Saturday 22 March 2014

Kerpow! Cop Commisioner calls time on Carmarthenshire News

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.


Anonymous said...

Why doesn't the Local Service Board publish minutes of its meetings?

Anonymous said...

The commissioner is a conservative and is embarked on a series of cost savings but does appear to have included all parts of the Police Service in the cuts. in a canny move he has tried to recoup some overpayments to retired senior officers and has cut back on bonuses - Yes Chief Constables get a bonus on an annual basis.

Some senior officers and civilians get cars provided though and this should be cut back on.

good move to cut funding for the council paper. the Fire Service will be next - They were probably waiting for one other organisation to jump ship first.

his will be a good move for local democracy when the rag fails. et the CJ get back to some proper journalism and holding those who represent us to account.

Anonymous said...

I am now glad I voted for him,the Labour candidate
Probably would have doubled the contribution to Pravda.

Anonymous said...

Well done Mr Salmon.

Anonymous said...

The Council already produce an A4 information sheet that they post to every household in the county. It goes out with the Council Tax Demand.

Anonymous said...

Having read this article in the yesterdays Daily Mail it reaffirmed my belief that this devolved Government plays a huge part in the problems of the Welsh people. If they will not use the powers they now have to sort out the problems within the agencies they have powers over, they are not governing they are opting out of their responsibilities. Dangerous times. Where else is there to go???

Anonymous said...

Put the money into the C C T V system and keep us all safe, as there are no police men on the streets !!! and its good value for money 24 hours a day