Last year I consulted local government and other interested parties on a proposed new code of recommended practice on local authority publicity. On 27 January the Communities and Local Government Select Committee issued a report on the proposals. Having now carefully considered the responses received from the consultation and the Select Committee’s report, I am today laying before Parliament a draft “Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity”. If Parliament approves the draft, the Secretary of State will issue the code which will replace, in relation to English local authorities and certain other bodies, the existing code of practice.
The new code sets out the principles for local authority publicity. It makes clear that principal councils should not publish newspapers more frequently than quarterly and that such publications should only include material directly related to local services. It provides for a more flexible regime for parish councils given parish newsletters are not in competition with local newspapers.
The new code also makes clear that councils should not spend taxpayers’ money to lobby Government through private sector lobbyists or other forms of publicity.
I have also placed a copy of the Government’s response to the consultation and the Select Committee’s report in the Library of the House.