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Second London title faces council propaganda claims

A second regional London newspaper has been accused of flouting new rules regarding council propaganda.

Trinity Mirror title the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle has been accused by a blogger of turning into a local council propaganda sheet, or a Pravda.

In his Shepherd’s Bush blog Chris Underwood claims the paper is acting as a mouthpiece for Hammersmith and Fulham District Council and is therefore flouting new Government guidelines which only allow councils to publish a newsletter four times a year.

In a six-year-deal worth £75,000 the paper will exclusively carry the council’s statutory notices and recruitment advertising.

In his blog Underwood said that the Chronicle is now doing what it had previosuly criticised the council for doing through a campaign called ‘proper papers not propaganda.’

The agreement between the authority and the paper came after the council closed its own newspaper when the guidelines were introduced at the start of this year.

He said: “The chronicle has now agreed to carry the propaganda instead which will be written by the same press officers and presumably will continue to be as one-sided.”

Adrian Seal, editor of the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle, said: “We take very seriously our role as an independent community newspaper. Our reporting team are clear they report without fear or favour in the interests of the community we serve.

“We always hold public bodies, including the council, to account and report their activities good or bad to the benefit of our readers. Anyone can see that for themselves if they read the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle on a regular basis.”

A spokesman for Hammersmith and Fulham Council said it had no choice but to place its statutory notices in the Fulham Chronicle as it is the only local paper left in the borough.

 He added that a weekly double-page spread in The Chronicle was to provide public information about consultations, road closures, services changes and events that the council has a duty to share with residents.

He said: “The council has no say on what news stories the paper prints and any reasonable person only needs to read a few recent editions to see that they are not always positive about the council.”

Earlier this week the Southwark News was accused by a local councillor of trying to circumvent the new guidleines by printing regular advertorials from Lambeth Council.