Mayor rivals blast council’s newsletter as “Labour propaganda sheet”

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, defended the freesheet

Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney, defended the freesheet - Credit: Archant

Candidates fighting to take over Jules Pipe’s seat as mayor have blasted the Hackney Today newsletter, calling it a “Labour propaganda sheet” which costs residents “tens of thousands of pounds.”

Hackney Today, Town Hall's newsletter

Hackney Today, Town Hall's newsletter - Credit: Archant

The council-published freesheet was slammed by Tory cabinet minister Eric Pickles last week, after he compared it to Soviet propaganda, saying controversial president Vladimir Putin would be “proud”.

But Mayor Pipe defended the publication, saying it was a “legal requirement” and “cheaper than using ads in the local press.”

His rivals, however, are demanding a change, with Hackney Conservatives saying “you should not be paying for a Labour propaganda sheet”.

And independent candidate Mustafa Korel said it should be moved to a quarterly edition and the council “should make more use of its website” to get the information out.

Mayor Pipe said: “We are stuck with the system we have because that is the national law. Anyone who wants to come in and scrap it would have to find even more money to pay for ads.”

Local councils are legally required to publish certain information to the public, but Hackney Liberal Democrats claim Hackney Today only publishes “good news” and not useful information.

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Communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles has given the Labour-controlled council an ultimatum to defend their publication or face legal proceedings after it was found to publish too often, in breach of the Public Code for local authorities.

Mr Pickles said: “It is scandalous that bloggers have been handcuffed for tweeting from council meetings, whilst propaganda on the rates drives the free press out of business. Only Putin would be proud of a record like that.”