Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Opposition shoot themselves in the foot
Opposition councillors have let down residents with their misplaced criticism of the healthcare letter sent to Barnet residents by council leader Mike Freer.
To the charge that his letter was too political, does it really matter whether Cllr Freer was genuinely trying to help save vital services or simply wanted to win a few electoral Brownie points?
The important issue is that lives are at risk due to the proposed NHS changes, and the public will not take kindly to politicians point scoring in this way.
Labour Leader Alison Moore criticised the £42,000 cost of the mailing. When you consider how much Barnet council wasted on wide screen televisions for chief officers and lap top computers which are still sitting in storage gathering dust, the amount spent on this was relatively trivial.
If this campaign saves just one life, which Barnet councillor is prepared to stand up and say that it wasn’t worth it?
That is not to say that the mailing should be without criticism. The letter itself was very poorly written and badly designed. The message should have been kept short and simple. Instead we had two pages of almost unintelligible rubbish.
The envelope carried the overprint “An important message from the leader of Barnet Council”. How many people threw it away without even opening it, thinking it was party political propaganda?
The council spends a fortune on Press & PR staff, although it is not immediately clear how a PhD in Spanish benefits this department or taxpayers. The letter should have been written and designed by people with proper marketing expertise.
In opposition you need to pick your battles carefully, and rather than attacking Cllr Freer for sending out the letter, they should have instead highlighted the botched job he made of it.
It seems that residents have been let down by all sides.