Political coverage in the controversial taxpayer funded newspaper East End Life is being challenged by opposition councillors after it was revealed that in the three months to August there were 158 quotes from the Mayor and his supporters. By contrast between the 27th May and the 13th August this year there was not a single quote featured from opposition politicians.
In addition to the 158 quotes from Mayoral supporters the paper also featured 92 images of independent councillors over the three month period. Non-independent councillors, including the ceremonial Speaker of the Council, were only pictured 13 times over the same period. The official council figures were revealed as part of a Labour enquiry into the council run newspaper.
Labour opposition councillors argue that East End Life should be politically neutral and fair and have accused the Mayor of abusing his position and using tax payer resources to fund his re-election campaign.
Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Sirajul Islam, said:
“East End Life is meant to be a community asset not a tax payer funded self-promotion tool for the Mayor. These figures lay bare the scale of political bias in a publication. East End Life should offer neutral and balanced information for residents, not be a mouthpiece for the Mayor’s personal political agenda.”
Labour’s candidate for Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said:
“Clearly these figures show that East End Life is being misused for the Mayor’s political purposes. If I were elected I would immediately review East End Life and all the Council’s communications with residents to ascertain the best value for tax payers.
“If other boroughs are able to communicate with their residents effectively without a weekly tax payer funded newspaper I cannot see why Tower Hamlets would be an exception. In any event the use of the paper to promote an individual so shamelessly is in my view a misuse of funds, and of his office."