Friday, 24 June 2011

(Don't) Carry on Sargeant.

It's not often I find myself in agreement with Peter Black but when he criticises t he Welsh Local Government Minister  Carl Sargeant latest moves on forcing Local authorities  to make joint  senior appointments  he is at least this time making a fair point.

Sargeant  seems  to be in the same camp as Eric Pickles in that he feels that his remit is not to work with Local Government but to run it.

In the last Assembly Commissioners were sent in to run the troubled Anglesey council after years of political infighting, at the time  Carl Sargeant said councillors had "betrayed those who elected them" and indulged in "politics of the playground".

I'm sure some would agree with this at times it seems that Anglesey council  consisted of the legendary Kilkenny Cats

 There once were two cats of Kilkenny
Each thought there was one cat too many
So they fought and they fit
And they scratched and they bit
'Til (excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails)
Instead of two cats there weren't any!

But you can't help thinking that the nature of democracy meant that it should have been up to the people of Ynys Mon to change the situation through the ballot box.

Of course one of Carl's idea at the time was force the council to merge with Gwynedd and It has been suggested that Sargeant's  real preference would be to merge other councils throughout Wales but he has rejected this because of the cost..

Though he also recently  sacked three boundary commissioners  who had suggested  the cutting of number of  councilors . . As iIve only seen the Welsh Government's spin on this I can't really comment on whether this the right decision and it seems the sacked commissioners will not be able to defend themselves. but it is a worry that the Boundary Commission for Wales might feel that they must come up with the result the Welsh Government (i.e The Labour Part) wants rather than what the people of Wales need.

Some will look at the idea of making  joint appointments. But I can see some major problems.
  • Can a Chief Executive or thier counterpart rly effectively work with two councils that have totally different make ups. Can He  or She flit between policies on School Numbers, welsh Language Education, or even Bin Collection?
  • If one of the councils loses faith in a joint appointee can the sack him or her without the approval of the other council ?
  • Taking into to account the size in area of Gwynedd Council for instance or the nature of communications in the valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taf  can these really share appointments with other councils Gwynedd-Anglesey R.C.T-Methyr say  even with the use of Information Technology effectively, If democracy is to be devolved downward should this not include civil servants?
Perhaps if Carl Sargeant wants to remove senior Council Appointees he should look at the Irish system of government  although the  trend has been to remove decision-making from elected councillors to full-time professionals and officials. In particular, every city and county has a manager, who is the chief executive but is also a public servant appointed by the Public Appointments Service.This might just be the way to make senior Local Government  appointments

But I  although I don't t agree  the decision making should be taken from councilors . Making the Chief Executive a public servant seems to be a reasonable option.


  1. On other matters, please sign the petition to allow filming oc council meetings

  2. Done: They want a lot of details don't they?