EDITOR'S CHAIR: If you are a public servant, your first duty is to the public
THERE is a golden rule to which all public servants should be bound.
It is this - if you are a public servant, your first duty is to the public.
Yet time and again we see party and politics put before elected representatives' duty to the public.
Let me give you two examples on our doorstep.
In doing so, I am not attempting to single out individuals because there are numerous examples of this behaviour across public life.
But the cases of Gwent AMs Nick Ramsay and Alun Davies are both local and recent so they serve my purpose well.
Regular readers will know that Mr Ramsay and Mr Davies, who represent the people of Monmouth and Blaenau Gwent respectively, have both been in hot water in recent weeks.
Mr Ramsay was the subject of a complaint from a member of the public that he appeared drunk during a debate in the Senedd.
Mr Davies was found guilty of breaking the ministerial code by lobbying Natural Resources Wales, a body he is responsible for as natural resources minister, in favour of the proposed Circuit of Wales racetrack in his constituencies.
In both cases, no further action was taken by the National Assembly or the Welsh Government.
Readers will have their own views on those decisions.
What concerns me, irrespective of whether action should or should not have been taken, is the apparent refusal of either AM to open themselves up to public scrutiny.
And by that, I mean they refused to give media interviews.
This is not meant as a media whinge.
I have a firm belief that we in the media have a crucial role to play in questioning politicians, in particular, on behalf of the electorate.
The Argus, and other similar organisations across Wales, is now far more than a newspaper.
Publishing a print product six days a week is just one of the things we do.
The combination of our newspaper, our website, and our mobile and social media feeds, produces an audience considerably larger than it was a decade ago.
Our basic job remains the same - we find out stuff, we write it down and we publish it. We just do it in a variety of ways and on a variety of platforms.
The point I make is the media - in all its modern forms - is still the best way for public servants to make themselves accountable to the public.
Yet instead we get prepared statements issued by press offices, or read out in debating chambers.
Both Mr Ramsay and Mr Davies refused to speak to the media about the issues affecting them.
To be fair to Mr Davies, he relented last night and will speak to us today - but only after some pressure from us.
These were not private or personal issues. They related to the jobs they do on your behalf.
As I say, I use Mr Ramsay and Mr Davies as examples.
Public servants do not seem happy to risk losing control over how, when and by what means they communicate with the people they are meant to represent.
This refusal to engage with the public via the media is now endemic throughout public life.
And yet Gwent's AMs and MPs are happy to take up offers of columns to be published in the Argus and other similar outlets.
It is a one-way track and it is not good enough.
So I'll make this promise to our readers. The next time a local politician or public servant refuses a perfectly reasonable request to talk to us - and therefore you - about a matter of public interest we'll let you know.
And if they write a regular column for us, we will suspend its publication for a set period of time.