As patrons of this site know, I have always had nothing but good things to say about South Tyneside Councils web site. It is easy to use and for me personally, has always supplied the information I have been after.
However, the online edition of the “On View” magazine has supplied me with a bit to much information.
Some time last summer I recall that the Independent Alliance of Councillors in the Borough objected to the On View magazines content, claiming that it was a Labour electioneering pamphlet. Fair enough, but the threat was also made to refer the matter to the Audit Commission, something which the council took very seriously as the content correspondingly became less “political”.
Without this in mind, I viewed the new edition with relish. What would it contain that I could post on? The answer, quite a lot.
Getting past the usual “blurb” of the first few pages, I was interested in the views section accredited to the public. These are the pages which really matter: the people on the ground, the man or woman on the street who has a true view of how the Council’s polices and approach to accountability affect the electorate. Take for example busy mum Alison Duncan, who decided she had definite views about On View magazine. She therefore wrote in and told the editors what she thought of them!
In her own words:
“Well, I’m very interested in what happens in South Tyneside and I read onview from cover to cover,”
Good for you Alison. But she didn’t stop there:
“My mam usually gets her copy before me so I read it at hers then I read mine when it comes, then my husband reads it, and then I put it in my recycling box. The thing is ... I don’t just want to read about my own street and my own neighbourhood and that’s why I filled in the questionnaire. I want to read about what’s happening in other places so I really like the fact that onview now has two pages for each of the forum areas. I’m nosey really, but I like to know what’s going on all over the borough. I think the magazine has a good balance of news. I know I’ve read letters in the Shields Gazette about it being a waste of money, but I don’t think it is. I don’t buy the Gazette every night and onview gives me a good overview of what’s going on in the borough. It’s a good, colourful magazine and it’s easy to read. I often see people I know in it. I really liked the piece about the couple who went down to the garden party at Buckingham Palace. I think it’s really important that people take an interest in where they live and in what’s going on. I’m a school governor and I take a real interest in education and local schools. I’ve never really felt strongly enough about a particular issue to go along to a community area forum meeting, but I do feel strongly about onview. I really like it!”
Well done Alison Duncan. I am glad your mam likes the magazine, because her two sons, Ian and Ed Malcolm, sit on the Council which produces the magazine. Which of course makes you err…… Ian and Ed’s sister! That could be why your mam gets it first: the inks probably not dry yet (no, McAtominey didn’t print it, he’s not allowed to). I’m also glad you have such a disregard for CAF’s, because your brothers continue to tell the public how important this committee function is. Now who do I believe? Alison Duncan who clearly has access to the inside track, or the claims of the Malcolm Brothers who have access to the err…. inside track! I am also glad you are a school governor. Perhaps your school is not up for closure under the TOPS review. Please put a good word in for Councillor Bell in the Boldon Colliery Ward, she needs it!
Slightly disturbed, I moved on.
I know that face. Yes, it’s Pat Snowdon, a (voluntary) member of the Boldon, Cleadon and Whitburn CAF. Why she should be part of such a political pamphlet is beyond me. However, the prose claims they (the CAF) secured a kerbside parking scheme for East Boldon. On a personal note, I think that copyright belongs to me.
On to another public picture section – oh dear, surely that’s not an acquaintance of Councillor Brady’s family, one Jean Birch. Yes it is, and low and behold, she sings from the same hymn sheet.
Frankly, I had to stop there. What would be next? Councillor WAGGGOTTT’s cat?
If I have been able to spot this sheer abuse of the electioneering process, what will the people in the “know” manage?
I suspect that the Audit Commission is soon going to be sick of the name “South Tyneside Council”.