ESSEX politicians are fighting for press freedom - in China.

County councillors are apparently worried that foreign journalists are getting a better deal than Chinese nationals over relaxation of reporting restrictions during the 2008 Olympics.

And they are so concerned they want to debate the issue with fellow councillors next week, and try and use the council's links with the Jiangsu Province to press for greater media freedom.

Well done councillors - we are sure a stern letter from County Hall will persuade the Chinese to abandon their totalitarianism and dodgy human rights record.

Perhaps they will write back expressing their concerns over the failure of the democratic system to solve problems like the gridlock that affects the A12 at rush hour every day.

Anyway, talking of press freedom, frustrated journalists will say the county council should look at its own affairs first.

In the days of old, if you had a press inquiry about facts in a council report you would simply ring the council officer who wrote it and ask them - they are intelligent people and 90 per cent of the time they were happy to respond.

Nowadays you have more chance of speaking direct to Chinese premier Wen Jiabao than to a normal council officer - instead you have to go to the press office with your question, they then consult the officer, then the councillor who heads the department, and you get a "Politburo-sanctioned on message" statement back.

Cynics might suggest while councillors hate restrictions in China, they lack the bravery to remove them in their own back yard.