A picture shows the destroyed and charred remains of a fire-ravaged room, while the headline blares the tragic news: “Five children dead in school fire”.
But this was no local paper splash, and there was no fire. This was an advert created by a local council – and it has sparked outrage over critics who have labelled it “irresponsible” and “tasteless.”
Lambeth Council mocked up the phony front page of the non-existent Clapham News as part of a campaign opposing plans to close Clapham Fire Station.
Featuring the strapline: “The headlines we don’t want to see in Clapham,” the poster includes a short fictitious story about the ‘fire’, reporting that the community was in mourning for five children who lost their lives to smoke inhalation after becoming trapped.
It also includes quotes from the ‘distraught headteacher’, who says “every minute counts,” adding: “If our local station hadn’t been closed, maybe the children could have been rescued in time.”
Chairman of the London Fire Authority James Cleverly told the London Evening Standard he felt it was a “disgusting” attempt to generate fear among residents.
According to the report, the front pages were handed out to people who attended a meeting about the cuts to the fire service.
“These posters are an ill-judged and irresponsible addition to a Lambeth campaign already marred by emotive misinformation,” Mr Cleverly added.
The leader of the council, Labour councillor Lib Peck, said the posters were designed to warn people of the potential impact of closing the station.
“The posters reflect the very real danger to the public of closing Clapham fire station. We believe it’s important that our residents are aware of the proposal to close Clapham fire station and the dangers to public safety as a result of increased response times,” she said.