If you ask me, the Office of Fair Trading's plan to investigate council freesheets on the grounds that they "compete with local newspapers and are misleading to the public" and nothing more than "propaganda" is a total nonsense. As it is, if I did not receive my free monthly Islington Now, how else would I know that crime is going down, educational standards are going up and the parks are just getting prettier and prettier? Sometimes, when I'm in the park, being held up by a knife-wielding hoodie, I do look around me and think: "It's not even that pretty here", so it's a good job I have Islington Now to inform me otherwise. My local newspaper, the Islington Gazette, would never bother to do so. I'd even go further and say it never has anything nice to say about anybody or anything, and expects me to pay 50p for the privilege! Take this week's Gazette, for example, which has "21 Arrested in Raid on House of Horror" on page two and "Horror Bid to Burn Pet Rabbits Alive" on page three.
As I turn the pages, it is horror this, and horror that, and yet more photographs of children with their faces painted, and not a word about the 60 new trees that have been planted along Station Road, or the £16m being spent to refurbish Ironmonger Row Baths, or even the new Three Corners Centre, which has "just opened its doors providing activities for the whole community to enjoy". Honestly, if you solely read the Islington Gazette you'd think this was a borough of face-painting loonies and bunny murderers, rather than one where our council tax is spent wisely.
Also, I am not entirely happy about the Gazette's death notices which read: "Betty Jones, wife, mother, grandmother, supreme Victoria sponge-maker, went to sleep peacefully..." Well, there is no rousing her now but who, I wonder, is going to tell the grandchildren before they start shaking her and crying: "Wake up, Grandma, wake up. You promised we'd bake a cake today." So three cheers for council freesheets and, while we're about it, let's hear it for the new traffic-flow system at Highbury Corner, too. It is working like a dream, apparently.