A bill which aims to boost local newspapers by limiting “town hall Pravdas” is set to become law after clearing Parliament yesterday.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles aims to protect the local press by preventing council newspapers being published more than four times a year.
A Publicity Code about local authority publications was introduced in 2011 but this will be strengthened with the Local Authority and Accountability Bill, which allows the government to intervene if councils flout the rules.
The bill has also had measures added to give journalists and local people the right to film and use social media at council meetings in England.
It cleared the House of Lords last night and is set to become law.
The bill will also give the government the power to act if it thinks a council’s publicity campaign is too political.
Mr Pickles published guidance last June about access to council meetings, which said that people should be allowed to use social media and film procedings, but a number of councils have not complied.
Speaking in the Lords, Communities and Local Government Minister Baroness Stowell of Beeston, said: “We are aware of some recent examples of councils ejecting members of the public from meetings for filming or tweeting from those meetings.
“That is why we have decided to bring forward these amendments now.”
The bill also covers a range of other issues, including council tax, parish polls and audits, including the abolition of the Audit Commission and allowing private companies to carry out auditing work for public bodies.