Minister Eric Pickles has urged parish councils to dismiss new “Stalinist” guidelines that prevent councillors speaking to the media without official consent.

The Local Government secretary’s comments come after Witney Town Council drafted a new media policy based on the guidelines by the National Association of Local Councils.

Mr Pickles said: “Councillors must be able to challenge waste and inefficiency, and should not have to get permission from state officials to speak to the press.

“I am concerned this Stalinist guidance will have a chilling effect on public life.”

The town council, which is yet to vote on the policy, could not be reached for comment.

Our top stories: