Page last updated at 19:35 GMT, Wednesday, 12 August 2009 20:35 UK

Authority director choice 'shame'

Anglesey council offices
David Bowles has been appointed to his new role for the next 12 months

A non-Welsh speaking interim managing director has been appointed to run crisis-hit Anglesey council.

David Bowles is to take on the role after an exhaustive search by the assembly government failed to find a suitable candidate who spoke Welsh.

A Welsh language pressure group said the move was a "terrible shame".

It follows a recent auditor general's report which said the council suffered from "serious persistent problems" deriving from "personality politics"

The report led to a decision by the local government minister, Dr Brian Gibbons, to actively intervene in the council's running.

But announcing a new managing director for the island's council, Dr Gibbons admitted the appointment of a non-Welsh speaker in a predominantly Welsh-speaking area of the country was an issue.

Dr Gibbons said: "In making this appointment I have been very conscious of the importance of the Welsh language within the council and on the island generally.

Dealing with members

"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."

The assembly minister added the 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," he said.

However, Dafydd Morgan Lewis, from the Welsh-language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, described the appointment as "a terrible shame".

He said he could not see how someone without knowledge of or sympathy towards the Welsh language could do the job effectively, and he was concerned about "anglicisation" of the council under his leadership.

Dr Gibbons also announced the appointment of an independent recovery board to monitor the council's performance over the next two years.

Anglesey Council has two years to improve or it has been warned the Welsh Assembly Government would take over its running.

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