Waltham Forest council is continuing to ignore Government warnings it is breaking guidelines by publishing its free newspaper fortnightly despite two others agreeing to follow the rules.

Greenwich and Tower Hamlets councils are downgrading the number of publications of their weekly free papers to adhere to the Government’s 2014 local audit and accountability act, which restrict them to being published four times a year.

Waltham Forest News is published twice every month and the Labour-run council was warned by the Government in March last year to start following guidelines.

But in response it said that paying for statutory notices in local newspapers instead would amount to "state aid".

Greg Clark, who took over from Eric Pickles at the department for communities and local government, has called council papers “an abuse of public funds”.

He added: “It is completely unacceptable that council taxpayers’ money should be used to provide unfair competition to commercial businesses.”

Waltham Forest council is spending around £440,000 a year to publish the free paper 23 times a year.

But it insists that this is saving taxpayers’ money by not publishing its statutory notices in a local paper.

Waltham Forest Conservatives group leader, councillor Matt Davis, has described the Labour council’s insistence to continue publishing Waltham Forest News as “ridiculous”.

He said: “It is being disingenuous when it suggests it is saving money, it is just not true.

“This is against government guidelines and a gross waste of taxpayers’ money.

“The council needs to stop screaming about terrible cuts but then wasting money on this.

“I am disappointed that the Government has come up with these guidelines but is not enforcing them, I will be writing to the secretary of state to ask him to enforce the rules."

A council spokesman confirmed it will continue to publish the free paper at the same rate.

He said: “In March 2015, the secretary of state wrote to the council giving notice of the direction he proposed to issue in relation to the frequency of the publication of Waltham Forest News.

“In response, the council outlined why Waltham Forest News – which reaches all 97,000 households in our borough – is legally compliant and provides the best value for money for local taxpayers opposed to the Government’s insistence that we pay to publish statutory notices in a frequently published newspaper.

“To date, there has been no further correspondence between the secretary of state and the council.”