Ex-Mayor Livingstone

Mayor’s share of your council tax to rise £40

The Evening Standard today reports that the combined effect of the Safer Neighbourhoods police teams and the Olympics will add £40 to the average London council tax bill next year.

Both of these initiatives are welcome but the 15.5% increase in the precept will take my contribution up to £490 next year. In the last year of the London Residuary Body that preceded the Greater London Authority, 1999/2000, my share of the precept was £175. This represents a 2.8 times increase in seven years.

Since he bacame mayor Livingstone has increased his charge by 2.8 times. I am not sure he has increased police numbers and certainly police effectiveness by 2.8 times.

Communications disease Public sector waste

Government salaries

In recent years the jobs pages have become one of the richest seams for those seeking out examples of how government spending has been getting out of hand. 

Here are a few examples from today’s Sunday Times:

ST MoD 22-1-2006.jpga “substantial six figure” Director of News to lead a 24-strong press team for the Ministry of Defence, when do the numbers in the press team exceed the number of Royal Navy front line ships?

ST Birmingham CC 22-1-2006.jpg£195K to lead Birmingham City Council, I know Birmingham is a big city but Livingstone only gets the equivalent salary of a Cabinet Minister at £134K



ST Surrey CC 22-1-2006.jpgmeanwhile Surrey County Council is looking to give away six figures 4 times over. 

Communications disease Public sector waste

Council puffs itself

Around Ealing January 2006 Front PageLast week Around Ealing, a “new monthly magazine”, from the council hit my doormat.

The purpose of this magazine seems to be blow the council’s own trumpet and bypass local press who will add commentary about real performance and value for money.

Leo ThompsonIt is particularly telling that Leo Thompson, the council’s Labour Leader, can do a piece about the Council’s Comprehensive Performance Assessment by the Audit Commission without mention of the terrible farce of last year’s appeal.

Gazette Front PageI do wish that the Council would stop puffing itself at council taxpayer’s expense and get on with the job of delivering service that we value.

It is a bit smelly that this new initiative coincides with the forthcoming local in elections in May.

Letter in Gazette 27-1-2005.jpg[See letter published in Ealing & Acton Gazette on 27th January.]

Communications disease

Home Office misfires with kiddie internet ad

Home Office ST ad 15-1-2006.jpgIn today’s Sunday Times some genius from the Home Office has managed to place a half page ad on page 8 warning of the dangers of the internet for children. Some communications whizz at the Home Office probably enjoyed commissioning all of this expensive imagery but public information it is not. Who is the audience here?

I think I would much rather that someone from the Home Office was sytematically going around ISPs and evaluating their controls and monitoring of online child abuse than producing flashy newspaper ads. I know the grunt work is not as exciting but puffing yourself is of no use to kids in danger.

Ex-Mayor Livingstone Policing

Met Safer Neighbourhoods teams come early

The Evening Standard today covered the announcement by the Mayor that all wards in London will have Safer Neighbourhoods teams in place by the end of April (see MPS and Mayor‘s press releases).

In Ealing we still only have 8 of 23 wards covered by these teams (see MPS site). It seems the Mayor is doing his best to bolster Labour’s chances in the forthcoming local elections by timing the in service date of these teams to precede the elections by a few days. It will be interesting to see how we will get from 8 to 23 teams in Ealing in only a few months.

Communications disease

The Mayor and Hammersmith and Fulham “communicating” again

This morning I cleared my girlfriend’s mail from her mat in Hammersmith. By coincidence the Mayor’s Londoner had arrived the same morning that Hammersmith and Fulham’s hfm magazine had.

The Londoner’s headline, “London schools make the grade”, and the accompanying article failed to mention the vocational qualifications scam that is artificially inflating schools’ performance figures right now. On the whole hfm steered clear of naked propaganda but managed to puff local schools’ performance in an editorial response to a letter stating that: “Overall 59.3% of Hammersmith & Fulham pupils gained 5 or more good GCSE passes.” Again there was no mention that a single GNVQ was worth 4 Cs.

The Mayor insists that Transport for London places three one page ads in the 20 pages of the Londoner to hide the Precept money he is wasting in the TfL communications budget no doubt.

It is scandalous that the Mayor and local authorities in London are squandering our Council Tax to puff themselves and at the same time unfairly competing with local press who will add commentary about real performance and value for money. The Evening Standard covered this issue much more promptly (on 14th October) and properly explained the GNVQ scam.

Ealing and Northfield Tram

Tram facts

A letter in the Telegraph today from Irvine Bell points up the problems with the Sheffield Tram – passenger projections 20 million, actual performance to-date no more than 12 million.

Ealing and Northfield Tram

Government loses appetite for Trams

Judging by the article in today’s Telegraph the chance that the Government will fund Ken’s Tram is diminishing. Livingstone would be seeking about as much cash as the Government has given to all light rail schemes since coming to power in 1997. Since then cost over-runs have made the Government wary of funding more black holes.

Communications disease

Government advertising explosion

In an article today the Telegraph highlights that in the first three months of the year, in the run up to a general election, the Government outspent both Unilever and Procter & Gamble. 

The central government advertising bill for the whole 2004-5 financial year was £203.2 million.  This is three times higher than when Labour came into power. 

Communications disease Health, housing and adult social services

Ealing PCT get the communications disease

Last week I received a copy of Your NHS, a publication of the Ealing Primary Care Trust. It is great that our PCT has been awarded 2 stars but I am probably keener that we get good services than the PCT spends money telling us how good it is.

On the front page of Your NHS it stated that the PCT had met the 48 hours target for access to a GP. I find this quite hard to stomach as I made an appointment to see my doctor on 6th October for 20th October. 2 weeks not 2 days. Apparently I could have called at 8.30am the following morning and talked to the triage doctor if I thought my case was urgent. Presumably this is their “get out of jail free card”.

There is a huge gap between the expensive puff hitting our doormats and the real experience on the ground.

It seems that the Londoner has led the way in showing how the State in its various forms can spend lots of our money to praise itself while avoiding the local press who will add commentary about real performance and value for money.

Letter in Gazette 21-10-2005.jpg[See letter published in Ealing & Acton Gazette 21st October.]