RELEASE DATE: 8 April 2014
A North London local authority has been rapped on the knuckles by a Government department for continuing to publish its in-house newspaper fortnightly, following a complaint by the Chartered Institute of Journalists.
Brandon Lewis MP told Waltham Forest Council to stop publishing the Waltham Forest News twice a month, which it has been doing for years, in contravention of Government guidelines aimed at protecting local papers from unfair tax-payer funded competition.
Because many authorities ignored the guidelines, the Code has now been made law under the Local Audit and Accountability Bill which came into force on March 30 this year.
The Chartered Institute of Journalists has waged a six-year campaign against this and other councils’ policy of non-compliance with the code.
Waltham Forest resident and CIOJ member Janice Shillum Bhend has been spearheading the Institute’s campaign. She was recently told by the editor of the council’s Waltham Forest News that they would continue to publish fortnightly until they got a letter from the Government telling them to stick to quarterly publication as set out in the new law.
This prompted Ms Shillum Bhend to report the matter to the Department for Communities and Local Government, which resulted in the letter being issued.
She said: “I’m absolutely delighted that our campaign is about to force Waltham Forest council to toe the line at last and stop wasting residents’ money on publishing WFN fortnightly against Government guidelines.”
In a letter to Waltham Forest’s Councillor Christopher Robbins, Mr Lewis said: “It has been suggested that your council might not be complying with the Publicity Code. I can see no reason for any council not to comply – non-compliance would, I believe, invariably involve an unacceptable waste of taxpayers’ money and council resources. I would suggest therefore that you take steps to ensure that your council is in compete compliance with the provisions of the Code. ”
Note to editors:
A copy of Brandon Lewis’ letter is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/300008/140401_Waltham_Forest.pdf