Lib Dem councillors are calling on the Tories running Brentwood Borough Council to reconsider the decision to scrap the "Vision" magazine or show there are concrete plans for its replacement following a lively discussion at the Policy Board last week.
Councillors Karen Chilvers and Vicky Davies argued that this disadvantaged many residents, especially those without internet access or are visually impaired and that the magazine should have remained until a viable communications plan had been discussed and agreed by all members.
Cllr Karen Chilvers said:
"Brentwood residents deserve to know what is happening in their town and a resident magazine should be available. This should either be paid for by advertising revenue or cheaper alternatives should have been costed and considered before the magazine was scrapped.
"Last night, all we received was a list of things they are considering - some are good, but I was expecting a full, detailed marketing and communications strategy and I was sorely disappointed. Nor was there a social media strategy to demonstrate how this will be taken forward - mention is made of the council's Twitter feed even though it currently has around 120 followers and is clearly not yet able to replace something being delivered to every home.
"The administration really needs to go back to the drawing board on this one and build a proper communications plan with costs, timings and methods of communicating clearly outlined."
Cllr Vicky Davies said:
"There needed to be an equality impact assessment completed to ensure that any changes to the way we currently communicated with our residents met their future needs. This was particularly important for our elderly and visually impaired residents.
"The Conservatives talk about the need to "enhance inclusion and ensure communities are informed" and then go ahead and scrap the Council's Vision magazine without putting any alternatives on the table.
"The administration really needs to have a rethink and build a robust plan that meets all residents' needs."