Laura Sharman 19 June 2014

Pickles attacks ‘Stalinist’ media guidance for councils

Pickles attacks ‘Stalinist’ media guidance for councils image

Rules that bar councillors from speaking to the press without permission have been blasted as ‘Stalinist’ by local government secretary, Eric Pickles.

Pickles has hit out at guidance issued by the National Association of Local Councils that calls on councils to regulate contact between councillors and journalists. It includes preventing journalists from contacting councillors directly and councillors needing to obtain written consent from the council before speaking to the press.

Pickles said the guidance was ‘completely inappropriate’ and is calling on parish councils to ignore the new media policy.

Pickles said: ‘Freedom of speech is a vital part of local democracy. Councillors must be able to challenge waste and inefficiency, and should not have to get permission from state officials to speak to the press.

‘I am concerned that this Stalinist guidance will have a chilling effect on public life. I am making clear its contents are utterly opposed by the Government and it should be withdrawn immediately. We should be championing the independent free press, not trying to suppress it.’

NALC said it rejected the idea the guidance was 'Stalinist' and said it was intended to explain the legal frameworks that councillors must operate it when speaking to the media. 

Cllr Ken Browse, chairman of NALC, said: 'NALC rejects Mr Pickles' accusation of 'Stalinism'.

'We want our 9,000 parish councils to have more dealings with the media. Councils are doing a brilliant job improving their area and we want the media to report that.

'Our 200 page book, Local Councils Explained, published last year helps councils navigate their way through endless red tape, bureaucracy and arcane laws created by successive governments. It does not bar councillors from speaking to the media but explains the legal framework that governs them.'

Meeting new planning requirements for trees image

Meeting new planning requirements for trees

Concrete block permeable paving offers an important opportunity to help satisfy the requirement for extensive tree planting and retention of existing trees in developments. Chris Hodson reports.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Director of Children's Safeguarding and Care 

Gloucestershire County Council
Up to £116,391, plus relocation support
We are looking to fill this vital role at a very important time for us.  Our children’s services team is on an important journey of... Gloucestershire
Recuriter: Gloucestershire County Council

Corporate Director

Ceredigion County Council
£97,294 - £104,086
We are looking to recruit an ambitious and truly transformational leader to support the delivery of modernised and sustainable services to... Penmorfa, Porthmadog
Recuriter: Ceredigion County Council

Street Works Co-ordinator

Lincolnshire County Council
£21,153 - £23,791
Do you want to make a difference to how Street Works are managed within Lincolnshire? Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Community Co-ordinator (Health inequalities)

Brent Council
£32,418 - £34,209 p.a. inc.
The successful candidate will have evidenced experience of working in a community environment. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Homelessness Prevention and Relief Officer

Brent Council
£32,418 - £34,209 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
You must have an understanding of homelessness legislation, and an ability to learn legislation quickly with training, coupled with... Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue