On the 12th June, the BBC's Panorama featured the tricks used by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to trap motorists so they can hit their multi-million pounds fines targets. You can view the programme by clicking here. The scams used are the type of thing one might expect from the worst type of cowboys. So the real question is what does this tell us about the people running Hammersmith and Fulham Council?
One example profiled on Panorama was how the Conservative Administration fixed the traffic lights in Bagleys Lane so that it was virtually impossible to get through the yellow box, making it the most lucrative box junction in Britain for the folks back at the Council. Transport for London have helpfully advised that the traffic light sequencing could easily be changed to better manage traffic flows and let innocent motorist through unhindered but instead H&F Council trapped 40,634 residents in the financial year 2011-12. Another scam is to start a bus lane with one set of rules only to make the rules more stringent halfway down and again trap the innocent. This local news blog is running a competition. You can read the local newspaper's report here. If you believe you have had a couple of hundred quid wrongly lifted from your wallet by this crowd then you should follow this link to appeal.
This crowd are, of course, the same people who have agreed to sell off most of Charing Cross Hospital. They are the same crowd who, with straight faces, tried to put developments like the Town Hall Monster through and even granted permission for this one. This crowd are the people behind the demolition of the Goldhawk Road shops, Shepherds Bush Market and thousands of affordable council homes. They are the people tricking the elderly and sick to stop using council services and even admit to "putting them at risk" by stealth taxing crucial services. And as Panorama demonstrated, they are going to extraordinary lengths to raise funds from residents with over 600 of some of the biggest and creative stealth tax rises ever put forward by any council anywhere.
The Telegraph was the first national media to expose their lead in parking stealth taxes. The Daily Mail followed up with an expose of how they tax people for using local parks and many other media have detailed many other such scams.
It doesn't have to be this way. My colleagues and I have already identified how H&F Conservatives squander £20million of tax payers' money and we will identify more. Local government needs to be straight with the people it seeks to govern. The Panorama programme shone a light into one dark corner of our local authority and thousands of viewers got an insight into the sly, cunning and often deceitful culture that is prevalent throughout much of Hammersmith and Fulham Council. This needs to change.