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Ministers issue final warning to councils over fortnightly newsletters

Marcus JonesMinisters are preparing to take action against three London councils who continue to publish fortnightly newsletters in defiance of government guidelines.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has told the three boroughs they could face being ordered by the courts to cease publication of the newsletters, which are supposed to be printed no more than quarterly.

The boroughs of Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest have been given 14 days to make further representations to the Secretary of State before potentially being ordered to comply. The trio could face a court order if they fail to do so.

The announcement comes two days after HTFP reported how Hackney Citizen editor Keith Magnum had criticised the “unfair competition” local newspapers faced from Hackney Council’s publication Hackney Today.

DCLG has also issued new guidance on a £1,500 discount which is being offered to local newspapers on their business rates bills.

The boost was initially announced in Treasury documents published alongside former Chancellor George Osborne’s budget speech in March.

Communities Minister Marcus Jones, pictured above left, said: “An independent free press is vital for local democracy and it’s important that we support them in holding local leaders to account.

“That’s why from next year newspaper offices will benefit from a £1,500 discount on their business rates bills, making a real difference to their overall running costs.

“Equally, councils shouldn’t undermine local democracy by publishing their own newsletters, more often than quarterly.

“I’m offering the small number that aren’t playing by the rules this last chance to put their publishing houses in order or I will use my powers to require them to do so.”