37 Wind Street
11th July 2012
11th July 2012
Cllr K Madge - Leader
Carmarthenshire County Council
Dear Councillor Madge,
Withdrawal of County Council advertising in local newspapers
We have been provided with a copy of an e-mail sent from the County Council’s Press Manager in which instructions are given to cancel two advertisements with the South Wales Guardian newspaper on the basis of the paper’s “negative publicity” of the County Council. We understand this follows the paper’s story on possible delays to the regeneration work in Ammanford.
You will no doubt be aware that a number of members of Ammanford Town Council are themselves traders in the town. As democratically elected members of that Town Council, they have every right to state their opinions and make representations on behalf of their electors. The South Wales Guardian, along with other newspaper publications, has the legitimate right to report the business of that and any other Council. As politicians we accept it when newspapers are critical of us. But at the end of the day it is the role of publications like the South Wales Guardian to hold politicians and public authorities to account. The decision by your County Council to remove advertising completely undermines the notion of free press – a founding element of any democracy.
Newspapers right throughout the county are already facing tough economic challenges – not helped by the fact local authorities spend more time and effort producing its own propaganda publications rather than investing in their local print media. The actions by the County Council do nothing but suppress criticism and remove vital funding from these community assets.
We would be grateful to know whether you were aware of this decision; whether you approve of the removal of advertising from the South Wales Guardian; and whether you instructed the Press Manager to take this course of action. If you do not agree with that action, we would be grateful to know what disciplinary action you will be taking on this matter.
We can arrive at no other conclusion than to consider the Council’s bully boy tactics as an outrageous form of blackmail more befitting the sort of actions seen in dictatorships. We look forward to your urgent response.
Jonathan Edwards MP
Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM
The National Union of Journalists has also condemned the council's behaviour;
Council punished weekly for negative coverage
(see also next post)