Town Halls could face court action over propaganda freesheets

Town Hall bosses in London’s East End could face court action for ‘defying’ Parliament by continuing to publish their ‘vanity’ propaganda newspapers paid for out of council taxes.

The warning came from Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles who said several authorities including Tower Hamlets had deliberately flouted a ban on the publicly-subsidised freesheets.

He singled out Tower Hamlets and neighbouring Hackney and Greenwich for continuing to produce “town hall Pravdas”—a reference to the old Soviet Pravda propaganda newspaper.

New rules limiting council publications to four a year were passed by Parliament last month.

Tower Hamlets and Greenwich are both still printing weeklies, while Hackney’s fortnightly is also continuing.

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“The millions wasted on this propaganda could be diverted to protecting frontline services,” said Mr Pickles. “These town hall freesheets exist to promote personal political agendas and not the interests of the public.”

The rebel town halls could face legal action unless they comply with the rules, a source close to Mr Pickles said.

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Tower Hamlets’ mayor Lutfur Rahman is looking into the future of East End Life, following a �300,000 shortfall in its �1.5 million-a-year subsidised running costs. He has promised a decision next month.

The new regime on council publications was put in place to save public money and protect independent local newspapers from unfair competition.

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