Friday, 14 December 2018
22 November 2010

Council misleading us about its own newspaper ?

'A homemade newspaper promoting Labour councillors'

It was a telling indictment on the Slough Citizen newspaper that the only person who felt compelled to write in support of its continuance is the person who writes it: Slough Council's Head of Marketing, Trevor Lambert.

Despite Mr. Lambert's assertions that an alleged 70% of residents find the Slough Citizen to be a 'useful way of finding out about local services', no one, apart from Mr. Lambert, bothered to jump to its support. This 70% becomes even more laughable when one considers that the council has not got a clue how many people live in Slough either legally - or illegally in the substandard garden sheds that his inept council has failed to deal with. 70% of an unknown figure is complete nonsense!

Mr. Lambert's 'statistics' are also completely contrary to my own findings; I have not found a single person that thinks that the Slough Citizen is money well spent. Even a senior Slough Labour party official remarked that he agreed with my views on this matter. Everyone I speak to would prefer to have lower council taxes rather than the council's wasteful homemade newspaper that promotes Labour councillors, especially those seeking re-election.

The meaningless figures pedalled by Mr. Lambert were collected as part of a 'consultation' exercise; yet I was not asked for my views on the Slough Citizen and in view of mind my own findings I attach no credence to his figures whatsoever. Furthermore, any attempt by Slough council to conduct a 'consultation' is, in my view, usually a sham, with questions weighted to get the answer the council wants.

Mr. Lambert also justifies the Slough Citizen's publication because not everyone has Internet access. While this is correct, he conveniently forgets my suggestion that the council could use its numerous public buildings to keep in touch with the public. The public could also telephone the council for information if it had not made itself completely inaccessible with its nightmarish customer service centre, which regularly keeps people waiting for over half an hour.

The Slough Citizen also fails on quality; why didn't the council use the Slough Citizen to warn residents about the disruptive road works at the Coop roundabout, Long Readings Lane or Upton Court Road? Similarly, why didn't it tell residents about Chief Executive Ruth Bagley's £185,000 salary package? Why is the Slough Citizen delivered to some properties but not others?

I suspect that Mr. Lambert's support for the Slough Citizen is about preserving his own role at the council. He certainly does not appear to be considering the council's parlous funding position or the provision of value for money to residents.

Buckinghamshire residents recently stated that they wished to see the council's magazine scrapped, which is far preferable to cutting back on social care and other essential services. Slough residents hold the same views.

Instead of blowing its own trumpet with fripperies such as the Slough Citizen, the council should focus on its statutory responsibilities, which are often provided very badly indeed.

Tristan Miles