Senior Ceredigion County Council officials are engaged in a policy of actively discouraging elected county councillors from talking directly to the Cambrian News, and the council members are regularly reminded verbally that contact with this publication should not happen.

"We are reminded regularly at meetings by officials at the top table that we should not be talking to the Cambrian News," one councillor confirmed.

Several Cambrian News sources on the council have confirmed that the policy of active discouragement exists, and because the councillors fear retribution for breaking with party lines, this publication has acceded to their requests for anonymity.

"They say don't read the newspaper but they tell you when they don't agree with it," another councillor said. "They are paranoid. They read every word."

Officially, when asked if councillors had been instructed in writing, verbally or otherwise not to communicate with the Cambrian News, Ceredigion's response was one word. "No," the council said.

Multiple sources, both elected and at employee level, have to confirmed to this newspaper that their emails are closely monitored to ensure that there is no direct contact with the publication.

"It seems that they are trying very hard to keep a tight grip on information," another source said. "The people at the top are acting like they've something to hide.”

Ceredigion council told the Cambrian News that "£260,000 has been identified as savings required from the Schools Service. The authority has already begun to implement these proposals and will investigate all avenues to ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible."

When asked specifically about the roles being played by Elen James, the council's corporate lead official for education, and Clive Williams, the lead for schools, the council answered: "Savings have already been identified through the Schools Service. Both Learning Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Full Council have considered and agreed to these proposals for savings."

Council sources are not surprised by the lack of information coming from the administration.

"I know one councillor was told that if they wanted information of cuts to education identified by Barry Rees, the top finance guy at the council, they would have to ask through a Freedom of Information request, just like any member of the public.

"That could take months," the source said. "That's no way to treat an elected representative. What are they trying to hide?"

Cambrian News reached out to that councillor, who declined to comment.