Thursday, 20 August 2009

Minister Sets Out Details of Anglesey Intervention

Local Government Minister, Dr Brian Gibbons has issued Anglesey Council with a formal direction setting out the terms under which he will intervene in the running of the authority, and announced the nomination of a Managing Director.

Last month a report by the Auditor General for Wales identified serious failings in the corporate governance of the Isle of Anglesey County Council, and recommended that the Welsh Assembly Government intervene to address them. In a written statement today Dr Gibbons said that following productive discussions with the Council and others, he had issued the Council with a formal direction setting out the terms on which he will intervene.

“Firstly and most simply, I am requiring the Council to comply fully and sustainably with all of the Auditor General’s recommendations as soon as possible." he said.

"Secondly, I am taking over the Council’s power to appoint a managing director.Anglesey has been without a managing director for some time .It desperately needs someone with strong experience in corporate recovery. There are very few such individuals at the best of times and someone needs to be in post as soon as possible.

"I am very pleased to nominate Mr David Bowles to the post. David has a very strong reputation in exactly the areas we seek, including a highly successful recent appointment as interim chief executive in Bridgend. He will start work in the autumn.

"In making this appointment I have been very conscious of the importance of the Welsh language within the Council and on the island generally. David does not speak Welsh. If there had been an available Welsh-speaking candidate with equal or greater skills and experience, I would have appointed him or her, but exhaustive inquiries have failed to identify such a person. Instead, I am directing the Council to make suitable arrangements to support David in dealing with members, officers and citizens who prefer to use Welsh.

"David’s appointment will be for a maximum of one year in the first instance. We and he hope that by the end of that period the Council will be able to appoint its own permanent managing director who will work to embed the recovery before I formally end our intervention.

"Thirdly, I am requiring the Council to adhere to its current scheme setting out the respective roles of members and officers. Conflict between the two is central to Anglesey’s problems and while changes in this area may well be necessary as part of the recovery, now is not the time to make them.

"Finally, I am requiring the Council to co-operate with an independent Recovery Board which I will establish to monitor progress and to advise me on it. The Board may also advise the Council on possible courses of action. Discussions with possible Board members are continuing and I will make a further announcement shortly.

"My direction lasts for two years, although I may curtail, extend or amend it at any time. Before ending the direction, I will need to be convinced that the Council has fully addressed all of the problems that the Auditor General has identified. But I am not interested in cosmetic change or in compliance for its own sake.

"I will wish to be satisfied that the new arrangements the Council puts in place are robust and sustainable, and allow the Council effectively to address the serious challenges that the island will face in the longer term. For that to happen, all within the Council must accept the need for change and work with the new arrangements to secure a rapid and sustainable recovery. I trust that they will do so.”


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