Thursday, 27 January 2011

WAG reaches for powers to forcibly merge Ynys Môn and Gwynedd

According to the BBC, the Welsh Assembly Government DID table several last minute amendments last night to the Local Government Measure which would allow WAG Ministers to forcibly merge councils, notably Ynys Môn and Gwynedd:

"The future of the troubled Anglesey Council is in doubt following new legal steps in the assembly.
Late amendments to the Local Government Measure would allow ministers to force councils to merge.
It is thought the island council - already with its management under special measures - faces a merger with nearby Gwynedd
Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant told AMs on Wednesday he had ruled out wide-scale mergers.
But he said it was his duty to 'step up to the mark' in the case of failing authorities to 'do something about them'.
His comments will strengthen speculation that an announcement about the future of Anglesey council will be made in the near future."

More to follow.

UPDATE: The Anglesey Telegraph has a great story about our councillors falling out live on BBC Radio Cymru this afternoon. Read it here.

44 comments:

Photon said...

Well, it gets curiouser and curiouser.

But what of the statement in the BBC's report that says now, mergers can only happen under certain circumstances? Presumably, the Anglesey situation fits one of these circumstances, viz: it's totally failed to turn itself around?

Prometheuswrites said...

Paul:
I enjoyed your quote from T.S. Eliot's 'The Hollow Men'

I thought this verse from William Blake's 'The Garden of Love' to be a suitable companion quote:

"And I saw it was filled with graves
Tombstones where the flowers should be
And men in black gowns were doing their rounds
Binding with briars my dreams and desires"

Right, I'm off to read "The Wasteland" by T.S. Eliot

Puck said...

'Listen with Mother' from the BBC.
"Are you sitting comfortably?"

Ieuan Wyn Jones, AM for Ynys Mon, told Radio Cymru's Post Cynta ... "Time is running out, I accept that, ..."

Snow White's step-mother said she would likewise consult with the-mirror-on-the-wall.

With a nod and a wink to the Andy Coulson school of reporting.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the latest post on the Anglesey - Island of Opportunity blog?

Anonymous said...

I thought the quote from one A.M about Anglesey being known as the comedy council would have been funny if it wasn't so tragic

Prometheuswrites said...

The quote about Anglesey being "the laughing stock of Wales" comes from Hansard, April 1998, Vol 588, cc 1033-35.

Ironically the House were debating the Govenment of Wales Bill, with Lord Mostyn (I believe) expressing concerns about good governance and using Anglesey as an example of what could go wrong with the WAG.

I should know as I provided IWJ with the quote as part of my complaint about governance within the council.

Prometheuswrites said...

Referendum: Part 1:

When the Welsh Assembly was first mooted Prometheus was a supporter of devolution and voted Yes in the first referendum.

With a population of just 3 million it seemed the ideal situation for establishing sound governance based on the principles of participatory democracy.

However in the light of recent reports about the state of the Education and Health services, (two areas where the WAG has a large degree of self-determination), one has to question whether a further devolution of powers is in the interests of the populace.
A quick trawl of the news outlets gives the following: (all from different reports)

• Liverpool hospital lifts 'ban' on Welsh heart patients
• Four in 10 pupils in Wales have reading skills below their age, leading to a call to schools to concentrate on literacy and numeracy. Schools inspection body Estyn's six-year study found performance in nearly a third of schools was not good enough.
• The gap between how much money is spent on pupils in Welsh and English schools has widened.
• The latest figures show that on average £5,595 is spent per pupil in Wales compared to £6,200 in England - a difference of £605 per pupil.
• Plans to cut bed numbers at one of north Wales' main hospitals as part of a major redesign are to be discussed
• Plus many other stories of closures and failures since WAG came into being, from well before the current ‘financial crisis’

Also worrying in light of the recent revelations on both The Druid and Photonic blogs regarding alleged Council housing grant fraud, Welsh road-building (Major road and rail projects in Wales have cost substantially more and took longer than expected, the public spending watchdog has found), and Communities First prosecutions; is that fraud costs the UK economy £38bn a year, with more than half of that suffered by the public sector, according to official estimates.

This ‘misdirection’ of public funding is one of the reasons that ‘True Wales’ is campaigning for a ‘No’ vote on the coming referendum to give WAG more power.
“The No campaign was launched under the name True Wales who believe that even if the current system is slow and cumbersome - they're not arguing otherwise - it is better than passing new laws without the scrutiny of Westminster. True Wales sees necessary checks and balances where others see unnecessary interference". (from Betsan Powys – Analysis)

Prometheuswrites said...

Referandum Part 2:

True Wales’ director Rachel Banner also attacked what she called Cardiff Bay's "political class".
"... so far - with the tools it already has, the assembly has failed to achieve what was promised in 1997."

She said Wales received worse health services than England, despite Aneurin Bevan's promise of a universal and equal health care for everyone in the UK and boosting the assembly's law-making powers was part of a "slippery slope" towards independence.

"It's time to stop treating the people of Wales like children with whom the Bay political class cannot share the secrets of its unravelling radical devolution. Politicians should hand power over to people, instead of "centralising" power in Cardiff Bay and turning the assembly into a "pale copy of Westminster".

Prometheus notes that the Wikileaks revelations showed that funds from many European structural projects were being siphoned-off by organised crime – what better reason to ensure that proper monitoring is in place from an external body to the WAG, as we really don’t want to see governance being run along Tsarist or Sicilian lines here in Wales.

Being a practical person I have to acknowledge when a dream dies and so I will voting NO in the referendum for the further devolution of powers to the WAG.

Additionally, an old beast rears its ugly head with this headline;

” Organised child sex abuse 'growing problem' in Wales”

Dr Sam Clutton, lead policy officer for child sexual exploitation at Barnardo's Cymru, said "We have come a long way in the last five years in Wales from a point where we didn't acknowledge that child sexual exploitation was a Welsh issue but we have still got a long way to go. She told BBC Radio Wales: "We know that this is becoming more organised and more tied into organised crime".

Readers of Rebbeca (issue 1) will have read otherwise, at least as far as North Wales goes.

True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!

Edward Bulwer-Lytton 1839

Groundhog Day said...

Excellent and erudite post by Prometheus regarding granting even more powers to these fools in Cardiff. I have asked Paul the Druid to blog on the pros and cons of the two views regarding the referendum to grant the WAG more powers but my request appears to have fallen on deaf ears. It would be interesting to know on which side of the debate our Druid is leaning towards - if at all.

;) said...

Promo said

"Welsh road-building (Major road and rail projects in Wales have cost substantially more and took longer than expected, the public spending watchdog has found)"

Who is the minister in charge of transport and roads?

The Red Flag said...

• Four in 10 pupils in Wales have reading skills below their age, leading to a call to schools to concentrate on literacy and numeracy. Schools inspection body Estyn's six-year study found performance in nearly a third of schools was not good enough.

A lot of this is the responsibility (or lack of) of parent(s).

When I was a child it was normal to start school at four able to read basic words, do very simple sums and very simple times tables, write your name etc etc.

When I grew up I and the wife did the same with my children and when they went to school at 5 (a year later) they knew up to their 10 times table, could do basic addition and subtraction knowing how to line things up as hundreds, tens, units etc, could recite the alphabet in upper and lower case and could write basic words and read basic words.

That does not happen now and huge volumes of children are arriving at 5 years of age unable to do any of that and unable to use knives and forks.

In my opinion, it is bad parenting not to teach your children basic stuff before they go to school - it's not difficult you just have to persevere and be bloody-minded

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but the views on the referendum are simply untrue.

If this was a referendum on abolishing the Assembly then I would respect your views. In that in some areas the Assembly (Government) may have failed.

HOWEVER, this is a referendum on making the way we make laws more efficient- it's not really about more powers. For example with the Language LCO it went through 8 periods of scrutiny, just see where power lies.
This is just wasting money and inefficient. And in the end the Assembly received powers that could only allow them to make a 'half job'. The result is due to the delays, they have to rush a Law through. So just imagine due to this process any new Government would have to wait 2-3years before actually implementing legislation for real.

This referendum is about allowing the Assembly to (I know it's cheesy) but "the tools to do the job".

Again if this was about abolishing the Assembly, your views would be valid. However these aren't issues for the upcoming one.

One things for sure, we CANNOT have this 'half-house' of an Assembly. Either give them the power or get rid of it.

So due to this, it's a Yes for me. And then we'll see what they do with a free range on legislation.

Prometheuswrites said...

Anon 15.51

Fair comment; and you are correct, this isn't about getting rid of WAG.

I am however concerned about the issue of oversight.

What's that old saying?
"Act in haste and repent at leisure"

Good governance is not something that needs rushing through, only in times of war.

Broadening the discussion out to UK levels, part of the coalitions problem is trying to do it all yesterday. 'New' Labour were more cautious and followed the previous Conservative government's agenda for two years (much to the frustrations of 'old' labourites).

The problem with trying to enact policies 'right now' is that they then fall under legal scrutiny and get thrown out by the Law Lords because they breach constitutional rights and laws, (as has happened with the immigration cap and there are other challenges to policy still to come - housing benefit caps, disability assessments, etc) - the problem of which is it all ends up costing us all more, despite the protestations of 'bare cupboards' and "it's all their fault" - a perinial cry of all incoming governments that I can rememeber.

Anonymous said...

TALK ABOUT POETIC JUSTICE.

Statement from Dr Brian Gibbons, Social Justice and Local Government Minister. 11th November 2009.

"It is a mater of considerable concern that Anglesey Recovery will fail unless all Members and Officers of the Council accept a shared responsibility for the current problems and contribute fully to the actions required in resolving them".

"At the same time there is a tendency for some to ascribe to the Council's problems to the actions and behaviour of a few named councillors.

However unacceptable such behaviour may be, blaming individuals for what is undoubtedly a deep routed corporate failure is not only misguided, it is also no recipe for a sustainable recovery".

"It allows those NOT named or indeed THOSE DOING THE NAMING to avoid responsibility for what has become a shared solution".

Now we see two Group Leaders who involved themselves in the naming and shaming of Barrie Durkin and Elywn Schofield in Clive McGregor's Terms of Hate, Now named themselves,

If that's not Poetic Justice, then I don't know what is.

Anonymous said...

No, I agree that the Assembly rushes through legislation once they've got the power.
But think about it. You've been elected for 4 years. It takes you 2-3 years to get the 'power' by virtue of an LCO.

You can see your time as a Government coming to an end. So what do you do? rush it through. Bad, yes, but due to the nature of politics if they aren't seen to be passing laws, their support will drop.

Hopefully this will end if there is Yes vote, and I assume standing orders will also change following a yes vote, so that the 'scrappy' way of making laws end.

(on the issue of Anglesey in the L.G Measure, I agree there is no need for that to be attached in such a hasty way. In fact it's such a substantial change to the original Measure, it shouldn't be allowed to happen- something that regularly occurs in Westminster. But the proposed amendment is so important imho it needs to be in its own measure, and debated fully as the Ministers powers are quite substantial, and there doesn't seem to be a "test" of what bad governance is- something a Committee would most definitely pick up on!)

Prometheuswrites said...

Anon 17.41

I think we probably have more in common than not.

Maybe the differences are in what we are focusing on.

Can I suggest you adopt a 'nom de plume' as I'd like to debate this issue further as the time comes nearer and I'd like to 'know' who's writing what.

I can (and have been) persuaded to change my opinions - otherwise it's not a debate; just statements of intractable positions.

Dismayed said...

It is most regrettable to witness the latest crisis at Anglesey County Council. At a time when public finances are under huge strain in Wales due to the decisions taken by the Tory-led coalition in Westminster, it is the civic duty of local councillors to be focused on the substantive matters in hand, rather than considering the short term tactical advantage to be gained by the ephemeral fluctuations in individual political fortunes.

Such actions ill serve the long suffering council tax payers and service users on Anglesey, and are totally unacceptable for a modern, forward-looking democracy.

This behaviour would not be tolerated in a primary school playground let alone in a body charged with responsibility for providing essential public services for the people of Anglesey.

I now believe the time has come for certain individual councillors to consider their position with regard to the above.

It is also a matter of profound regret that a councillor, if a member of the Labour Party, should conduct themselves in this way.

I believe it is absolutely essential for Anglesey councillors who choose to align themselves with Labour to act in an exemplary manner in matters of public leadership by acting for the public good and not for their personal advantage.

There is no place in local government for those who act shamelessly.

David Phillips said...

Dismayed 18.36:

You hit the nail on the head. Sadly I find myself unable to disagree with you.

David Phillips

Anonymous said...

Just to get it out there:

What does everybody think what's gonna happen??

Will I get my "Anglesey County Council bin collections over the Christmas Period Calendar" or will it be branded with a big G?

The Red Flag said...

Will I get my "Anglesey County Council bin collections over the Christmas Period Calendar" or will it be branded with a big G?

And most importantly will it be real or a document of pure fantasy like it has been for the last two years.

Anonymous said...

so will Labour ditch JC overboard? wash hands etc. that's what you seem to imply, Dismayed.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I listened to Taro'r post today, the slip by J chorlton, about the decision to get a mayor on Anglesey, pronto, the radio show is unbearable but interesting, you can decide yourself, are these really the people that represent us?

Then the reality hits you, and it makes you feel quite ill, the problem is, that these old skins live in the past, they will find it difficult to admit that they have made a really mess. The whole lot is to blame, all they are interested in is power, and the thought of Gwynedd overseeing how they worked here, will be a real humiliation, not for one, not for two, but the whole lot.

Anonymous said...

Don't Tar all Councillors with the same brush as John Chorlton

There are a number of Councillor who have stuck their heads above the parapet to make Anglesey County Council a better Authority, with nothing more than abuse from David Bowles for doing so.

Anyone would think he did not want recovery? With what's going on trying to merge Anglesey with Gwynedd, it makes one wonder if the whole thing wasn't just a put up from start to finish?

Anonymous said...

I wonder sometimes as I write about the effects this Council have had on the people of Anglesey, if there is a cure. What wisdom will the Welsh Assembly minister(s) enrich us all with, when we have lost so much faith.

We have allowed a monster to breed in Llangefni, that centre of the Island that once meant so much but is now despised and ridiculed by us all.

No matter how many warnings they have, no matter how many visits and professionals teach and lead them, it all amounts to the biggest pile of manure on the Island.
We try to think ahead and look for guidance, some support, some comfort, but none is forthcoming, all we hear is a deadly silence.

Protocol dictates, that we are all law abiding citizens, to make trouble and cause unrest would result in the victims being severly punished. We have all become martyrs on this Island, we have all been fooled and ignored.

In a short sentence, the political system in Anglesey has reached it's point of death, the Councillors did it
themselves, now we the people must make sure that the Welsh Assembly understand, that it wasn't the people that killed Anglesey County Council, but Anglesey County Council decided to kill itself.

Prometheuswrites said...

Anon 15.51: (continuation)

Upon reflection our positions are not exclusive of each other.

You want good laws to be passed and I don't want bad laws to be passed.

We both want good governance.

Maybe one solution would be to say Yes to self-determination for the areas already under WAG control, while at the same time appointing a external over-sight board, (composed of a mixture of elective and appointed persons, who have not previously held prominent positions within Local Authorities or other Statutory Bodies).

I believe a similar suggestion was made by The Anglesey Telegraph on his post advocating a Yes vote, with conditions attached.

However, in this scenario, the problem will lay with the wording of the referendum question and the options available to on which to vote, which if I remember was an early criticism made by various political pundits when the referendum issue was first raised.

Puck said...

David Bowles Speaks! Rare footage.
And well worth a listen. Very relevent to Ynys Mon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pR98TQVnCQc&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Anonymous said...

ANONYMOUS 17:27--This says it ALL !!
Statement from Dr Brian Gibbons, Social Justice and Local Government Minister. 11th November 2009.

"It is a mater of considerable concern that Anglesey Recovery will fail unless all Members and Officers of the Council accept a shared responsibility for the current problems and contribute fully to the actions required in resolving them".

"At the same time there is a tendency for some to ascribe to the Council's problems to the actions and behaviour of a few named councillors.

However unacceptable such behaviour may be, blaming individuals for what is undoubtedly a deep routed corporate failure is not only misguided, it is also no recipe for a sustainable recovery".

"It allows those NOT named or indeed THOSE DOING THE NAMING to avoid responsibility for what has become a shared solution".

Does this not therefore mean that Clive McGreggor,Bob Parry,David Bowles and their supporters are the ones who have engineered the present Fiasco by going completely agains Dr Gibbons reccomendations ???

Will they now please put their hands up and admit to the demolition of Anglesey--Plaid supporters-Remember what Bob Parry and his followers were part of when it comes to the Assembly Elections-they will all be out canvasing for the useless I.W.J...REMEMBER..........

Anonymous said...

how john chorlton will be remembered, now that his politicl carer is over?

Anonymous said...

Time for Peace, time for them to go....

County Councillor Barrie Durkin said...

20:59
GOT IT IN ONE.

the outsider said...

If the last minute amendment WAG is proposing to the Local Government Measure required that a local election be called in the event of a Local Council 'failing', and that failure was measured against clearly defined criteria, then it could be supported. Anything less removes all pretence of local democracy.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
County Councillor Barrie Durkin said...

David Bowles, Lynn Ball, Bob Parry, John Chorlton, Hefin Thomas, and last but not leased Clive McGregor, all put their name to the Alliances "Terms of Engagement" naming and condemning myself and another County Councillor based on nothing more than conjecture, and publicised it on the World Wide Web.

What did they think would happen in doing so? That we would just scurry away and hide in the corner like little naughty boys?

What did happen, was exactly what Dr Gibbons, the Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, said in his statement on 11th November 2009.

That "Blaming individuals for what is undoubtedly a deep routed corporate failure is NOT ONLY MISGUIDED, IT IS ALSO NO RECIPE FOR A SUSTAINABLE RECOVERY. It allows those not named or indeed those doing the naming to avoid responsibility for what has become a shared solution.

Their blatant failure to adhere to these words of wisdom are in my opinion the very reason why Anglesey County Council, has failed to recover. Not just a failure to recover, but in worse disrepute than ever before and those responsible should, as I have said, time and time again, consider their positions, so that those of us who still have the motivation can get on with cleaning the council and its reputation up once and for all.

Anonymous said...

JC also said on the news tonight that the problem with IACC is that they are all too honest !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

23.51:

are there no limits to the stupiditey of that man? does he think Anglesey people are dumb or what?

Anonymous said...

Well said Cllr Durkin

Anonymous said...

For us to learn we must pass through the barrier of fear, do not be afraid of the Councillors, do not be afraid of the Council, the reality is that they are terrified of you, you are the one who writes, you are the one who votes, you are the one who speaks for the people of Anglesey, you are the future.

Groundhog Day said...

"I believe it is absolutely essential for Anglesey councillors who choose to align themselves with Labour"

Are you forgetting that it was Labour who has brought this country to fincancial ruin over the last 13 years? Take off your red tinted glasses and uncover your ears.

As for the referendum, then I believe we should vote a resounding NO, we need Westminster to keep these clowns in Cardiff on a short lead. Give them more powers and/or foreshorten the route they have now to pass laws at your peril. This would be the first steps on the slippy road to nationalism and if anyone thinks we can go it alone in Wales then think again.

the outsider said...

if WAG ignores the people of Anglesey and fails to give proper consideration to the need for genuine local democracy in determining the future of the island's administration, then the people of Wales will take note. They will vote NO in the referendum as they will not want to see WAG given full control over the devolved area of Local Government when it had demonstrated that it was not remotely interested in Local Democracy.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

The expression step up to the mark or step up to the plate is American and is really awful, my grandad's rollerskates are older than America. That's that one covered.

My point is, why are the Politicians fighting so hard to save their own skins when for years they haven't cared about us.

Stepping off the mark, plate or whatever new buzz words the yanks will invent.

Anonymous said...

The expression step up to the mark or step up to the plate is American

It's to do with baseball & softball.

Anonymous said...

Baseball, softball, we prefer rounders, and a slice of Anglesey cake.