Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 15:00 UK

Island leaders discuss criticism

Anglesey council offices
A meeting has been held at Anglesey Council offices

A meeting has been held at Anglesey council to discuss how the authority can recover after a critical report by the Auditor General.

Local government minister Dr Brian Gibbons discussed the way forward with senior members and officers.

Dr Gibbons has already said he will appoint a new managing director at the council.

The authority has two years to improve or Dr Gibbons warned the Welsh Assembly Government would take over.

During the meeting on Tuesday it was agreed that the board which will oversee the council's operations will be called the Recovery Board not the Intervention Board, as Dr Gibbons felt that reflected what was needed.

However the council's Executive Board will still be responsible for decision making.

Council leader Clive McGregor said the successful candidate for the new managing director's job would need a business background.

After the meeting Dr Gibbons said there was a clear commitment from councillors to resolve the problems at the council.

But he added that if the authority failed to make adequate progress, he might issue stronger directions.

"I have made it clear to the leader and deputy leader that the directions that I have issued are intended to support the council and its members in addressing the problems identified by the auditor general," he said.

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.

Last week Dr Gibbons told assembly members he welcomed the report by the Auditor General, 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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