The Dyfed-Powys Police Commissioner, Christopher Salmon, has announced that he will be pulling the plug on the force's contribution to Pravda, otherwise known as Carmarthenshire News, the council-led cat litter and hamster bedding service delivered to just about every home in Carmarthenshire.
The Commissioner reckons the £5,000 a year the force has been spending on the propaganda sheet could be better spent on crime safety initiatives, and he plans to communicate with the public through local newspapers instead.
It will be interesting to see whether any of the county council's other partners follow his lead and abandon ship. They include Hywel Dda Health Board, Trinity St Davids, Coleg Sir Gâr and Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.
Quite why Trinity St Davids ever thought it should get involved with a council paper which from the outset was designed to curb criticism and undermine and threaten a free and independent local press is something it should be asked to explain. Its continued participation in the scheme is a stain on the reputation of this academic institution.
For its part, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue simply cannot afford to waste money on this rubbish.
Hywel Dda Health Board, on the other hand, is engaged in PR trench warfare of its own as it seeks to convince an increasingly sceptical public that everything in the garden is lovely. Chris Martin, the chair of the health board, was therefore none too pleased by Christopher Salmon's announcement and put out this brief statement:
"We were surprised to be informed of this press statement given that this matter was discussed at the last Carmarthenshire Local Service Board meeting which was held on Wednesday.
Although the Police and Crime Commissioner was not present himself, he was represented at the meeting and this message was not conveyed at that time.
He did not copy us in to his press statement or inform us that he was releasing anything before sending the statement to the media.
This matter will be discussed by the Local Service Board at its next meeting."
In the recent round of council budget cuts it was announced that the council would be dropping one issue a year of the paper to make some very modest savings. The council argued in a bizarre article in the Carmarthen Journal that producing one annual A4 information sheet would cost more than publishing a 40+ page colour newspaper 6 times a year, and that the council could not back out of the paper because of commitments to other members of the Local Service Board.
In a council meeting the other week Kevin Madge was asked to explain who had authored this piece, which also made partisan attacks on opposition councillors. In response Kev could only say that the "Journal had put it out there".
The Police Commissioner's decision to distance himself from the County Hall spin machine is to be applauded. It also blows a hole in the council's proposed savings on its PR output.