress, I would be happy to give way to my hon. Friend.

I was referring to the drastic reaction-cutting jobs and closing offices-that a commercial entity would need to have to falling revenues. Another example that I wish to give is Greenwich Time, which is delivered 44 weeks a year to every home in the borough. Again, it mimics the format and content of a local paper. Its cost is £708,000 a year, of which at least £532,000 is borne by local taxpayers. Before it goes to print, every page is checked and approved by the council leader. The council claims that it is not trying to put the local independent paper out of business, but it has adopted the practice of holding back stories for exclusives for its own paper.

If we head west, we find that a similar story applies to Hammersmith and Fulham. The council's h&f news, which is distributed to 75,000 homes, is a perfect example of what I wanted this debate to be about: pseudo-newspapers. It has lots of news, a 12-page property section pull-out, crosswords and a sudoku, a what's-on section, advertising from local businesses and even a gardening section. Its counterparts in Tower Hamlets and Greenwich and all such publications are written to look at the world through the tinted glasses of the ruling party of the council.