RECENT EDITIONS of the Hereford Times have published letters referring to our local paper as the only "real forum for public debate" and "our only source of real information" (or words to that effect).

After reading recent reports and especially the report of the debacle regarding the council preventing the press from reporting matters of significant interest to all Herefordians, I now fully concur with the sentiments expressed by previous letter writers.

We have had national governments that have blatantly avoided giving full details to the British public, preached one course but followed another, indulged in spinning information. Now we find, via the Hereford Times, that our council invited our press to report on a matter of immense local interest and then changed their minds for a series of rather strange reasons, or perhaps that should be no reason.

The culture of secrecy has been rampant in Herefordshire politics for too long, and it has now reached a point where the public, who fund the future of the area, is being denied access to vital information. Those who practise secrecy in local government should tread very carefully.

If our local newspaper reported along the lines of a disgraceful national tabloid, the council might wish to avoid certain issues being misreported.

But, the Hereford Times is noted as a newspaper of great quality that reports the facts to the very best of its ability, and leaves the readers to draw its own conclusions.

The Opinion column on page 29 of the May 13 edition encapsulated all that is good and professional in journalistic standards. I have rarely seen a rationale for the necessity of a free press so well expressed in just a few short paragraphs.

The Editor should be congratulated for one of the best editorials the newspaper has ever produced, I have been rereading them since 1951.

Bravo to the Hereford Times for its continuing fight to ensure that democracy in Herefordshire is always upheld.

A C NEWMAN, Bute Avenue, Hereford.