Should Cheryl Cole head up the news agenda

Counter Point by Scott Freeman.

Among the things we have learned this week are that one-time singer and erstwhile-WAG Cheryl Cole is (supposedly) the victim of media puppeteer Simon Cowell’s latest well-orchestrated publicity campaign, and that football is dominated by money and greed rather than the highest of sporting ideals. When I read all this I had to go for a lie down in a darkened room.

With matters of high import leading the news agenda, what almost passed beneath the radar is that, despite the current financial climate, one local authority deemed it necessary to spend £75,000 of tax-payers’ money to force Twitter to hand over details of a man allegedly responsible for a series of whistle-blowing exposes about the council’s activities.

Not so long ago we heard of town halls using anti-terrorism legislation to check what people were putting in their bins and to spy on parents in case they were lying about living in a school’s catchment area.

There is a solution to all this nonsense. It’s called greater openness (or ‘transparency’ in the current vogue). If councils did less of their business in secret there would be no need for the whistle-blowers to go to extraordinary lengths to bring matters of concern to the public’s attention.

In a democracy we, the public, should be trusted to know how our money is being spent, in our name, on our services.

We can all breathe a sigh of relief that killer cucumbers are not on sale in the UK, although we should all be concerned about whatever dubious practices led to salad vegetables causing fatal organ failure. This latest health-horror only adds to the growing body of evidence that suggests for health, environmental, cost and – let’s not forget taste – reasons we should be moving towards locally produced foodstuffs.