Ealing's glossy magazine is not Altogether a good idea, say critics

Ealing Times: One-off: Altogether Better magazine went through every door One-off: Altogether Better magazine went through every door

A COPY of Altogether Better, the council’s glossy free magazine, landed on every doorstep in Ealing last month.

The one-off publication, 15 pages of upbeat features about leisure, transport, education and community projects in the borough, was part of the council’s long-running campaign, which started in 2008, to celebrate and build pride in the community.

Four editions were produced, for Ealing-Hanwell, Acton, Greenford-Northolt-Perivale and Southall, and delivered to all the borough’s homes and businesses (a total of 131,000 properties), while a further 6,000 copies were printed for on-going use.

The total cost was £40,000.

“One way of looking at that cost is that it equates to half the price of a first-class stamp for each property,” said Peter Morris, Ealingl’s Marketing and Communications Director.

He explained improvements were also made to the website www.ealingaltogether.com  to coincide with magazine distribution. 

Cllr David Millican, Conservative group leader, said: “Altogether Better is another magazine funded by the tax payer that is filled with Labour self-promotion and inaccurate facts and figures.

“It would be better if the council stuck to cleaning up our streets instead of blowing their own trumpets."

Andrew Allison, National Grassroots Co-ordinator of the TaxPayers' Alliance, agreed.

He said: “When you read these council publications, what do they actually contain, apart from statutory notices and hype?

"There’s no real information, just propaganda – it’s all ‘look what how much we’re doing for you, isn’t the council wonderful?’.

“Plus the council still insists on printing Around Ealing, which I’m totally opposed to. Why have both?”

Ten editions of the council magazine, Around Ealing, are published each year.

Ealing resident Danielle Mendel told me: "The Altogether Better website promotes all the events and attractions in Ealing, which I think is a really good idea as it will hopefully encourage people to visit.

"This should bring money into the borough, which can only be a good thing in these times of austerity.

“However, £40,000 seems like an enormous amount of money to spend on a free magazine, which is probably just going to end up in a lot of people's recycling bins.”

A council spokesman said: “The content of Altogether Better was very different to Around Ealing.

"In addition, the four editions [of Altogether Better] allowed a focus on local areas of the borough, whereas Around Ealing is published as just one edition covering the whole borough.”

Around Ealing generates income from advertising space and the annual budget to cover the shortfall between income and cost is £15,000.
All the information in Around Ealing is available on the council’s website.

The council understands that access to the internet is high and increasing, but is not yet 100%.

“By delivering a magazine through every resident’s door we can increase the opportunity for local people to see the information the council wishes to communicate,” the spokesman added.

Ealing has no plans to cancel the print edition of Around Ealing, although it currently publishes ten editions per year rather than 12, as it did in the past.

Results of a residents’ survey are said to have identified Around Ealing as a preferred source of information about the council and its services.

The latest issue of Around Ealing can be viewed online at www.ealing.gov.uk and the four editions of Altogether Better can be accessed on www.ealingaltogether.com

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