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TheWaltham Forest News Debacle


We only obey the laws that suit us, until the rozzers actually come and kick down the door.

wfcwCouncil loses legal battle and forced to stop printing 'illegal' newsletter
9 August 2019
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The council has lost its legal battle and has been forced to stop publishing its illegal newsletter.
The law does not allow councils to publish newsletters more than four times a year. But up until June 10 this year, Waltham Forest Council had been publishing its freesheet Waltham Forest News twice a month
The spokesperson added the council is looking into alternative options to best communicate with residents so it does not “lose out because of this ruling”.
wfcwCouncil making £145,000 profit from "illegal" newsletter
5 March 2019
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In April 2018, the Secretary of State ordered the authority to cease publishing its Waltham Forest News freesheet twice a month.
Currently, the paper is failing to adhere to the act, which restricts councils to publishing newsletters just four times a year to stop them taking money away from the newspaper industry.
It has now been revealed that the council is spending more than £400,000 in internal advertising costs on the venture, which in effect is money being shuffled from one side of the council to the other.
But with this income taken into account, council officers revealed the paper and its communications department is making a £142,700 per year profit overall.
Council staff revealed the figure in a budget scrutiny meeting, saying the money spent on the paper’s production would “happen anyway”.
This is probably due to the legal obligation to display statutory notices publicly.
wfcwJudge backs Government telling council to stop illegally printing newsletter
19 June 2019
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Waltham Forest Council has lost a tax-payer funded judicial review against an order telling it to stop printing its newsletter illegally.
In April 2018, the Government issued an order to the authority, under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, instructing it to stop printing its Waltham Forest News newsletter more than the legally allowed four times a year.
But Waltham Forest Council’s leader Cllr Clare Coghill said the council would fight this order and the authority launched a judicial review against the Government’s decision.
Now, a judge has upheld the Government’s order and ruled the council is breaking the law in its current publishing processes, but the council still wants to appeal this.
wfcwCouncil to fight for illegal Waltham Forest News in court - at cost to taxpayer
5 June 2018
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Waltham Forest Council has voted to apply to take the government to court over its illegal newsletter – and it will be paid for by the taxpayer.  
The authority has vowed to fight “all the way” as it continues to publish its newspaper twice a month despite being told to cut it to four times a year by the Secretary of State.. 
C\omment - toboot
30th May 2018
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Having been found under the Local Audit and Accountability Act to have published an illegal propaganda sheet at ratepayers expense, in the guise of a local free paper, the council now wish to expend yet more of our local taxes by taking the matter to law.
As they have recently awarded themselves a substantial increase in remuneration and expenses, without the justification of increased efficiency, it is time for them to remember, that the public purse is not intended for the purpose of being plundered by public servants. Furthermore, they might try a little humility and remember that it is the ratepayer that both employs and pays them
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wfcwLondon assembly slams Waltham Forest council over illegal newsletter
1 June 2018
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Waltham Forest News is being published twice a month, but this is illegal under the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014
The authority has been ordered to stop publishing its newsletter twice a month by the government, but has so far flouted every order.
It now hopes to take the fight to a judicial review hearing, despite strict orders from the Secretary of State to stop.
The council will meet on June 5 to whether to formally challenge the Government’s decision to cease the public of the Waltham Forest News The council cabinet has been recommended to approve a challenge which will instigate judicial review proceedings against the Secretary of State.
The newspaper, which is legally only allowed to be printed four times a year, costs maximum of £417,000 a year to print.
wfcwWaltham Forest Council to fight government over order to stop publishing free newspaper
6 December 2016
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Waltham Forest council was ordered last week by Communities Minister, Marcus Jones, and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to stop printing Waltham Forest News twice a month.
The paper is failing to adhere to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, which restricts councils to publishing a newsletter only four times a year.
wfcwCouncil plans to take government to court over illegal Waltham Forest News
30 May 2018
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Waltham Forest Council has defied orders to stop publishing its illegal newsletter - and will now take the government to court. 
The authority wants to fight the Secretary of State at a Judicial Review hearing over the Waltham Forest News saga. 
It has been ordered to stop printing the freesheet twice a month - at a cost of £417,000 a year for the last seven years - but has flouted every order. 
wfcwGovernment orders Waltham Forest council to stop publishing rule-breaking free paper fortnightly
1 December 2016
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The government has ordered Waltham Forest council to stop flouting national rules by publishing its free newspaper once a fortnight.
Communities Minister, Marcus Jones, wrote to the local authority over its Waltham Forest News freesheet, which is published twice a month.
The paper is failing to adhere to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, which restricts councils to printing a newsletter just four times a year.
After first calling for Waltham Forest council to stop get on board with Government guidelines in April, Mr Jones has now sent a “minded to” direction letter.
The letter is an official written notice, requiring the local authority to comply with rules on the frequency it publishes the newsletter.
Mr Jones said: “An independent free press is vital for local democracy and it’s important that we support them in holding local leaders to account.
“Councils should not undermine local democracy by publishing their own newsletters more often than quarterly.
“I am offering the small number that are not playing by the rules this last chance to put their publishing houses in order or I will use my powers to require them to do so”. Waltham Forest council is spending around £440,000 a year to publish 23 editions of the newsletter.
wfcwLBWF Pravda
April 17, 2015  
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Press Gazette story highlights the large number of press officers and other communications staff who are now employed in local government
11 permanent staff working in Waltham Forest Town Hall communications
3 full-time members of staff working for Waltham Forest Guardian
wfcwCouncil to defy government warning over freesheet
23 March 2015
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Waltham Forest News will still be published fortnightly according to the council which stands firm on publication decision.
Today, a spokesman for the local authority called Waltham Forest News ‘the best value for money’ - confirming it will not comply with an order given earlier this month to reduce publication from 23 copies per year to four. Last year, Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles MP, ordered an end to what he described as Town Hall Pravdas.
Mr Pickles is a long-term critic of councils who regularly publish taxpayer-funded publicity sheets presented as newspapers, claiming they are propaganda tools which undermine the independent press.
wfcwCouncil warned over 'Town Hall Pravda'
11 March 2015
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Waltham Forest council has received another warning from the government over the publication of its "Town Hall Pravda" and could be forced to scale back production by the end of next month.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has called for the authority to comply with guidelines on publicility and distribute Waltham Forest News only four times a year, rather than every two weeks.
wfcwwfcwTown Hall’s ‘Pravda’:  Government serves final notice of legal action against council for 'flouting the law'
29 September 2014
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Communities and Local Government secretary Eric Pickles  has written to the council's chief executive Martin Esom issuing a final notice to council over the frequency of its tax-payer funded freesheet.
The Local Audit and Accountability Bill is designed to stop taxpayers’ money being used to promote political parties and safeguard an independent local press.
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.
wfcwPress body welcomes action against council newspaper
2 October 2014
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The Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) has welcomed the government’s decision to take further action against Waltham Forest Council over its town hall freesheet.
For more than six years, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) has rallied against tax-payer funded newspapers for harming local independent press and being used for 'propaganda' purposes.
A campaigner said: "We at the CIoJ are only too aware of the damage that these ‘Pravdas’ have caused to local journalism, journalists and indeed local democracy throughout the UK. "It is more than time councils were controlled and prevented from using our council taxes to tell us only what they want us to hear. "Waltham Forest's exercise in vanity publishing has cost residents in excess of £3million over the last six years."
wfcw Waltham Forest Council: 'strong reasons' to continue publishing
22 April 14
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The council's chief executive, Martin Esom, received a formal letter from Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on Thursday calling for compliance of the Publicity Code under the new Local Audit and Accountability Act.
wfcw17th April 2014 - Waltham Forest Council has two weeks to explain why it 'clearly' breached the Publicity Code before the government considers legal action
Waltham Forest News breached the Publicity Code for not being impartial and continuing the fortnightly publication. Waltham Forest Council has been given a fortnight to explain why it ignored legislation to reduce the fortnightly publication of Waltham Forest News to quarterly.
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Comment!

'“The council is mindful of the statutory guidance for publicity...'
Translation: 'We only obey the laws that suit us, until the rozzers actually come and kick down the door.'
Do you call it Anarchy or Nazism when the powers -that- be simply make up the rules as they go along?
nutshell Eric Pickles: WF News is a waste of taxpayers' money and "Town Hall Pravda" - +Comments
wfcw17th April 2014
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East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Eric Pickles has described the publicity sheets as a waste of taxpayers' money and "Town Hall Pravda" Eric Pickles has described the publicity sheets as a waste of taxpayers' money and "Town Hall Pravda"

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Eric Pickles has described the publicity sheets as a waste of taxpayers' money and "Town Hall Pravda"
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Waltham Forest News breached the Publicity Code for not being impartial and continuing the fortnightly publication

Waltham Forest Council has been given a fortnight to explain why it ignored legislation to reduce the fortnightly publication of Waltham Forest News to quarterly.

Ongar MP and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, has written to the council and four others in London to formally notify them of the laws governing the Local Audit and Accountability Bill, introduced on March 30.

Last week, the council told the Guardian, it will continue publishing the controversial freesheet fortnightly, described by councillors and members of the public as 'labour party propaganda' until formally told otherwise by the government.

A spokeswoman said: "We have not received any formal communication from the government under the new legislation. We will consider our position when we do so."

Mr Pickles has now taken 'formal' action over what he describes as Vladimir Putin style 'Town Hall Pravda' and an alleged attempt to drive local newspapers "out of business" by writing directly to the council's chief executive Martin Esom.

The letter states: 'The Secretary of State hereby gives the local authority known as the London Borough of Waltham Forest notice of a direction that he proposes to give to the authority undersection 4A of the 1986 Act.
'The Secretary of State proposes to direct the London Borough of Waltham Forest to comply by no later than 1 May 2014 with all of the provisions of the Recommended Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity issued under section 4 of the Local Government Act 1986 on 31 March 2011 having been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.'

It also mentioned the council has 14 days to make written representations about the direction.

As a strong defender of the local press, Mr Pickles has said he is prepared to take further action against the council for its publication described as 'not even-handed'.

He said: "It is scandalous that bloggers have been handcuffed for tweeting from council meetings, while propaganda on the rates drives the free press out of business. Only Putin would be proud of a record like that.

"Localism needs robust and independent scrutiny by the press and public, and municipal state-produced newspapers suppress that.

"‘Town Hall Pravdas’ not only waste taxpayers’ money unnecessarily, they undermine free speech.

"I have given written notice to councils most clearly breaching the Publicity Code, noting that Parliament has passed new laws to tackle this abuse.

"We are prepared to take further action against any council that undermines local democracy - whatever the political colour," said Mr Pickles.

He also added if councillors want to campaign and put out political literature, they should do it at their own cost.

Formal letters have been sent to the councils responsible for Greenwich Time, Hackney Today, the Newham Mag, and (Tower Hamlets) East End Life.

Waltham Forest Council has been contacted for a statement.

 

Comments
5:27pm Thu 17 Apr 14
Ferdy54 says...
Oh dear. How naughty, I only read it for the Public Notices to see what stupid road scheme they're going to dream up next!!!! 20mph on a main road like New Road for a start!!!

6:46pm Thu 17 Apr 14
Sam Hain says...
I take it this letter from Pickles counts as the 'formal notification' the council required and they will now go quarterly without further demur?

7:00pm Thu 17 Apr 14
NTiratsoo says...
It's been a memorable week for the Council really.
First it lost in court to the Christian kitchen - costing us thousands - purely because it failed to follow its own procedures.
Then, it was revealed to be unable to account for £50,000 paid to a private company; and unsure whether hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money given to the E11 BID Co. was monitored or not.
Now it's being deprived of its Pravda.
Chief Executive Martin Esom is paid way more than the prime minister and obviously worth every penny.
PS Sorry, I forgot the story about the Council no being able to account for 5 children in care, bless them.

7:01pm Thu 17 Apr 14
NTiratsoo says...
Sorry, I wrote 'week' but meant 'week or so'.7:07pm Thu 17 Apr 14
Howard Wolowitz says...
This will run and run unlike WF Pravda

22 April 14
The council's chief executive, Martin Esom, received a formal letter from Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on Thursday calling for compliance of the Publicity Code under the new Local Audit and Accountability Act. read ...
 
 
 

 

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