Philosophy was overly arrogant

First published in Letters

AS an ex-county councillor, the present debate regarding the performance of the authority’s education and child protection departments struck some chords.

I would be the first to admit that I was not a good politician. That is obvious since I lost my seat and have failed twice to get re-elected.

While I was a councillor I was a member of the Independent group albeit the most disobedient one.

Consequently I was told many times by senior members of the group that I see things in black and white and not in shades of grey as good politicians should.

The officers of the county council are professional experts who should ensure that the council carries out the directives of the government at both Westminster and Cardiff and the objectives set by council. They should not be told by the councillors how to meet the criteria set down.

The governments have organisations who check that standards are being met and two of those have said in the last three years or so that there are serious failings and the recurring theme seems to be that the management philosophy was overly ‘arrogant’.

Using black or white logic there are two choices. Firstly the personal management style of individual officers was one of arrogance or, secondly, it was that style dictated to them by the overall management structure.

This leads to questions for the chief executive.

Another client of the county council are the people of Pembrokeshire and their representatives on the county council are the elected councillors.

To ensure that the people get the services they deserve the system dictates that the leader of the largest ‘political’ group leads the council and he is allowed to appoint a cabinet with individual cabinet members having responsibility for specific areas of service.

Being in a cabinet post needs much more than skilful speechmaking, the ability to avoid answering awkward direct questions or having vast swathes of the population liking you.

The cabinet member for education has been in place for a considerable time, and was in place prior to the last election.

It would seem that from the published information that action was not taken and not through the relevant overview and scrutiny process to attempt to correct the root cause of the problems.

It is the responsibility for all councillors now to consider what went wrong and how to prevent a recurrence within the organisation.

It is not an issue of party politics, or popularity of an individual, or this is a new council and all have a clean slate.

If after deep consideration the answer to the black and white, not grey shades, question “Were the individuals up to the task in hand?” is no, then it is time for change at both officer and political level.

The present 60 county councillors should do what is best for the electorate who put them where they are.

HENRY JONES Park Street Fishguard

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