Crackdown on council newspapers is 'unnecessary' and 'anti-localist'
- Published on Monday, 14 February 2011 14:12
- Posted by Scott Buckler
Responding to the Publicity Code announced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles today(14th Feb), Baroness Margaret Eaton, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said..
"If the Department for Communities and Local Government was truly committed to localism it would not be introducing draconian rules dictating to councils how often they are allowed to share information with residents.
"It is extremely disappointing that ministers have failed to make any significant amendments to the code following consultation, and appear to have ignored the advice of their own MPs.
"Newsletters delivered to people's homes have consistently proved to be the cheapest way for councils to directly communicate with residents and keep people informed about local services.
"The Communities and Local Government select committee found there was scant evidence of council publications competing unfairly with local newspapers. Most are distributed between four and six times a year and pose no threat to the local press, on whom the growth of the internet has had a far greater impact.
"It is extraordinary that Government ministers have chosen to ignore this and take such a heavy-handed approach. Not only are these rules completely unnecessary, but they have the potential to harm local democracy and drive up the amount of money councils will have to spend on advertising to fulfil their legal requirements.
"We strongly agreed with the Communities Secretary when he said in one of his first speeches that no-one working in local government signed up to be told what to do for the rest of their lives by Whitehall."