The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham…anyone would think it was Pyongyang or Moscow circa 1962. The council is a favourite with Lord Snooty and his pals. The Dear Leader Stephen Greehalgh is a cost-cutting, services slashing commissar of municipal ‘best practice’ or is he?
Greenhalgh and his crew won the council in 2006 and won it again this year. More’s the pity. Since they assumed power, the Tories have embarked on a local class war. As reported in this blog and elsewhere, Greenhalgh has gone on record as saying that he wants “more rich people” to move into the borough. In order for this to happen, those unsightly council estates have to be bulldozed first.
The Council is also rather fond of slapping itself on the back at the taxpayers expense. It produced a newspaper called H&F News; it looks like a real paper too. If you didn’t know much about print journalism, you’d think it was the real deal but when you look closer, you notice that the “Your Shout” column towards the back is actually written by a member of the editorial staff. That makes it “Our Shout”. It’s a different beast.
Fortunately H&F News is going. There’s a new law that prohibits the production of town hall propaganda that disguises itself as local independent journalism. We have a word for that sort of thing at Nowhere Towers: it’s called deception.
The Shepherds Bush blog tells us that H&F News’s days are numbered as a newspaper, but the Council is determined to bring it back in another incarnation,
…tonight it seems our Council has launched a new publication – this time called H&F News: Live! – An email alternative to the propaganda sheet, first edition hot of the electronic presses is below. I actually dont mind the electronic pumping out of propaganda – at least the readers have to opt in and can opt out if they want to.
I’ll pass, thanks
H&F News isn’t the only means that the Dear Leader has used to disseminate propaganda: the Council has spent thousands of pounds of taxpayer’s money bigging up its ‘achievements’ on lamp post banners across the borough. They have even taken out advertizing space at underground stations. These are highly unusual actions for a local council. Normally councils tend to publicize services, not promote themselves through outdoor advertizing. For a council that likes to promote itself as the model of fiscal prudence, it likes to throw money away on salaries for picked executives. It recently spent £260,000 to “poach” a former council housing chief for its social housing arm, H&F Homes.
Mr Johnson has decided to set up his own company to receive this money. Documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal the company has received £700,000 from H&F Homes since Mr Johnson took up his position in February 2008.
In the last financial year alone, Davies Johnson Ltd was paid £260,980 in ‘consultancy charges’. The year before, it banked £269,405.
Let me get this straight, this man is employed by the council on a self-employed basis and he’s set up his own company to receive his salary? Something smells funny here. We should remember that Greenhalgh and his colleague Nicholas Botterill both run something called “Trade Waste” and have a contract with the Council. Where there’s muck, there’s brass! This information is contained in the Register of Member’s Interests.
If H&F council was actually any good, it wouldn’t have to resort to the kind of propaganda that was commonplace in the former Warsaw Pact countries or North Korea, but this council and its leader has a controlling nature that is evidenced by its tireless production of propaganda. Not happy with the government banning its newspaper, it now has resorted to cyberspace to get its message across. Apparently you have to sign up for the new H&F News. Somehow I can’t see many borough residents taking up the offer.
I see Kennite blogged this story yesterday. His article is somewhat qualified. He admits that H&F News is council propaganda but then goes on to say that,
Though H&F News was Tory, the vast majority of the council Pravdas in London – including the only two weekly ones, the execrable East End Life (Tower Hamlets) and Greenwich’s laughable Greenwich Time – are run by Labour-controlled boroughs. Time for Labour, too, to get the message: in an era of cuts, spending the vast sums of money on these things is no longer defensible.
He doesn’t miss a trick, does he? I am sure the sheets that he mentions here are in no way as bad as H&F News. Those councils don’t tell their residents how great they are either. LBH&F does.