Communities secretary Eric Pickles has renewed his attack on local authority publicity free-sheets, penning a letter to newspaper bosses in which he pledges to end ‘Town Hall Pravdas’.
Mr Pickles' letter to the Newspaper Society follows on from the announcement in last week’s Queen’s Speech of the Local Audit and Accountability Bill, which contains provisions to put the current council publicity code on a formal legal footing.
In the letter, Mr Pickles states his belief the 1,100 local newspapers ‘are the heartbeat of communities, an essential cog in the democratic wheel and exemplary localists’.
He branded the spread of the Town Hall ‘Pravda’ as manifestly unfair ‘because they offer cut price local news, but mixed in with council propaganda that pours taxpayers money down the drain’.
‘These free-sheets are often confused for the real thing by residents. I want our news to be told and sold under the masthead of an independent and free press, not through a knock-off Rolex imitation,’ Pickles stated.