Government threatens legal action against town hall over freesheet Hackney Today - for the FIFTH time
PUBLISHED: 10:18 07 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:42 07 November 2017
Hackney Council must stop publishing its free fortnightly newspaper Hackney Today within two weeks or face court action, the government has warned for the fifth time in nearly four years.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid laid down the gauntlet again yesterday in the long-running saga, which has seen the council ignore repeated requests to stop publishing its paper more than quarterly to comply with the Publicity Code.
Javid claims the free sheet - which is delivered to 108,000 homes every fortnight - is harming local democracy by competing for advertising revenue with papers like the Gazette.
In January the Government gave the council until the end of the month to stop such frequent publishing, and that warning followed others in March 2015, September 2014 and April 2014.
Javid, who has also issued directions to Waltham Forest which is breaching the code as well, said: “An independent free press is vital for local democracy and it’s important that we support them in holding local leaders to account.
“While the majority of councils abide by the Publicity Code, Hackney and Waltham Forest have ignored repeated requests to stop publishing their council newspapers so frequently.
“In the interests of local democracy, I will therefore use my powers to require them to do so.”
But the council argues the paper is the most cost-effective way for them to communicate with residents, and to comply with the legal requirement to publish statutory notices every two weeks.
They say that to publish the paper quarterly would cost them an extra £100,000 a year.
Hackney Council has yet to comment.