Official warning that mag is too frequent
Government minister awaiting council response about breach of code
THE government has stepped up the pressure on Hillingdon Council to reduce the frequency of publication of its magazine, Hillingdon People.
There are currently six issues of the magazine each year and it is delivered free of charge to homes across the borough.
Kris Hopkins, minister for local government, sent a warning letter to the council last week. In it he says he considers Hillingdon People to be in breach of the Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity, which states that local authority magazines should not be issued more than once a quarter.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, who is Mr Hopkins’ boss, has described the magazines and newspapers printed by some local authorities as ‘Town Hall Pravdas’ – Pravda being the name of the Russian newspaper associated with the Communist Party.
Mr Hopkins’ letter gives the council until Friday this week to respond. Hillingdon told the Gazette it is considering its response and would not comment further for now.
The Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity is designed to ensure that publicity is lawful, cost- effective, objective, even-handed, appropriate, has regard to equality and diversity and is issued with care during periods of heightened sensitivity.
A number of other London councils have been issued with letters warning that they are in breach of the code, including Tower Hamlets, Enfield, Greenwich, Lambeth and Newham.
In his letter, Mr Hopkins said: “Information available to the Secretary of State indicates that your council is publishing a local authority news sheet, Hillingdon People, every two months.
“Such a publication would not comply with the provision in the publicity code that where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, news sheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly.
“As you know, the great majority of local authorities comply with the publicity code. The provision in relation to frequency of publication has been designed to ensure that in each locality, the independent local media does not face unfair competition.
“In short, the purpose of that provision is to facilitate the creation of an environment which is as conducive as possible to the flourishing of the independent local media, an essential element of any effectively operating local democracy.”