The prolonged game of chicken between Greenwich Council and Eric Pickles over its weekly newspaper is heading to the courts.
Communities Secretary Mr Pickles had given the royal borough until the end of March to comply with his department’s orders regarding Greenwich Time. But the council has refused to back down.
Its cabinet voted to challenge the order because, it claimed, fewer publications would lead to increased advertising costs in other newspapers.
But Mr Pickles has decided to take Greenwich to the High Court to see that his directions are met. These include publishing no more than four times a year. He says that these “Town Hall Pravdas” are a waste of tax payers money and serve little more purpose that puffing up the ruling party.
Newham and Tower Hamlets are also in his sights.
Local government minister Kris Hopkins said: “It is disappointing that Greenwich council has refused to comply with our direction to stop the weekly publication of its municipal newspaper. Consequently, the secretary of state has initiated proceedings in the High Court against the council to enforce that direction.”
A spokesman for Greenwich said: “Our decision is driven by how we can best serve our residents and save money on their behalf, at a time when our budgets are severely threatened by cuts.
“We are being told by government to find whatever savings we can, then it directs us to spend the equivalent of £2.31 more per household in the borough – making it even harder for us to keep freezing council tax and protect essential services.”