May’s local elections saw the Conservative Council in Hillingdon returned to office with an increased majority, making a mockery of the Labour campaign centred around the hashtag #MarginalHillingdon.
In 2014, UKIP had stood in all 22 wards in the Borough, falling agonisingly close to picking up seats in Harefield and Yiewsley whilst affecting the outcome in many other marginals and establishing themselves as the third force in the locality. With no candidates standing this time, it reverted to a straight fight between the ‘big two’, with the Greens and LibDems not even making a dent despite aggressive campaigns in some target areas.
In my ‘home’ ward of Charville where I have stood before, the Conservatives took two seats from Labour in an unexpected clean sweep and their new team here have already made an impact in terms of getting things done on a local level – a welcome change from the invisible Labour Councillors during the last term of office. (It helps that all three are Charville residents)
However, whilst individual councillors on both sides of the floor are making an effort it would appear that there is no change at the top in terms of the running of both the ruling and opposition groups with Hillingdon residents the poorer for it.
The start of the year saw a familiar occurrence when an election is in the offing, notably the ‘special ward edition’ print runs of the Hillingdon People council magazine (Or ‘Pravda’ as many of us refer to it). This was also bolstered by banners appearing on lampposts proclaiming what a great job the Council is doing for residents with slogans such as ‘Council Tax frozen for 10 years’, neglecting to mention that in January 2016 the Council tax benefit for the low paid and disabled was cut.
With such propaganda being paid for out of your pockets, I once again submitted a Freedom of Information Request to find out how much had been splurged as my former colleague Jack Duffin had done previously in 2014.
The results are below and quite damning –