Thomas Bridge 04 March 2015

Borough banned from printing weekly newspaper

Ministers have stepped in to ban a London borough from publishing its weekly council newspaper more than four times a year.

A Government direction served to the Greenwich RBC means the town hall will have to dramatically cut back on publication of its regular 'Greenwich Time' freesheet by the end of this month.

Local government minister Kris Hopkins also told the House of Commons that the borough would be barred from outsourcing or contracting any weekly newsletter or newssheet.

Greenwich's executive now has 14 days to ensure the borough is compliant with the restrictions.

The Coalition has consistently warned that it would take action on the publication of local authority newsletters, which it believes 'can push out and undermine' the independent press.

However Greenwich highlighted that it had been the only authority served with a direction over this matter.

A Royal Borough of Greenwich spokesperson said: 'We have received a direction from the secretary of state for communities and local government in respect of our residents' newspaper, Greenwich Time. A report on the matter will be considered at the next meeting of the council's cabinet.

'We note that the Royal Borough of Greenwich is the only authority to be directed on this issue; this is despite a strong case presented by the royal borough in response to previous letters from the secretary of state.'

The Local Government Association has previously called for a 'reality check' over the Government's fight against council newspapers.

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