IoACC Timeline

This section is intended as an aide-mémoire of the significant events which brought the Isle of Anglesey County Council into its current precarious position. If a significant event is missing from this timeline, or information here is incorrect, please feel free to contact me via the above tab and let me know.

July 8, 2010: Cllr Durkin steps up his campaign to clear his name by circulating an email to all councillors describing a undated meeting he had in a car with Plaid Cymru group leader, Cllr Bob Parry, who Durkin alleges encouraged him to investigate the planning irregularities of IoACC Monitoring Officer, Lynn Ball. To make matters worse Durkin furthermore alleges that this meeting was taped and that the tape is with his solicitors for safekeeping.

June 30, 2010: WAG Local Government Minister, Carl Sargeant, sends a letter to all IoACC councillors clarifying his position on the new Alliance. He states that neither he, the recovery board nor WAG played any part in the formation of the Alliance. He also makes it clear that in the event of the Alliance failing then Anglesey Council will be run by Commissioners from Cardiff. In response, Cllr Durkin, one of the two 'named and shamed' councillors in the Alliance's Terms of Engagement sends a letter back to Carl Sargeant stating that he will be seeking legal redress through the courts.

June 4, 2010Council Leader, Cllr Clive McGregor leaves the Original Independents with three other councillors and forms a new group called Llais i Fôn ("Voice for Anglesey"). He then joins forces with Plaid Cymru and the formerly opposition parties of Labour and the Menai Group to form a new ruling "Alliance" based on the 'key principles' of: (a) working in cooperation with those who have demonstrated a commitment to moving forward to address the challenges facing Anglesey;  and (b) leaving behind those who remain motivated by past grievances and personal animosity.
Witnessed by the Interim MD, David Bowles, and Monitoring Officer, Lynn Ball, the Leaders of the Groups forming the Alliance sign a document entitled 'Terms of Engagement for a Political Alliance to secure the future of Anglesey County Council', below:
Terms of Engagement

May, 2010: Anglesey MP, Albert Owen, calls for the Council Executive to be replaced by an elected Mayor. Says he intends to gauge support this idea at the Anglesey Show.

May 20, 2010: In a reply to a Freedom on Information (FoI) request, Isle of Anglesey County Council finally reveal details of the salary of interim MD, David Bowles:

  • As 'Head of Paid Service' - a statutory post which all councils must possess - David Bowles receives a nominal sum of £1 a year
  • As 'Interim Managing Director', David Bowles is not paid directly by IoACC but is contracted via Solace Enterprises Ltd - the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives. IoACC therefore pays Solace Enterprises a daily fee of £1,160 (not including VAT) plus accommodation and travel costs for David Bowles' services. 
  • David Bowles actual pay is not revealed; however as we can be certain that the £1,160 fee also includes a margin for Solace, it is not unreasonable to presume that David Bowles receives £1,000 a day, and Solace takes a 16% commission (£1,000 x 116% = £1,160)
  • We are further informed that David Bowles works between 3-4 days each week, which we can average out to mean that he works roughly 160 days a year with holidays, meaning his annual salary is approx. £160K. As the previous MD, Derrick Jones, was paid approx. £130K p.a., this represents an approx. 23% increase.
  • the length of contract is revealed to be one year with possibility of extension

February 19, 2010: Interim MD David Bowles sends a letter to all councillors 

saying that "if any member wishes to make a complaint against any officer, now or in the future, any such complaint will be rejected unless it is put in writing, signed, and supported by evidence. Any member, who is also a member of a group, will also be expected to have such a complaint endorsed in writing by their Group Leader". Furthermore he advises councillors that should any complaint against an officer lead to employment related litigation (e.g. for bullying) by the officer concerned, then "the Council will be seeking financial indemnity from any members who have played a part". 

David Bowles letter to all councillors regarding the undermining of the Monitoring Officer

January 20, 2010: Anglesey County Council Managing Director, David Bowles, sends a letter to all councillors stating:
The council "has been bedevilled by personality driven, petty parochial vindictive factional infighting. This is a disgraceful example of an attempt to use an officer as the meat in the middle of the sandwich of personality driven infighting; even worse those involved see nothing wrong with dragging an officer's personal and private life into these matters … I did consider marking this letter Private and Confidential but decided against it on the basis that it would get leaked anyway. I regret having to write to all Members in these terms rather than just the few but that is a consequence of how the few conduct themselves … Those few who put their petty spiteful factional infighting above the interests of the island have no place on this council...".
It transpires certain councillors had been questioning his housing arrangement prompting the above furious reaction.

December 29, 2009: David Bowles reports "Significant progress has already been made in a number of areas which will help move the authority forward, improve relationships, self regulation and reputation." He eats these words one month later.

November 11, 2009: Then WAG Local Government Minister makes a statement in the Welsh Assembly regarding the introduction of a Recover Board to Anglesey County Council. Anglesey AM, Ieuan Wyn Jones does not speak during the session.

October 2009: David Bowles appointed new interim Managing Director of Anglesey County Council by Welsh Assembly Local Government Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons.

July 21, 2009:  Welsh Assembly Local Government Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons, meets with senior Anglesey County Council councillors and officials to discuss the damning Auditor General’s report.  He announces that a "Recovery Board" will now be set up to oversee the council’s operations and oversee the implement over 18 months of a seven-point plan drawn up by the Wales Audit Office. If this is not done he warns that the Welsh Assembly could impose sanctions including direct rule from Cardiff.

June 2009:  A corporate governance report on Anglesey County Council by Jeremy Colman, Auditor General for Wales, is released. In it he says the council has a history of “not being properly run” and was dogged by poor behaviour by a small number of councillors. It also adds all these issues had been left largely unaddressed since the council was established in 1996 – despite a number of previous external reviews.

June 20, 2009: Following a FOI request the contents of former Council Leader Phil Fowlie's letter of December 18, 2008, to the Welsh Auditor Office are revealed. This prompts nine members of the County Council corporate management team to respond with their own letter to executive members and the WAO's Mr Morris, describing the allegations as “demonstrably false”. Further they state that far from wanting the executive to fail, any failure of the executive would have been “our failure”. They say the executive had not let senior officers know their expectations. They deny claims the Human Resources department was failing over staff sickness and said the council had secured a substantial reduction in absences. Furthermore they absolutely deny the “Graigwen” allegations.

May 5, 2009: Former police superintendent, Cllr Clive McGregor, is appointed unopposed as the new Council Leader. He pledges to “steer a steady course through choppy waters” and said he hoped all 40 members could now work together to get the council through an investigation, adding “I don’t want Anglesey to continue to be disgraced in the media."

April 29, 2009: Anglesey Council Leader, Cllr Phil Fowlie, announces he is to step down on health grounds

April 8, 2009:  Council Chief Executive, Mr Derrick Jones, leaves his £120,000 a year position "by mutual consent".

March 25, 2009:  Council Opposition leader, John Chorlton, sends an open letter to all Anglesey county councillors claiming there is a "vendetta" to oust Chief Executive Derrick Jones. He claims Council Leader Phil Fowlie and Cllr Bob Parry told him they wanted to end Jones's contract at an upcoming extraordinary meeting of the full council. In his letter Chorlton says Derrick Jones is “the victim of a small group of councillors who are on a path of vendetta against those willing to stand up to them … This is my appeal to those councillors who are sitting on the fence and letting this happen. They have to use their vote now to stop this happening. I have spoken to them and they can give me no good reason why he should go.”

January 2009: The Welsh Audit Office "Annual Letter" on Anglesey County Council is published detailing an "erosion of trust" between executive members and ruling councillors. It said tensions between some executive members and corporate officers had seen a breakdown in communications at the top level:

Difficulties in relationships between some Executive Members and senior officers ... have prevented us from completing this work. This was partly because many councillors were unwilling to participate in planned workshops due to tensions between them and some senior officers. This has led us to the interim conclusion that the Council does not appear to have unified political and managerial leadership. We have come to this conclusion because:
- the absence of unified leadership has the potential to cause reputational damage and deflect senior officer and member time away from providing the necessary corporate governance of the Council; and
- there appears to have been an erosion of trust between some senior councillors and officers.
This lack of unified leadership has become apparent during the preparation of this Annual Letter. During the drafting of the Letter the Appointed Auditor and Relationship Manager have had separate meetings with and comments from the Executive Members and the management team. The comments received from the Council Leader on behalf of the Executive Members are very critical of many of the actions of the corporate management team. This situation illustrates the erosion of trust and effective communication between some members and officers.

It further warns that the situation risked damaging the reputation of the local authority and recommended that the Auditor General, Jeremy Colman, should be brought in to inspect.

December 18, 2008: Council Leader Phil Fowlie sends a confidential letter to Alan Morris of the Welsh Audit Office alleging:
  • Officers wanted some, if not all the executive to fail
  • Officers dragged their heels over implementing the island’s school re-organisation programme
  • Officers failed to offer “any assistance” to the executive on governing Anglesey council
  • Officers failed to attempt to resolve a “serious issue with sickness” with council staff
  • The corporate management team displayed a lack of “honesty” and “integrity”, in the manner in which they handled the “Graigwen” issue.

The contents of this letter only became public in June 2009 following a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request. The essence of the matter seems to be that Chief Executive Derrick Jones is seen as being closer to the Opposition than the ruling Original Independent and Plaid Cymru coalition.
Fowlie Letter Welsh Audit Office 18.12.2008

December 2008: Cllr McGregor writes a stinging letter to managing director Derrick Jones suggesting officers were covering up issues on Graigwen. The letter states:
"Graigwen is one of several issues highlighted by Price Waterhouse Coopers, where this authority has serious corporate governance issues. As a new councillor and executive member I have been dismayed by the obvious distrust shown to us by senior officers. It pains me greatly but doesn't surprise me given that the issues surrounding Graigwen have eroded whatever trust and confidence there might be between the ruling administration and certain members of the corporate management team. It may be that we require a police investigation into the issue as offences of malfeasance in public office would appear to be made out. It is only then that confidence in the Isle of Anglesey County Council would be apparent."

May 2008: Cllr Phil Fowlie becomes Council Leader as head of a coalition of Original Independents and Plaid Cymru after the May 2008 local elections.

August 2007: The Graigwen property in Amlwch is purchased in auction for £300,000 by Anglesey County Council. Bidding against the council officers was Cllr Elwyn Schofield, now the authority’s property portfolio holder, who at the time had not attended council meetings for months due to a long term illness. Questions are immediately asked as to why it was bought as the Council already has access to its other property and because Graigwen is built on solid rock and therefore not developable.

July 2007: At an executive meeting, council officers were sanctioned to take part in an auction to purchase a property in Amlwch, called "Graigwen", in order to give the council access to its own land behind the house. However at a later date it transpires that this meeting was technically incorrect as the wrong councillor chaired the meeting:  The then Council Leader, Cllr Gareth Winston Roberts, declared an interest in the decision as Graigwen is in his constituency of Amwlch, and brought in council chairman Cllr WJ Williams to chair the meeting, instead of deputy leader Cllr John Meirion Davies. Cllr Gareth Winston Roberts later admits that the deputy leader should have chaired the meeting in his place, not the chairman, who was meant to be politically neutral and not part of discussions on the executive committee. The controversial decision of who chaired the meeting later was cleared by the auditors Price Waterhouse Coopers, as they decided the mistake not to pass the decision to the deputy leader was only a technical breach, and the decision would have been the same whoever had sat in the chair.

November 2006: Derrick Jones appointed Managing Director of Anglesey County Council.

NOTE: If a significant event is missing from this timeline, or information here is incorrect, please feel free to contact me via the above tab and let me know.