28 January 2007

Tories don't care that they don't care

Pick on someone your own size might be an appropriate appeal to the leader of Hammersmith & Fulham council. As the true scale of the council cuts is revealed, it's the elderly, disabled and mentally ill who are being hit hardest.
In addition to cutting spending on home care by over half a million pounds through privatisation, the Tories are planning to restrict who gets home help services to save £1.25 million. This means that hundreds of vulnerable people will not get a service. Together with the privatisation of home helps, fewer people will now get a worse service. And delays in the privatisation will not even generate the 'savings' originally predicted.
The Tories are also 'reconfiguring' mental health day services by closing the Tamworth centre which was only opened ten years ago. The site in Farm Lane is worth a fortune and the local nimbies will love to get rid of the service! The Tories also talk about savings of £250,000 by 'introducing service user contributions' - what they really mean is charging! Only 12 of the 65 people using the Tamworth centre will be offered services in Shepherds Bush (very convenient for users in Fulham!). What can be predicted is that this cost saving will in the long run have higher costs for both social services and the NHS.
Finally, meals on wheels are to go up 35p in price from April. But the true increase is 55p, as there has just been a first stage increase of 20p. A 24% rise in total!
These cuts will have a devastating effect on people using these social services. And they will cost all local residents more in the longer term, picking up the pieces of this neglect.
The Tories don't care that they don't care. They will just go out and buy what they need for their families, and never mind other local people.

22 January 2007

Now you see it, now you don't

Someone at Hammersmith & Fulham Council is clearly worried. The picture on the home page of the council website has been changed following widespread concerns that local Tories have used the same photo on the front of their latest leaflet (see previous blog re picture of unappealing fat man).

Why it's thought that simply cutting out the anti-GLA placard from the council website photo will make things OK is bizarre.

It doesn't answer the charge of misuse of council resources for party political purposes by the Conservatives. The Tories have used this council PR stunt for their own ends but are now caught red-handed such is their arrogance.

And it doesn't stop there. Rookie Cllr Paul Bristow who fancies himself as the Tory parliamentary candidate for Hammersmith has got his hands on the same council placards and is pictured holding them inside the town hall on his new blog. Not very clever Paul. Wonder what the district auditor will think of that?

20 January 2007

Tory junk mail recycles council propaganda

You may have been unlucky enough to get a leaflet recently from Hammersmith & Fulham Conservatives. Of course you might have binned it immediately because it looks like a dodgy leaflet from a bank offering a rather shabby financial product with a picture of an unappealing fat man.

But for anyone who has seen Hammersmith & Fulham Council's website and other PR material, the photo on the front of the Tories' new leaflet has a familiar look to it. That's because the Tories have used council publicity for their own political purposes. This disgraceful and illegal use of council taxpayers' funds should be investigated now.

What the leaflet fails to mention is:

* the cuts being made by the council over the next three years amount to £14 million, £26 million and £34 million in successive years between 2007-8 and 2009-10
* the cuts will hit some of the most vulnerable people locally: the elderly and disabled, children and young people who rely on council services from home helps to libraries

It also fails to mention how cutting street cleaning by almost £1 million this year will deal with litter, graffiti and flytipping.

Amazingly, the leaflet repeats the Tories' ambition to cut council tax to Wandsworth levels but fails to say how they will do it. Cutting the council tax by less than 9% by 2010 is hardly going to deliver that election pledge - while Hammersmith & Fulham residents will have seen long valued services go to the wall.

14 January 2007

Tories fail budget scrutiny in Hammersmith & Fulham

After much fanfare by Hammersmith & Fulham Tories of a 3% cut in council tax, the reality is beginning to sink in.

Despite raiding the council's reserves and getting more cash from central government than expected, the Tories are promising to cut their share of the council tax by less than 9% by 2010 - which will hardly help them meet their election promise of Wandsworth council tax levels.

The cost of the council tax cut is being borne by all local residents but particularly the most vulnerable. In total the Tories' first budget features £14.5 million cuts in 2007-8, £26 million cuts in 2008-9, and £34 million cuts in 2009-10 - so worse is to come.

Cuts in local services already announced include:

* over £900,000 cut in spending on cleaning local streets which will mean more litter, flytipping and graffiti
* privatising many council services including the home help service for elderly and disabled people and cutting the numbers getting home helps
* hiking charges for meals on wheels and reducing the service
* higher fees and charges for most council services
* cutting support for local theatres and arts and for libraries

The Tories have failed their first test. This budget hurts local people and offers a pathetic cut in council tax which no one will notice when they get their bills with the GLA share included. Only the wealthy who don't use local services stand to benefit.

09 January 2007

January sales: 3% off ain't much of a bargain

Watch out. Mr Blobby is waving a placard. Not to save the whale. But to announce the council's plans to cut council tax by 3%.

Hammersmith & Fulham residents are not exactly going crazy with excitement. Having been promised cuts in council tax to Wandsworth levels at the local elections last May, they are now underwhelmed by the offer of a mere 3% cut. Even the previous Labour council was planning a real cut in council tax in the coming years!

But on top of a pathetic 3%, the Tories are axeing public services to pay for their derisory cut. If you're elderly or disabled and need home helps or meals on wheels, then watch out. If you need decent schools or childcare in Hammersmith & Fulham, then watch out. And if you want more police, then make sure local businesses cough up the money.

And guess what, Conservative councillors are yet again attacking the Mayor of London as they try to disguise their own failures. Rather than spending council tax on party political propaganda, they should get their own house in order.

Or perhaps it's all part of a secret campaign to elect Greg Hands as the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. But if 3% is all they can manage while wrecking local services and doing hundreds of local people out of jobs, Greg and his gang will soon get their come uppance.