Newham, Hackney and Waltham Forest have been given until the end of April to scale back on their council publications.

The three east London councils, which publish fortnightly, join Greenwich Time on the hitlist of Communities Secretary Eric Pickles who branded the publications “Town Hall Pravdas” and criticised their political bias and expense.

He also said that the newsheets were putting legitimate newspapers out of business.

The fifth council – Tower Hamlets, which publishes East End Life – is already under scrutiny following Mr Pickles’ imposition of commissioners to oversee the borough’s financial processes.

Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

The three other councils have two weeks to make representations. Local government minister Kris Hopkins said: “Following this, the secretary of state will take his final decision in each case about whether or not to issue the council with a direction. Each decision will be taken on its own merits.”

Formal letters were sent to the five councils responsible for Greenwich Time, Hackney Today, the Newham Mag, Waltham Forest News and East End Life. They were ordered to produce publications no more than four times a year.

The letters were the first step in enforcement of the new Local Audit and Accountability Act passed in January last year.