Editorial: The mouse is producing a roar in Moray reporting

Sunday Supplement

The editor voices his views on Moray’s most topical events of the past week …..

Elgin Blaze – community reporting led the way (Angus Mclennan)

Taking stock of one of the busiest ever weeks on insideMoray our readers will doubtless have noted that this web site took another few giant steps forward in community news reporting.

First the numbers – we reported 43 stories through the week – that is over six articles each day of interest to an average 10,000 daily readers who visited the site. This included four stories that individually reached out to over 5000 readers – and one that was read by almost 14,000 readers (the average story was read by 2300 readers).

During one event – the major fire on Elgin’s Ashgrove Road – insideMoray readers ensured that we were first with news, exclusive comment and pictures from the scene. Our Facebook page was the conduit for this and this one story reached out to 35,000 social media users.

This came in the same week that we exclusively reported the desire by Councillor Douglas Ross for major change in which our local authority is run. No other news source thought this story worthy of any more than a passing mention – if that.

And yet on the back of our story, discussions opened between rival local councillors on our Social Media page that resulted in Councillor Ross agreeing to put his ideas to the SNP group of 10 councillors on Monday evening, ahead of Wednesday’s vital meeting of the Full Council.

In my book no further evidence is needed that news reporting in Moray is seeing a major shift, a move to unrestricted and unhindered reporting of local issues with no grace or favour being paid to any single group or individual.

Council Manoeuvres

I’ve been banging on about this issue for months – now we are perhaps finally on the cusp of some sort of resolution.

I can do no better, I feel, than to repeat part of a response I made to one reader during an insideMoray social media discussion on the future of Moray Council.

[box] “Personally I don’t give a toss about the historical [political] differences, the petty and unimportant SNP or Labour personal feathers being ruffled.”[/box] In that I said: “Moray is hurting – hell, most of the country is – but Moray is hurting because we are being led badly. We have seen more and more people rising up against this, letting our elected members know they are rank fed up with being ‘consulted’ only to be promptly ‘discarded’.

“Personally I don’t give a toss about the historical [political] differences, the petty and unimportant SNP or Labour personal feathers being ruffled.

“Enough is enough – this week there is an opportunity for Labour, SNP and Tory local councillors to lay down their party differences in favour of what is good, right and proper for the people of Moray.”

As things stand today, there are two key moments on the agenda for Wednesday’s Full Council.

The first is the vote of no confidence in the council leadership, which if successful may well lead to the fall of the current Independent/Tory administration.

The second is the re-introduction of the Elgin West Approach Road to the council agenda, the future of which could well rest largely on the outcome of the ‘no confidence’ vote.

It might well be that some in our Council will see the record low turnout at the Elgin North by-election this week as a sign that the public do not care much for local politics.

I would caution them to think again if that is the case – I saw it more of a protest, a sign that far from not caring the people of Moray are indeed just plain fed up with being messed around by our civic leadership.

Wednesday is a major opportunity to end 2014 with our councillors, finally, doing the right thing. If that thing is not Councillor Ross’ ‘Rainbow Alliance’ where there is no ruling administration then great.

If that thing is some other plan that recognises our current system in the council chamber is just not working, then again – great.

But if they end Wednesday’s meeting with nothing more than a continuation of the events of the last few months, then hell mend them all.

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