Waltham Forest Council has announced its intention to continue publishing Waltham Forest News, in spite of two fellow London boroughs recently bowing to Ministerial pressure and agreeing to reduce their own newletters’ publication frequency to quarterly.
As reported on HTFP last week, Greenwich Time, the official publication of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, will no longer be published weekly, while Tower Hamlets Council agreed in January to adhere to the guidelines.
It continued publication has been criticised by Matt Davis, leader of the authority’s opposition Conservative group, who told the Guardian: “It is being disingenuous when it suggests it is saving money, it is just not true. This is against government guidelines and a gross waste of taxpayers’ money.
“The council needs to stop screaming about terrible cuts but then wasting money on this. I am disappointed that the Government has come up with these guidelines but is not enforcing them, I will be writing to the Secretary of State to ask him to enforce the rules.”
The ongoing battle to get local councils to adhere to the guidelines was launched by the former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in a bid to clamp down on so-called ‘Town Hall Pravdas.’
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”, while last week a DCLG spokesman told HTFP such publications “undermine” the independent free press.
A spokesman for Waltham Forest Council said: “In March 2015, the secretary of state wrote to the council giving notice of the direction he proposed to issue in relation to the frequency of the publication of Waltham Forest News.
“In response, the council outlined why Waltham Forest News – which reaches all 97,000 households in our borough – is legally compliant and provides the best value for money for local taxpayers opposed to the Government’s insistence that we pay to publish statutory notices in a frequently published newspaper.
“To date, there has been no further correspondence between the secretary of state and the council.”