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Pickles attacks councils for 'Town Hall Pravdas'

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has critcised five London councils for their "propaganda on the rates" claiming it drives local newspapers out of business.

Formal letters have been sent to the councils responsible for Greenwich Time, Hackney Today, the Newham Mag, Waltham Forest News and East End Life in Tower Hamlets, after Mr Pickles accused them of printing the newpapers too often.

The minister is attempting to force councils to comply with the Publicity Code for local authorities as part of the new Local Audit and Accountability Act.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles. Credit: PA Wire

The measures aim to ensure all publicly-funded sheets should be objective and limited in frequency.

"It is scandalous that bloggers have been handcuffed for tweeting from council meetings, whilst propaganda on the rates drives the free press out of business. Only Putin would be proud of a record like that," Pickles said.

"Localism needs robust and independent scrutiny by the press and public, and municipal state-produced newspapers suppress that. Town Hall Pravdas not only waste taxpayers' money unnecessarily, they undermine free speech."

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Are you a victim of 'bin blight?'

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has called on planners to provide places to hide bins Credit: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire

Eric Pickles has called for new homes to be built with storage areas for wheelie bins to end the scourge of "bin-blighted" streets. The Communities Secretary is to issue planning guidance encouraging developers to create space in properties so bins and recycling boxes can be hidden away.

Wheelie bins in Harrow, Middlesex, where each resident has three separate bins Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

The problem of unslightly bins is angering many Londoners. A campaign has begun in Primrose Hill against the introduction of four foot high wheely bins to encourage recycling. Pam White, a member of the Primrose Hill Conservation Area Committee, said:

"It is the nature of the housing. Most of the houses in the area are Victorian terraces with no front gardens. It is physical, there is no room for the bins."

And in Henley-on-Thames, there are plans for a "march of the wheelie bins" on the town hall in protest at a new waste collection system being introduced next month.

Campaigners to petition Earl's Court redevelopment

Members of the Save Earl's Court campaign will present a petition to Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles today, opposing the proposed redevelopment of Earl's Court Exhibition Centres.

The 'Earl's Court Masterplan' proposals would see the venue in West London redeveloped into residential properties.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has already approved the proposals, but campaigners have argued that the redevelopment could cause transport issues and worsen air quality in the area.

Pickles backs Enfield over spitting ban

Pickles backs Enfield Credit: PA

Enfield's bid to ban spitting on the streets has been backed by Local Government Minister Eric Pickles.

The Essex MP said he agrees with the London Borough that the practice is "deeply anti-social"

The London borough applied to Mr Pickles to be given provisional approval to bring in a by-law to bring a stop to spitting in public and has been given approval to go ahead.

The new by-law would be enforced by magistrates' courts.

A month-long period of consultation will take place before Mr Pickles is asked to confirm the by-law. It would come into force one month after confirmation.

Enfield would be the first London borough to bring in the by-law.

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New measures wouldn't have prevented soldier's death

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles Credit: Suzanne Plunkett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Government will examine what powers it requires following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said.

But Mr Pickles said he didn't believe any measures in a mooted communications data bill, dubbed the 'snooper's charter', would have prevented the incident.

Conservative MP Mr Pickles told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:

"What I am certain about is a free society is vulnerable to an unexplained, heavy violent attack, whether it was as our dear friends in Norway faced a couple of years ago a white supremacist or whether what we faced on the streets of Woolwich, a blasphemy and distortion of Islam.

I know of nothing that would suggest that provisions that were in that bill would have made any difference in this case or would have saved the life of the young member of the armed forces.

I think it's probably too soon to assess the powers we need but, once the investigation is through, both aspects of the security services and aspects of the policing of these two individuals will be thoroughly investigated and no doubt recommendations will come out of that."

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