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Last of the weekly ‘Town Hall Pravdas’ to cease publication

Greg ClarkThe last weekly council newsletter to be published in defiance of government laws is to cease publication from June.

Greenwich Time, the official publication of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, will no longer be published weekly after being issued with a directive to print no more than quarterly.

The move brings to an end a long battle launched by the former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to clamp down on so-called ‘Town Hall Pravdas.’

In March last year, HTFP reported how the Greenwich was set to take the government to judicial review over its guidelines, which limit council publications to four times a year.

Greg Clark, left, who took over from Mr Pickles at the Department for Communities and Local Government, recently told regional political journalists at a Newspaper Conference lunch council papers were “an abuse of public funds”.

He added: “It is completely unacceptable that council taxpayers’ money should be used to provide unfair competition to commercial businesses that you represent.”

Other London authorities including Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest were also issued with the directive not to publish more than quarterly.

Tower Hamlets Council, which publishes East End Life, agreed in January agreed to adhere to the guidelines.

A DCLG spokesman said: “Spending on council newspapers and newsletters undermines the independent free press.

“The Government is clear that we expect all councils to comply with the local government publicity rules. If they do not we will consider what further action to take.”

2 comments

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  • March 18, 2016 at 9:11 am
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    Just a shame that a number of councils now get around this by sending out daily PDFs – often containing items barely or not related to the authority’s business at all – on email.

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  • March 19, 2016 at 6:05 pm
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    Shame that the local press have already shut down their own titles or moved to inferior online versions, at least these council newspapers provided jobs for printers and journalists and filled a gap in the market. I doubt that the companies that complained so much will reopen newspapers to fill the void left behind

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