THE internet postings were the rarest of things – praise for a councillor.
Only it turns out the man behind the praise for Bournemouth’s Cllr Ben Grower was – Cllr Ben Grower.
This story has caused a bit of a stir. See what other newspapers and bloggers are saying - just follow the links on the right
He has used the Echo’s website to praise himself and other Labour members under the name ‘Omegaman’.
Under one surf reef story he wrote: “At least two councillors seem to be concerned about this mess. Well done Cllrs Ratcliffe and Grower.” Cllr Basil Ratcliffe is a Conservative councillor who has been sceptical about the reef.
On another about a housing plan in Kinson he wrote: “I have friends who live in the area. They say councillors Ted Taylor and Ben Grower fought hard against the proposals.”
And on one about the expansion of a dentist’s surgery he wrote: “Just shows that the area does have councillors who care about their residents.
“Well done Ted Taylor, Ben Grower and Beryl Baxter.”
‘Omegaman’ is registered with an address containing Cllr Grower’s name, which does not appear to other readers. When contacted, Cllr Grower initially suggested several people had access to his computer and said: “It could be anybody. It could be me, it could be Santa Claus.”
But he later said: “I have done nothing against the law. And probably next time I will just use a different pseudonym.”
Cllr Grower said responsibility lies with the Daily Echo because people can post under assumed names, and that the comments were only fun that no-one took seriously.
When asked if his approach was appropriate given his public role, he claimed members of other parties did the same.
Leader of the Council and the Conservative group Cllr Stephen MacLoughlin said: “Councillors need to be above reproach and they need to be very careful to avoid anything that could be seen as deceiving the public.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Cllr Claire Smith said: “I think it’s quite funny and tragic when you have to start praising yourself online.
“Your work should stand on its own.”
THE Echo does respect its readers’ right to anonymity but we felt that when a councillor pretends to be somebody else to improve his reputation that it is of sufficient public interest to tell
people about it.
Nick Rowe, website editor - no really...