Coun­cil set to defy mag­a­zine warn­ing

Re­sponse to let­ter over pub­li­ca­tion fre­quency

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Deb­o­rah King ed­i­to­ri­aluxbridge@trin­i­tysouth.co.uk

HILLING­DON Coun­cil is set to defy the gov­ern­ment over the pub­li­ca­tion of its mag­a­zine, Hilling­don Peo­ple.

In Au­gust, the coun­cil was sent a warn­ing let­ter by Kris Hop­kins, Min­is­ter for Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, stat­ing that he con­sid­ered Hilling­don Peo­ple was in breach of the Code of Prac­tice on Lo­cal Au­thor­ity Pub­lic­ity, which states coun­cil mag­a­zines should not be is­sued more than quar­terly.

Hilling­don Peo­ple is printed six times a year and de­liv­ered free of charge to homes across the bor­ough.

Hilling­don Coun­cil has re­sponded to the gov­ern­ment in a let­ter ob­tained by the Gazette un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act.

In the let­ter, the coun­cil says that ‘for a com­mu­nity to be a healthy democ­racy, lo­cal un­der­stand­ing of the demo­cratic process is im­por­tant, and ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key to de­vel­op­ing that un­der­stand­ing’.

It also claims that pro­duc­ing the mag­a­zine means the coun­cil avoids hav­ing to pro­vide ‘a pro­lif­er­a­tion of other leaflets and pam­phlets’.

The let­ter ends: “The coun­cil is of the firm view that it is act­ing fully in ac­cor­dance with the spirit of the Pub­lic­ity Code and it sees no rea­son why it should change its cur­rent prac­tice of pub­lish­ing Hilling­don Peo­ple six times a year.”

Ne­wham, in East London, also pub­lishes a coun­cil mag­a­zine.

It was sent a warn­ing let­ter by Eric Pick­les, Sec­re­tary of State for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment in April this year, along with four other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, for al­leged breach of the re­quire­ments that pub­li­ca­tions should be ob­jec­tive and even-handed, in ad­di­tion to be­ing pub­lished too fre­quently.

Ne­wham Coun­cil, in a re­sponse also ob­tained us­ing an FOI re­quest, has ac­cused Mr Pick­les of sin­gling out Labour or in­de­pen­dent au­thor­i­ties in East London in his quest to stop what Mr Pick­les calls ‘Town Hall Prav­das’ – es­sen­tially coun­cil pro­pa­ganda.

Ne­wham’s re­sponse could ex­plain why a batch of Con­ser­va­tive coun­cils, in­clud­ing Hilling­don, were sub­se­quently is­sued with warn­ing let­ters about the fre­quency of their pub­li­ca­tions in Au­gust. Ne­wham an­tic­i­pates chal­leng­ing Mr Pick­les by way of ju­di­cial re­view if he di­rects it to change the fre­quency or con­tents of its mag­a­zine.

It is not known if Hilling­don in­tends to take the same course of ac­tion.

The coun­cil com­ment.

de­clined

to COR­REC­TION: In last week’s story on page two, ‘Splash­ing the cash on re­fur­bish­ment of pool’, we re­ferred to Men­cap as a men­tal health char­ity.

It in fact works with peo­ple who are men­tally hand­i­capped and we apol­o­gise for the er­ror. COR­REC­TION: In our Five Of The Best sec­tion on Wed­nes­day, Oc­to­ber 1, we in­cor­rectly listed the KLOS Mu­si­cal The­atre num­ber.

‘Any­thing Goes’ is at the Win­ston Churchill The­atre, Ruis­lip from tonight (Wed­nes­day) un­til Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 17, and you should call 01895 349 521 for tick­ets or visit the web­site at www. klos­mu­si­calthe­atre.co.uk.

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