The government has ordered Waltham Forest council to stop flouting national rules by publishing its free newspaper once a fortnight.

Communities Minister, Marcus Jones, wrote to the local authority over its Waltham Forest News freesheet, which is published twice a month.

The paper is failing to adhere to the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, which restricts councils to printing a newsletter just four times a year.

After first calling for Waltham Forest council to get on board with government guidelines in April, Mr Jones has now sent a “minded to” direction letter.

The letter is an official written notice, requiring the local authority to comply with rules on the frequency it publishes the newsletter.

Mr Jones said: “An independent free press is vital for local democracy and it’s important that we support them in holding local leaders to account.

“Councils should not undermine local democracy by publishing their own newsletters more often than quarterly.

“I am offering the small number that are not playing by the rules this last chance to put their publishing houses in order or I will use my powers to require them to do so”.

Waltham Forest council is spending around £440,000 a year to publish 23 editions of the newsletter.

Previously the local authority has insisted it is saving taxpayers’ money by not paying to instead publish statutory notices in a local paper.

It is one of only three councils in the country, along with Hackney and Newham, still breaking rules on how often it prints its newsletter.

Luton council agreed to publish its “Lutonline” paper quarterly in July, while Tower Hamlets council stopped sending out its weekly freesheet after the government intervened.

Waltham Forest council has been contacted for comment.