Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The question of editorial control...again

An interesting letter (not by me) has appeared in this week's Carmarthen Journal, I have reprinted it below. It deals with the cancellation of the July meeting of full council and the current level of inactivity on a democratic level at County Hall.
The letter suggests, with tongue firmly in cheek, that the electorate deserve a refund.

However, this blog has had sight of the full version as sent to the newspaper and curiously, two sentences have been carefully edited out. I have included them below, highlighted in bold. Now of course the newspaper retains the right to edit letters, for whatever reasons and it also, usually, gives a right of reply. Although, as Cneifiwr pointed out a couple of months ago, it is sometimes interesting to see who does have the last word. Maybe the job title referred to must only be shown in a positive light? Who knows. I will leave you draw your own conclusions, but yet again it undoubtably raises the troubling question of where exactly editorial control of the independent press lies in Carmarthenshire. Chilling.

As I said, here's the complete version; 

"Carmarthenshire County Council has announced that it is cancelling its July meeting of councillors because there is insufficient business for them to transact, and it is unlikely that the full council will meet again until September. The previous administration wound down most of its operations in March ahead of the May elections, and most of the committees wil not meet until the autumn. The same lack of business is reflected in the activity of the council's Executive Board.

Despite this, members of the Executive Board and the chairman of the various committees are drawing generous special responsibility allowances. The Leader of the Council, Kevin Madge, receives an allowance of £47,500, while the two deputy leaders get £31,120 each. Other members of the Executive Board, which was recently expanded because of "pressure of work" are paid £28,780, while the various committee chairs each get £21,910. [The Chief Executive earns a basic salary of £170,000]. On top of this, there are various other allowances and perks.
In 2011 councillors' allowances cost Carmarthenshire just under £1.4m, compared with a projected £540,000 for the neighbouring authority in Ceredigion this year.

Despite what amounts to a six month break in activity, with very few committee meetings and very low levels of activity in general, members of the Executive Board and the chairs of the committees are still receiving their full allowances. The bill for May, when almost nothing happened while negotiations to form a new administration dragged on, was £24,500. And some of the authority's senior officers will also have been enjoying an appreciably lighter workload.
So how about a decision to return six months of special responsibility allowances? [And perhaps the Chief Executive will agree to forego his salary for a few months as well in recognition of the reduced workload and] as a gesture to all those families, pensioners and others struggling to make ends meet. 
The money saved could be used to reverse some of the cuts the council is proposing to make, including the 50% reduction in funding for the Mentrau Iaith, which will see their grant cut by £50,000 over the next three years."

The truncated version also appears online;


Anonymous said...

It is scandalous really and it seems that the leaders in County Hall are taking us for granted and treating the ratepayer like fools.

For god sake where is the opposition to this current administration. Why isnt PHG shouting from the roof tops about cancelled meetings and the situation with the Carmarthen Journal.

Hopefully journos from the journal read this blog and I would say this to them. You have a responsibility to inform local people and report news impartially. For goodness sake grow a pair and do not let tin pot soldiers in County Hall dictate what you report. If you returned to being a fearless local rag your circulation would go up. I buy the journal every week out of habit. I dont buy it at the moment for news !!

Anonymous said...

Planning Problems in Carmarthen. "Shall I ask the Journal to do an article on the subject?"
Answer from colleague. "they won't want to know". Sadly this sums up the independent stance of the local media to seriously question the ethics and attitude of some of Carmarthen County Council unelected employees.

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget that many local papers these days do not want to upset the councils they report on because of the advertising revenue they get from them. Not just the statutory stuff like public notices - advertising spend can really add up.