INDEX December 4, 1987
Ratepayers slam obscene letters

THE latest obscene document to drop through councillors' letter boxes caused a behind-the-scenes squabble at Thursday's Waltham Forest Council meeting.

When Alliance member Graham Woolnough referred to its racist content. Labour councillors pointed to the public gallery and said: "That's where it comes from."

But Ratepayers' Action Group supporters in the gallery took exception to the implication that they were responsible for the anonymous letter, sent first-class to all councillors.

During the tea break, Mrs Jenny Young, one of the five RAG members present at the time, tackled Labour councillors. Prime target of her wrath was Steve Jacobs, who she said had pointed directly at her.

And this week she told the Guardian that a solicitor's letter of complaint is being sent to Mr Jacobs on behalf of RAG.

"We are constantly being blamed for these things and for incidents like kids throwing stones at the town hall windows," she said.

"The action group doesn't do things like this. We are a non-violent group and the only letters we send out are on our own note paper. There's enough to complain about publicly without sending anonymous letters."

Labour deputy leader Bill Dennis told the Guardian: "I don't believe for one minute that Mrs Young has any knowledge or responsibility for this. She is far too responsible and intelligent."

But he said that it was obvious, from throwaway references to personal habits and mannerisms, that the writer was someone who sat regularly at council and committee meetings and observed members closely.

The document which has caused the row is called "Reflections" and is typed and photocopied.

Labour councillors on some real and imaginary committees of "The Borrow of Waltham Poorest".

Some of the cracks are of the schoolboy humour variety.

But other sections can't be repeated - being obscene, libellous or blatantly racist.

In a different class is a production called "The Councillor - an information sheet for residents of Waltham Forest", of which the Guardian has no 7.

This expensively printed four-page document, again produced anonymously, contains some quite witty - if (personal -- lampoons on Labour councillors. It is issued free of charge.

Mr Dennis commented: "It's a total mystery why anyone should be bothered to spend so much money producing this. But it's quite amusing and harmless."

Labour councillors are still receiving abusive mail on a regular basis.

Alliance and Conservative members, however, have had a quiet period since the original onslaught of letters and abusive phone calls in the spring.

Said Conservative leader Michael Lewis: "This nasty Reflections was the first to come my way for some time. It's now on its way to the Edmonton incinerator with the rest of my rubbish."

Alliance leader Chris Millington commented: "This letter was utterly disgusting and blatantly racist. My members have put it where it belongs -- in the bin."

Waltham Forest Guardian December 4, 1987.