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Rural Tom-Toms

It was standing room only last Friday as Dumfries and Galloway's education committee met to vote on school closures.

The real question was: why did the media find out about all this before councillors? "Don't look at me" was the response from Ken Macleod, the council's director of education.

All councillors got their papers in the usual way, Macleod said, which meant the Saturday before the story broke.

"Don't blame the media," Tom McAughtrie, former Labour education chairman on the old regional council, sensibly told colleagues.

He revealed that, as a Dumfries local, he is able to pop into the council offices on a Thursday to pick up his papers, thereby helpfully owning up to the possibility his advance information could have proved useful to local journalists.

Councillors who lived in more remote areas, McAughtrie conceded, had to rely on the first-class mail which presumably puts them above suspicion.

The press was simply doing its job once the news had seeped into the public domain, McAughtrie continued, growing in stature by the minute. "The press have rights too," he declared.

What a man.

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