COUNCIL "propaganda" papers like Greenwich Time could face a legal challenge under government proposals.

Despite a code of conduct introduced in 2011 to clampdown on the activities of local authority newspapers, the Department for Communities and Local Government says it is concerned about rogue councils who are still flouting the rules.

Greenwich Council falls into that category, having continued to publish its own paper every week, claiming it saves the council money in advertising.

But others dismiss it as a town hall Pravda. In recent months, the paper's front page featured news of its council tax freeze for three weeks in a row while a March issue focusing on the council's Local Government Chronicle award had three different pictures of leader Councillor Chris Roberts on one page alone.

At other times, good news stories are held back for publication as Greenwich Time exclusives - from small school events to the relaunch of Charlton Lido. Even the council's major campaign on river crossings was kept from the local press until it had been published in its own paper.

The government code of conduct already in place advises against weekly council papers with political bias, but proposals could see this backed by statute, allowing the Secretary of State to direct councils in breach of the rules to comply - or face a possible court order.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: "Some councils are undermining the free press and wasting taxpayers’ money which should be spent carefully on the front line services that make a real difference to quality of life.

"It should not, under any circumstances, be used to fund political propaganda and town hall Pravdas and yet a hardcore minority of councils continue to ignore the rules despite public concern.

"The line in the sand is clear, publicity material straying into propaganda clearly crosses that line, and this legislation will stop this disgraceful misuse of public money, which damages local democracy and threatens an independent, free and vibrant local press."

A Greenwich Council spokeswoman said they could not comment at this stage.

The consultation closes on May 6. To have your say, visit