Thursday, 25 August 2011

Picking a Fight!

What exactly is going on between the Welsh Government and Local Authorities in Wales, this petty infighting does no one any credit and most certainly does nothing to improve services for the people of Wales.

It all started off a few weeks ago with what can best be described as an 'aggresive' and uncompromising speech by Carl Sergeant at the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA)conference in Swansea on the subject of collaboration in the delivery of services; this is something that Local Authorities are ploughing ahead on without threats from the Local Government Minister.

The next fight to pick was with Pembrokeshire County Council who had received a scathing joint report by Estyn and the CSSIW as regards child protection issues in schools. The council's reaction to this report wasn't sufficiently positive in acknowledgement of faults resulting in an unprecedented letter to the Council Leader John Davies from Leighton Andrews and Gwenda Thomas; accusing the council of being more concerned with protecting their good name than addressing child protection issues. Unfortunately this letter was released to the press prior to John Davies receiving it. Coincidentally John Davies is Chair of the WLGA and is probably the most senior councillor in Wales and leads for the WLGA in negotiating with the Welsh Government.

The question now is why did two Welsh Government ministers pick a public fight with the Leader of the WLGA, was it to clip the wings of Welsh local authorities prior to the centralisation of more services or was it as John Davies suggests 'blatant electioneering' by Labour ministers trying to undermine independent led local authorities.

The goings on in Blaenau Gwent today seems to give some credence to John Davies's assertions. Blaenau Gwent is another independent led authority whose Local Education Authority is in 'special measures' following yet another Estyn inspection. On the day the Welsh Government appointed a team to run Blaenau Gwent education the opposition Labour group decided to call for a vote of no confidence in the leader Des Hillman and his deputy which was won by a close two votes. It seems that the goings on at Blaenau Gwent was of great interest to the Welsh Government, otherwise why would the local AM,Alun Davies give us a running commentary on twitter this afternoon?

It does make one think whether the mediocre Estyn report that Wrecsam had earlier this year and subsequent negativity by the Wales Audit Office has more to do with political makeup of the council rather than the quality of our services!

I wonder if the two Labour controlled councils in Wales, RCT and NPT have had Estyn/CSSIW inspections or will they be inspected before the May council elections?


Dyfed said...

Some would like to add Môn to your list. Despite all the self-inflicted wounds the Minister hasn't done a great job and could be accused of stirring more trouble than there actually was.

Jac o' the North said...

Most of us have, at one time or another, half-jokingly referred to Wales as a Labour dictatorship - is the joke becoming reality?

Anonymous said...

there are clearly problems in Pembrokeshire and a few other Welsh local authorities, but the OTT reaction from the WG is making a bad situation worse.

Add to that a lack of opposition to the agenda the WG are clearly persuing and anything resembling accountability for the decisions Minister's are making and you have created the toxic brew of events that are being played out before our eyes.

Labour expects loyalty from everyone and to be in control of Wales and if it can't secure that democratically it will undermine and discredit any opposition it faces, they have been doing it for decades, people seem to forget devolution changed the governing system not the parties in it.

How Wales's gets past the impasse that everyone is comfortable with is the question that should be focusing minds, not more point scoring, it makes us as a country look petty indeed.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

You are absolutely right, this is a particularly serious turn of events with a Minister falling out with the Leader of the WLGA. There are many shortcomings within service provision in Wales and Ministers are hell bent on passing the buck to Local Authorities and refusing to accept responsibility themselves...and where is Carwyn whilst his Ministers are causing havoc?

EG said...

Some of your readers might be interested in signing this petition.