Notice: MHCLG has ordered Hackney Today to be cut back by September 2018.

Hackney Council is “considering its options” after being ordered by the government to stop publishing its taxpayer-funded freesheet Hackney Today so often.

The council was sent the latest of several directions from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) yesterday demanding Hackney Today be cut back to quarterly publication.

The letter, dated 11 April, said Hackney Today‘s coming out every fortnight breaches the Publicity Code, and gave the council until September 2018 to switch to quarterly.

A Hackney Council spokesperson told the Hackney Citizen today: “We have received the direction from MHCLG and are considering our options.”

The council has been bullish in its response to earlier directions from the government about Hackney Today, sending a long letter rejecting the last direction in November 2017.

But there are signs the council might be changing its position and thinking of cutting back publication or scrapping the freesheet altogether.

The council has recently launched several fortnightly newsletters to be sent to people by email.

They have also told the Citizen that two four-year contracts for the sheet’s printing and distribution were signed with the option that the council can switch to less frequent publication.

However, in March a spokesperson said: “Hackney has argued, as we have done many times, that Hackney Today provides us with a highly effective, and cost effective way of engaging with and informing Hackney’s diverse communities, and that to reduce frequency would increase our costs and damage our ability to communicate with our residents.”

The government’s order is based on the freesheet’s claim to be published “fortnightly”.

While this is true most of the time, an investigation by the Citizen last year revealed that the paper comes out less frequently than this at least twice a year, with some gaps as long as 35 days.

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