I issued the London Boroughs of Hackney and Waltham Forest with a written notice, on 2 December 2016, of a direction that I proposed to give requiring that both councils comply with the provisions in the March 2011 code of recommended practice on local authority publicity. This code restricts the frequency of publication of council newspapers, to no more often than quarterly (except for parish councils, who should not issue council newspapers more often than monthly).
I can now tell the House that I have carefully considered representations of both councils, together with other information available about both councils’ publicity, the responses received to the Government’s 2013 consultation “Protecting the Independent Press from Unfair Competition”, and the Government’s response to that consultation. I have also had careful regard to the Department’s equality statement on enforcing the code of recommended practice on local authority publicity, and have considered afresh representations that both councils have made about proposals to direct their compliance with the code to restrict the frequency of publication of its newspapers. I have concluded that it would be lawful and necessary in all the circumstances of Hackney and Waltham Forest to now issue the directions as I had proposed.
As such, in accordance with my powers under section 4A(1), (2) and (3) of the Local Government Act 1986, I have today directed the London Boroughs of Hackney and Waltham Forest, in order to secure the councils’ compliance with the requirements of the code, as follows:
to commission or publish no more than four issues of their respective newspapers (Hackney Today and Waltham Forest News), or any equivalent newsletter, newssheet or similar communication, in the period of one year commencing 6 February 2018, and in subsequent years; and
to ensure that the executive of both councils within 14 days of the date of the direction will take the necessary decisions in order that the councils will be in a position to comply with the requirement on publication from 6 February 2018 onwards.
I will be placing in the Library of the House copies of both directions, the letters to both councils setting out my reasons, the equality statement, and the representations of both councils.