Times are 'ard, or so Kevin Madge keeps warning us all as the council sharpens its axe to slash away at services. For some parts of the council, however, it seems to be very much business as usual.
If you have a child in a Carmarthenshire primary school, it is likely that you will have received a copy of a something called "Primary Times" in the last few days.
This glossy publication is a cross between a listings magazine and an advertising circular aimed at parents with young children in an area extending from Swansea to Pembrokeshire. It is published by a company called Broad Oak Publications from an address near Llandeilo, and according to the smallprint operates under a franchise licence.
Unlike the council's own propaganda rag, this would seem to be a private venture, but it is being distributed free through the council's schools and contains several articles/advertising features which would not be out of place in the Carmarthenshire News.
On page 4 up pops Councillor Pam Palmer to promote her Toybox Appeal. Unfortunately she may as well have saved her breath and the cost of the advert because the magazine did not come out until 25 November, and the closing date for the Toybox Appeal was 2 December. The magazine arrived at Tŷ Cneifiwr on 13 December.
Immediately below Pam's appeal is a colour picture of an avuncular looking Cllr Colin Evans, Executive Board Member for Technical Services. Carmarthenshire is the best in Wales for eco schools, we are told, and Colin is delighted.
A couple of weeks ago the council placed a much larger advertising feature praising the eco schools project in the Carmarthen Journal. Why is money being wasted which could be spent on schools and other services instead of pointless promotional activity?
Bearing in mind that a high proportion of children in Carmarthenshire are educated through the medium of Welsh in the county's primary schools, around 90% of the new magazine is in English only. To its credit, Swansea Council has placed a bilingual ad to promote ice skating, but Carmarthenshire's contributions are all in English only.
Incredibly, in the listings section two Welsh language pantomimes at the new Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli and the Lyric in Carmarthen are advertised in English only.
Several of the council's pet projects also cough up some money for colour adverts. There's a half page ad from Parc y Scarlets advertising Sunday Lunch with Santa. Not a single word in Welsh. Mae'n ddrwg gen i, blantos.
In fact the bad news for many children in Carmarthenshire is that Santa only speaks English these days. Two pages of listings headed "Where's Santa?" have not a single word in Welsh.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales has a bilingual ad, but you will need a magnifying glass to read the Welsh text. A second Scarlets' ad promotes a competition to win a family ticket (terms and conditions apply). All in English only.
Meanwhile, the entire back page is given over to promoting Parc y Scarlets as a venue for Christmas parties (English only) and a New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball (a few words in Welsh on that one).
Stripped of the pretty pictures and warm introductory words from "Emma", all this is really about is relieving parents of their money, with a large helping of Carmarthenshire County Council propaganda thrown in.
I got one - it looked like crap so I binned it.
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