Government ministers have threatened to take legal action against eight London councils over their local taxpayer-funded newspapers.
Ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government say the papers, including Greenwich Council’s Greenwich Time and Tower Hamlets’ East End Life, are in breach of the local government Publicity Code.
The code regulates the frequency, content and appearance of taxpayer-funded news-sheet and is intended to stop councils competing with local newspapers.
On Friday the department confirmed action is being taken against Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Hillingdon, Lambeth, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest councils.
Ministers say each of the councils are breaking the code’s provision limiting council newspapers and magazines to one edition per quarter.
The boroughs have been given two weeks either to demonstrate that legal action is not necessary or bring their publications into compliance with the code.
Local Government Minister Kris Hopkins said: “Frequent town hall freesheets are not only a waste of taxpayers’ money but they undermine the free press. Localism needs robust and independent scrutiny by the press and public.
“Councillors and political parties are free to campaign and put out political literature but they should not do so using taxpayers’ money.”