Wednesday 15 May 2013

Focussing on Hamster Bedding

Carmarthenshire County Council has announced that it intends to hold a "consultation" on its bi-monthly propaganda sheet, Carmarthenshire News, and is inviting anyone interested to register to join one of two focus groups which will be held next week, for some strange reason at the headquarters of Dyfed Powys Police near Carmarthen and at the new "shoppertainment" complex in Llanelli known to the council as Y Ffwrnes and to Llanelli residents as the Stepney Centre.

The invitation appeared briefly on the home page of the council's website before being consigned to a dark corner where nobody apart from bloggers and other obsessives are likely to venture.

This is bad news for Parc y Scarlets, which has until now been the council's venue of choice for events of this kind.

It is unlikely that many people in Carmarthenshire will be familiar with the contents of the council's newspaper, with instant recycling being the most common option, but for those who have read it, pictures of grinning senior council officers and a handful of senior councillors, usually wearing hard hats and fluorescent jackets, are probably the most abiding images. If you are looking for details of more hum-drum stuff such as refuse collections, consultation timetables, useful telephone numbers and contact details, Carmarthenshire News is not for you.

So if you are retired, unemployed or otherwise at a loose end next Monday or Tuesday, what can you expect?

A couple of years ago Cneifiwr attended a council "consultation" involving focus groups in a community hall. Running the show was a team of very smartly dressed external consultants, accompanied by a few council staff. The chief consultant buttered up his audience. He had never been to these parts before, he announced, but what a charming place it was. He could well imagine returning with his family for a holiday.

The senior consultant began by setting the scene in broad terms before inviting the public to form groups to brainstorm ideas for improving our surroundings. The result was a few score of ideas listed on flipcharts. Within less than 10 minutes this list was whittled down to nothing, while a couple of new ideas appeared as if from nowhere.

As if by magic, the senior consultant and his team then whipped out a lot of beautifully produced artists' impressions and slides explaining the projects in more detail, with the stunned public being given the impression that this is what they had come up with.

And so a scheme was "chosen" to go forward for an application for European funding, and that was the end of the matter. The consultants no doubt got a fat cheque, but the schemes never saw the light of day.

Cynical it may be, but if the consultation on Carmarthenshire News does go ahead, don't expect the outcome to be a popular vote to have the propaganda rag scrapped. Suggestions from the floor that the bloated carcass of the council's press and PR department should be humanely disposed of are also unlikely to get beyond the flipcharts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cefais sgwrs ddifyr gyda cyn ysgrifenyddes prif weithredwr diwethaf sir dyfed py ddiwrnod. roeddwn yn trafod nifer y staff sy'n cefnogi ein prifweithredwr cyfredol. Ta waeth yn ystod yr 80au roedd gan y Prif weithredwr, - ysg
rifenyddes, ysgrifenyddes cynorthwyol, penaeth y wasg a'i gynorthwydd ef. Roedd ysgrifenydd y PW yn gwasanaethu cadeirydd y cyngor a 3 Arglwydd liwtenant y dair sir yn ychwanegol i'w dyletswyddau eraill. Dywedodd hi bod e'n ormod o faich erbyn iddi adael ond faint sy'n llenwi esgidiau y bobl yma heddiw ar gyfer 3 sir Dyfed?