Greenwich Council set to break law and 'waste taxpayers' money' with council paper Greenwich Time (From News Shopper)
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Greenwich Council set to break law and 'waste taxpayers' money' with council paper Greenwich Time
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles calls Greenwich Time one of the 'worst examples' of council 'propaganda' papers. Pictured with deputy leader of Greenwich Conservatives Councillor Nigel Fletcher
Greenwich Council looks set to break the law and "waste taxpayers’ money" by continuing to publish its weekly "propaganda" paper.
The Local Audit and Accountability Act came into force on Sunday (March 30) and states papers like Greenwich Time should not be published more than four times a year and should be fair and objective.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has previously cited Greenwich Time as "one of the worst examples" of these so-called "town hall Pravdas".
Greenwich Council leader Councillor Chris Roberts was warned in a Department for Communities and Local Government letter that it had not ruled out legal action if the council failed to comply with the law.
But after Coun Roberts was quizzed by deputy leader of Greenwich Conservatives Coun Nigel Fletcher on the issue at a full council meeting last Wednesday (March 26), he said he was going to "continue this weekly publication and [I] don’t see any reason why the council should wish to do otherwise."
Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Councillor Spencer Drury said: "They are going to be breaking the law and it will cost Greenwich taxpayers’ money.
"The Labour party are quite happy to spend taxpayers’ money in court defending the indefensible - because they want it, they will spend our money defending it. It is outrageous."
He added: "I welcome the news the government will force Labour-run Greenwich Council to close down its propaganda sheet as soon as possible."
Greenwich Council response
A Greenwich Council spokesman said: “It is completely untrue to suggest the Royal Borough of Greenwich is breaking the law in relation to Greenwich Time.
“The council complies with the provisions of the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity and the Leader of the Council made clear at the Full Council meeting in February that it would continue to comply with the law.
“Furthermore, when the District Auditor was asked to review the council’s arrangements for publishing a weekly newspaper, it was decided that there were no issues of concern on which to take action.
“Greenwich Time is published on a weekly basis to inform residents about local services and to promote job opportunities and social housing through our choice based lettings scheme.
“It has also reduced expenditure on statutory notices such as planning applications which has helped to freeze council tax for the last seven years and these savings have been passed back to local residents.”
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