The government’s plans to stop councils like Greenwich producing newspapers like Greenwich Time have hit a hitch, with MPs telling Eric Pickles he should think again…
MPs on the communities and local government select committee argue that a revised code drawn up by Pickles to prevent the publication of so-called “town hall Pravdas” should be reconsidered.
In a lengthy report released today on the proposed code of recommended practice on local authority publicity, the committee accuses the minister of failing to provide proof that council-run papers threaten commercial newspapers.
I covered the committee’s meeting on this last month, when the government seemed to have a touching faith in the honesty of local newspaper owners to keep on serving their patch, when in fact many parts of London are effectively news deserts thanks to their proprietors cutting back funds. The continued weekly existence of Greenwich Time – which is showing no signs of stopping – has as much to do with market failure as it does the desire of the council’s Labour leadership to dictate the local news agenda. There remains no dedicated newspaper covering Greenwich borough other than the council’s own paper – our editions of the Streatham-based Mercury and Petts Wood-based News Shopper are shared with Lewisham.
Indeed, newspaper readers in the south of the borough who get the Bexley Times – which covers lots of Greenwich stories, inherited from its old Eltham Times title – may be interested to know that its owners are planning to move some of its production from Sidcup to Ilford. Not so local now, eh?
So, for now, Greenwich Time sails on – still trying to avoid detailing the cuts that are coming to Greenwich, as seen in this week’s edition (above). I’ve a funny feeling they might as well start work on those Olympic Games special editions now, it seems like we’re lumbered with the thing for a while yet.