We recently ran a blog in which Labour councillor Professor Andrew Jones exploded the Tory myths about Hammersmith's debt burden. He explained in some detail why, like the Tory-led government, Hammersmith Conservatives are being at best economically illiterate and at worst downright dishonest in using debt as a smokescreen to do what they want to do ideologically – cut down the state.
This resulted in a highly personal and poorly informed attack on Prof Jones by Tory councillor Andrew Johnson, who is press spokesperson for the Conservative councillors’ group. Mr Johnson took particular exception to Prof Jones’s assertion that the council was selling assets at the bottom of the market. He claimed, “Most respected commentators agree that residential prices within Hammersmith & Fulham are nearly back to the levels seen during the height of the Labour property boom, with commercial returns not far behind.”
Yet according to official figures from the Land Registry, the current price trend is downwards, with the average sale price of properties in W12 falling by 13 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2010. The number of transactions is also down by 17.1 per cent. This graph (from zoopla.co.uk) tells the same story.
There is no economic rationale for the Hammersmith Tories to cut services and sell community buildings in order to pay off borrowing at this reckless pace. They are making a straight ideological choice and they should come clean about it.