Pickles calls time on Greenwich Council’s weekly newspaper

October 5, 2010 by  

Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, has announced proposals to clamp down on "town hall pravdas" and singled out Greenwich Council's weekly newspaper, Greenwich Time, as "one of the most blatant examples".

New guidelines put forward by the government would restrict councils to publishing their own free-sheets no more than four times a year.

Speaking exclusively to Greenwich.co.uk, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said:

"Councils should be focusing resources on frontline services, not running one-sided Town Hall papers that threaten the genuine local press. 'Greenwich Time' is one of the most blatant examples of this practice that I've seen, and demonstrates why tightening the rules is so necessary."

The new rules, which are subject to consultation, would also impose stricter controls over the content that councils can publish. Local authority publications should only include "information for the public about the business, services and amenities of the council or other local service providers", according to the proposed code of practice.

Greenwich Council's controversial newspaper was the subject of a debate at the last full meeting of the council when local Conservatives put forward a motion calling it for to be axed.

Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, Cllr Spencer Drury, welcomed the government's announcement. He added:

"Greenwich Time undermines local business and publishes what I would describe as propaganda masquerading as news.  I hope that this will encourage our existing local newspapers to revive their news reporting function and to start investigating the failures of Greenwich Council in a more systematic manner."

Council Leader, Cllr Chris Roberts, defended Greenwich Time at the last full council meeting. He said that the paper, which is delivered to homes across the borough, was "very close to being self financing" and allowed the council “to deliver statutory notices almost at no cost".


9 Responses to “Pickles calls time on Greenwich Council’s weekly newspaper”

  1. Indigo on October 5th, 2010 10:11 am

    Blissful reading, thank you.

  2. Dave on October 5th, 2010 11:56 am

    It’s about time too.

    Perhaps the money saved could go towards cleaning up the rubbish in East Greenwich which seems to lay around for ages.

  3. Stephen Slominski on October 5th, 2010 12:55 pm

    Magic story. It’s not often I find myself applauding a Tory minister. I started my own hyperlocal site ‘Eastleigh News’ as an antidote to the bimonthly local council publication ‘Borough News’.
    The Lib Dems have an overwhelming majority in our local council ,meanwhile publisher Newsquest has the monopoly on the local press titles including the freebies.
    The council is a major advertiser and news source for Newsquest who is also in a business partnership with them producing ‘Borough News’.
    Only the BBC are financially independent. We frequently see the same ‘news’ stories – lauding council ‘achievements’ – appear in the Council paper, the local paper and the freebie paper before resurfacing in Lib Dem ‘ Focus’ just before an election.
    How does this serve the purposes of democracy?

  4. Indigo on October 5th, 2010 1:11 pm

    The Greenwich Time Royal Borough “souvenir” edition was some sort of nadir – remember, with a picture on the front page of … no, of course not of the Queen, of The Dear Leader. Councillors have already celebrated with a slap-up banquet in the Painted Hall.

  5. Greenwich Council cut fireworks cash, but kept mayor’s bash « 853 on October 5th, 2010 5:19 pm

    […] providing the council leader with a chance to say that, and so he could get on the front of his propaganda rag, cost Greenwich taxpayers nearly £30,000. Wonderful. All councillors are invited, but many […]

  6. Trouble on – and under – the water at Woolwich « 853 on October 6th, 2010 11:51 pm

    […] 4 comments It’s not a story you’ll read much about in Greenwich Time – heavens, no – but the ongoing closure of the Woolwich Foot Tunnel seems to have gone […]

  7. Christine on October 11th, 2010 4:16 pm

    Oh no, what am I now going to use to wrap up my “compostible” rubbish in?

    It at least had a use in my house!

    Totally unreadable propaganda and back slapping

  8. Lyn on December 29th, 2010 2:46 pm

    Eric Pickles is right to slam Greenwich Council’s propaganda rag Greenwich Time. I wonder how much it costs to produce, and the money could be better spent on clearing icy pavements, left for days as dangerous skating rinks so that people stayed in rather than risk slipping and breaking bones. Pedestrians seem to count for nothing in the West Thamesmead/Plumstead areas where everything is geared for the car, with nice clear roads going up to Plumstead Station on the dual carriage-way, but the pavement on Griffin Way was just an icy slope and very dangerous. This is never a very nice walk so close to the traffic with exhaust fumes belching out, and the underpass is even worse.
    Greenwich Time had a letter from a Police ‘bigwig’ congratulating the Council on the wonderful snow clearance they allegedly did, but even outside Plumstead Police Station the pavement was thick with ice except for a small patch cleared near the steps.
    There is so much that could be improved in the area but they spend money on the wrong things; and while they continually blow their own trumpets and partake of the gravy-train that comes with being a local councillor, nothing will change.
    Also I am fed up with the cattle-truck buses, especially the 380, 224(or is it 244 the one running from Thamesmead to Woolwich) and the 53 from Woolwich to Newcross where I am knocked around by other passengers who surge on in Woolwich as if is the last bus out of a war-zone, lashing out with heavy bags, elbows and even feet. In any other setting this would be called assault, and much of it is deliberate. I have had shopping crushed and the sleeve of a raincoat torn, and know others with similar experiences who prefer to walk or have gone back to car driving to avoid catching these buses. Greenwich Council should tackle these sort of issues and help improve peoples’ lives.

  9. Anne on February 13th, 2011 4:49 pm

    I never thought I’d say this but Pickles is absolutely right on this one.