Complaint to Government over 'propaganda' local magazine
- Credit: Haringey Council
The Department for Local Government is considering a complaint made about Haringey Council’s communications with the public.
Haringey Liberal Democrats wrote to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), asking secretary of state Robert Jenrick to review the “illegal council propaganda” sent out by the town hall.
However, Haringey Council denies any wrongdoing and said it has "no plans" to reduce how frequently it sends out Haringey People magazine.
The complaint claimed the council breaches government guidelines that newsletters should not be sent out more than quarterly, and has previously called for the council's “bloated communications budget” to be cut.
The government’s Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity is guidance that councils must follow when producing publicity, defined as “any communication in whatever form, addressed to the public at large or a section of the public”.
Leader of the opposition on Haringey Council, Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison (Lib Dem, Crouch End), said these are supposed to protect the borough’s “flourishing local press”.
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He said: “However, it seems that Haringey’s Labour-run council is more concerned with promoting themselves at any cost including using taxpayers’ money.
“The rules on sending out magazines are quite clear, yet Haringey has continued to flout them, spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent years beyond what is permissible.
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“If they refuse to follow the code of conduct, ministers should step in to ensure they do.”
However, Haringey Council rebuked the allegations and said it had not breached “the spirit or the letter" of the code.
A spokesperson said: “We have a duty to ensure that residents are adequately informed about the work of the council and it’s services. Haringey People, delivered to every household, plays a key role in doing just that.
“It is especially crucial for residents who are unable to use digital services and other platforms.
"During the pandemic, the magazine has been an important source of information in keeping residents updated on issues relating to public health, vaccines, and financial support."
They argued the magazine aims to “celebrate the achievements” of Haringey residents and spotlight the “important work” of people supporting the community.
The spokesperson added: “We believe it constitutes the right balance between keeping the public informed about local authority services and any changes to those services especially in these heightened times.
“Given its role, importance and popularity with local people – in the last residents' survey nearly 70 per cent said it was their preferred source of council information – we have no plans to reduce its frequency.”
The MHCLG confirmed letter was being considered and said it would “therefore be inappropriate to comment on the case at this stage".