Council closes ‘Pravda’ newspaper East End Life

east end life tower hamlets final issue
End of the line: East End Life has ceased publication

Tower Hamlets Council has bowed to government pressure and ceased publication of its taxpayer-funded newspaper East End Life.

The council-run weekly, described by government critics as “Pravda propaganda”, had been published by the council since 1993 at a cost of £1.5m a year to residents.

But on Monday 16 May it printed its 1101st and final edition, with the front page headline: “Thanks for reading… now it’s Our East End.”

The change means Tower Hamlets Council now complies with the Government’s Publicity Code, which it had been flouting since it came into force in 2011.

The code states that local authorities should not have publications that resemble commercial newspapers, that publications must not be printed more frequently than quarterly, and that it must be made clear on the front page that it is a council publication.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said: “East End Life was an unnecessary use of taxpayers’ money and undermined the much-needed independent local press.

“Council newspapers can and do have a role in informing communities about local services, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of the health of our local democracy.

“Tower Hamlets has made a common sense decision to comply with the code, but we have strong rules in place to protect the press and if councils aren’t playing by the rules we won’t be afraid to step in.”

Council freesheets were branded “Town Hall Pravda” by Eric Pickles, who was Communities Secretary when the Publicity Code was brought in.

He called them “manifestly unfair because they offer cut price local news, but mixed in with council propaganda that pours taxpayers’ money down the drain”.

East End Life will be replaced by a quarterly magazine called Our East End, as well as notices on the council website.

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said the last issue marked an “end of an era”.

He wrote in the final edition: “Some of you love it, others not! To replace it, we are sharpening up our communications, including the use of the internet and ‘new media’ but still with something to thud on your doormat from time to time.”

1 Comment

  1. Ray Gipson on Thursday 19 May 2016 at 3:02 pm

    At last they have seen sense. You can understand why the Commissioners are still in the Borough.


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