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Thursday, April 26, 2007

An Apology To The Hackney Groveller

I've long argued that right-minded people don't read The Groveller. OK - the rag usually earns its nickname by showing appropriate respect to Hackney Council. After all, it's hardly the role of a local newspaper to expose wrongdoings in Hackney, is it? But despite the fact that we reward them generously with tonnes of advertising copy and we never do anything to prevent them profiting from advertising brothels and visiting prostitution services, they do occasionally bite the hand that feeds them. One occasion recently when the spotty little dog stopped grovelling and attacked its master was in this article about Hackney fraud and corruption (although admittedly I may have misread the article at the time and did find myself making an apology shortly afterwards). And last summer they did drone on a lot about those bloody swimmers despite me reminding Editor Ferris Bueller how much advertising money we spend with his grotty little rag.

The excitement of the circus makes you want to spend a pennyEven when they print something sensible - such as this front page article about me - they wait for a chance to catch me in one of my eccentric left-wing moments before publishing a story.

But today I am truly proud of The Groveller. It must have been difficult for Ferris Bueller and Tiny Tim to tackle the subject, especially in the face of vile and malicious internet gossip such as this rubbish in "Dry Swimming Today". But they put their best junior reporter Sally Scott on the case and came up with a marvellous front page story. The only bit I don't quite understand is the link to the story "Magic of the Circus", right alongside their lead article.

I take back everything I've said about The Groveller" in the past and offer the paper a sincere apology. I hope they won't raise a copyright issue if I reproduce a few brief extracts here in praise of their incisive, penetrating and balanced investigative journalism.

Ms Thompson told The Groveller: "The Mayor and I have agreed that after Hackney making tremendous progress over the past two years I will be moving on, subject to agreement." It would have been so easy here to frivolously interpret the last three words of this comment as a threat to blow the gaff unless rewarded with a massive golden parachute.

Don't get above your station in Lilliput, Brobdingnag may be nextA Council spokeswoman denied any link [with the sacking of Meeaaiiioooohhhhkk Gullivers- Travels] and said Mr. Gullivers-Travels departure had come about by mutual agreement. Of course there is no link between the departure of the Council Monitoring Officer, malicious false allegations of internal impropriety as recently discussed by the Audit Commission and the decision of Penny Thompson to seek fresh challenges elsewhere. Nor should Hackney be compared with the court of King George I, in a Swiftean attempt to make the former Head of Legal Services sound like a giant in Lilliput.

In any event as I recall from my school literacy hour, the subsequent posting was to Brobdingnag (Islington?) where a giant exhibits the unfortunate traveller on a cash-per-view basis. So watch out, Miiiuuaaaccchhhhk!

Buy your beer in Tesco and enjoy a nice view of the parkMs Thompson went on to say: "I feel very proud of what I have achieved during my time at Hackney. I believe I am leaving Hackney in a strong position from which it can move forward..." Damned right too, I say! Now we've got rid of the slum eyesores and driven out the chavs, we can press ahead with our programme to fill the Borough with private apartment tower blocks. As I can't stand those b******s down there in Queensbridge after they had the gall to elect a Tory Councillor in 2005, I shall be proposing that we demolish The Pub on the Park and build yuppie flats on the site. That'll teach them. And it will teach Diane Portillo a lesson for voting against Trident renewal, as the airy and relaxed gastrobar is now her local, whereas I'm still stuck in her Stokie constituency and have to drink in a seedy little alehouse in the High Street.

The final extract I want to draw attention to is this one:

The Mayor of Hackney, Julian Pipeshaft, paid tribute to Ms Thompson, praising her enthusiasm and commitment and wishing her well for the future. Now that's the kind of journalism I admire. Positive and complimentary. The sort of thing that Sven-Göran Eriksson was told by Brian Barwick and that Steve McClaren can expect to be told shortly. None of that scurrilous and unnecessary gossip about sackings, fall-guys, rats and ships.


ilikeakehurstfanclub said...

My dearest Luke,

Thanks for reproducing the front page of the Hackney Groveller; it certainly inspires me to go out and buy a copy of the Penny Peculiar for myself. Just in case I don't get a copy in the near future though, can you enlighten me on the headings on several of the paragraphs in the lead article. I can see the relevance of the headline "Spent Penny" (along with its lavatorial associations) and the paragraph headed "A Big Thank You, Recycling Works" (some other borough gets our cast-off CEO after the golden parachute), and "25 days to go" (after the paper bonfire, Penny's golden parachute and before the Audit Commission gets their teeth in, I presume).

But what is the relevance of the paragraph headed "Man Hurt in Shooting Incident"? Has Julian got the blunt end of the stick, as depicted in the bittersweet movie Penny Serenade? If memory serves me right, the film's slogan was United in Love - Tested by Tragedy. Sounds familiar, no?

Pip pip!


Luke Akehurst said...

Well, it's not likely to be "Man Hurt In Drowning Incident", is it? Not here in Hackney, anyway. We take care to ensure that you can't drown by closing all the dangerous places.

Elroy Partington-Whistler said...

I don't know much about that sort of thing, if you know what I mean, but one of them doesn't do things with one of those, surely, Even I know that. So what was one suggesting by the Cary Grant/Penny thing?

Anonymous said...

Hackney chief to step down
Chris Smith

Hackney’s chief executive has made the surprise announcement that she is to retire after nearly two-and-a-half years in the job.
Penny Thompson announced that she is planning to retire from the council in May once she has completed a handover to Tim Shields who will take over as interim chief executive. He is currently Corporate Director of Finance & Resources.
Speaking exclusively to, Thompson revealed she had been considering the move for some time and that she is currently considering her next move.
She said: “I feel very proud of what I have achieved during my time at Hackney. It has been a privilege to lead such talented and committed staff and to work with such a high calibre Mayor and partners. I believe that I am leaving Hackney in a strong position from which it can move forward and I wish Hackney well.”
When Thompson joined the authority in January 2005 it was a basket-case that had been rocked by political, managerial and financial chaos. She has been credited as a key figure in turning the council around: it is now a two star authority with prospects for improvement.
The Audit Commission praised Hackney for having ‘established effective leadership at a senior level’.
Jules Pipe, Hackney’s elected Mayor said “I should like to pay tribute to the work that Penny has done for Hackney during her time as Chief Executive. She has refreshed our Local Strategic Partnership and built strong and lasting relationships with all our partners. Her restructure of the Council leaves us with a strong top team to take the Council forward towards 2012. Her enthusiasm and commitment to the Council has been outstanding and we wish her well for the future.”

Luke Akehurst said...

I do object to this story, published in, that you have kindly reproduced. Especially this bit:

When Thompson joined the authority in January 2005 it was a basket-case that had been rocked by political, managerial and financial chaos.

Julian and I have been arguing for ages that the authority was a "basket case" under the previous hung administration and that since we arrived to clean the place up such terms have been wholly inappropriate. This quote makes it sound as if Hackney New Labour was responsible for the Council being a "basket case".