DCLG's move to limit council publications faces backlash

The chair of an influential Commons select committee has hit out at the Government's decision to disregard his committee's advice over council freesheets.

Time for change: DCLG offices
Time for change: DCLG offices
Last week, the Department for Communities and Local Government revised the rules on council-run publicity.   

Labour MP and communities and local government select committee chair Clive Betts told PRWeek: ‘We’re  disappointed the DCLG insists that local authorities can’t communicate with their residents more than four times a year. There’s no evidence on which this was based.’

Councils pointed out that the select committee criticised proposals to curb the frequency of publications last month. It also suggested that a code of practice was not the ‘correct tool by which to apply constraints’ on hiring political lobbyists.

LGcommunications chair David Holdstock has called for a review, saying the DCLG’s decision could result in ‘tens of millions of pounds of tax payers’ money being spent on propping up the local newspaper industry’.

Mayor Jules Pipe, the chair of London Councils,  added: ‘We are well aware of the need for guidelines, but these new rules are at best anti-localist and at worst worthy of North Korea.’

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced the revised rules last week, insisting they had previously been ‘too weak for too long, squandering public funds and pushing local newspapers into the abyss’.

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