Coun David Renard has hit out at Haydon Wick Parish Council's newsletter for having political agenda
THE leader of Swindon Council has locked horns with the parish council in his ward over what he sees as a political agenda in their publications.
A number of articles in Haydon Wick Living, a newsletter distributed to residents three times a year, have caught the attention of the council leader as having a distinctly political agenda.
The local publication has recently been relaunched, and changed its name in the process.
The previous edition had written about local issues and events, including the flood alleviation scheme and littering in the area.
A disclaimer in the summer edition said: “This newsletter is unable to publish political advertisements and contributors cannot make reference to political parties, or include party logos, party addresses, email or websites.
“While we accept all contributions in good faith, Haydon Wick Parish Council cannot be held responsible for either the work of, or the claims made by, any of our advertisers.”
Coun Renard said: “I think any publication describing parish council activities should be as objective as possible. Local authorities should not be using public funds to further their own campaigns.
“There are at least four articles in their newsletter which directly contravene their own rules.
“They have a wonderful 64 page glossy magazine, but they have thrown articles in there about the extension of Thamesdown Drive, the Haydon Centre, and the future of the bridge over the River Ray.”
Parish councillors have recently bucked at plans to demolish the bridge spanning the River Ray, and appealed to residents to object to the £15,000 plans.
Coun Renard added changes to the editorial team on the magazine had begun to turn the relationship between ward and parish councillors frosty.
“As ward councillors we have had a good relationship with the parish council for many years,” he said. “They have allowed us to contribute to the magazine in the past, but are now refusing to do so.
“There are new people running the magazine who seem completely unwilling to work with us. They have got no problem with running these articles which are completely in contravention of their own rules.
“If they want to become a campaigning parish council which has a political edge, that is a decision they need to make in advance rather than putting their agenda through by the back door.”
Haydon Wick Parish Council are bringing the matter to their full council meeting on 17 December, and declined to comment further until the matter had been discussed.
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