I suppose I wasn't entirely surprised to read in Saturday's Echo that Darlington's Tories would scrap the Town Crier should they ever wield power in the Council Chamber again. My fellow blogger and Echo editor Pete Barron has lauded their stand today.
I'm afraid it's a classic bit of opposition short-termism. The LibDems in North Yorkshire (where the council controlled by the Tories has a council magazine)are saying something similar.
Still, no doubt Heather thinks this will curry a bit of favour with the Echo and its campaign to tell the people of Darlington what we're allowed to read. Two notes of caution, however.
Firstly, the Tories in Darlington (or indeed the opposition anywhere where newspaper bosses are looking to close down council-run publications) shouldn't kid themselves that should they bend a knee to the campaign, matters will stop there. The quote from the local newspaper bosses was telling - they object to any competition from local authorities on the grounds that it strips them of potential advertising revenue and readers. Expect the next assault to be against council websites.
I'd be very sorry to see the Town Crier go. But as that would happen under the aegis of a Tory-run council, I'd have decidely mixed feelings. Seeing the Tories bin a well-respected, award-winning magazine which communicates effectively with Darlington residents and goes through every door - frankly it would be their administration which would suffer as a result.
If they felt they could best communicate an important change to local council services - like those recently to waste collection in the Borough, for example - via a story on page 45 of the Northern Echo read by a fraction of residents, where their comment was jostling for space with an attack from an environmental group - good luck to them.
If I were still on the council, I'd shake my head - and make the most of the opportunity.