Can We Have A Free Local Press For The General Election?

LAST WEEK I was ‘doing a Julian,’ musing on the possibility that the onset of Spring had been accompanied by a general reluctance by the Echo to publish Spink’s questionable newsletters. But, just two days later, the ‘newspaper’ went to press with another bandwagon piece regarding eight island children being refused places at their secondary school of choice.

Instead of accompanying their friends to Castle View school, the poor youngsters will have to endure the hardship of trekking all the way to Cornelius Vermuyden instead.

Characteristically, Bob Spink, our local MP, vented his anger at the Tory led Essex County Council for marking Furtherwick Park school for closure.

‘Canvey has yet again been betrayed by the council,’ the Echo quoted Spink as saying.

It seems that even the onset of Spring has no effect on Bob.

The next day, Spink actually made it into the Nationals; although not in the way he had intended. Fran Abrams, at the Guardian, wrote an insight piece on children with behavioural problems and chose Bob Hall and Canvey’s Continuum School to illustrate what can be achieved by dedicated people – and the opposition that such schools face from hard-line nimbys and bigots.

She chose Spink to represent the latter.

As if at their master’s command, the Echo decided to re-visit their Continuum School coverage on Thursday. The piece was devoid of any news; but obviously written to gauge public opinion for Bob’s campaign in the wake of the Guardian’s feature.

Despite obtaining resident opinion that concurred with Fran’s article, Sarah Calkin wrote determinedly about the school remaining as some form of community threat to measure those negative attitudes that the Echo had so carefully fostered last year. But her readers remained silent. The only feedback she obtained was from ‘upset, Canvey’ bringing readers’ attention to the fact that, despite all Bob’s bluster, he had achieved nothing.

Spink must have been very disappointed.

Paul Offord, at the Echo, chose midday on Friday to report Wednesday evening’s residents’ meeting regarding Canvey’s Concord pool. Spink was not mentioned, of course, since Bob has distanced himself from this particular campaign and handed it over to the Echo.

Bob does not want to be seen as leader of this protest so close to a general election (when he might be criticised for stoking-up public anger for political ends). Moreover, should the protest fail, he does not want to be personally associated with its downfall.

Why Paul should wait so long to file his report is perhaps explained by this blog’s coverage of Spink’s campaign letter,on Wednesday. Quickly placing it into the public domain forced Spink to bring forward his plans and cut-short public speculation. Early Friday morning, the Echo was forced to announce that Bob was setting-up a new national political organisation: the Independent Save Our Greenbelt party.

This was a scoop for the Echo (as you would expect for anything to do with Bob); but the strange thing is that they, and the Yellow Advertiser, had both been given Bob’s letter hinting at the fact long before I had received a copy.

Neither chose to publish it – or even mention its existence (despite the fact that this was its source’s avowed intention).

So, once again, it falls to a small local blog to reveal the truth about Spink. This time regarding his relationship with the Canvey Island Independent Party.

Neither the Echo, nor it seems, the Yellow Advertiser, deem such information to be in the public interest.

A free local press for the general election?..

I very much doubt it.

… (Echo, 14/03/2010) – Eight join MP in bid to save greenbelt

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