Average staff costs on council weekly are £47,500

Editorial staff costs on London ‘town hall Pravda’ East End Life average more than £47,500 per person, figures obtained by the Dockland & East London advertiser reveal.

A Freedom of Information request by the paid-for weekly showed that total editorial staff costs on the paper are £218,000 a year, with the 4.6 core editorial staff on remuneration packages costing more than £47,500 per annum.

The Archant-owned paper contrasted the figures with results from graduate careers website Prospects, which said the average salary for journalists was £24,500.

The East End Life title is published by Tower Hamlets Council, and the figures have emerged weeks after Community Secretary Eric Pickles threatened to outlaw so-called ‘town hall Pravdas’

The Government unveiled new proposals aiming to clamp down on the publications in February 2011 when it revised the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.

While most authorities accepted the recommendations, a handful – including several in London – ignored them.

Tower Hamlets media chief Kelly Powell defended the wages, telling the Advertiser: ‘East End Life staff are paid in line with salaries across the council and indeed across the public sector.

‘We know these salaries are higher than some in the newspaper industry but staff salaries reflect the skills required to run a popular and well-read council publication.”

A report in this week’s Advertiser said: ‘The council justifies its continued production of East End Life by arguing that its £1.2m budget is covered by revenue it receives from advertising.

‘However, our FOI request reveals that 49 per cent of the revenue generated by the newspaper comes from internal advertising, meaning taxpayer-funded departments are budgeting to advertise in the council’s own publication.’

The Newspaper Society said it will soon meet with Pickles to discuss the issue of council-run newspapers.

UPDATE 16.20pm, 28 August

The council has issued the following statement regarding the Advertiser story: “You can’t equate this figure directly into paid salaries as it includes National Insurance, pensions contributions and on-costs. This figure includes a range of salary grades.”

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