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Editor's 'grow up' message to councillors

Herald Express editor Brendan Hanrahan has fired the latest salvo in an ongoing war of words with Torbay Council.

The Torquay-based newspaper boss called on councillors to “grow up” in a front-page splash, after members spent 45 minutes of taxpayer’s time in a sustained personal attack.

Brendan, who has edited the Herald Express for the last six years, came under verbal assault during a debate on preparations surrounding the election of a mayor for the south coast town.

Discussions came to boiling point when the council’s deputy leader suggested members should invite the newspaper editor to sit as an independent representative on their new councillors remuneration panel.

The proposal followed a series of critical council reports run by the paper, including one where Brendan called on all 36 councillors to quit.

Councillors who voted 19-5 in favour having Brendan on the new panel said it would show him how hard the towns elected representatives worked for their allowances.

But the editor, who heard the news through a late evening phone call from his number two following the meeting, gave the suggestion short shrift.

He said: “Needless to say I will not be sitting or going anywhere near any panel reviewing councillors’ allowances or anything else because of the obvious implications for conflict of interest and my independence.

“A letter form the council’s chief executive offering the post has already landed on my desk. I will be replying over the next couple of days. But the council has already had my answer published in the paper – and that is no.”

Brendan decided to run a full front-page story on the 45-minute discussion, after speaking to reporter Eleanor McGillie. It was, he said, “getting silly”.

He said: “With all the serious and important issues facing Torbay and the country at present, why 45 minutes or so of a council meeting should be devoted to discussing me is beyond me.

“I think the taxpayers of Torbay will regard this as bizarre and a waste of time and their money. Some people need to grow up.”

Answering accusations made during the meeting he added: “I haven’t ‘got it in’ for anybody.

“I live in the centre of the Bay, listen to what people say in the streets, shops, offices, bars and stands of Torquay United in the belief and hope that it will help me shape and lead a paper that is an important part of their life.

“It is my responsibility to run a good, professional and independent newspaper and business and to advance the prosperity of the communities we champion to the best of our ability.

“That means reporting the facts, good or bad, no matter how hard that is at times and even if it involves taking people into the zone of uncomfortable debate.

“That also means, occasionally, passionate but sincere opinion columns from me that seek to express the anger and frustration of our readers on topics of huge public interest – without fear or favour to anyone.”