The leaders of the three opposition groups on Powys County Council have jointly demanded that an independent root-and-branch investigation is launched in to the way that the Independent/Conservative-run council has been managed and led at a senior level in the period up to and since the production of a damning report by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) into the council’s Children’s Services in October this year.
Their demands, outlined in a letter to the Council’s Leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, highlight the CSSIW’s findings and continuing concerns over budgetary control and the quality of service delivery in other services. The Council faces an inspection of its Adult Social Care Services early in the New Year.
Commenting on the group leaders’ demands, Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr James Gibson-Watt, said:-
“The Inspectors made it clear that the failures in Children’s Services lay not with the social work staff delivering services to vulnerable children and young people and their families, but at political and corporate leadership levels. A lack of senior management and leadership support was evident and many council members believe these problems apply much more widely across the council. If we are to avoid similar failings in the future we need to learn from the mistakes of the past.”
Leader of the Welsh Labour Group, Cllr Matthew Dorrance added:-
“Although we have been told that these failings were responsible for placing the whole service and vulnerable children at risk of harm we still do not know why those failings occurred or how the leadership of the council became so dysfunctional. An investigation in to the way the council has been corporately managed and led in recent times, overseen by an independent chair, is sorely needed to provide us with answers.”
Summing up, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan, Leader of the Plaid Cymru/Green Group, said:-
“Apart from revealing what went wrong in the recent past, the investigation will also tell us whether the failings the Inspectors saw in the summer of this year are being addressed and rectified, or whether the culture and approach at the most senior levels in the council are still preventing the improvements we all very much want to see across a whole range of vital council services. There are still too many unanswered questions.”