Tower Hamlets’ East End Life council ‘Pravda’ weekly reaches end of life
- Credit: Archant
The controversial “Pravda” newspaper put out by Tower Hamlets council in east London stops weekly publishing in the New Year. Six more editions are due to be distributed free to 90,000 East End households—paid for out of council tax—before it reduces to fortnightly in January.
Then East End Life switches down to quarterly in March, new mayor John Biggs stated at last night’s council meeting.
“From March it will be compliant with local government regulations,” he said.
The freebie—once slammed as “Pravda propaganda” in Parliament—regularly featured previous mayor Lutfur Rahman, week after week, which infuriated opposition councillors who rarely got coverage and from community activists receiving it unsolicited through their letter boxes.
It ran the gauntlet of the-then Secretary of State Eric Pickles last year for its drain on council coffers.
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The Rahman administration claimed it cost just £1.5 million a year to run and attracted revenue, but this ignored costs which rival newspapers have to cover such as commercial rent, business rates, utilities and staff salaries which were absorbed in the council’s overall budgets.
Many councillors and the local press complained of unfair competition since it first appeared in the 1990s.
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No details have been revealed about whether the shut-down means any staff redundancies.
Mayor Biggs pledged during his election campaign in June that East End Life—often filled with non-council general news—would be closed, as he believed public bodies had no business being in the commercial publishing game.
He set up a review of the council’s communications strategy after winning the re-run election, taking evidence from the media including the East London Advertiser, the East End’s oldest newspaper first published in 1866.
Now the council periodical is to is to appear just four times a year—with a pledge from Biggs that it wont be used for the mayor’s “personal propaganda”.