A pal of mine who works in trading standards at Tower Hamlets finds that a good deal of work in the department is taken up by consumers who’ve been scammed by dodgy enterprises offering so-called “cashback” deals. The question is cashback a rip-off has been a running one on various forums. The answer is almost always yes.

Now much heralded by local Tory blogs – see here and here – is the annoucement that Tory Ealing Council will give a £50 cashback bung to all households. As a council-tax payer I will be eligible but I can’t help feeling the whole thing is a gimmicky stunt. They could have reduced everyone’s bills rather than this headline-grabber (recently featured on the BBC London news) or even continued funding groups such as the Southall Black Sisters pressure group which one commenter to Phil Taylor’s blog vows is where their £50 is going.

Added to this is the general climate of tackiness that the Conservative council seems to have fostered. On this forum, the sinister banners trumpeting frozen council tax around Ealing Broadway amid the ever-lengthening number of empty retail premises, are decried. As one commenter opines:

What is really annoying is this big brother attitude of telling us how well the council are supposedly performing through the endless stream of literature, banners etc that are constantly being pushed on us. This reminds me of 1984 not 2009 especially as the lead story on this site talks about Ealing being the 7th worst boroughs for litter in the country, which doesn’t quite fit in with the hype does it?

I remember when the then Labour administration in the late 80s launched the quarterly council glossy mag it was condemned as a costly local version of Pravda by the then Conservative opposition. Looks like seeing as they are the masters now this content-free puff has gone into overdrive appearing monthly now plus in-between handbills (often “consultations” on creating more of those cash-cows that are CPZs which by all accounts are helping choke off retail trade).

Gimmicky casback… £50
Boasting propaganda (all round town and through your letterbox)… priceless