IF you have a television, and you pay your TV licence, then I want to thank you.

Because you’re keeping me in a job. More importantly, then you’re keeping fellow readers of the Adver, other local newspapers in the south west and listeners to BBC Radio Wiltshire much better informed about what’s going on at Swindon Borough Council and other public bodies.

Let me explain; under my byline are the words Local Democracy Reporter. Like around 140 other LDRs around the country. My role is funded by the BBC and I have a very specific job – local decisions made by local authorities.

Times are changing in the newspaper business. The internet, Facebook and Google have affected our readership, budgets have been cut, staff numbers are lower.

Often there aren’t enough people to cover every council meeting. And that’s a problem.

Corruption loves the dark. It wants to avoid the light of public scrutiny. No reporters to shine that light means no scrutiny.

The BBC pays for people like me to work at (but not for) newspapers and we make our copy available to all partners involved in the scheme.

I have a counterpart, Julia Corbett, at the Adver’s sister papers The Gazette and Herald and Wiltshire Times, and we divide between us the police and crime commissioner and the Wiltshire Fire Service.

Otherwise, all I can do is report on the decisions and actions of Swindon Borough Council. I read every agenda. I go to every meeting. I report what’s said, I follow up asides.

At times it can be dry stuff. I’d say even the dry decisions are important to someone.

But sometimes, big decisions are made that affect everyone – it might have been the proposal to close down Coate Water splashpark. It might be whether or not to approve a huge waste incinerator or to stop recycling plastic waste.

We will only know about those decisions if someone is there to read the agenda and the papers, to sit through the meeting, to ask questions.

It’s true that “decisions are made by those who show up”. It’s also true of journalism.