Plop. My copy of the Local Government Chronicle lands on the doormat. I open it and see their scoop headlined: "Pickles visits only three authorities to date."
Their "chief reporter" Allister Hayman "revealed" that Eric had only visited Bournemouth, Westminster and Windsor and Maidenhead since he became Secretary of State. The story struck me as a bit odd. This is because I could remember seeing Eric a couple of times in my own borough of Hammersmith and Fulham since he took charge at the DCLG a year ago. The visits were scarcely secret. In October he made the high profile announcement of the abolition of the vastly expensive Local Area Agreements. (It's on YouTube if Allister doesn't believe me.)
Had Allister paid more attention to the Written Answers obtained by the Shadow Communities Secretary Caroline Flint (see here and here) he would have seen details of 22 official visits. When the unofficial visits off the bureaucratic radar are included the total will certainly be much higher.
But the LGC just pumps out the message that Eric Pickles is anti local government, that he is out of touch, stays in his bunker, etc. Completely untrue. As I have said before this once reputable journal has diminished into a Labour Party fanzine.