Council 'are all words but no substance'

WE ANTICIPATED County Hall’s response to last week’s front page – and did not have to wait long.

The county council’s statement– whichcan be read in full on this week’s front page – describes the notion of an advertising blackout as “nonsense”.

But where’s the beef? Where are the hard facts to support this bizarre 565-word tirade?

The council says it is “astonished to have read so many incorrect statements on the front page of the Guardian”.

List them.

Biased and unbalanced coverage in a long list of articles?

Namethem.

Numerous complaints and many discussions withmyself?

Then show us the correspondence or e-mails to illustrate this supposed litany of conflict.

Never managed to establish any kind of working relationship with the Guardian under myeditorship?

Wrong again – the Guardian actually has a very good relationship with the local authority’s press team, all ofwhomare experienced journalists and one or two I count as personal friends.

Like me, they will find the notion of council press officers quaking at the prospect of another call from ‘The Ogre of the Guardian’ – this fearsome and ruthless individual dedicated to shining his torch of truth into the darker recesses of County Hall – highly amusing.

Yes, much of their work involves sending us press releases, photographs and information – that’s what press offices do. Pick up any edition of the Guardian and you will see stories portraying the county council in a positive light.

But it’s a two-way relationship.

For example, we’re more than happy to co-operate with the council on the free Xmas parking voucher scheme as that will clearly help local traders.

Nobusiness has anautomatic right to have money spent on it – but does any local authority have the right to try to influence the local press by pulling advertising?

The council maintains it has no obligation to advertise in any particular newspaper –yet it does have an obligation to the 14,500 council ratepayers who read the Guardian every week.

The Guardian sells far more copies than every other newspaper in its core area of Ammanford and the Amman Valley – we’d have every reason to worry if we didn’t.

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