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East End Life would serve the community better fortnightly

PUBLISHED: 17:20 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:40 05 October 2010

IT IS heartening to know that while the whole world grapples with rippling credit crunch effects and plunging stock markets, and businesses and individuals struggle to save, recession-proof East End Life continues to run in its own little million-pound bu

IT IS heartening to know that while the whole world grapples with rippling credit crunch effects and plunging stock markets, and businesses and individuals struggle to save, recession-proof East End Life continues to run in its own little million-pound bubble.

In the real world of newspaper journalism - that arena in which reporters strive to scrutinise councils and hold them to account - jobs are being cut. I don't think it's too lofty to say, but into the ditch with those roles goes an element of democracy.

In Tower Hamlets, where politicians are responsible for doling out millions of pounds in services and grant money, change their names on a whim and where traditional party politics play secondary roles to other matters, I think most would agree the need for a strong press.

But I'm told that some town hall figures want to stop answering our queries and ultimately drive us under. East End Life is part of that scheme.

Until recently, its second page had a paragraph boasting that it was the only free weekly council newspaper in the UK.

But that tag was dropped a few weeks ago because other local authorities have now adopted its market-distorting model.

As with many other things, what's being piloted in Tower Hamlets will soon spread.

There are some who want to scrap East End Life altogether; I'm not one of them. I think it's an excellently produced paper and one which carries a significant portion of community-based stories which most people enjoy reading about; just not every week.

Even only halving its frequency to every fortnight would save taxpayers at least £400,000 and some Labour figures privately tell me they're now considering such a move.

The shake-up would also mean more cash for frontline services.

It would also mean an end to that other weekly lie the paper prints on page 2: that each copy costs five pence to produce. Garbage. And the town hall's senior accountants know it.

JUST occasionally, even the hardest of hearts has to feel sorry for Tower Hamlets council.

Last week, we broke a story about how Tower Hamlets Community Housing association (THCH) had named two blocks in honour of the anarchist Peter the Painter, who was the suspected leader of a gang of cop killers and central to the 1911 Siege of Sidney Street.

Yet when the story ran in the national press the next day, it wasn't the housing association that copped the flak, but the council! Obviously, the similar name didn't help, but given the council's loony reputation and lousy attitude to heritage, that people made the error is unsurprising.

In fact, although I think THCH was fundamentally wrong to honour Peter the Painter (even if he wasn't the actual killer, his name represents a murderous incident -one that should not be marked by a celebratory plaque erroneously calling him an "antihero", but by a commemorative one in honour of the dead), at least they were trying to give residents a sense of the area's history. Which is in stark contrast to the council whose attitude is to sell, not celebrate.

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