Following on from yesterday's post, it is good to see that more voices are being raised questioning the dubious accounting practices in County Hall.
The following is a press release issued on 13 July by Rhodri Glyn Thomas, our Plaid Assembly Member. He is spot on.
Local Assembly Member Rhodri Glyn Thomas has accused Carmarthenshire County Council of ‘creative accountancy’ having received information that the local authority does not keep separate records of internal and external advertising income for the publication of the county’s propaganda paper, Carmarthenshire News.
The Plaid Cymru AM stated that as the publication is loaded with advertisements for services the local authority provides, his office submitted the Freedom of Information request to see how much was being taken from one council budget to pay for another.
In response to Plaid Cymru’s FoI request, the local authority confirmed it does not distinguish between internal and external sums received for advertisements in the publication. Mr. Thomas said the council’s suggestion of only paying £5,000 per edition is disingenuous and says the Council could be paying anything up to £23,000 per edition.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas said:
“Carmarthenshire News is now a joint publication on behalf of public service providers in the county such as the Police, Fire Service, Health Board, Trinity St. David and Coleg Sir Gar, to name but a few. The newspaper is an extended version of the Council’s previous ‘Community News’ publication.
“My concern is extremely simple – The County Council says it receives £18,000 in advertising and sponsorship revenue per edition but it has since told me it cannot distinguish between adverts that are paid for internally and externally. The county newspaper is loaded with adverts which the local authority itself provides. So how much of that £18,000 is from coming within the council’s taxpayer-funded budgets?
“The Council has also told me it would be impossible to look back to previous years and assess the costs of internal adverts as it would involve going through every edition. Sadly the Council has not kept a copy of them. Either the Council doesn’t want to admit how much of taxpayers’ money is actually being put into these publications or it has serious problems with its financial management.
“The County Council could be paying anything up to £23,000 for each edition - that's upto £138,000 a year. For it to suggest the net cost to the taxpayer is just £5,000 per edition is disingenuous and smacks of creative accountancy.
“It’s about time the local authority scrapped its propaganda publication and got behind our existing very important local newspapers which have their own editorial control and have served our communities well for many years”.