Councillors often get very touchy about what they see as bad publicity in local newspapers. 

To me, their anxieties are misplaced. Local papers such as the News play a vital role in local democracy.

The extensive reporting of the council and its meetings in local newspapers benefits councillors even when that publicity is negative.

This is because criticism encourages us to up our game. We are forced to muster our arguments more effectively and to explain more fully why we are doing what we are doing.

By interesting people in the council and its activities the press promotes turnout in local elections. If people don’t know what the council is doing, they are less likely to turn out to vote.

In Wokingham Borough, we have a reasonably high proportion of voters come out to vote in local elections – a higher proportion than in many other council areas.

High turnout is a product largely of the identification of many people with their own communities and their desire to see those communities represented by councillors who will work hard for them.

But identification with the community, and recognition of the key role of good local councillors, is itself a result of regular reporting on what the council does in local newspapers.

If turnout in local elections falls central governments will feel justified in trying to take more powers away from councils.

Councillors, then, have good reasons to be grateful to local papers for giving the council so many column inches every week.

I am particularly grateful for the opportunity to write a fortnightly column, which gives me the opportunity to give you some insights into what is happening on the council and the sometimes tough decisions we have to make.