HART Chief Executive Jules Samuel's ban on the press entering the local election count on Thursday failed to keep out the Star and the other local paper.

Soon after our comment appeared, Liberal Democrat Leader David Simpson offered our reporter one of his guest tickets.

And when we got inside the count we found that our rival had also got in by using a guest ticket from a different candidate.

Councillors from both major parties said they were pleased to see us - including Hart Chairman Coun. Jonathan Glen. That's good for democracy.

There is expected to be a debate on the matter shortly which hopefully will not find us having to use the "more than one way to skin a cat" method to gain access next year.

Meanwhile Coun. Simpson, who is disabled, said he would be making an official complaint that he did not have easy access to the upstairs "press room" that had been allocated. As it was, Meridian TV had to cover the count from the balcony- and Coun. Simpson had to get his wheelchair up a steep slope to be interviewed.

Let's hope Hart's new chief executive has learned from this folly. Be open, co-operate with the press and everyone benefits.

Try and curtail our news-gathering and you end up looking just a little foolish. And we still get the information, anyway!