An editor has challenged a councillor over his plans to have a column in the paper so his group’s views are “not cut about by editors, often putting the wrong emphasis on a story”.
Bucks Herald editor Roger Hawes has written a piece responding to councillor Neil Blake, who has outlined plans to give press releases more of a political slant as part of his bid to become the next Conservative leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council.
In his editor’s column, he said that a document by Cllr Blake about his proposals should he win his leadership bid included developing a stronger political agenda over “derogatory” comments in the press.
But Roger hit back at the councillor, saying that the political agendas of local councils “must be kept in check” and warned Cllr Blake to “choose your words more wisely”.
In his column, Roger wrote: “Mr Blake goes on to say he will set up a sub group that can be pro-active in putting out information about the great achievements made by the administration.
“He expresses concern that press releases don’t have the right political slant and, as he digs the hole deeper, claims he will look to have a regular column in the Bucks Herald and I quote: ‘…so our group’s thoughts are published the way we want them to be published and not cut about by editors, often putting the wrong emphasis on a story’.
“Whilst I am sure Mr Blake is shooting from the hip to impress colleagues before they vote, for me he has stepped into an area I must challenge.
“Firstly the political agenda of local councils which, whilst a fact of life, is something that must be kept in check. Vast sums of taxpayers’ money go into AVDC and the decisions should be made on what is the right thing to do for the community, with no hidden political agenda. Then there is the question of transparency, democracy and accountability of all councils.
“No-one should forget the media (Bucks Herald included) is there as a champion for the people and part of an age-old process to question and challenge the ‘all powerful’ in society.
“So Mr Blake, whilst I wish you all the best in your leadership challenge and may the best man win, please try to choose your words more wisely. Working together we can make Aylesbury Vale an even better place to live.”
The new leader of the council is set to be chosen today and Cllr Blake, who is cabinet member for resources, is understood to be one of the favourites for the position.
Cllr Blake had not responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.