Opinion: From our Readers - Councils should leave news to the press

David Walker's ill-informed swipe in your prweek.com/uk feedback section, suggesting that councils squandering taxpayers' money on townhall newspapers is in keeping with our localism agenda (Opinion, 5 November), is wide of the mark.

An independent local press plays an essential part in our democracy, helping people to scrutinise and hold elected leaders to account. Yet the previous government's weakness for publicity left many local newspapers looking into the abyss thanks to the unfair competition of weekly council freesheets.

Our rules to limit council papers to no more than four times a year are far from a 'squeezing initiative'. I hope to encourage councils to focus their attention on services.

Unlike Mr Walker, I find it an inexcusable contradiction that councillors should spend public money on convincing people they're doing a good job with their tax money. I welcomed Hammersmith & Fulham's decision to cease publication of their council paper and hope other councils will follow suit.

The best way for councillors to put their message to the public is to focus their time and money on better local services, not town hall Pravdas.

Bob Neill MP, local government minister

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