Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Council considered restricting homechoice adverts to mid Cornwall

One of the biggest debates at today's meeting was over the introduction by the Council of a centralised Homechoice system to replace the old Homefinder for council and social housing. My colleague John Turner had a copy of the first advert - from Saturday's Western Morning News - in which just 17 properties were advertised. There are more than 8000 people on the waiting list.

Many members questioned whether the Saturday WMN was the best place for these adverts.

I blogged about this earlier and the improvements that I had helped to secure, but it is still far from ideal.

Housing Cabinet Member Mark Kaczmarek said that the alternative was to advertise in the West Briton alone. I find it incredible that this was even contemplated. To consider only using a paper that is published in mid-Cornwall - ignoring the needs of those on the housing waiting list in East and West Cornwall - seems like a massive denial of service to the majority of Cornwall Council.

Cllr Kaczmarek said that the WMN was chosen because it had a bigger readership the West Briton.

Of course that is true in East and West Cornwall where the WB is not sold. But it is not the case to say that the WMN has a large circulation. ABC figures show that the average daily readership (and remember that the paper is more expensive and far less read on a Saturday) for the WMN is less than 10% across Cornwall. In Camborne is is fewer than 5% and in Launceston just 8.95%. Compared to that, the Cornish and Devon Post and the Cornish Guardian have massive numbers of readers.

It may be cheaper to stick to the WMN, but in order to make sure that as many people as possible have the chance to bid for properties, surely it is right to consider a switch to the Cornish Guardian (and sister papers) or the Post.

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