IT IS all too easy to criticise local councils, and if you work for a local authority you no doubt often feel you cannot do right for doing wrong.

Councils often get the blame for things that have absolutely nothing to do with them - business rates, for instance.

And the media is as much to blame for this as anyone else.

Clearly, those of us in local journalism have a vital role to play in holding people in power to account.

But perhaps we don't give enough praise when it is due.

I like to think the Argus does a reasonable job in handing out both brickbats and bouquets to the councils in our circulation area.

So for every criticism of council newspapers as a huge waste of public funds (and I can't emphasise enough how delighted I was to receive a copy of Newport Matters on two consecutive days last week), we also highlight positive initiatives such as the use of redundant floors of the Park Square car park in Newport for sporting activities.

So, having returned from a fortnight's leave with a spring in my step, I'm going to concentrate on a particular positive this week.

And that is the fabulous displays of wild flowers in various parts of Gwent at the moment.

Over the last few years, councils have been sowing wildflower seeds on roadside verges to create some amazing displays. All of Gwent's five local councils now do this, partly with the aim of recreating some of the wildflower meadows that have been lost through the years and partly to help boost the declining bee population by providing more flowers for pollination.

I've been doing a fair amount of driving around Gwent in the last couple of weeks, and there are some particularly spectacular displays of wildflowers in the Newport and Monmouthshire areas.

It may seem like a minor issue when councils are grappling with huge financial cuts and Welsh Government plans to cut their numbers via mergers.

But there is no doubt in my mind that the wildflower displays gladden the heart when driving or walking around Gwent, especially when the weather has been as good as it has been recently.

In some areas, as many as 40 different varieties of wildflowers are on display including some that are not normally seen in urban areas.

Obviously, the sowing of wildflower seeds is not an entirely philanthropic gesture from local councils.

Maintenance of wildflowers is less intensive and therefore cheaper than it would be for flower beds.

Nevertheless, they look great.

The wildflowers will continue to bloom until the end of next month so seek them out and enjoy them while they last.

And well done to our local councils for the initiative.

  • Don't worry everyone - after a few days back in the office I'll be back to normal next week!