Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Independent: Hammersmith is "Cameron Land"

...and it aint pretty. Commentator Johan Hari has reviewed Hammersmith Council in this article and he doesn't like what he finds. Among other observations he notes the crackdown Stephen Greenhalgh launched against services for the most vulnerable in our society, including the homeless, which led to shameful episodes like this where a pregnant woman who was in need of safety from being beaten was left to fend for herself on a park bench.

Part of the money the Conservatives have saved has of course gone on producing the propaganda paper H&F News, which causes even Tory MPs to speak out.

He details the new charges the Council brought in for services like those for the elderly and sick and of the fightback launched by some residents who formed the Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition Against Community Care Cuts who have enjoyed some success in resisting the tide.

And he interviews some of the residents who have been fighting throughout the election period for guarantees that they will be consulted about the future of their homes, as our Council seeks to hand them over to developers instead.

I won no friends in the local Labour Party by arguing that there was little hope of them winning the Council back in these local elections. They'd need a landslide of seats and in the current climate that's, er, unlikely. But I would say it's every reason to vote as I have for Andy Slaughter  - if only to hold back some of our local authority's worst excesses.

UPDATE Thursday - a reader has responded by posting an article on this at the Tory blog Conservative Home, which you can see here.


  1. Worth seeing the other side of the argument courtesy of Conservative Home:

    The article by Johann Hari in the Independent this morning attacking Hammersmith and Fulham Council is not so much a piece of journalism as a regurgitation of dishonest Labour press releases. He claims to have visited my orough in the course of his investigations but shows scant evidence of doing so in a spirit of open enquiry.

    He is right to say that the borough is socially mixed but he managed to get just about everything else wrong. To deal with just some of his errors:

    Council Tax hits the poor harder the rich. So contrary to Hari's claims reducing it helps the poorest the most. His claim that they "disproportionately benefit the wealthy" shows the most staggering ignorance.
    If Hari feels that Hammersmith and Fulham Home Care charges are wickedly "Thatcherite" what does he feel about the Labour councils which routinely have higher charges?
    Hari's claim that holding polo in Hurlingham Park has been at the expense of facilities there is the opposite of the truth. The deal with the World Polo Association is bringing in £170,000 in revenue to the Council over three years plus projects to improve the park and the opportunity for children from local primary schools to have free tickets to the tournament and attend sessions to learn polo themselves. The Labour councillors have just responded with a lot of ignorant class prejudice but the open minded can see the benefits.
    The reduction in the number of homeless hostels reflects an achievement in reducing the numbers in temporary accommodation. This is in line with the "good practice" objective the Government has set for Councils to stop using hostels. Does Hari think families should languish in hostels?

  2. By the way, that Con Home article doesn't represent my opinion... just thought it is always worth seeing both sides...

  3. fair enough - which is why I highlighted it in the article itself!