10 January 2012
Blaenau Gwent Council has submitted its formal response to a statutory recommendation made by the Wales Audit Office (WAO).
The Council was told in its corporate assessment – published by the WAO in November – that it has features of effective governance, but must make sure they are applied more consistently in challenging poor performance and ensuring accountability.
The WAO judged that no external intervention into the running of the Council was needed at the time, and made a statutory recommendation. The Council’s formal response to the recommendation was made as required within 30 working days.
In the letter to the WAO in December, the Council reiterates that it fully accepts the findings of the corporate assessment and is focussed on delivering the necessary scale and pace of improvement. It outlines how the Council proposes to respond immediately to the issues raised in the report, prior to submitting a full and detailed action plan for a programme of sustainable change.
The formal response sets out a number of key actions that the Council will take to sharpen its understanding of the issues noted in the corporate assessment and further embed collective and individual responsibilities. It also sets out actions to drive changes in culture and ensure greater consistency in governance arrangements.
Proposed actions include the implementation of an agreed set of governance policies and procedures, and rigorous monitoring of improvement action plans tackling underperformance in priority areas. The priorities that the Council has committed to in its business plan – the Corporate Improvement Plan – will also be reviewed, as will the authority’s Medium Term Financial Strategy. Workshops with elected members and senior officers are also proposed.
Councillor John Mason, Leader of Blaenau Gwent Council, said: “We have made our formal response following positive and productive meetings with the Welsh Local Government Association and the Minister for Local Government and Communities. We also continue to maintain a dialogue with the Wales Audit Office.
“The Council fully accepts the findings of the corporate assessment and there is a clear consensus that our focus must be on delivering improvement at an increased scale and pace. The people of Blaenau Gwent can be confident that their Council will build its programme of improvements on a firm foundation of individual and collective responsibility, and that we are not afraid to make tough decisions for the benefit of local communities.”
The Council has pledged to have its full action plan ready by February 2012.