It’s one of the best things to have happened locally all summer. The rebirth of Charlton Lido has been met with near-universal approval from those who’ve used it – surely, it’s a story you’d want to yell from the rooftops if you were Greenwich Council.
Yet I’ve discovered that Greenwich Council failed to invite the local press along to the reopening of the lido, instead preferring to keep the story for its own weekly, Greenwich Time. It’s another example of the baffling communications strategy employed by the council, which seems to solely revolve around Greenwich Time.
The lido opened on July 9, yet neither the Mercury nor the News Shopper were invited along to its launch, on 13 July which was lovingly covered in the following week’s Greenwich Time. Indeed, the council took until 17 July to send out a press release about the lido‘s opening.
While the local press, particularly the News Shopper, regularly come into for criticism on this website, Greenwich Council does go out of its way to make life difficult for the borough’s two newspapers. In particular, news releases are often only sent out on Friday evenings, after the deadline for both papers but ensuring coverage is exclusive to Greenwich Time. Even with good news stories like the lido, events are kept from outside reporters, who only find out about them after they have happened.
Meanwhile, there is now one fewer media outlet scrutinising the council after the Bexley Times was relaunched and refocused on its home patch. The paper now comes in a “quarter-fold” format – half the size of a tabloid – with bigger, magazine-style features and less news.
It had covered issues in Greenwich as well as Bexley – a throwback from the days when it published an Eltham Times – but it now sticks to Bexley stories from its office in Ilford.
It has also dropped all sports coverage. An interesting demonstration of the weak state of SE London’s local media came in May, when Charlton Athletic – another local institution who could do with a bit more scrutiny – were the only promoted football club in the country not to get front-page coverage from their local papers.