Tuesday 31 July 2012

Creative accountancy for Council's propaganda newspaper

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”.


Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We have a similar problem in Wrecsam, is it £25,000 or £45,000 pa?

Anonymous said...

Long winded way of doing things but to get to the truth, it might be worth requesting FOI from all public service providers who Carmarthenshire County Council alledge contribute to the cost of the publication

Anonymous said...

oh dear..if a newspaper is supposed to be impartial, how come it's been mentioned that the southwales guardian is a plaid councillor's 'propaganda machine'? straight from the horses mouth...either this councillor is very naive or whatever, it has been said that the guardian is fed up with labour and siding with plaid. cause for concern?(anon2)

Anonymous said...

there could be a muck up on the way regarding ammanford quay street regeneration work.
a plaid councillor has somehow become a spokesman (this weeks southwales guardian)

the councillor says he has had a chat with the foreman who ensures that the work is on schedule, and from next week on, they will be working until 11pm to make sure they are on schedule) and christmas is not cancelled after all.

who's job is it to release this information?

why the need to work until 11pm if work is on schedule? and where are the extra workers coming from and who is going to pay for it? they already work during the daytime, so either they work double shifts or take on a whole new paving and digging gang.

what if the info the foreman passed onto the councillor was incorrect?

would the newspaper also be up to it's neck as well if it is wrong because they chose to publish it? everything must be true then because the foreman and councillor said so