Thursday, 17 March 2011

Councillors out, Commissioners in

Having digested the events of yesterday, here are my initial thoughts on the Auditor's Report and Carl Sargeant's statement:

  • From the moment that Clive McGregor sacked John Chorlton and Hefin Thomas from the Executive at the end of January for their part in an attempt to depose him as Leader, and then wrote to WAG Local Government Minister Carl Sargeant saying, "...this Authority will not recover. I do not believe that investing further money in the recovery process is justified", it was inevitable that WAG would have to be seen to take action. The emergency audit called in response to Clive McGregor's letter recommended yesterday that Commissioners be sent in to run the council. Carl Sargeant duly and inevitably obliged.
  • Was WAG action merited? Thanks to its hardworking staff Anglesey County Council is by no means a 'failing council', however considering how many "Last Chance Saloons" there have been over the last 18 months WAG had no alternative but to finally take decisive action. Councillors — and in particular certain group leaders — have to accept their responsibility for having taken a completely unnecessary gamble in trying to force Clive McGregor to stand down early. The best thing that many of them can now do would be to take this opportunity to retire. They must surely recognise that they no longer have a future or meaningful role within the Council.
  • However, it is undeniable that the WAG intervention in Ynys Môn has been a miserable failure. Accepting some successes in addressing problems with corporate governance, scrutiny, and the winner-takes-all mentality, the Interim MD and Recovery Board have not delivered value for the vast sums of public money which has been spent on them. I do not believe that David Bowles has demonstrated judgement worthy of his £1,000 a day price tag — his role was to bring councillors together, instead it seems clear that he has only succeeded in creating animosity where generally it did not exist previously. With a couple of honourable exceptions the appointees to the Recovery Board have been lacklustre. The majority's only qualification for the role was their availability; and who in their right mind would appoint a Professor of Communications and Creative Industries with a background in TV and no Local Government experience whatsoever as Chair of such a body? WAG needed to appoint people with a proven track record in ether Local or National government in Wales and who Anglesey councillors would have respected. WAG got it wrong and we are now witnessing the fallout.
  • Unfortunately it seems clear that Carl Sargeant and WAG are about to repeat the same mistakes. There has been no transparency about the appointment process of the three already named Commissioners; all three are public sector retirees who's glory days, one would suspect, are long behind them (indeed one stepped down from his previous position due to ill health). Also, considering how much Carl Sargeant made of the fact that many Ynys Môn councillors were elected unopposed, does it really therefore make sense to appoint as a Commissioner ex-Flintshire councillor Alex Aldridge, who was elected unopposed to the Flint Coleshill ward? Anyway, in a council which already has its fair share of retirees are these really the men who will usher in a "democratic renewal" in Ynys Môn?
  • Furthermore as it appears that the Commissioners will probably be with us for at least the next two years (until delayed Local Elections in 2013), it will be these unelected, mandate-less, un-transparently appointed commissioners who will be taking decisions on how to find the £10 million savings required over that time period. It will be they who will be making decisions on job losses within the council, leisure facilities, libraries, and other services. Considering how sloppy the previous Recovery Board became about keeping a record of their activities I wonder how transparent these Commissioners will be and how they intend to interact with the Anglesey public?

29 comments:

The Red Flag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Red Flag said...

Good summary Druid/Paul.

new story just appeared on the beeb site following a press conference - co-operate or face amalgamation it seems.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-12775808

kp said...

I think you are being a bit unfair to WAG here.

The least the people of Anglesey could have hoped for over many years was help from its elected members, namely AE and IWJ.

Instead, hushed meetings and silence. And more hushed meetings and silence.

At least WAG have acted. And hopefully they will act again to rid this island of the absolute waste of money that we keep pouring in to the remnants of this council.

Democracy should not need to come with such a high price!

kp said...

Hey, could you please correct my AE to AO.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I can`t help feeling that the cracks are being painted over again. This time with really expensive paint that may well last for two years. Time will tell.

Prometheuswrites said...

Good analysis Paul.

Let's hope Mr Seargent has been more diligent with his 'terms of contract' for the Commissioners than with Mr Bowles contract, as the auditor pointed out in his latest report.

Anonymous said...

The good news is that Carl Sargeant has acted, the reaction is that there is a " power shift" from the masonic lodges of Anglesey to the Assembly in Cardiff, and boy, do these people NOT like that.

Let's break it down to even more simple terms so that the morons who have lost their power can understand a bit better, The Assembly decided that you weren't good enough to do your job, you weren't fit for purpose, now, it's time for change, the power has been taken from the playground bullies and their toys have been taken away from them at last.

The next issue is Mr Bowles, is he fit for purpose? has he failed in his task? His mission was to stop the fighting and cut away the cancer that has ruined the Council, unfortunately, for all of us, Bowles, failed in his mission, he is classed now as a failure, the same label attachted to IWJ and AO. For years, they handled the beasts that were Councillors with a kid glove, when he should have used a sledgehammer. Carl Sargeant, was challenged by the people to bring in the commissioners, he accepted the challenge, the rest is history. The reputation of the Council is in tatters, the same as our MP and AM, their fitness for purpose is now in dispute, believe me, they know they have let us down, as of today, it's damage control, and surrender to the will of the people time.

Photon said...

Worst of all, we're stuck with our councillors!

On your last point, Paul, I'd say that it is up to all of us on Anglesey - and not just blog authors - to keep a close eye on what happens now. The undemocratic system now in place, whilst we may welcome it for the time being, demands much higher levels of accountability, not less.

Anonymous said...

If the Commissioners are reading the Druid, people get your point across, let them know how crap the place is.

Richard Sletzer said...

Anybody mind if I ask a couple of questions?

1. Will the now-barred councillors continue to be paid their allowances until next year's elections - or are they now unemployed.

2. Are the councillors being asked to pay anything back to the council-tax payers?

3.Has the Anglesey Recovery Board now ceased to exist and will its members continue to be paid until the end of their contracts - or what?

4. Will the discharged councillors be allowed to run again for office?

Anonymous said...

The Council is in tatters Bowles and McGregor along with his Executive are finished exposed as not fit for purpose.
Those who were calling for the commissioners to be called in were right to do so and both Bowles and McGregor have been told to go on an extended holiday!

As there is no longer an executive, all those money grabbing Councillors have lost their Special Responsibly Allowances and Bowles gets no more £1.000+ per day blood
money.

But Clive McGregor's Over incredulous "Terms of (Hate) Engagement" which were abandoned in January are still on the Councils web site. WHY?

Does this still not show the shear contempt the council still has for making sure it does the right thing?

kp said...

Richard Sletzer, I do so agree with your comments.

We need answers to these questions ... and I am very surprised they have not been satisfactorily addressed beforehand.

Democracy should not be an expensive business!

Another Insider said...

Major changes are taking place already.

Changes to the council's Constitution which would have enabled Bowels's autocracy to flourish have been abandoned. A tangible move to-ways regenerating Democracy, long loss on Anglesey in anyones book, a smack in the face for the council's Legal Department and going by the costs in-curd a complete waste of public money, again.

Anonymous said...

You pay meanuts you get monkeys....in this case cheeky monkeys....all of them Labour or Plaid Cymru ....

Politics is also about getting results.....!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Where is David Bowles....?

Gone back to update his CV?

Anonymous said...

Paul you highlight the problem but have no alternative plan to offer. You concede that Carl Sargent had no choice but to take decisive action. I agree that the three named commissioners whilst having experience are not accoutable to the people of Anglesey.

Anonymous said...

21:36

" Where is David Bowels...Gone back to up date his CV"

WITH HIS REPUTATION IN TATTERS FOLLOWED CLOSE BEHIND BY A POSSE OF LAWYERS

Anonymous said...

Yesterday Anon 22.07 said - "The choice of Commissions are also very suspect with one in particular named and shamed whist the leader of a council. which Mark Isherwood AM raised today in the Assembly, leaving Carly boy, foaming at the mouth, which can be watched on the live recording of the Assembly meeting."

CAn you give more details - what time did this happen? Have you got a url you can post?

Any more on this - as it seems important.

A True Anglesonian said...

To Anonymous 22:30
Have a look on http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/wales --On this you will also see and hear what IWJ is really about-remember this in the May Elections everybody-Vote for Paul.

Concerned, if I'm allowed to be> said...

Mark Isherwood Press Release March 17 2011.

Mark Isherwood AM Raises Concerns About Anglesey County Council Commissioner.

A NORTH WALES Assembly Member has raised concerns about one of the Commissioners appointed by the Welsh Government to take over the running of Anglesey County Council.

Responding to this weeks statement
by the Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, Carl Sargeant, on the Wales Audit Office re-inspection report on Anglesey County Council, Mark Isherwood said: "This is not the first council in North Wales to have failed in recent years. There was no intervention in the other council, even though serious failings were upheld in a series of PricewaterhouseCoopers reports into housing functions and an independent investigation that found further major failings and concerns in that area. There is also a legally binding 40-page industrial tribunal document, which named and shamed a number of people on a number of serious matters".

"Why has the person who led the council during the period to which those validated failings apply been appointed as a commissioner to Anglesey to drive forward improvement on a failed authority?"

Carl, your a Plonker.

Anonymous said...

what chance an elected mayor on Anglesey?

Anonymous said...

Yes Mayor - Bob the Farmer come back now!

Anonymous said...

Bob the mayor, his greatest contribution to Anglesey is a hundred ways to have a comb-over.

Anonymous said...

The man we want for Mayor is the creator of this blog site.

The Red Flag said...

The man we want for Mayor is the creator of this blog site.

Bill Gates?

Old Fart said...

Druid, can you please be a little clearer than this: "The best thing that many of them can now do would be to take this opportunity to retire".

Who do you mean by "many"? Many of the group leaders involved in the putsch or many of the 40 councillors?

The Red Flag said...

'Both' is the answer to that Old Fart

Anonymous said...

"INCOMPETENT"

Carl Sargeant can't look after his own patch, let alone stick his nose in things on Anglesey he knows nothing about, other than what Sociopath David Bowles tells him?

Today we learn that heads must roll over Flintshire Council's £635k housing benefit blunder.

A damning report by the Wales Audit Office has identified a catalog of "weaknesses" in the authorities complex housing benefit payment system, including an over payment to tenants of more than £235,000.

Cllr Bernie Attridge, has demanded resignations over the mistakes.He said "There is total incompetence at the helm of Flintshire Council and enough is enough"

So Carl, get your priorities right, sort your own back yard out before sticking your nose in others.

Better still, sounds like a job for your buddy David Bowles now he's out of work here, Don't you think?