Friday 19 October 2012

The James Journal

Update 20 October

Unlike the Carmarthen Journal, the South Wales Guardian carried a report on the blatant manipulation of procedures at this month's council meeting to prevent discussion of the Sainsbury's planning row. Its report can be found here.

Both papers have been the subject of bullying by County Hall, but at least one of them has the integrity to carry on reporting regardless.


As noted both here and on Caebrwyn's blog, the October meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council plumbed new depths as the constitution was deployed yet again to prevent discussion of issues which are of concern to  people living in the county. And when officers found that the rules were not quite as water tight as they had thought, they simply made things up. From now on, if the rulings are allowed to stand and there is to be consistency, no elected councillor will be able to raise any subject at all unless the words they use appear on the agenda as written by the Chief Executive.

For example, although most people might think that pollution in the Burry inlet would come under the heading "Environment", Cllr Siân Caiach was told that she could not raise the subject when the environment came up for discussion because the words Burry inlet were not on the agenda.

While all this was going on, Cneifiwr peered down from the peasants' lodgings above the council chamber, enviously eyeing up the rather more comfortable press bench. In England under the new Localism Act bloggers are apparently  to be treated as bonafide members of the press, whereas in Carmarthenshire we are escorted to the public gallery and locked in to a space with hard wooden benches, very poor acoustics and a restricted view. And if we are rash enough to use any new-fangled technology, we face arrest.

Yes, blogging isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Because the council meeting had promised to be a more lively affair than usual, the BBC had sent along one of its crack reporters. Well either that, or he was just sheltering from the rain.

The boys from the Beeb get special treatment, and are allowed to sit on the left of the chamber, well away from the cub reporters from the local press on the right of the chamber.

The local press appeared to be represented by just one reporter. At least, there was a young woman scribbling away on the otherwise empty press bench. Her identity seems set to remain forever a mystery.

Cneifiwr couldn't help speculating at the time whether we would get to read a report of this important meeting in the Carmarthen Journal, and this week's edition appears to make no reference to it at all apart from a very oblique one in the form of a short interview with the Chief Executive, Mark James CBE.

Mr James tells readers that in his opinion there was nothing misleading or inaccurate about the infamous Sainsbury's press release, neither did it contain false accusations, nor did it constitute a misuse of council resources.

Just in case anyone has forgotten, this was the press release which accused our MP and AM of "deliberately sabotaging" the Sainsbury's planning applications in Llandeilo and Cross Hands.

Several councillors made repeated attempts to get this subject aired at the council meeting, but were told that it was not allowed. 

Good to see that the James Journal did at least find space to let the Chief Executive put his views across.

Other highlights from this week's edition include a picture of the Chief Executive and council leader Kevin Madge grinning outside the council-owned Johnstown creamery which has been given to Towy Community Church, and another picture of a grinning Kevin Madge, this time standing outside the former courthouse in Ammanford, which he would like to see developed as a hotel, restaurant or, well, just about anything really.

Readers might just as well save themselves the price of the paper and wait for the next bumper edition of the council's own paper, where they will be able to read pretty much the same stuff all over again.


caebrwyn said...

see my update, the South Wales Guardian is still resisting the County Hall takeover bid and gives a good report of the meeting. There was clearly a rogue reporter in their midst last Wednesday.

Anonymous said...

The reporter from the Guardian was sitting next to the BBC reporter.