25 March 2011

10p or not 10p ; that is the question

I expect you have all seen the 16 page piece of puff called Barnet First magazine which gets shoved through the letterbox of every home in Barnet once a quarter and in Mr Mustard's house then gets recycled immediately into the black box as he is a law abiding citizen who cares about the Big Society.

I suspect its Barnet Council's way of ensuring that paper recycling targets are met.

In the magazine, and I use the term loosely, it says that each one costs "a little over 10p" to produce. Most people would expect that also means a little under 11p ?

Here's what the Jan / Feb 11 issue cost

Design £800 ( in-house estimated cost )
Printing £9,475 ( Woodford Litho - see over £500 list )
Distribution £7,700 ( Impact Distribution - see over £500 list )
Total £17,975
143,000 copies printed = 12.57p each

The June / July 10 issue was for some reason more expensive
Design £800
Print £10,325
Distribution £7,700
Total £18,825 = 13.16p per copy which is 31% more than Barnet Council claim it costs.

I don't think residents sit at home waiting for it to drop onto the doormat ( unless they are short of material to line the budgie or guinea pig cage ) and if it just stopped the London Borough of Barnet would not grind to a halt.

What would happen is that about £70,000 would be saved off the annual budget. A worthwhile saving.

Why not have your say in the poll alongside.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


  1. two points, Mr Mustard: how widely is this piece of agitprop actually distributed? I suspect that the number of residents who actually get to have a copy are in the minority. Certainly when the matter was discussed at a residents' forum recently, most people said it was not delivered to them.Secondly, and more importantly, didn't Mr Pickles, the bloggers' friend issue an embargo on politicised propaganda magazines paid for by local tax payers?

  2. Like Mrs Angry I suspect an awful lot of people do not receive this magazine. It has been discussed at the Chipping Barnet residents forum on a number of occasions with people complaining they don't receive it. Why don't they just scrap it - perhaps they like the idea of councillors names and photos going through peoples' letter boxes helping to reinforce their image in between elections.

  3. Although my letterbox says "no junk mail" I always get it.
    45 Issues of it means over £600,000 wasted. Would pay for quite a few wardens for the elderly.

  4. Mr M

    A few years ago, I submitted a question to a residents forum asking how much would be saved annually if Barnet First was scrapped. The answer given was £103,000. I suspect the real figure is substantially higher when you take into account the staff savings which could be achieved.

    On Mrs Angry’s point, I have received the magazine just once in the last three years. Someone is getting paid to print/distribute this seditious rag without actually doing the job. I doubt the council even bothers to check up on this.

    If people want to know what really goes on in Barnet, they should read the blogs!

  5. That was probably a year in which 6 issues were printed rather than the current 4. Roll on the day it is zero

  6. Whilst I would love to agree with you about this, I have to say that after a piece was run in it about Age UK Barnet's handyperson scheme the number of people asking us for assistance went through the roof. They had something like 80 calls the next day, and a year on numbers have stayed high. So people do get it, and maybe older people (60% of whom have never been online) do read it and find it useful.

    I agree that there are questions to be asked about whether it is a) the best use of money and b) whether it is used in the best possible way to signpost people to useful services those likely to read it need, rather than political puff.


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.