W3 Forum Posters Expose Biase on Mail on Sunday Site

Article entitled "Envirocrime Snoops" provokes indignation

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The Mail on Sunday's facility for posting comments on stories onto their website has been exposed as dodgy and one-sided by several regular posters on the ActonW3.com Forum.  

In an article last Sunday, April 22nd which appeared on the MoS website, Daniel Boffey wrote an article castigating Ealing Council for "spending nearly £150,000 on recruiting and employing four new enforcement patrollers to add to its 23-strong team that already monitors 'waste disposal' regulations."  

Entitled "Envirocrime snoops", the article went on to express disapproval for the fines levied by Ealing Council on 'envirocriminals' of £110 stating that Ealing's fines are more than those charged by other councils. The article cited salaries of £30,000, for "plain-clothes snoopers ... to track down homeowners who put their rubbish out at the wrong time of the week or in the wrong place."  

Forum poster Peter Todd brought the article to the attention of environmentally-minded Actonites by posting in the 'Filthy Acton' discussion thread. He called the article 'reactionary'. Bob Crossley also expressed his disapproval and said that he had posted an adverse comment on the article to the MoS comments facility. Sara Nathan commented that whilst working at the BBC as a journalist she had never once researched an article in the Mail and found it "totally accurate". She sent a comment to the website suggesting Daniel Boffey should spend a day with an envirocrime officer, or perhaps a Saturday afternoon with the Paint-Out Graffiti team.

Still, no adverse comments appeared on the MoS website.  

Charles Grandin Gallachin, continuing the discussion in a thread on streetwatchers, then sent a comment to the MoS site pointing out that all their posted comments come from around the country - anywhere but Ealing, again suggesting they should visit the borough before castigating the salaries of those who deal with envirocrime.  

Ken White then joined the growing band of those sending messages to the MoS site. He said in his message: "If you are one of the residents who live in the borough of Ealing, you will be well aware of the problem we have with fly-tipping, littering, and graffiti.  Ealing council are responding to a general outcry from residents to do something about this problem and we as residents welcome it." He continued: "Perhaps the Mail on Sunday should stick to taking pictures of celebrities rather than ‘trashing’ the efforts of Ealing council and it’s residents to punish people who soil and abuse their environment".  

Still, none of these comments appeared on the MoS site.  

Then Steven Kealey emailed the MoS site with an ironic comment ending: "Thank you Mail on Sunday for alerting me to this. Just what is this country coming to?" This comment went straight onto the noticeboard - just two minutes after he clicked 'send'. He then sent another message, pointing out his bogus message and asking the MoS why they had printed none of the adverse comments sent in response to the article. He asked "Is it because these informed residents who every day have to deal with the dire consequences of envirocrime disagreed with the big-brother-is-wasting-our-money gist of the article?"  

Charles Grandin Gallachin then managed to get hold of Daniel Boffey and speak to him. He did not accept that the article was in anyway biased or inaccurate. However, he promised to fix the matter about comments on the website. This was three days ago, and the comments have still not appeared. Steven Kealey's bogus post is still on the website.  

A spokesperson from Ealing Council told me the newspaper claims about salaries were based on speculation: "We make no apology for doing what residents want us to do, which is to take the toughest action against those few who continue to blight our borough without any thought of the impact on the majority of people who live here.  Ealing Council has set aside £142,000 in this year's budget to recruit four more officers, to add to the current team of 23 officers. The salary for these positions has not been set." 

She continued: "Our envirocrime officers focus on major issues and problem hotspots which residents ask us to deal with, such as catching people who ruin our parks and open spaces by fly-tipping rubbish. They also focus on catching graffiti taggers, who cost the council, residents and businesses hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to get the anti-social scrawl scrubbed off their property. With regard to rubbish being left in the wrong place at the wrong time, they educate residents and then give warnings before taking the last resort of issuing fines."

We contacted the Mail on Sunday, but they have not made any comment on the fact that the moderator of their website does not reflect a balance of the view sent in by readers.  

Meanwhile, Acton residents are a force to be reckoned with. They will no doubt continue to voice their concerns about litter, to support action by Ealing Council to deal with litter and fly-tipping and to expose biased websites and journalists.

April 30, 2007