I can reveal that the original four bidders for this lucrative contract, which will involve unlimited use of "free space" in the newspaper for the Council to tell us what a wonderful job they are doing along with inserts to be carried by the paper too, were the following publishers who attended an initial meeting with the Council in November last year:
- Simon Edgley - MD, Trinity Mirror - (Fulham Chronicle)
- Simon Taylorson - Publisher, Archant (Hammersmith & Kensington Times)
- Sean Kelly, MD of Neighbour Net.Ltd (advertiser website http://www.shepherdsbushw12.com/)
- Chris Mullany, MD Southwark News
The contract will start in April and lucky taxpayers funding the propaganda will get their first copies then. I am told by moles that the Chronicle is still the frontrunner but having to fend off stiff competition being put in by the publishers of the Hammersmith & Kensington Times.
It seems from the internal documents I have seen that whoever wins the contract will actually be taking on staff who may be transferred from the Council to the winning newspaper. It would also seem, on the face of it, to be something of a life and death struggle for the Chronicle - for if they don't win the contract not only will they not have the advertising revenue but they will also see a new competing newspaper introduced on their patch.
I suspect in any case that journalists in both newsrooms are both praying that their own publishers end up the losers, so they do not suddenly find themselves working alongside new Council colleagues and writing for a paper in hock to the very Council they are supposed to be impartially writing about.