Political reaction has been swift to the demise of H&F News, our Council's propaganda sheet that cost us lots of money and fed us a diet of biased articles that were economical with the truth, to say the least.
Cllr Stephen Cowan says this:
"This is a humiliating climb down. The Conservative run Council launched H&F News in 2006 and used it as part of a programme to manipulate the opinions of local people on all the main matters of local life such as the new Town Hall office development, the Thames Tideway Tunnel, Shepherds Bush Market redevelopment and much more. It is a tribute to local people that they saw through this nonsense. Indeed, when I announced that Labour would shut H&F News down during our manifesto launch in Lyric Square, it was notable that this got one of the biggest cheers from the crowd.
"The Labour Opposition has campaigned against H&F News since it launched. This spin sheet was always more suited to something you'd see in Soviet Russia or North Korea than to a well established democracy such as the UK. You have done a great job in exposing why their approach is wrong and campaigning against it on your blog.
"The demise of H&F News is to be welcomed but the administration still plans to keep other aspects of their propaganda machine going. In the past this has included, expensive glossy leaflets, buying poster advertising in local tube stations, hiring a poster van to promote "council achievements", using direct mail to target people on local issues and the hundreds of poster sites they have installed up and down the Borough. Including H&F news this all cost tax payers £5 million a year - which is unacceptable in this tough times.
"I welcome the government's action on H&F News and hope the Conservative run Council will now take an axe to the rest of their propaganda machine".
Andy Slaughter MP says this:
This discredited publication has been a blight on our borough since it was cooked up by the clique running the town hall. It moved from vanity publishing to pernicious propaganda that aimed to silence all opposition to some of the most ill-advised and schemes ever dreamed up by a local council.
I’m delighted to see it go – but I don’t believe for a minute that we have seen the end of propaganda on the rates. Always seeing yourself presented in a good light and your opponents vilified is a hard addiction to give up – Greenhalgh and co will still need their fix."
and former Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate and current LibDem Assembly spokeswoman Merlene Emerson says this:
"I was pleased to read your blog on this subject (and somewhat bemused by the choice of illustration).
And tonight it seems our Council has launched a new publication - this time called H&F News: Live! - An email alternative to the propaganda sheet, first edition hot of the electronic presses is below. I actually dont mind the electronic pumping out of propaganda - at least the readers have to opt in and can opt out if they want to.
I have to say this Council, accused by many of being arrogant and out of touch - which they angrily deny, don't do themselves any favours with stuff like this. If they'd simply seen the writing on the wall and given way with grace instead of trying to find a smart-alec "outsourcing" way around it they wouldn't now look like the chumps they do. You can hardly blame the Opposition politicians for kicking a ball into the wide open goal they themselves have created.
I suspect many in the Conservative group, some of whom I have the highest respect for and are clearly not either arrogant or out of touch but very committed people, will be ruing yet another own goal by Cllr Greenhalgh.
Meanwhile one reader, who has asked to remain anonymous, has told me that as a result of all this she really rather fancies the Conservative Secretary of State who got rid of the propaganda sheet. She says this: "I love Eric Pickles."