Another fortnight, another Lambeth Life. Oh Lordy. But wait – what’s this? It’s only ‘London’s biggest non-daily newspaper.’ Blimey.
I was always taught at school that it’s not big and it’s not clever to, um, use the word biggest. But then that’s local politicians for you, ever keen to reduce everything down to a wily measuring competition.
As for the newspaper angle – are you sure, fellas? The dictionary definition of a newspaper states:
“A publication issued at regular and usually close intervals, esp. daily or weekly, and commonly containing news, comment, features, and advertising.”
As we have already established, Lambeth Life is fortnightly (for now.) It contains comment camouflaged as council news, the features refer to any spaced out mid ’90s DJ passing through the Rotten Borough and as for the advertising? *ahem* self-sufficient. Sort of.
But about that fortnightly print cycle of our favourite local authority information news sheet: those nasty ConDems are about to do something as horrid as place objective editorial control on all council propaganda rags, and limit the publication cycle to four times a year.
Hurrah! The rotters.
“The government will confirm a crackdown on council-funded newspapers and magazines this week as it seeks to protect media groups which claim they cost them readers and advertising revenue.
Eric Pickles, the communities and local government secretary, will announce new guidelines ahead of the Conservative party conference this weekend that will effectively ban councils from using taxpayers’ money to produce free papers and magazines, MediaGuardian.co.uk can reveal.”
Interesting. Very interesting. Tell me more, my meeja Graun luvvies…
“Under the new rules, it is understood councils will only be allowed to publish free titles four times a year. They will also have to remove any content which appears to praise the council or endorse the quality of its local services, including quotes from local residents.”
Which basically leads to the conclusion that Lambeth Life is f***ed. Take away the “content which appears to praise the council or endorse the quality of its local services,” and all you are left with is a shabby cut and paste interview with Fat Boy Slim every fortnight.
But perhaps the real problem that those nasty ConDem proposals present to the chest beating @LambethLabour publication is where the chuffers to place those statutory local authority adverts?
Reading about a temporary road closure to Piss Alley, SW2, may not be the most riveting editorial piece of copy, but this kind of communication carries legal obligations for any legally obliging local authority.
Dig a little deeper and you find the real raison d’etre for Lambeth Life existing is to satisfy a tit for tat agenda setting war with the seedy @SthLondonPress.
The sex ads that appear in the family newspaper are given as the reason for not pushing local authority wonger the way of the @SthLondonPress pimps. The little bit of local bother between @LambethLabour and @SthLondonPress is of course nothing but a sideshow, and a particularly ugly one at that.
But anyway – this is debate for another time, and probably not around these parts either.
And so Lambeth Life lands on my SW8 doormat for a final time, and what do I find on the front cover?
Setting the Lambeth Standard
“Today marks the launch of Lambeth Council’s new service standards that describe the level of service you can expect when you contact the council.”
Which all sounds well and good, especially so when the local authority is looking to lose 400 members of staff in just the first round of local authority redundancies.
I do hope that the hard working staff at @lambeth_council aren’t put up as the scapegoats for the failure to reach this much-lauded Lambeth Standard. Many of the frontline staff are superb – my recent visit to the Parking Department may have left me low on wallet, but I was uplifted in the level of service that was provided.
Nope – the Lambeth Standard (stop sniggering) needs a top down approach if any genuine levels of excellence are to be achieved. A good starting point might be to give a crash course to certain local Councillors, regarding the pledge to:
“Treat you as an individual with dignity, fairness, courtesy and respect at all times.”
“If you send us an email or write to us, we will: aim to acknowledge your correspondence within two working days.”
Which most certainly wasn’t the response I received in relation to the formal complaint regarding Councillor Davie of Thornton ward. My submission to the Standards Committee wasn’t acknowledged for a full seven days, and even then it took extra effort from me to get the due legal process to be observed.
But yeah – the formal complaint is now in place…
All this talk of quarterly publications, the removal of council endorsing content and the Lambeth Standard, leaves you longing to actually get yer grubby mitts on a publication with a picture of grinning local politician to take the p*** out of.
Ah, lookey here – let’s turn to Page 3 of Lambeth Life:
Petition to save Triangle Adventure Playground Underway
“More than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling for the council to rethink plans to close an adventure playground to make way for a school expansion.”
The farce of forcing the Triangle to close to make way for extra car parking space at Archbishop Tennison, just as the BSF fund has been denied, has been well documented elsewhere. It makes you wonder what the *real* reason is for @LambethLabour wanting to cut a kiddies playground.
“Parents and children from the Triangle Adventure Playground have been collecting signatures for the petition, and handed it over to the Council Deputy Leader Jackie Meldrum last month.”
Hang on – the Council’s Deputy Leader? Where was the Head Boy when the kids came a knocking? @cllrstevereed had already agreed a diary date to receive the petition from the children of Ashmole Primary School on September 16th. The appointment had been made via local MP Kate Hoey, who was also present on the Town Hall steps to greet the Glorious Leader.
The working day of a council leader is no doubt a busy one (#lambethcoop meetings, disciplinary hearings, random 3am tweeting sessions) but the blanking of the kids from Ashmole ranks as pretty poor. For Lambeth Life to put up the stooge of Councillor Meldrum, tells you all you need to know about “council endorsing content.”
What we need, Comrades, is a Freedom Vs Censorship debate. And whaddya know – with absolutely no sense of irony, Lambeth Life delivers with a centre page spread on:
Only in the Rotten Borough…
That’s Life, suckers!
See ya, um…