Labour-run council defeated over Greenwich Time

Labour-run Greenwich Council has been defeated in its attempt to save its weekly Greenwich Time propaganda newspaper, after abandoning its heavily-criticised last-minute legal bid against the Department for Communities and Local Government.

After the news broke on local blog 853, the council confirmed it "will not publish more than four issues of Greenwich Time or any equivalent newspaper, newssheet or similar communication per year, in compliance with the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity."

The news follows years of campaigning by local Conservatives against a paper that has been used blatantly for party political advantage. The Labour leadership in Greenwich were left isolated last week after it was announced that the only other weekly paper in the country, Tower Hamlets' East End Life, was to close.

Councillor Matt Hartley, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives, said: “Today’s news is a vindication for everyone who has fought against Greenwich Time and Labour’s outrageous misuse of public funds for their own political advantage, week after week. The only reason that Greenwich Time exists is to help the Labour Party win whatever elections are coming up next – and it is frankly a scandal that the council has dragged out the demise of their propaganda newspaper for as long as they have.

“Labour councillors may have given up their desperate legal fight against the inevitable – but in the process, they have wasted more than £48,000 of public funds. This is a shameful waste of public money at a time when finances are tight – and comes on top of the £0.6 million a year net cost of producing the paper all these years. Will council taxpayers receive an apology?

“It has been a long, long campaign to put a stop to Greenwich Time in its current form – and today’s news is a credit to all the hard work of my predecessor Councillor Spencer Drury and many, many others who have opposed Labour’s propaganda over the years.

“Without Greenwich Time going through letterboxes every week, Labour councillors will have to learn to deliver their own election leaflets like the rest of us – and without the taxpayer picking up the tab. The question now is whether this will simply mean we will see propaganda four times a year rather than 52 – and we will be watching to make sure the council really does intend to comply with the law with Greenwich Time in its new form.”

Councillor Spencer Drury said: "Greenwich Council has used taxpayers' money to produce propaganda, reinforcing its rose-tinted view of the borough to all residents, and the fact the Government has finally forced them to conform to the standard of behaviour expected in a modern democracy does not mean that there won't be some other attempt to support the Labour Party through the Council. Frankly, I expect the last few months of Greenwich Time to be filled with Labour Party messages designed to support their campaign to win the London elections, which would be disgraceful but completely in keeping with the way this newspaper has been used locally."