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Weekly council newspaper to face fresh scrutiny

A weekly freesheet newspaper published by a London council is to undergo fresh scrutiny following a demand from councillors.

The tax-funded East End Life published by Tower Hamlets Council has previously come under fire for its high costs to the taxpayer.  It is now seen to be in breach of Government guidelines introduced earlier this year which prevent the publication of town hall ‘pravdas’ more than four times a year.

The title is thought to cost an estimated £1.5m a year.

Malcolm Starbrook editor of Archant’s East London Advertiser has repeatedly called for East End Life to be scrapped on the grounds that is is taking vital advertising revenue away from the newspaper.

The Advertiser reported this week that a local authority meeting saw councillors demanded a fresh review into East End Life, with seven out of eight committee members voting in favour of sending the decision to carry on with the weekly freesheet back to cabinet for an independent and impartial review.

Speaking at the meeting Councillor David Snowden called the decision to keep the freesheet going on a weekly basis ‘unlawful.’ He said a review into the title had not been ‘impartial’ or ‘independent’ and had  not accounted for costs such as office rent and the possibility of advertising council notices in other newspapers.

Said Cllr Snowdon: “The council can’t just pick and choose which regulations to stick to and sweep others under the carpet.”

Just last month the cabinet decided to continue to publish East End Life. This week the authority claimed that editorial changes are being made with £200,000 being cut from the freesheet’s budget.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles recently said that councils could face court action for flouting the rules regarding ‘town hall pravdas’.