Council breaches rules on town hall publications with £200,000-a-year Newham Mag
PUBLISHED: 14:00 21 March 2019
Newham Council has been named as one of five local authorities in the country that are breaking the rules on the frequency of its town hall publications.
Around 100,000 copies of Newham Mag is distributed monthly despite rules that councils cannot send out their own publications more than four times a year.
The publication costs more than £200,000 a year to produce and only a fraction of the cost is clawed back through advertising.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) can prosecute councils which break the guidelines, which were introduced in 2011 to help protect local papers and prevent taxpayer money being spent on council publicity.
A councill spokesman said: “[It] is not a political publication.
“It is used by public sector bodies to communicate important information to residents. It is also an important part of the promise made by Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz to make Newham a beacon of participatory democracy.”
The council added that it still supports the local press through advertising and public notices.
Hackney, Waltham Forest, Greenwich and the Wirral in northern England are the other councils that break the rules.
All of the councils insist their papers are politically neutral.
The MHCLG said: “We have been clear that an independent, politically-free local media is an integral part of local democracy.”
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