Tower Hamlets to Axe Council Paper East End Life

Tower Hamlets is to axe flagship council newspaper East End Life following a sustained campaign against council papers which compete against independent commercial local news media by the News Media Association.

The Evening Standard reported this week that Tower Hamlets major John Biggs had said East End Life – which cost the taxpayer more than £1.5 million a year – would be closed by the end of March. 

Last month, Communities Secretary Greg Clark told a Newspaper Conference lunch that Tower Hamlets had agreed to become compliant with the local authority publicity code which seeks to prevent council publications from competing with independent commercial newspapers.

Mr Clark said council papers were “an abuse of public funds.” He told regional press political journalists at the lunch: “It is completely unacceptable that council taxpayers’ money should be used to provide unfair competition to commercial businesses that you represent.”

The NMA has campaigned against taxpayer funded council papers for many years arguing that they damage independent commercial newspapers by competing unfairly for readers and advertisers.   

The campaign lead to former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles redrafting the publicity code for local authorities with the aim of cracking down on council papers and then taking steps to close them down.