Tower Hamlets to Rein in Council Paper East End Life

Tower Hamlets has agreed to make their weekly newspaper East End Life compliant with Government rules which prevent council publications from competing with independent commercial newspapers, according to Communities Secretary Greg Clark.

At a Newspaper Conference quarterly lunch this week chaired by Archant political editor Annabelle Dickson, Mr Clark reaffirmed his commitment to stamping out aggressive council papers describing them as “an abuse of public funds.”

Mr Clark spoke about a variety of topics at the lunch attended by Westminster-based regional press political editors. He praised the local press sector saying: “I do think that local newspapers and regional newspapers are an incredibly important force in the civic life of our country.

“In fact if you are going to have more powers and decisions taken locally there will be people locally who need to be held to account, just as you and your national colleagues do for national politicians. So if you believe in localism, you want to see a vibrant local press.   

“I certainly can reaffirm my commitment to enforce the publicity code.  It is completely unacceptable that council taxpayers’ money should be used to provide unfair competition to commercial businesses that you represent.

“It’s an abuse of public funds to do that, I’ve been very clear that I won’t stand for it and that all councils have to abide by the publicity code. In the case of Tower Hamlets, they have agreed to become compliant …. and I hope very much that Greenwich will follow suit.”

In a press release in September, Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said there was “a clear expectation that the council will now comply with government guidance which limits the frequency of publication of East End Life.”

Talking about the public notice pilots, Mr Clark said that it was not something he had looked at in detail but added: “There are no plans to fundamentally change the system.”