carry their propaganda, which will replace the soon-to-be-defunct H&F News, has been debated in Parliament recently. Our MP, Andy Slaughter, raised the issue with Grant Shapps, the Local Government Minister who appeared to confirm that the proposed deal would be in contravention of the soon-to-be-introduced Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.
Sounds anoraky? Well in simple terms this is what it means to you and I: The Government has rightly killed off "H&F News" which is a council propaganda paper produced with hundreds of thousands of pounds of your money, and which only puts the council's version of events across.
But our council has tried every trick in the book to get round this new restriction, and is now dangling a ten year contract worth over a million of your pounds to the Fulham Chronicle, who appear desperate to take it. Not only would this mean lots of your money still being spent telling you a very one sided version of the truth, but it would also, in my humble opinion, fatally undermine the newspaper's ability to report impartially on the Council.
The owners of the Chronicle, Trinity Mirror, would presumably not wish to see any inconvenient reporting on the Council between now and the contract being announced, for example. And lo, there hasn't been much to trouble the Council recently.
You don't have to look far to see how newspapers wield power over journos - just look at Murdoch. Which might be why some journalists at the Chronicle appear to be making for the door.
Here's what Andy Slaughter has to say:
"I recently raised this issue with the Local Government Minister, Grant Shapps MP, who confirmed that H&F would be breaching the code by continuing with their plans. As a result I have now raised the issue with both the district auditor and the monitoring officer for Hammersmith to make them aware of what the council is up to.
I hope that they will look at the issue and ensure that H&F council now comply with the Government’s rules on local publicity".
So it matters in terms of your money and your democracy. The fact that the Government now seems to be saying that what is proposed is likely to violate what they are putting forward is interesting, and may yet stop the arrangement. Watch that space, as I am sure both Hammersmith Town Hall and the Fulham Chronicle will be.