Veteran citizen journalist Old Grumpy (aka Cllr Mike Stoddart) is back on the web after an enforced absence of more than a year. His weekly expose of goings-on in and around Pembrokeshire County Council (of which he’s a member) had to be suspended following a complaint to the Ombudsman that his blog contravened the council’s code of conduct.
The Ombudsman has now ruled that no action should be taken, though his findings (as reported on the blog) are critical of Mike Stoddart’s behaviour as being – among other things – ‘disrespectful’. He acknowledges that allegations in Old Grumpy’s blog posts are ‘not wholly unsubstantiated’ (readers can make their own judgement by visiting the site and looking at the evidence behind many of Stoddart’s allegations).
This week’s column is characteristically hard-hitting, with an expose of the salaries and expenses paid to members of the Hywel Dda Health Board. He highlights the case of one Pembrokeshire councillor who ‘trousered’ between £10,000 and £15,000 for four days a month, on top of £13,000 a year as a county councillor and an additional £15,000 a year for being a member of the cabinet.
Stoddart was owner and editor of the Milford Mercury before it was taken over the Western Telegraph. While the design of his blog is basic, the content is an excellent example of local investigative journalism in the public interest. Worth a weekly read!