No tomorrow for Hackney Today? Power to enforce Publicity Code listed as key action for government

Plans to strengthen government guidelines, which aim to prevent local authorities publishing aggressive council newspapers, have been announced.

Granting the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, the power to enforce the Publicity Code for local authorities has been listed as a key action over the next two years in the latest Communities Department’s Business Plan.

The revised Publicity Code for local authorities was introduced over a year ago, following a campaign by the local press industry.

In January Pickles advised councils to discontinue taxpayer-funded papers which he dubbed “propaganda on the rates,” to ensure a robust independent local press can continue to scrutinise their activities.

But the council’s Hackney Today is just three in the UK which continued operating fortnightly, flouting the guidelines.

The town hall will spend an extra �25,000 on top of the estimated �315,000 annual figure this summer, bringing out three additional issues in the run-up to the Olympics.

Opposition parties say this is a further waste of taxpayers’ money.