Greenwich Council leader slammed by ex-Greenwich Time freelancer over sackings

Greenwich Council leader slammed by ex-Greenwich Time freelancer over sackings

"School bully" - Councillor Chris Roberts

No school children allowed - The royal 'souvenir edition' from 2010

First published in News
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , deputy news editor

GREENWICH Council's leader is a "school bully" whose thirst for self-promotion stretches to replacing images of children with pictures of his own face in the local authority's paper, it has been claimed.

The claims come after Greenwich Time journalist Peter Cordwell was sacked for writing to News Shopper supporting the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign - an issue Greenwich Council's leadership stayed silent about.

Following the sacking, deputy editor Rod Kitson also lost his job when an argument saw him kicked out of the town hall after demanding to have a union rep with him during a meeting with bosses.

In a letter of support for Mr Cordwell, Greenwich Time's former designer Graham Tuckwell hit out at the sackings and the way leader Councillor Chris Roberts would not allow stories in the paper "without his absolute say so".

News Shopper understands this included changes to a special 'souvenir edition' in 2010, when the news came that Greenwich would get royal borough status.

Greenwich Time sent a photographer to Mulgrave Primary School, Woolwich, to take a front page picture of excited pupils celebrating with flags. But an angry Cllr Roberts insisted his own face should be on the front page instead.

Mr Tuckwell, who stopped his work for the paper in 2009, said: "Chris Roberts, as we learnt over the years, runs the council offices pretty much like a school bully would organize his lackeys in the playground to intimidate the defenceless.

"The paper had a complete new look and was rebranded as GT, but the old dictatorship remained and Peter and his team found it increasingly impossible to run any stories without the vetting of the communications team with orders from Roberts.

"Peter’s valiant efforts to deliver a stronger and more accessible paper was always stopped in its tracks.

"Our job now was to deliver the council’s key messages and nothing else.

"Comments from ordinary councillors who were doing great work in their own wards were non-existent and of course there was never a word allowed from the opposition."

News Shopper: No school children allowed - The royal 'souvenir edition' from 2010

He added: "By far the worst part of the job was to see people in a local government position, a position of trust, behaving so badly. By far the best part of the whole experience was that of working with the brilliant Peter Cordwell."

Cllr Roberts' editing of the paper, which goes against government guidelines on local authority publications and is branded propaganda by critics, appears to make a mockery of the reason councillors were given for Mr Cordwell's departure - to avoid claims of political bias being made against Greenwich Time.

In an email sent to members earlier this month, Deputy Leader Councillor Peter Brooks wrote: "The only action the council has taken is to advise Mr Cordwell that we will not use his services and this has been done in order to protect the council's reputation from allegations of political bias in relation to GT."

'Comments do not hold substance' 

A spokeswoman for Greenwich Council said they "utterly refuted" Mr Tuckwell's comments.

She said: "There are strict guidelines under which any local authority publication has to operate and the Department for Communities and Local Government is clear that the content of local authority newspapers can only cover council and community matters.

"This is why much of the content of the newspaper covers council issues and stories."

She added: "As Mr Tuckwell's job was simply to lay out the paper there was no direct contact between Mr Tuckwell and council leaders so any personal comments made do not hold substance."

On the royal souvenir edition she said: "These claims about entirely standard and reasonable editorial decisions are ridiculous.

"This edition of Greenwich Time was produced more than three and a half years ago and marked the momentous news that the borough was to receive the honour of being bestowed Royal Status by the Queen during her Diamond Jubilee year.

"The front page story reported the announcement made in the House of Lords – which the Leader witnessed. The main front page image was a library shot of one of the iconic views of the borough.

"The front page text carried a quote from the Leader of the Royal Borough and, as is standard practice in newspapers, the quote was accompanied by a small head and shoulders photo of the person making it.”

Comments (7)

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7:09pm Mon 16 Sep 13

HearTheFacts says...

Cllr Roberts is clearly a joke, and power crazy. Roberts along with scary Mary at Greenwich Council are a great double act.

Greenwich Council is incredible, one should check it's signs!. Even in the Bexley Borough, we have Greenwich council signs!. Also take a walk along the Thames Path, you will see possibly one of the most stupid signs around. Yes I have a photo of it, have emailed it to the Newsshopper. Let's see if they will share it with the rest of you?.
Cllr Roberts is clearly a joke, and power crazy. Roberts along with scary Mary at Greenwich Council are a great double act. Greenwich Council is incredible, one should check it's signs!. Even in the Bexley Borough, we have Greenwich council signs!. Also take a walk along the Thames Path, you will see possibly one of the most stupid signs around. Yes I have a photo of it, have emailed it to the Newsshopper. Let's see if they will share it with the rest of you?. HearTheFacts
  • Score: 7

9:56pm Mon 16 Sep 13

j.j. says...

Nothing surprising in this. But it would surprise me if there is anybody with an IQ over 80 who takes GT seriously. I used to read it for a laugh and I can't recall ever having read a single article recognising a single problem in the borough.
Nothing surprising in this. But it would surprise me if there is anybody with an IQ over 80 who takes GT seriously. I used to read it for a laugh and I can't recall ever having read a single article recognising a single problem in the borough. j.j.
  • Score: 10

7:57pm Tue 17 Sep 13

Virtual-Monster says...

Rancid Roberts has treated GT like its his own personal comic for years, but the very people complaining in this article are part of the problem. Sycophants who kissed his ar$e for years are now complaining about the very behaviour which has cost them their jobs.

Hypocrites and lairs - Sounds like Greenwich Council at its best really.
Rancid Roberts has treated GT like its his own personal comic for years, but the very people complaining in this article are part of the problem. Sycophants who kissed his ar$e for years are now complaining about the very behaviour which has cost them their jobs. Hypocrites and lairs - Sounds like Greenwich Council at its best really. Virtual-Monster
  • Score: 2

1:39am Fri 20 Sep 13

skinnydan says...

has nobody noticed the council crest has his pic in it as well,
has nobody noticed the council crest has his pic in it as well, skinnydan
  • Score: 0

10:39pm Wed 25 Sep 13

Pitsku's friends says...

The news that the brilliant "There is only one Peter Cordwell" was sacked by Greenwich Council leaders are a major shock to everybody in SE. The whole story reminds one of the famous film Amadeus, where mediocre Salieri (Roberts) hatches a complex plot to gain ultimate victory on Mozart (Cordwell) and God. The only exception this time will be that not only history, but even the present knows, who's the villain and who the hero. People like Roberts might say they sleep well, but in reality they don't as there are ghosts on the wall 24/7.

All Peter's friends in Finland
The news that the brilliant "There is only one Peter Cordwell" was sacked by Greenwich Council leaders are a major shock to everybody in SE. The whole story reminds one of the famous film Amadeus, where mediocre Salieri (Roberts) hatches a complex plot to gain ultimate victory on Mozart (Cordwell) and God. The only exception this time will be that not only history, but even the present knows, who's the villain and who the hero. People like Roberts might say they sleep well, but in reality they don't as there are ghosts on the wall 24/7. All Peter's friends in Finland Pitsku's friends
  • Score: 0

12:24am Thu 3 Oct 13

Footofpride says...

Is freedom of speech dying in this country? Peter Cordwell is a complete gentleman who's aim in life is to do the right thing. What a Lewisham Council issue has to do with Greenwich Council is also beyond me? This guy is an obvious bully and it's a disgrace that he should be allowed to sack a man for his unselfish view that an A&E department should be shut,

This should concern every Greenwich and Lewisham resident that a man should wield illegal powers in this fashion. It's draconian and farcical! Does Chris Roberts think he is ruler supreme in 1960's communist Russia?

Peter seems a lovely man that just has a concern for the welfare of his bourough, its he that should be sitting as a member of the council and not a megalomaniac that is he'll bent on controlling the borough with an iron fist.

A very concerned constituent!
Is freedom of speech dying in this country? Peter Cordwell is a complete gentleman who's aim in life is to do the right thing. What a Lewisham Council issue has to do with Greenwich Council is also beyond me? This guy is an obvious bully and it's a disgrace that he should be allowed to sack a man for his unselfish view that an A&E department should be shut, This should concern every Greenwich and Lewisham resident that a man should wield illegal powers in this fashion. It's draconian and farcical! Does Chris Roberts think he is ruler supreme in 1960's communist Russia? Peter seems a lovely man that just has a concern for the welfare of his bourough, its he that should be sitting as a member of the council and not a megalomaniac that is he'll bent on controlling the borough with an iron fist. A very concerned constituent! Footofpride
  • Score: 0

12:38am Thu 3 Oct 13

Footofpride says...

Typo* Peter has worked tirelessly AGAINST the closure of Lewisham A&E dept...

Let's hope that Councillor Roberts does what's best for our borough also and resigns his tenure.

His position is surely untenable....
Typo* Peter has worked tirelessly AGAINST the closure of Lewisham A&E dept... Let's hope that Councillor Roberts does what's best for our borough also and resigns his tenure. His position is surely untenable.... Footofpride
  • Score: 0

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