Thursday, May 17

Postcode Publications a Conservative publicity vehicle

I recently picked up a copy of PO9 a new local publication for the PO9 postcode area. On the surface it appears to be a non-politcal news source aimed at local communities. The company behind the newspaper is aiming to produce similar versions for other postcodes in Havant Borough, including Waterlooville. The publication has advertising from local businesses and has some articles that look interesting but un-critical.

So great, another free rag full of advertising.

But there is more to it that we should all be aware of. A quick search of Google reveals that Postcode Publications is based at  Station House, North Street, Havant. Nothing wrong so far. Looks innocent to me.

The director is David William Guest.

"Who" ? you ask. 
David Guest. 
"Isn't he something to do with Havant Borough Council" ?
Well yes. 

He is a member of Havant Borough Councils cabinet!
Yep, he is involved in the political decisions made in the borough. The same person who is publishing this free newspaper which can influence peoples opinions, is also making decisions in the cabinet for the whole area. No conflict of interest there then!??!

If we scaled this up, I guess you could compare it to David Cameron starting his own newspaper to promote Conservative policies.

Lets have a look at some articles in issue two:

Page 3: Article about (Conservative) Science Minister, David Willets
Page 4: article about manager at Morris Crocker. Who just happens to be in the same building as Postcode Publications.
Page 4 and 5: Various articles that look suspiciously as if they are promoting Conservative/Havant Borough Council community issues and projects.
Page 6 Article about Havant Borough Council Plaza.

Page 7 Article about Havant bus station and asking for reader responses.
Page 9 Article about the mayor.

And so on.

Is this politically neutral??

Well consider this... Given that the owner of the paper is an elderly high profile member of the Conservatives, what would happen if another political party became the dominant force in Havant Borough Council? Do you think the content would change?? To me it seems unlikely and even if it did, the content is political, promoting a specific community model. The publication is misleading in the way it is presented and it isn't clear about the connections to Conservative Havant Borough councillors.

I think for anyone who is fed up with this old fashioned political game, it is just another example of how thoughtless many politicians are. It is extremely manipulative and makes a farce of the community meetings Havant Borough Council allegedly want to promote.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. In addition, this publication, which purports to be a "community newspaper", is funded largely by a certain local water company (described as a corporate sponsor on the front page), hence the number of positively biased articles relating to that organisation.

Anonymous said...

How do you think a free newspaper is produced if it isn't by funded by advertising.
Why do you have to assume the worst about people? My reading of the paper is that is is entirely non political. Why hot submit an article and see if they publish it...

TheVille said...

Hmmm, been a while since we had a debate here.

OK, why would I want to have an article published in the publication?? I can do it for nothing here.

The publication in question is full of politics and the fact that it is financed by advertising, implies a specific mind set. Even a lot of the alleged articles are adverts!. It's the sort of publication that a lot of sensible people laugh at or throw in the recycling bin the first chance they get, along with 'The Ratepayer'. 'Meon Valley News' and similar publications.

What is deceitful about the 'product' is that it purports to represent borough communities, when it clearly does not.

Jenny Fletcher said...

I wonder if, when the planning application for the proposed hotel on Bosmere field is heard by the council, Mr Guest will declare an interest.

The interest is, that his friend, Fasset boss Gary Medlow supports and sponsors the PO9 publication. Here's the proof -

TheVille said...


Well I think Guest himself declared that the idea for the publication materialised in a meeting in a coffee shop. I think the point would be, who was involved in the meeting?
A closed group of friends probably, when in reality, if they really wanted community involvement, they would have had a wider range of people involved from the start.

If the companies involved in Postcode Publications really wanted to help the community, they would be using that advertising money to help voluntary groups and community groups that are losing money as a result of council cuts.

It worries me greatly the number of green spaces that are going to disappear in Havant Borough. Bosmere field is one of many that will be gone forever in just a few years. There is plenty of evidence that such large scale changes will have a detrimental impact on the borough.