Please note this post is from my previous blog. To read my posts during the 2017 General Election campaign click here.
Could this be it for Greenwich Time? I made my first speech in the council chamber on the subject of the Labour-run council’s weekly propaganda newspaper, which has long drawn the ire of local opposition politicians and the secretary of state for communities and local government, Eric Pickles.
Now the Department for Communities and Local Government has informed the council that it will instruct it to cease its weekly format by 31st March, with the council having 14 days to respond. Darryl at 853 has the full details here. The news comes as the News Shopper finds that Greenwich Time- which amounts to little more than party political campaigning on the rates – costs local taxpayers more than £100,000 a year. This is a disgraceful waste of taxpayers money, and part of the outdated, old fashioned machine politics that has dominated our local democracy for far too long.
The fact that Greenwich Time goes through every letterbox in the borough, at taxpayers’ expense, gives the local Labour Party the ultimate political trump card, and the last word in any debate. This means they don’t need to worry about what goes on in the council chamber, or what our legitimate local newspapers report – as they can always have the final say.
We had another reminder last week of how the Labour council leadership uses Greenwich Time to spin and deceive (pictured), with the Leader of the Council Denise Hyland personally instructing officers to place a story on her hurried adoption of my Living Wage Incentive Scheme proposal on the front page of last week’s issue in a desperate attempt to take credit for the initiative. This instruction was given four days after my motion was submitted to council, and four days before even the leadership’s decision to rush through its adoption of my proposal was formally taken.
At least there are now signs that Greenwich Time’s days are numbered, at least in its current form. The DCLG’s new intervention leads to two new questions, however – 1) how much taxpayers’ money are Labour councillors planning to use on any legal challenge?, and 2) how will the council use the next eight editions of its organ to try to influence the General Election in 94 days time?
PS On Friday I broke with habit and submitted the following Letter to the Editor of Greenwich Time for this week’s edition. I’m not holding my breath…
SIR – I read with interest your front-page story (27th Jan) quoting council Leader Cllr Denise Hyland on the Royal Borough’s new Living Wage Incentive Scheme to encourage local employers to pay the London Living Wage. This was, in fact, a proposal first made by myself and my fellow Conservative councillors in a motion at the council meeting of the following evening, rather than by the council leadership.
We continue to be appalled by the Labour administration’s use of the taxpayer-funded Greenwich Time to spin and deceive in this way, which is an outrageous use of taxpayer resources for party political ends. I trust you will publish a clarification with equal prominence acknowledging the role that opposition councillors played in bringing this scheme to Greenwich.
I am proud to have helped bring about this Incentive Scheme, which will benefit thousands of low-paid employees in our borough. Nevertheless, the council must also do more to get its own affairs in order on low pay, at a time when 35 percent of employees at the council’s own subsidiary companies are paid less than the London Living Wage of £9.15 an hour. This is simply unacceptable, and we will continue to press Labour councillors to take action on this issue.
Cllr Matt Hartley
(Con, Coldharbour & New Eltham)