Council 'pravda' reported to District Auditor - Press Gazette

Council 'pravda' reported to District Auditor

Council ‘pravda’ the Greenwich Time has been reported to the District Auditor amid claims it breached Government guidelines on local authority publications.

The leader of Greenwich Council’s opposition, Tory councillor Spencer Dury, claimed it was ‘a disgrace in a modern democracy that this sort of propaganda is allowed to flourish at the expense of other local papers and subsidised by unsuspecting taxpayers”.

It comes after the council approved plans on 30 August to continue publishing Greenwich Time, a weekly paper which comes out 48 times a year.

Dury told the Bexley Times that ‘in my opinion Labour justifies GT with a fig leaf of financial jiggery-pokery”. He said: ‘Greenwich remains a one party state with its own ‘pravda’… It seems to me that while some politicians like to see their views go unchallenged, only Greenwich spends taxpayers money to make this a reality.”

Earlier this year the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity came into effect, stating that councils should not publish papers that ‘seek to emulate commercial newspapers in style and content”.

The code also said they should not appear more than once a quarter and should be be objective.

Dury claimed the Greenwich Time continued to ‘to mimic the local papers in style and content, offering ‘news’ stories and a clear editorial stance (in support of the Labour Council)”, adding: ‘This is clearly banned under the code.”

A spokesman for Greenwich Council told the Bexley Times that if Dury had any concerns then ‘a reference to the District Auditor is the correct and proper process to follow and the council will cooperate as it always does with any requests for information the District Auditor may make”.

Ealrier this month the Minister of State for Housing & Local Government, Grant Shapps, urged the public to report council-run papers that continued to ignore Government guidelines to the District Auditor.