Monday 17 December 2012

'Special Measures' - The case for Carmarthenshire

Pembrokeshire County Council, who gained recent notoriety for putting children in padded cells, comes under fire again today after scathing Estyn and Wales Audit Office reports into it's educational and child care services.

Changes are not being implemented fast enough and the level of scrutiny by councillors is insufficient. As the BBC reports here, further Ministerial intervention (a clearly ineffectual Assembly Advisory Board was 'sent in' about a year ago), is looking likely. Ministers, apparently, have 'wide ranging powers', although these do not appear to cover Carmarthenshire of course.

In an attempt to impress it's critics, Pembrokeshire has said it will be joining Carmarthenshire Council today in a school improvement programme.

Clearly Pembrokeshire, who have now surely decommissioned the padded cells, are still failing. Whether this is a result of political infighting or managerial incompetence, or a mixture of the two, is not clear.

So when exactly is the line crossed to warrant 'special measures' into the running of a council?

When it become evident that unelected officers are running the show?

When the Ombudsman, who seems to have found permanent employment in the county publishes no less than three tales from Carmarthenshire in his quarterly Casebook, none of which are discussed in council?

When a previous council leader brands the entire workforce as lazy?

When repeated attempts to control the press are exposed as the tactics of a dictatorship?

When the press office has been hi-jacked to deliver attacks on critics, political bias and promote multinational businesses?

When a propaganda council rag is continually churned out at the expense of frontline services?

When decisions are made behind closed doors to financially assist a company with a net worth of £2bn? And £1.4m given to a fundamentalist evangelical organisation?

When public safety is dangerously compromised for a year and a half to prevent anyone recording a meeting?

When a child is forced to sign a daft undertaking?

When rules are made to prevent minority views being heard in the Chamber?

When Councillors are censured for 'asking too many questions'?

When a planning inspector accuses a council of 'turning a blind eye'?

When a council is banned from the DVLA database for questionable access?

I could go on.

There's no evidence of padded cells for children in Carmarthenshire yet, but as I know, they're not averse to locking up their critics. Without a doubt, departmental failure, particularly in childrens' services is grave, but the situation in Carmarthenshire is different, the failure is at the very heart of local democracy.


N said...

Quote "Changes are not being implemented fast enough and the level of scrutiny by councillors is insufficient."

It has been obvious for some time the vast majority of CCC councillors will not do anything unless approved by the execs and any reports will be favourable towards the execs.


Anonymous said...

Nice piece - the sorry record looks horrendous when laid out as you do.

In relation to the Pembs experience though the cabinet member only recently survived a confidence vote I believe.

I bet those who supported him feel a bit silly today as must the head-teachers who wrote such crass letters of support.

Oh by the way - I also believe that Plaid abstained ? hmmm.