This is our truth, tell us yours
The Guardian’s love affair with parish councils continues.
Accordig to the Guardian, in a masterpiece of narrow focus journalism, ‘there are now a total of five urban parish councils.’
This is, it has to be said, complete bollocks, unless you define urban as ‘places the Guardian has noticed.’ Here,north of Hadrian’s Wall, we have
Cramlington Town Council – servng 30,000 people in a non-statutory new town
Blyth Town Council, serving 35,000 people in an old shipbuilding and coalmining town
Ashington Town Council,
West Bedlington Town Council
Morpeth Town Council…
So, the Guardian journo hasn’t a clue. That’s a starting point.
The Guardian has been on its love affair with parish councils ever since the establishment of Queen’s Park parishcouncil in London. Yep, the Guardian really is that, well, parochial.
All of the claims the Guardian makes for what parish councils can achieve are true.
What the article lacks is a sense of balance.
Uop here in Northumberland there’s been a movement to try and highlight the messier side of parish and town councils, eccentrically reported by the Northumberland Mercury. Berwick Town Council had to pay off their town clerk after a bitter series of disputes that featured a disgraced Tory spin doctor and astonishing accusations of threats and intimidation. In Blyth the town clerk had to be paid off after a bitter series of disputes, accusations and investigations. These are just the cases I know about, usually concealed behind compromise agreements with non-disclosure clauses.
These are not isolated cases. Parish councils are small organizations, potentially with very large budgets fed by council tax precepts. The Guardian, because it thinks Town Councils have just been invented, doesn’t look too deeply into the way in which town councils can go wrong. It’s embarassing second rate journalism on the part of the Guardian.