Sunday, December 29, 2013

Yet more sloppiness from the £1million+ PR dept at RCT Council.

Yesterday I wrote a piece about the dreadful state of grammar in articles on the RCT Council website.  Since then I have a found an even more appallingly sloppy piece from earlier in December on the subject of going green.

Christmas cards should either recycled in the kerbside collection or one of the council’s SORT centres   (missing ‘be’)

 The Council offers a Christmas tree recycling service and you can find out more by contacting us direct through out website. But why buy a real Christmas tree in a pot this year instead of buying one with its roots cut off? Your tree can then be planted in your garden. Once back in the ground, your tree will then absorb a tonne of carbon, that’s around 10% of your annual carbon footprint

(Think the word ‘not’ should be between why and buy! Out should of course be our.)

With new gifts received this Christmas, there are bound to be clear outs of old furniture, clothing, toys – why not take them to one of the Community Recycling Centres where they can be recycled or reused via too good to waste. Or you could donate your unwanted items to a charity shop where they can be recycled or reused via too good to waste. Or you could donate your unwanted items to a charity shop.


Polysterene is often used to pack toys and electrical equipment and this can be recycled either on the kerbside scheme or at the Community Recycling Centre

(It’s Polystyrene , and it should read via the kerbside scheme, or at the kerbside.)

You can collect your recycling bags from over 150 distribution centre, including; libraries, Council Offices and One4All centres.

 (missing ‘s’)

This really is unacceptable.

We should expect more professionalism from Council PR department.

Yesterday I found myself in the unusual situation of defending the person who tweets on behalf of RCT Council when someone made fun of a typo in a tweet.  Now we all make the occasional typo – I am certainly not immune to that, as I am sure anyone who reads this blog will know.

However, whilst such human error is acceptable, what I have more difficulty with is the grammatical content of some of the press releases that come from RCT Council. The department behind these is a substantial one, and indeed one we have identified as being a prime contender for cutbacks, although the Labour administration seems to disagree.

Just to illustrate the point, here are a few examples from recent articles which have appeared on the RCT Council website. (Errors and corrections are in red.)

On the subject of the Nos Galon races.

The 2013 Nos Galan Road Races| take place on Tuesday, December 31, and is on course to break all records, with the biggest field of runners in its 55-year history. (races are)

So each runner entering has a double challenge – the most important is to raise as much money as possible for charity. If successful they will receive a 23" LED TV with built in DVD player, along with a brand new Kindle. (are we talking about one person which is indicated at the start of the sentence or more as indicated by the use of the word 'they'? )

Secondly we want to see the most outstanding fancy dress costumes that will help brighten up this special night even more. Last year’s winner was retured school headteacher Alun Griffiths, of Glenboi, Mountain Ash, who won with his customised Mr Grand Slam costume  (ok, a typo but doen't anyone proof read?)

The Nos Galan Road Races fun starts in Mountain Ash town centre at 4pm with the children’s races. This will be followed by an elite race and 5k adult fun run and a spectacular fireworks display. (The word races is plural therefore it should read These will be followed by.)

A piece advertising walking and cycling trails in RCT was a master class in how not to write an article.

The Council has as extensive network of walking and cycling trails that thousands of people enjoy per year. (should be each or every year.)

The opportunity to learn more about the history of the County Borough began by following designated trails and walks that will take you to different sites where Blue Plaques have been unveiled. (begins)

For further details visit |where you will find a variety of trails aimed at walkers and cyclists and drivers! where you will find a variety of trails aimed at walkers and cyclists and drivers!
(Bad bit of cut and paste!)

The Carers' pamper scheme had comment from Cllr Mike Forey, Cabinet Member for Partnerships and Adult’s Social Services at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

(Just which adult is he responsible for, and who looks after the rest of them? I do hate misplaced apostrophes.Especially as in this case there was no need for one at all, Adult Social Services would suffice.)

Good news that this year you can just put your real Christas tree outside on collection day and the Council will take it away

So instead of trying cut them up and put them in the black bag rubbish, they can now be collected on recycling day as part of the Council’s commitment to reduce waste sent to landfill. (Missed a 'to' there. Also have to ask why people would be cutting them up and putting them in black bags when they should be classed as garden waste?)

Recycling has never been easier, with an efficient weekly collection service, free recycling bags easy-to-access community recycling centres, food recycling, collection of larger items, and an ever-increasing list of items that can be placed in the clear bags.
(Apart from this being a rather complicated sentence, there seems to be a random use of commas.  There should be one between 'bags' and 'easy', and there is no need for one between 'items' and 'and.')
Good news for local businesses on the procurement front.
Buyers from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, Amgen Cymru, Cwm Taf Health Board, Coleg Gwent, RCT County Borough Supplies, Amgen and RCT Homes met with many potential suppliers looking for an opportunity to bid for their business in the sixth event of its kind held in the county borough and more than 80 businesses in the area attended.
(And pause for breath.  No further comment is necessary I am sure.)
This rambling form of writing appears elsewhere too, such as in this piece about the Carol Service.

The service was led by the vicar of St Catherine’s, the Rev Peter Lewis. Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Choir performed three songs, while the readings were  undertaken by The Mayor, Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Paul Cannon; The Lord Lieutenant for Mid Glamorgan Mrs Kate Thomas, Nicola Matthews, Mayor’s Chaplain Father Silvio Briffa and the Council’s Group Director of Community and Children's Services, Ellis Williams.
(How confusing is that, and why the random use of a semi-colon half way through?)
Someone in this department really needs to take a creative writing class, or at the very least learn some basic rules of grammar.  Talk about verbal diarrhoea.
Good news indeed of a grant to a local charitable organisation.
The successful funding bid include support to employ a new Business Manager whose role is to promote the newly established social enterprise, gain new customers and volunteers as well as to purchase necessary IT equipment.
(Included / includes support.  As for the purpose of the grant, then is it to employ a new Business Manager and purchase IT equipment, or is it to employ a Business Manager whose role will include purchasing IT equipment? Not altogether clear is it?)

Now some people may think I am just being picky or finding fault for the sake of it, but the PR department is large and costly, we have a right to expect a degree of professionalism.  The Council also claims to value education, and their education dpeartment puts great store, allegedly, on literacy.  What example are they setting here?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Welsh Government to loan £10m to, er….Welsh Government?

Just about a year ago the Welsh Labour Government caused a bit of a stir when they announced they were going to buy Cardiff airport at a cost of £52million.  This at a time when public services everywhere were being asked to make considerable savings.

The airport had been losing money for some time and fewer and fewer flights are leaving from there.  Certainly many people in the South Wales area find it easier and cheaper to travel from Bristol.  Tucked away on the outskirts of Rhoose on the Vale of Glamorgan Cardiff airport is hardly the most accessible of locations.

News has not been good recently.  Earlier this month Flybe announced that they were cutting their flights from there to Paris and Glasgow. 

A few days ago BA stated categorically that they would not go back to operating flights from there.

At a press conference two days ago the First Minister, showing the same stubborn, head in the sand attitude he has over all the other problems over which his government is presiding,  said that they would never completely sell Cardiff Airport.

Then today the icing on the cake.  An announcement that Cardiff Airport is to receive a £10m loan from the Welsh Government to make improvements to the site.  The loan will be paid off over 12 years.

So the Welsh Labour Government is to make a loan to itself to improve a failing airport. How much interest will it be charging I wonder?  What provisions have been made it case it defaults on the loan?

With cutbacks in services being made across Wales the public will find it very difficult to understand just what is going on here.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

So who wants to be an MP then?

So the next Westminster elections are less than 18 months away and I fully expect there to be huge queues of people lining up to stand. Political parties will have to hold auditions on the scale of X Factor to whittle down their candidates, whilst there will be more independent candidates than you can shake a stick at (whatever that means!).

Well it is after all a doddle of a job, with an enormous salary and endless expenses, full of glitz and glamour so why wouldn’t there be any number of people ready to take it on?

Ok so there is a high degree of responsibility, you are in the public eye, get little or no thanks from anyone, have to take endless flak about how useless / money grabbing / crocked you and your colleagues all are. You spend every week split between your constituency and London which doesn’t make for a great family life.

But you get paid a huge salary - £65,738 – maybe as much as the Deputy Head of your local secondary school, half as much as a Group Director in RCT Council, a couple of hundred pounds a year more than the Head of Strategy and PR there. How outrageous is that?  Surely everyone will be fighting for such a job.

Of course there are genuine perks and if you are minded to then you can abuse the system, and if you are lucky and you are, say, a Labour in the valleys heartlands then the electorate will ignore all transgressions and vote you back in regardless.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority have announced that they think MPs should be given a 11% pay rise following the 2015 election, this will take the basic salary to £74,000. 

All three main parties have condemned the announcement saying that it is inappropriate at this time to think of such a thing. However, the public – and indeed the media – only tend to take what they want out of such stories and so MPs will take another battering and public confidence in the system will drop again leading to more apathy. 

So, who’s going to be lining up and putting their head above the parapet in 2015 then?  Doubt if we will be caught in the rush.