Friday 22 August 2014

Carmarthenshire Council governance "in disarray and not fit for purpose" - Sir David Lewis

Cneifiwr has had sight of a letter from the co-opted voting member of the council's Audit Committee, and former Lord Mayor of London, Sir David Thomas Rowell Lewis to the WLGA Governance Review Panel. For reasons which Cneifiwr explains, he, like ourselves and members of the public had to put pen to paper despite his request to address the panel personally.

He is writing from an independent position and without political motivation, and has, crucially, identified the crux of the problem. The content of his letter is explosive.

Here are some extracts from Cneifiwr's blog, the full post is here

'There has been a breakdown in trust between the electorate and the Council, he says. "The governance of the Council is in disarray and not fit for purpose".  
The values of any well governed Council include openness and transparency, honesty and integrity, tolerance and respect, and equality and fairness. "In recent years these values have evidently not been applied or followed". 
Sir David believes that this is not the fault of the general body of councillors but that responsibility lies in the hands of the Executive Board and the Chief Executive. "There needs to be a change in culture". 
It is not that the rules are procedures are not adequate, more a case that they are not applied in practice because of "the internal culture in County Hall". 
Basic rules and values concerning conflicts of interest which should be obvious to all have not been applied by some members of the Executive Board and senior management. "They are not mere technicalities as some have suggested"

As for 'recent events', he says they "will not happen if there is a proper professional relationship between the Chief Executive, the Executive Board and the Council generally and if the Scrutiny Committees are given the full facts."

As for the notoriously brief Minutes of meetings, he states that "there is a culture of hiding difficult or troublesome items" and goes on to say, "It is unclear to me whether or not the committee clerks are instructed to adopt this unhelpful approach and if so by whom."

As for internal legal advice, and particularly over the Wales Audit Office reports he is scathing; "cavalier at best and incompetent at worst". 

Without naming names, Sir David's letter reflects what both myself and Cneifiwr have been saying for some time, no amount of tinkering around the edges of protocols and constitutions will be effective; there needs to be a dramatic overhaul of senior management.

As Cneifiwr eloquently puts it,
"...changing the culture of the council without changing the senior personnel is doomed to failure."

Update 14:18
The consensus of online opinion seems to be that if this letter from Sir David, who also happens to be a senior lawyer, doesn't cause something of an earthquake in County Hall then nothing will. I hope the majority of councillors will be made aware of its message and act on it forthwith.


Finally, for those of you familiar with the classic movie, Apocalypse Now, you may enjoy this superb post from award winning blogger, Owen Donovan, aka Oggy Bloggy Ogwr;

To highlight the substance of the posting, I have taken the liberty of pinching a graphic from his blog.


Blodwen said...

Presumably Sir David Lewis cannot be described as a 'malcontent', 'troublemaker' or any of the other labels given by Mr James for anyone who dares to criticise or question the goings-on in County Hall.

This is serious - and reading Sir David's letter has cheered me up no end this morning. On the other hand, Teflon Man seems to manage to escape unscathed from any scandal so even this might not be enough to unseat him and his flock of sheep. We can but hope.

Anonymous said...

For this to 'cause something of an earthquake in County Hall' would require an understanding of what is meant by it.

You really don't think james and those loyal apostles in their ivory tower will pay mach attention to this let alone inwardly digest and actually understand the fuller meanings?

Teflon may be good for non-stick purposes but even that has a shelf life.

As a previous poster mentioned, rumour has it mr james has possibly secured employment elsewhere. Lets hope, if true, his reputation reaches any potential employer prior to his arrival and he gets what he deserves; to become toxic and unemployable.

Anonymous said...

I think the key to change lies with the Llanelli group of Labour councillors.

They really do need go grow a pair between them and force some change.

Compare the actions of Labour in Carms with that of Labour in Pembs who appear go be gaining a lot of plaudits for their attitude towards the unlawful pension payments.

Come on Llanelli Labour. Rediscover your roots and socialist principles and force some change. You will gain from this. As it stands, at the next election your voting records will be examined and I promise each of you will be asked why you supported the unlawful payments to one of the best paid Chief Executives in the country.

How much evidence do you want ??