Page last updated at 17:58 GMT, Monday, 20 July 2009 18:58 UK

Minister acts on watchdog report

Anglesey council offices
The council has seven recommendations for improvement

Plans to get Anglesey council back on track after a damning report by the Auditor General have been unveiled by the assembly government.

Local Government Minister, Brian Gibbons, plans to appoint a new managing director for the council.

A panel will also be appointed to supervise senior politicians' work.

On Monday a meeting of council members accepted the auditor general's report which said the authority had serious persistent problems.

Councillors also agreed a series of actions to try and move on from the problems including seeking funding from the Welsh Local Government Association to aid improvement.

Acting managing director, Richard Parry Jones, said: "We are under no illusion, however, that a great deal more work needs to be undertaken before the intervention board and new interim managing director begin their tasks."

If we want to attract inward investment to this island then we have got to overcome that
Clive Macgregor, leader Anglesey council

Speaking after the meeting, the leader of the opposition John Chorlton said: "At last we are making progress.

"We have actually agreed on something which we haven't done for a long time."

Clive Macgregor, the leader of the council, said he was concerned about what the problems were doing to the island's image.

"If we want to attract inward investment to this island then we have got to overcome that," he said.

Dr Gibbons will be in Anglesey on Tuesday to discuss the situation with senior members and officers at Anglesey council and go through how his plans will work in practice.

Last week Dr Gibbons told assembly members he welcomed the report but very much regretted its findings, saying it was "unprecedented" in the nature of its criticism of the council.

'Persistent problems'

Dr Gibbons said: "The prospects for delivering improved services for the future are far from positive particularly in the challenging financial times we have ahead of us and the particular challenges that the island of Anglesey faces."

He continued: "Without a major change there is a real possibility of a drop in standards and at worst, service failures.

"The Auditor General recognises that this position is unsustainable and has recommended that the assembly government uses its statutory powers to intervene in the running of the council. l agree and will do so."

The Auditor General had said Anglesey council has "serious persistent problems" which affect its working.

"Personality politics" based on mistrust and suspicion were partly to blame, while problems existed with both officials and political arrangements, he said.

"Serious, persistent problems at the Isle of Anglesey council urgently need addressing now if it is to restore its reputation, win back public trust and set a positive course for the future," said Auditor General, Jeremy Colman.

He said the council's "history" meant he was convinced the changes that were needed would not happen unless there was outside input.

"That is why I am calling on assembly government ministers to intervene and to provide the necessary external support and challenge that Anglesey council needs to help place it onto a firmer, more successful, footing," he said.

In his report Mr Colman said even though there are good features in performance of many services there are internal issues.

These include weak self-regulation, inappropriate behaviour and conflict.

The report said all these issues had been left largely unaddressed since the council was established in 1996 - despite a number of previous external reviews.



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