Localism versus the need for systematic and mandatory ways of working

Jul 5, 2017 | Articles, Assembly Business | 0 comments

Plenary Wednesday 05 July 2017

13:56:33

Spoken Contribution – 13:56:33
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Diolch, Lywydd. Minister, you’ve just been talking about the local government proposed reforms. One of the issues that I think has emerged, from what you’ve told us so far, is the theme of localism versus the need for systematic and mandatory ways of working, to use your own phrase. In other words, we need councils to be able to operate in their own way to some extent, and that they have to conform to Wales-wide standards in some areas. We had the issue recently in England of whether or not a council could or should have excluded the press from a meeting. Now, there is an issue in Wales of the variability of tv coverage of council meetings, so how far will you go down the road of enforcing systematic and mandatory working in this area?

Spoken Contribution – 13:58:11
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Yes, thanks for that. I think the approach of encouraging first is certainly wise, although at some point there may be a need for actually enforcing what you’ve brought in. So, moving on from that is the issue of when you do intervene in cases if a council gets into difficulties. For instance, there have been long-running pay scandals in local government in Wales in recent years, at least one of which is still going on. Now, I don’t want you to comment on any specific cases, but in general, is there a role for you to intervene in cases where there are long-running problems, which don’t seem to be getting resolved and which may tend to bring local government into disrepute?

Spoken Contribution – 14:00:38
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Yes, thanks. You’ve cited the example of Ynys Môn, where there was a resolution, and I think you’re right to look at past examples and where there has been success from the Welsh Government to look at that as a way of dealing with cases that come before you in future. Now, again, it’s slightly sticky because I don’t want to refer to a specific instance, but if there is a case where a pay dispute has been in the news quite a lot and it’s been going on for four years, would the four-year mark tend to interest you as a point at which you may need to get involved in that theoretical case?