Tough new publicity rules for councils take effect today

Published on Friday, 01 April 2011 13:00
Posted by Scott Buckler

Measures by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to preserve a strong, vibrant, independent local press are now in force as new rules governing taxpayer funded town hall freesheets and council publicity have been agreed by Parliament(April 1st)

In recent years there has been a marked growth in the frequency and scope of council publicity techniques funded by taxpayers' money, whilst local papers have struggled in a saturated news environment. Mr Pickles has raised strong concerns over this use of taxpayers' money. He believes councils should focus their resources on protecting front line services.

 

A new publicity code strengthening the rules for English councils on what can be considered appropriate spending of taxpayers' money is now in force after approval by Parliament. Mr Pickles said that the new rules would strengthen the local democratic process.

The new rules bring to an end politically contentious advertising campaigns, prevent municipal newspapers being published more than four times a year, and halt the hiring of lobbyists by councils.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:

"We said that we would bring an end to improper council publicity and now a new code of practice is in force. These new rules make it crystal clear that taxpayers' money should be for protecting front line services not printing Pravdas or paying for professional lobbyists to put the squeeze on Whitehall. Publicity straying into propaganda clearly crosses the line of appropriate public funding whilst film reviews and TV listings sit far beyond the realm of council news."

Local Government Minister Grant Shapps said:

"As councils strive to cut back waste their public spending should be under more scrutiny than ever and a vibrant and independent local press has a vital role to play holding those local leaders to account. But the boom in funded council papers in recent years has left many local newspapers out in the cold. Today we're giving local papers a fresh start."

 

Source: DCLG

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