Wednesday 4 June 2014

Fever pitch

It has been a while since Carmarthenshire County Council's press office featured on this blog, largely because it has been unusually quiet since the meltdown in February when the Ministry of Spin issued a series of vitriolic statements at the height of the unlawful payments scandals.

In the weeks and months that followed, its output has consisted for the most part of the dull but worthy stuff you would expect of a council press department.

Not all Welsh councils see the need for a press office issuing a daily batch of press releases. Ceredigion, for example, manages somehow to survive without a daily news service, but in Carmarthenshire the council considers it necessary to maintain a press and PR operation which employs more staff than all of the local newspapers combined.

In return for this investment we are served up a rough average of half a dozen unique stories a day, five days a week (no news happens at weekends), and the output can be divided into three main categories:

  • Political propaganda (currently suspended, with councillors reviewing this aspect of the press office's work)
  • Dog muck, fag ends, recycling and service announcements
  • A bizarre mix of stuff about deaf parrots, huskies, hurdlers and sporting heroes.
Last week Carmarthenshire was swept up in the mass excitement which accompanied the arrival of the Queen's Baton, as it headed slowly towards the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

BBC Wales did its best to whip us up into a frenzy, as you may have noticed from the news bulletins, but the results were decidedly mixed. In some places the media circus passed by with hardly anyone noticing. In others school children and flag wavers were bussed in to boost numbers. Unsurprisingly things looked a little better whenever the baton relay reached town centres and mingled with the shoppers.

So it was in Llanelli where, according to the council's press release, thousands turned out in the sweltering heat, and Asda dished out free plastic cups of squash for the brownies and scouts.

Perhaps Llanelli was hit by a heatwave on 27 May, but elsewhere in this part of Wales we were enjoying a pleasant day with temperatures in the high teens.

Kevin Madge also got caught up in the excitement, as belly dancers, stilt walkers and the athletic shape of Go Compare's Wynne Evans swept by. Things may have been very quiet in Cilycwm and Capel Iwan, but apparently people from Katmandu, Kuala Lumpur and Calgary were tuning in in their millions:

"Carmarthenshire put on a tremendous show showcasing the county to a global audience", said Kev.

Perhaps the most startling piece of news to emerge from the event, if the council's press release is to be believed, is that Sam Evans, the 20-something star of Deal or No Deal and Big Brother, has become "Town Mayor of Llanelli". Let's hope someone has told Cllr Michael Burns who seems to be labouring under the illusion that he holds that office.

Sam Evans, 23, in the Big Brother Chair

Why we need a council press office to tell us this when we have local newspapers with their own reporters out on the streets is another matter.

If that excitement was not enough, we now face a month of the World Cup in Brazil, and Carmarthenshire County Council has announced through its press office that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has decreed that pubs in Wales can opt to extend their opening hours so that we can all rush down to the Llwyndafydd Inn or John y Gwas to watch Ingerland play footie.

As Daily Wales points out, Mrs May was responding to the wishes of 19 people from Wales who took part in an official consultation in March. They would like to wave the Cross of Saint George and down more Stella than is good for them as "our boys" go down to another glorious defeat.

Inger-lund, Inger-lund!


Anonymous said...

Is that a laser target finder just above his head. Didn't think Llanelli politics were that brutal !!

Ruth Price said...

Just to point out that the current Mayor of Llanelli is Cllr Roger Price (from 7 May 2014). He will be in the Big Brother chair at tonight's full Town Council. He will NOT be handling the Queen's Baton. That's not a laser beam behind former Mayor, Meic Burns's head. It's the dragon's head which tops the emblem of Llanelli Town Council, which is embroidered on the back of the mayoral chair. Llanelli politics does have its moments of brutality, as Labour no longer have a stranglehold on local politics. Big Brother doublethink is however still employed in justifying unpopular policies from the Labour-led County & WG. Maybe a laser powered dragon fuelled mayoral chair would be handy for Llanelli's new Mayor?

Cneifiwr said...

Thank you for putting that right Ruth. Silly me for relying on Llanelli Town Council's website. Doh!