I know some might accuse me of being on dodgy ground on this one but there’s something deeply troubling about the attitude of the current Tower Hamlets Council regime towards the media. During Lutfur Rahman’s election campaign possibly the most disgraceful advert that has ever appeared in what purports to be a newspaper appeared in a tawdry rag called the London Bangla.
The advert appeared in the name of a supposed refuge for women who had suffered domestic violence. It even provided a phone number for other victims to call. Of course, the entire ad was false. The advert said we needed to “Stop wife beating Mayoral candidate Helal Abbas”. Abbas was Lutfur’s Labour opponent. For those who never saw it first time around, here it is:
The rally it advertised never happened either. As a result of this advert, London Bangla’s then news editor Emdad Rahman resigned. At the time, I and other journalists asked Lutfur to condemn the advert. He never did, probably because the London Bangla was very much in his stable. It was a pitifully moral failure on the part of the mayor and one that he should be ashamed of.
The London Bangla was owned by Shah Yousuf. Since the election, Abbas has been considering his legal options and, quelle surprise, the London Bangla has disappeared to be replaced by another equally weird publication called the East End News. Shah Yousuf is listed as its editor and, disappointingly, Emdad Rahman has reappeared as its “executive editor”. Ex-Labour party member James Frankcom, aka James Folgate, is listed as “news editor”.
It is effectively the same “newspaper”. So, as they say, imagine my surprise when I attended the last full Tower Hamlets council meeting a couple of weeks ago to find that this paper is being promoted in the Town Hall. Someone in the council – we’re not sure yet who – has given permission for the paper to be distributed free of charge from the same newspaper bin in the foyer of Mulberry Place as East End Life. Here’s a picture of the copy I picked up:
Crikey, what’s this sexual disease epidemic that’s hit east London “hard”? Let’s have a look at the article…
The NHS is promoting a sexual health awareness project to help solve the capitals (sic) growing sexual health problems.
The initiative is a response to recent research that shows London has the highest levels of sexual ill health of any city in the UK costing the taxpayer £500m per year. There are estimated to be over 35,000 people living with HIV in London – a third of whom are not tested and do not know their HIV status. Indeed, when Dr Lucien Herpes discovered his eponymous STD back in the 1920s he would have had no idea how soon his name would be on everyone’s lips. [GEDDIT? Lips, Herpes... .]
In addition, teenage pregnancy levels are among the highest in Western Europe and abortions, including repeat abortions in all age groups are 25% higher than the English average. [NOW, why would a paper want to talk about teenage pregnancies and abortions in an article about sexual diseases..?]
So in response a brand new sexual health intiative called Sex Factor Ideas 2012 has been launched.
Sex Factor Ideas 2012 is described in the associated publicity drive as a hands on initiative to promote Sexual Health awareness among young Londoners by inviting Lonodn’s young community to actually create the promotional campaign themselves. They are hoping to encourage as many young Londoners to get involved as possible.
[And now for the best part....]
The campaign comes as concerns were recently raised on a social media site about the potential for the upgraded Altab Ali Park to be abused by the East End’s growing army of “doggers”.
“Dogging” is a craze whereby men and women who are otherwise unknown to each other indulge in semi-public sex in the open air in places such as parks, car parks and gardens. Concern has grown after it emerged the new tree-stumps erected at the back of the park were mooted by dogging enthusiasts as a new potential shelter for their nocturnal activities.
Other sites across East London listed on popular dogging websites include the bushes around Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, the area between Plaistow Station abd Valetta Grove abd two sites in Walthamstow; one on Coopermills Lane and the other on Forest Road near the doctors surgery.
I have to say that despite the dubious undertones this is one of the funniest articles I’ve read recently and I do wonder whether the East End News is the new Viz….but given the Abbas advert and the paper’s strong links to Lutfur, is it right that the paper should be given a free distribution point in Mulberry Place?
What do you think?
Should we be told of more places where we can go dogging-spotting?