Living in Havering: July, 2019

The Sun newspaper ceased publishing its page 3 photo feature in 2015, forty five years after it began. Page 3 photos are synonymous with topless girls. Amazingly, Living in Havering has resurrected a politicised version of page 3.

The April issue (1) of Living in Havering had seven page 3 photos of Damian White, Leader of the Council. July’s issue also has seven page 3 photos. Seemingly this is the optimum number for a subliminal message: Damian – Man of Action.

Damian has four more photos in the July magazine. Robert Benham (2), Osman Dervish (2), the Mayor (2) and Romford MP Andrew Rosindell (2) also feature. This PR blitz isn’t illegal according to Havering’s Section 151 officer. (see Addendum).

Turning to Havering’s At the Heart magazine for ‘tenants and leaseholders’(2) there’s more of the same. Damian and Joshua Chapman are on the front page. (Joshua has two more photos in the magazine.) These magazines are paid for by Havering Council tax-payers. The bill is tens of thousands of pounds ~ perhaps scrutiny is in order here?

Addendum: Are Damian White’s appearances in Living in Havering legal?

I put this question to the Section 151 officer who, after a lengthy delay, glibly pronounced that there hadn’t been breaches of Council rules or government guidance.(3)

The relevant government guidance says, ….it is acceptable for local authorities to publicise the work done by individual members of the authority, and to present the views of those individuals on local issues. This might be appropriate, for example, when one councillor has been the “face” of a particular campaign. If views expressed by, or attributed to, individual councillors do not reflect the views of the local authority itself, such publicity should make this fact clear.(4,5)

Six of the seven page 3 photos of Damian are pure PR. They’re carefully curated. None illustrate leadership of ‘a campaign’. In fact, none of the 19 photos of Conservative politicians in the July 2019 Living in Havering magazine, are campaign related. A common sense reading of the quoted passage implies taxpayers are paying for thinly disguised Conservative PR.

The Section 151 officer might wish to review the opinion sent to me on 17th June, 2019.

1 If you wish to see what Living in Havering looked like immediately before Damian became Leader go to https://issuu.com/haveringcouncil/docs/5348_living181_issuu
2 https://issuu.com/haveringcouncil/docs/5658_at_the_heart_spring_19_issuu
3 email dated 17th June 2019
4 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/5670/1878324.pdf
5 The government clearly anticipate that opposition councillors will also feature in Council magazines. “If views expressed by, or attributed to, individual councillors do not reflect the views of the local authority itself, such publicity should make this fact clear.” This hasn’t happened in recent years but regional Conservative politicians have featured recently: Keith Prince the GLA Conservative member for Havering for example.

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