Greenwich Council is making contingency plans in case the government succeeds in banning the local authority's weekly newspaper.

The council has been threatened with legal action unless it meets with government regulations which only allow council's publications to come out quarterly.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, pictured on the front of this week's issue, has described Greenwich Time as "one of the worst examples of these town hall Pravdas".

Now Greenwich is inviting companies to bid for a contract to publish its statutory notices - which currently appear in Greenwich Time - in case the paper has to close.

It includes the stipulation that bidders must produce editorial content which "helps to positively inform local residents about the measures that their neighbours and local service providers are undertaking to make the borough a great place to live, work, learn and visit."

Greenwich says its weekly paper is the only way to reach every resident but critics say it is a vehicle for pro-Labour propaganda.

Last year, News Shopper revealed claims by former staff members - denied by the council - that content was run at the whim of the former council leader, including ordering a picture of his own face to be put on the front page of one issue instead of smiling children, and having a leadership rival airbrushed from the paper.

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Councillor Spencer Drury said: "I welcome what I hope is the end of Greenwich Time. It has been an expensive waste of taxpayers’ money for too many years, distributed only to ensure that the Labour Party can get its message across to residents on a weekly basis.  

"My only concern is that the council is already trying to gain some editorial control over bidders for this contract by stipulating a positive stance in stories. 

"This would be unacceptable and undermine the fundamental freedom of the press to hold the council to account for its actions."

A Greenwich Council spokesman said: "The Royal Borough continues to argue strongly the common sense case for maintaining Greenwich Time – which allows all residents to access this and other essential local information like up to date availability of council housing and local job opportunities.
"We continue to make further representations to the government to this effect but need to be sure we have arrangements in place to meet our legal duty regarding placing statutory notices if the Government directs us to close Greenwich Time."