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?