Thursday 1 September 2011

Residents should shop council papers competing with local press to district auditor says minister

Local government minister Grant Shapps has urged residents to report council publications which continue to breach the Publicity Code, by competing with the local press, to the district auditor.

Shapps said it was “unacceptable” for council newspapers such as East End Life and Greenwich Time to continue competing aggressively with independent local newspapers despite a crackdown on the practice earlier this year.

The Government published a new Publicity Code stipulating that local councils should not publish newspapers in direct competition to the local press, and that they should not appear more frequently than quarterly and should only include material directly related to local services.

According to the Newspaper Society some councils have defied the Government by continuing to publish newspapers which breach the Code.

It reports that Shapps told PR Week:“It is unacceptable that Labour councils are trying to push independent local newspapers out of the market in a bid to stop scrutiny of their spending.

"This choreographed attack on free speech by Tower Hamlets and Greenwich has no place in a modern democracy. These papers exist to promote personal political agendas and not the interests of the public and I urge local residents to report these publications to the district auditor."

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