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BBC focus on local newspapers' East End spat

A spat between Archant London’s East London Advertiser and its local council’s free weekly newspaper has made it onto the local television news.

The rival paper East End Life, published by Tower Hamlets council, is being subsidised by taxpayers to the tune of £8,500 every week.

Yet as well as draining council coffers, it takes advertising revenue and competes with the Advertiser.

Advertiser editor Malcolm Starbrook has expressed his concern over the publicly-funded free paper “masquerading” as an independent publication.

A campaign has been launched against Tower Hamlets council’s use of taxpayers’ money – a move which prompted interest from the BBC’s London Tonight programme.

They filmed an interview with Malcolm and with council leader Shirajul Islam, adding the report to its website.

Malcolm said: “The programme generated considerable interest and boosted calls and letters to our offices,” he added.

The Advertiser has accused the council of depriving the elderly and the vulnerable by spending tax-payers’ money on the paper.

Despite opposition from the Advertiser, people in the community and opposition parties, the council is now planning to expand its free weekly.

According to Tower Hamlets council leaders, East End Life costs taxpayers £445,999 a year – equivalent to almost one per cent of all council tax, and matching what the town hall chiefs want to save by scrapping free home help for pensioners.

To read the BBC’s story and see the video visit the BBC website.