Kris Hopkins, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has confirmed that Greenwich Council will be forced to stop publishing its weekly publication ‘Greenwich Time’.
Hopkins said that there was a threat to local media and that agreement hadn’t been reached with the council. He added:
“Within the period of 14 days following the notice, as statute provides, Greenwich council has made a number of representations. These included that in the council’s view there is no evidence that its weekly newspaper has an impact on the local independent press in the area, that the proposed direction would be ultra vires, irrational, and procedurally unfair, and that in any event the council would not be able to comply with such a direction by the proposed date of 31 March 2015.”
The department for Communities and Local Government confirmed that the direction meant “not only must the council cease to publish its weekly newspaper, ‘Greenwich Time’, but it is also barred from outsourcing or contracting for the publication of any weekly newsletter, news-sheet or similar communication by a third party to whom the council may make payment.”
The publication of Greenwich Time meant that some local media outlets said that they were facing unfair competition for advertising. The council also admitted that the Greenwich Time was being signed off by the leader of the council which some opponents said questioned the impartiality of the publication.
The council has said that it will comply with its legal duties.