The Communities Department has issued written notice of a direction it proposes to issue to three councils, Hackney Council, Newham Council andWaltham Forest Council, which would require them to cease publication of their fortnightly council papers.
The councils now have 14 days to make written representations to Secretary of State Eric Picklesabout the proposed direction before Mr Pickles takes his final decision about whether or not to issue the council with a direction.
In a written statement to Parliament, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Kris Hopkins said: “A very small number of councils continue to breach the recommendations of the local government publicity code about the frequency of publication for council newspapers. In my Written Ministerial Statement of 3 March 2015 (Official Report, Column 49WS), I outlined the steps the Government is taking in relation to the continued weekly publication by the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
“Today, I am announcing the conclusions to date of the review into the actions of three further councils; the London Borough of Hackney Council, the London Borough of Newham Council and the London Borough of Waltham Forest Council. Each of these has a fortnightly municipal newspaper.
“In each case, my rt Hon Friend, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles) is minded to exercise his powers in the Local Government Act 1986, as amended by the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, to direct the council to comply by no later than 30 April 2015 with the provision in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity that: “Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, news sheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly”.
“Accordingly, as required by the statute the Secretary of State is today issuing to each of the three councils a written notice of the direction he proposes to issue to it.
“Each council now has 14 days to make written representations to the Secretary of State about the proposed direction. Following this, the Secretary of State will take his final decision in each case about whether or not to issue the council with a direction. Each decision will be taken on its own merits.”
Last week, DCLG served a direction upon Greenwich Council requiring the local authority to cease publishing its weekly newspaper Greenwich Time.