�150,000 to be spent on council 'propaganda rag'
John Phillips COUNCIL bosses are to splash more than �150,000 of taxpayers cash drafting in a team of journalists on a publication that has been branded a Labour propaganda rag . Retired media law lecturer Tony Richards, 72, described the five journalists – to be pai
COUNCIL bosses are to splash more than �150,000 of taxpayers' cash drafting in a team of journalists on a publication that has been branded a "Labour propaganda rag".
Retired media law lecturer Tony Richards, 72, described the five journalists - to be paid between �29,000 and �35,000 each - as "council slaves" despite the job adverts asking for "free thinkers".
Opposition leader BNP Cllr Bob Bailey added the recruitment drive was a waste of taxpayers' money.
The council plans to replace its monthly magazine, The Citizen, with a fortnightly free sheet, The News, which will steer clear of hard news, including crime, and focus on "positive" community stories.
But Cllr Bailey dismissed it as a propaganda rag. He said: "It's an absolute, complete affront to the taxpayers of Barking and Dagenham."
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Mr Richards, of Wilmington Gardens, Barking, said: "No journalist worth his salt would ever work on this sort of outfit. If you work on this outfit, you won't be a 'free thinker', you will be a slave of the council.
"To say they're looking for 'free thinkers' simply can't be true. You can't be a free thinker if you work for Barking and Dagenham Council."
Barking and Dagenham Council denied The News would favour the Labour administration.
The council said no additional funds would be allocated for the five posts, which will be paid by ditching existing council publications, The Citizen, Neighbourhood Matters and Spotlight and through advertising revenue.
A spokesman said: "The newspaper will be strictly non-political and have no influence from political parties. Therefore final content approval will be with the editor.
"This decision has been taken to increase interaction with the community, save money and promote the borough as a positive place to live.