Eric Pickles referred to it as “propaganda on the rates” and in the two years that have passed since councils were banned from reproducing their lies in print form (remember H&F News?), the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has decided to ignore everyone and produce this glossy magazine.
This dropped through my letter box last week. I’ve also noticed that The Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle is continuing to publish council propaganda in spite of this new arrival. The Tories’ arrogance seeps through every letter on every page of this magazine.
The big story is that Council is pushing its idea to replace the crumbling Hammersmith Flyover with what it refers to as a “flyunder”, or a tunnel by anyone else’s definition. The front page of the magazine tells us that comedian and local resident, Bill Bailey, supports the council’s plan. Bailey apparently told the select committee, “I’ve lived in Hammersmith for 30 years and the traffic needs to be addressed. A flyunder would have enormous benefits for not just traffic but also for a much-improved town centre environment”. By using a name like Bailey’s to add gravitas to their idea, the Council gives the impression that the comedian is a solid supporter of the Tory administration. The tunnel – for that’s what it is -will be built by contractors who have close links to the Tory Party and Tory councillors will be wined, dined and treated to golfing holidays for helping these companies to gain another massive contract. Building a tunnel will create years of disruption and lead to road closures. None of this has been considered by this gung-ho council that puts its own interests before those of the residents it claims to support.
The magazine’s other big story is the apparent 3% “cut” in Council Tax. This cut is being paid for by stealth taxes and a whole series of charges for such things as training in local parks. For a council that likes to tell all and sundry how fiscally responsible it is, it wastes a lot of money on hare-brained schemes and propaganda. Elsewhere in the magazine is a feature on so-called ‘Brackenbury Village’ where the only Hammersmith residents that matter in the Tories’ eyes tend to live.
The law brought in by The Sontaran was initially enacted in response to Tower Hamlets council’s in-house propaganda sheet but makes no mention of Hammersmith and Fulham. Why? Because Hammersmith and Fulham is Pickles’ favourite council.
In the broadcast media, regulator Ofcom recently concluded that the London Borough of Tower Hamlets had breached ‘The Communications Act 2003’, the ‘UK Code of Broadcast Advertising’ and the ‘Code on local authority publicity’. However there are no such restrictions which stop political advertising in print.
The consultation, launched today, is seeking views on how best to frame the new legislation to stop politically contentious advertising campaigns, municipal newspapers and the hiring of lobbyists by councils.
Although Tower Hamlets is mentioned by name, by far the worst offender is Hammersmith and Fulham, which until recently, had a cabinet member with responsibility for
propaganda resident engagement.
With the local elections just over a month away, it comes as no surprise the Tories want to push their message. The question for me is: how much is this actually costing local residents? I think we should be told.