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Students Follow the Leader on Twitter

Duck-houses, Disraeli and the conservation of biodiversity were among the discussion topics covered during a university visit by Worcestershire County Council Leader Adrian Hardman.

Councillor Hardman fielded questions from University of Worcester Journalism students about his civic role and social policies for a profile-writing assignment on a second year Reporting Politics module.

The session gave students the chance to find out how the Council will deliver proposals to make regional savings of £69m over four years in the face of the Government’s public spending squeeze.

Councillor Hardman said: “The government’s reduction process is harsh but it can’t go on borrowing £160m a day. You can’t inflate your way out of trouble.

“It’s an enormous challenge but we have a definitive long term financial plan to 2015 and I think local government is responding quite well.”

Having represented Bredon since March 2001, Councillor Hardman said being involved in local politics was about community support. “County councils have come to serve communities not political parties,” he added.

Despite achieving a scholarship to Charterhouse School and going on to study Medieval History at Newcastle University, Councillor Hardman admitted that university life “never really agreed” with him.

“I worked a lot harder in industry,” he said. “And having worked for the BBC, I’m aware of the important role that the media plays.”

With nearly 200 Twitter followers, Councillor Hardman believes embracing social media is a vital means of communicating the electorate.

“I’ve even tweeted about how disappointing my home-grown leeks have been this year,” he said.

Students certainly weren’t disappointed when they checked his Twitter account after the session as Councillor Hardman had taken the trouble to mention his visit.

“Thanks for the questions this morning at the University of Worcester,” he’d tweeted. “Made me think a bit. Can we have a return match one day?”

Media lecturer Christine Challand said the visit had been a valuable research and interview experience for the class.

“Interviewing a seasoned politician can prove daunting for even the most experienced reporter,” she said. “But the students did their homework in typical Paxman style and kept the questions coming. They covered everything from MPs expenses to the eviction of travellers from Dale Farm.”