Back in September, George Osborne was made to look silly. He gave a speech telling the public to look to Hammersmith and Fulham to understand how an incoming Tory government would operate. Channel 4 News were then hoodwinked into quoting the brand new £2million Shepherds Bush Library as an example of the Conservatives innovative new approach to delivering value orientated public services. The Times also fell into the same trap. The problem is that this wonderful new library was delivered by the last Labour Administration and was actually nothing to do with the Conservatives.
It’s understandable why the Tories want to be associated the new library. Labour arranged the deal in such a way that it would be at zero cost to the tax payer. It was negotiated as part the Westfield development.
It’s not just Shepherds Bush Library that our local Conservatives seek to take plaudits for. Banners fly from lamp post boasting of £200million being invested in local schools but that money is coming direct from the Labour Government. The Tories tell how Normand and Frank Banfield Parks have been revamped but that too was arranged by the last Labour Council. They even talk of paying off £12million of Council debt but, yes, that was done by Labour. There are many more examples but all this raises the question why?
The answer provides an interesting insight to H&F Conservatives' predicament. They know that there is a public consensus that backs efficient and effective front line services as an intrinsic aspect of our civilisation. They also know that they have set about radically cutting services but that this could lose them vital support. So they have decided to side-step this important detail and simply mislead the public about what is actually happening. Here are some of the thing our Conservative council has actually done:
- Closed youth clubs and cut youth facilities.
- Targeted parking wardens to raise over £1million more in parking fines and parking suspensions - making it onto the Daily Telegraph's list of parking shame.
- Introduced over 500 new stealth taxes.
- Put parking fines up 50%.
- Wasted £5million on propaganda.
- Flew to Cannes on the French Riviera at public expense to offer residents' homes and large parts of the borough to property speculators - even offering to fix the planning processes so that developers’ profits can be maximised.
- Risked childrens' health with a worrying approach to school meal deliveries.
- Locked the public out of parks and rented them out for exclusive events.
- Cut recycling, charging for garden waste and other household waste removal.
- Cut £905,000 from budget for children with complex needs but refused to guarantee that this wouldn’t put any child at risk.
- Refused to provide shelter for the homeless and even banned charities from running Christmas homeless care.
- Failed, through incompetence, to have our schools refurbished.
- Admitted they had put the elderly at risk by introducing a new £12.40 per hour charge for home care.
- Removed essential care from 1,350 elderly, sick and disabled residents.
- Used sharp practices to encourage elderly people with dementia from using meals on wheels services.
- Put meals on wheels charges up by £547 per year.
- Proposing to knock down 3500 residents' homes and force them out of the borough.
Interestingly, all this indicates an emptyness to H&F Conservatives' approach along with some embarrassment about what they’ve actually done. While it is flattering that our Tories should seek to boasts about Labour successes, it is surprising that they feel forced into doing so after nearly a full term in office.