Council leader's threat to paper: 'We won't advertise'

By Sarah Lagan

The leader of
East Lindsey District Council threatened to stop advertising in the
Skegness Standard after it published a front-page story he claimed was
inaccurate.

The Johnston Press newspaper reported on a local swimming pool
threatened with closure because of council cash savings, which
Councillor Jeremy Webb described as “frivolous and without foundation”
as no decisions had yet been made on the subject.

His plan to ban
advertising was leaked by a Labour councillor who overheard his
comments in a private meeting, sparking a row at a full council meeting.

Councillor
John Hough, who had been sacked from the executive board last April,
decided to blow the whistle and bring up Webb’s comments during
question time.

He asked: “Should an inquiry be set up to
investigate your threat to stop the council placing advertisements in
theSkegness Standard after it published an article you disagreed with?”

Webb
responded: “This is a black day for me. It is truly appalling that you
have brought up the contents of a private discussion in a public forum.

“The article contained wrong information. It was frivolous and without foundation.

“I
asked the officers why we should continue merrily spending thousands of
pounds on public notices in the paper but was told I couldn’t threaten
the press in this way.”

A statement issued by the council stated
that decisions to advertise would only be influenced by price, value
for money and access to customers.

A spokesman said: “We look
forward to continuing to work with all local media to deliver our
messages to the public in a responsible, fair and balanced way.”

Tim
Robinson, managing editor of Lincolnshire Newspapers said: “In meetings
with the editor, managing editor and ELDC’s communications team, this
matter has been openly discussed.

“Obviously we learned of Mr Webb’s comments with great concern.

“But
ELDC has constantly sought to assure us that any decisions on when and
where to advertise are not made on a political basis and that the
correct legal scrutiny of these decisions has and will always take
place.”

This week Hough repeated his request for an investigation into Councillor Webb’s comments.

The request has been refused.

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