A London council is on collision course with ministers after announcing plans to increase the frequency of its quarterly magazine.
Local government minister Eric Pickles is planning legal curbs to give effect to current voluntary guidelines restricting so-called ‘Town Hall Pravdas’ to four editions a year.
Now Labour-controlled Camden Council is set to defy the government by increasing the frequency of its own magazine to ten editions.
The move was reported in the local newspaper, the Ham & High, which also revealed that the annual budget for the publication is £165,595.
Council leader Sarah Hayward denied the magazine would seek to compete with the local media.
She told the Ham & High: “We are temporarily increasing the frequency of the magazine and our editorial guidelines make it clear that the magazine will not seek to compete with our much valued local media either for advertising or in content, which is the main thrust of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s code of practice.
“Producing a magazine is cost effective and actually helps us reduce our spending on communications with residents as we do not have to print numerous leaflets and booklets when articles can be placed in the publication.”
However former council leader Keith Moffitt, a Liberal Democrat, criticised the publication for focusing on the achievements of Labour councillors, rather than providing information about local services.
He said: “If you spend money putting literature through people’s doors it should be about council policies, not Labour politicians.”
The council’s actions have also been highlighted on the weekly e-bulletin of the Newspaper Society, which has led the campaign for tougher curbs on council publications.
It said the move was in “direct defiance” of the government’s guidelines.