Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Power of Local Media

Perhaps the greatest pleasure I derive from reading my local weekly, the County Times, is that I can sit down with a coffee and rage at it. I still prefer this ritual to take place on a Saturday morning, as it did many decades ago, despite the paper now being published on a Thursday afternoon. This week's edition is a personal classic. If Mrs D's in the kitchen, and I'm reading in the Hall, she's learned to ignore my muttering and chuntering.

Front page of this week's edition carries a photograph of what the electricity substation at the end of a new 400kv cable into Mid Wales to serve wind farms will look like. A local Councillor has apparently "blasted it as a complete and utter nonsense". Absolutely right. We're expecting an announcement from National Grid next month about where this monstrosity is going to be built. They told me six months ago the location of the two short listed sites, in confidence, - so its still "No comment" from me. Of course this substation is going to be utterly horrible, surpassed only in its ugliness by the monstrous 400kv cable that is going to carried from it, on hideous steel lattice towers, all the way to Shropshire. "Its all very well to shout now" I muttered away to myself. "Why wouldn't they listen to me in 2005, when the National Assembly published its 'bonkers' TAN 8 document, which made the substation and the 400kv cable inevitable. When I attacked the then Government's proposals in the Assembly debating chamber, I stood alone, while the opposition condemned me. Montgomeryshire's AM, Mick Bates joined in with other Labour, Plaid Cymru and Lib Dem AMs as, one after another, they verbally assaulted me. That's when everyone should have been shouting - not when its too bl***y late. Or is it? I do have a little plan. Anyway, after a gulp of coffee, I turn the page. And its more of the same.

A full page under the heading "HANDS OFF OUR HOSPITAL SERVICES". Absolutely right. Over the last two weeks, 800 local people have attended three public meetings to listen to the Chief Executive of the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals Trust tell us that he wants to move some emergency services (consultant led maternity and paediatrics) from the Royal Shrewsbury to the Princess Royal in Telford. I've been trying to generate interest in this issue for five years. Ironically, the one time there was a fair amount of publicity (including a huge local petition) fifteen months ago, it was in response to a previous consultation process, which we knew at the time was going to be postponed for at least a year! Six months ago I wrote a 600 word article for the County Times which was published as its weekly 'Politically Speaking' column. I put a lot of thought into it, and reckoned that it merited a big 'splash' but it generated almost no comment at all. Whatever, I hope its not too late to force a re-think. The three meetings have been terrific - telling Mr Cairns exactly what I thought they would tell him. I've been working with Shrewsbury MP, Daniel Kawczcynski over this issue, and I have a little plan - which will be disclosed in due course.

That's where the real pleasure of reading my local papers comes in. They help me come up with little plans which might create more headlines for me to mutter about in the future. Like planting a plum tree. The pleasure just keeps on coming.


Anonymous said...

we need electricity.
we need investment in mid wales.
we need jobs in mid wales.
we need to expand to survive and move forward.
Ta da!!!

Anonymous said...

trouble with the county times is that they prefer you to write the articles for them. it is too costly for a dying newspaper to send a reporter/photographer to cover the story.
Time to start paying that PA of yours a bit more wonga

Anonymous said...

For anyone interested further in this topic check out today's Daily Mail article by Christopher Booker.
Read it and make up your own mind whether the pointless destruction of our countryside is worth it for the sake of a few jobs and an intermittent publicly subsidised power source. This is public money that could be better spent saving hospitals, public services and schools.

Roman Jones Esq. said...

We need electricity? Yes, from reliable sources, which onshore wind is not.
We need investment in Wales. Yes, to create long term jobs and a better infrastructure. Importing turbines and pylons made elsewhere, despoiling our countryside, with a handful of maintenance contractors does not equal investment.
We need jobs in Wales (see above)
Expand to survive? Yes, by investing in start up firms, hi-tec, IT based and tourism. NOT in a failed experiment that has no economic or sustainable potential.

I do agree with Anon2. Since the County Times has employed Opik as a columnist, I have lost all respect for it.

Anonymous said...

Very well said Roman Jones Esq, Anon 1 obviously has no clue about these matters, just like the other fools who believe all the lies that we've been fed about onshore windpower!!I just hope that he or she lives right in line with where the power cables will end up.
We've all been affected by the traffic chaos in Newtown these past few months, this is nothing compared to the chaos that will run for years if these wind farms get planning. Wake up people!!!

Anonymous said...

How sad that certain people who may have there countryside view changed would object to something that brings jobs and investment into an area that needs it. There has been a windfarm in Mid Wales for 19 years and has employed many people directly and indirectly.
Invest in this and it may develope, with the help of storage into a 24hr reliable source of energy, it won't without investment! But of course your view is more important eh Nimby!
Or we could invest in Nuclear, lets take a quick look at what is happening in Japan....

Anonymous said...

The county times is a disgrace and should be pulled into line.
There is little or no journalism, instead they rely heavy on pasting press releases. There reporters are more focused on writing reviews for the latest computer game than they are about writing interesting local articles that hear stories from both sides.