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Barking and Dagenham Council Closes Council Newspaper to Save Cash

Barking and Dagenham Council has announced the closure of its fortnightly taxpayer funded ‘newspaper’ The News because it costs too much to produce.

The council launched the paper four years ago claiming it would save the council money but has now announced that it is closing “as part of a raft of savings to allow the council to balance its books.”

At the time, the council estimated that it would save an annual figure of £250,000 on placing advertising in the local independent newspaper the Barking and Dagenham Post.

Aggressive council papers which compete unfairly with independent local papers for advertising revenues and readers are the target of new legislation proposed by Eric Pickles.

The Communities Secretary said in a Society of Editors speech last month that the “rules had been blurred for too long” and the new “anti-Pravda law” would crack down on councils which continue to defy Government guidelines on publicity.

Despite this move to stamp them out, the DCMS has said that council papers would be exempt from  the 18th draft Royal Charter for press regulation, since they have been exempted from liability for exemplary damages and costs under the Crime and Courts Act 2013, giving them a further unfair advantage over independent local papers.

Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, attacked the Government’s position saying that Tower Hamlets council paper enjoyed “a privileged position without any real oversight.”  

“For this reason it’s important that council newspapers such as East End Life feature in the Leveson debate,” added the Labour MP.

The NS is the voice of Britain’s local media, the UK’s most trusted medium. It represents 1,100 newspapers, 1,700 websites and other print, digital and broadcast channels.