EVEN the 2011 Estyn report acknowledges that Pembrokeshire County Council has met or exceeded seven out of 10 Welsh government targets in the past four years, so the idea that Welsh Government might intervene and take over the county council is both disproportionate and wholly unreasonable.
It is worth remembering that in 2008 the Estyn inspection concluded that on all its inspection criteria, PCC was either “good with outstanding features” or “good features and no important shortcomings”.
The CSSIW inspection report for 2008 says: “The authority has worked hard to improve its performance and has continued to make steady progress on the improvements gained last year, with performance indicators indicating equal or improved performance in many areas. Work at improving and developing its performance management systems is resulting in a more effective analysis and understanding of performance.”
Finally the Welsh auditor general found in 2010 that PCC had “strong stable leadership, and a culture of continuous improvement, are very likely to sustain improvement in the future. “ What a contrast with what these quangoes are now claiming.
So what can have changed so dramatically between 2008 and 2011 to produce such different reports? Well all three inspecorates had new chief inspectors appointed between 2009-2010. Could it be that the new heads are more ‘on message’ to the Labour administration in Cardiff? More inclined to go along with efforts to oust the independents in Welsh local authorities by whatever pretext, and to replace them with good ‘on message’ Labour councils?
Because that is exactly what the Welsh government have done in Anglesey, Blaenau Gwent, Ceredigion where ‘special measures’ are either a fact or a threat.
RICHARD F SHEPHERD Cosheston