Friday 5 April 2013

Friday news round-up

You will be aware from this blog and Y Cneifiwr's, that the council propaganda rag, the Carmarthenshire News is not universally popular, alternative uses have often been suggested, from comfortable bedding for pet rodents to emergency supplies for the smallest room.
A couple of years ago the council brought five other public bodies on board, including the police and the health board to contribute to the publication which is issued every two months. The council announced that it would be 'self-financing' through advertising revenue but as I have said before, private adverts always seem a little thin on the ground and the impression is that other council departments and the other five equally cash-strapped public bodies contribute financially.
The council website claims;

Each edition costs an average £23,000 to produce and distribute. The average costs and income currently are:

Print = £5768.26
Distribution = £17,400.73
Advertising and sponsorship revenue: £18,000
Net cost: £5000

The local Plaid politicians have been looking at this and have recently highlighted their concerns about other aspects of the council's financial management with the Wales Audit Office. A FoI request for advertising/sponsorship invoices for one issue produced four, amounting to £1680. This falls a little short of the £18,000 claimed by the council. This figure will vary from month to month but seasoned readers of the 'Carms News' will be aware of the usual format. Of course the website doesn't specify exactly where the 'advertising and sponsorship revenue' comes from, and so anyone that might naturally assume it is from private companies would not, of course, have been misled.

A quick mention of a story from a couple of weeks ago concerning a parking row at the council's new 'flagship' Eastgate development. Not only have the council, controversially, promised £5m in rental for new offices for the next twenty years to the developers but, to the annoyance of other workers at the site, have commandeered, with red marking paint, 20 free parking places in the limited and otherwise 'short term' Eastgate car park. The council's response to the rest of the furious Eastgate workers who have to pay £8 a day? "There are proposals in hand to erect an automatic barrier gating system to manage the use of the 20 private parking spaces to avoid any future confusion." Charming

The Agendas and minutes for Executive Board Member Decision meetings, as we know are not published until after the event ('bringing the constitution in line with legislation') and the public and press are excluded. One of these, a Regeneration meeting, recently approved the council's masterplan for our museums. One councillor and no less than eleven officers were in attendance and the documents included an 'Organisational Review of the Carmarthenshire Museums Service 2012-2020'. I couldn't find it anywhere on the website and the only clue to its contents was the resolution to 'acknowledge and endorse the content of the review of Carmarthenshire Museum Services which supports the concept of focussing resources around one main museum site supported by satellite facilities and services'. 

As a non-statutory duty, the council doesn't have to maintain museums and the responsibility, which also includes libraries, has now been shifted from the Directorate of Education and Children's Services, to Leisure and Sport, which also suggests a shift in priority. Museums, and even libraries are not, of course, the most vital service the council delivers but hugely important nonetheless and should it not be a matter of principle that future plans such as this are open and accessible from the start?


Anonymous said...

Yes Jacqui it is good to see you back and keeping an eagle eye on the council.Keep up the good work it is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness you're back
Your last point alarms me - Narberth museum is just winning awards, but not every community has clued up residents
And hasn't the Welsh Assembly just given money to libraries, yet they skipped Carmarthenshire

Anonymous said...

May I suggest that distribution costs can be eradicated... why can't our elected councillors deliver the 'rag' personally to each of us and at the same time keep abreast of public opinion.