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- Business and economy
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Section highlightAccess to information
The Welsh Government has followed the principles of openness in government for many years. Find out how you can make a freedom of information request or see requests that have already been made.
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2nd Supplementary Budget 2012-13 »
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Terms of Reference and Working Practices
1. The Minister for Local Government and Communities (“the Minister”) has exercised his powers in section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 to intervene in the affairs of the Isle of Anglesey County Council (“the Council”) following an adverse corporate governance inspection by the Auditor General for Wales (“the AGW”).
2. The direction that the Minister issued to the Council include provision for the Council to co-operate with an Anglesey Recovery Board (“the Board”) to monitor the Council’s compliance with the direction and to advise the Minister accordingly. The terms of reference of the Board are as follows.
3. The members of the Board are
- Professor Elan Closs Stephens (chair)
- Sue Essex
- William Horne
- Dr Zoe Radnor
- Mel Usher
- Graham Williams
- Richard Parry Hughes
4. Members of the Board are appointed for the duration of its existence, which will be until August 2011 unless the direction to the Council is extended or curtailed. Members may nonetheless resign from the Board; the maximum possible notice period would be appreciated in such cases.
5. The Auditor General for Wales is not represented on the Board, to maintain his professional independence. He or his nominee is, however, entitled to attend all meetings of the Board as an observer. The Welsh Local Government Association is equally entitled to nominate an observer to all meetings of the Board.
6. The Board is established by the Minister using powers in section 71 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 (in connection with the use of the intervention powers in section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999). The Board is not a public body and has no legal personality. It has no authority to take decisions or to approve, amend or veto decisions of the Council, its members and officers.
7. Members of the Board serve in a personal capacity only. They do not represent their current or past employers, or other organisations with which they are or have been associated, in any way.
Purpose and remit
8. The overall purpose and remit of the Board is to:
- Evaluate the Council’s Recovery Plan for addressing the AGW’s recommendations
- Oversee the progress made in implementing the AGW’s recommendations
- Assess the sustainability of change and the longer term prospects for recovery
- Question and take evidence from members, officers and others about these processes and progress - or lack of it
- Advise the Council on implementing recovery and securing compliance
- Advise the Minister and the Welsh Government regularly on progress and on the need for any further directions or modifications to the existing one.
9. In carrying out its remit, the Board will wish to have particular regard to the underlying weaknesses which the AGW identified, and to the Council’s progress in addressing them. In summary, these are:
- Relationships between Members and political groups, and between Members and officers;
- Standards of conduct and behaviour by Members, and the role of the Council’s Standards Committee;
- Scrutiny and its ability effectively and constructively to challenge and influence Council decisions and policies;
- Organisation, coherence and effectiveness of the Council’s senior management team;
- Capacity to undertake and implement strategic planning and performance management across the Council’s functions and in ways which fully engage with and reflect the views and priorities of the citizens of Anglesey;
- Issues identified at the outset or emerging through more general work by the Board regarding specific service areas, for example the planning function.
10. The Board acting collectively or through its individual members may not:
- incur expenditure;
- enter into agreements or contracts;
- make decisions or purport to take any action on behalf of the Minister or the Welsh Government; or
- make any statements or engage in any press or media coverage in relation to the Board or Anglesey without the written permission of a named official of the Welsh Government.
11. Further detail on the Board’s activities is provided below.
Evaluating the Council’s recovery plan
12. The Council will be expected swiftly to draw up a recovery plan for addressing and implementing the recommendations in the AGW’s report. This will be among the more immediate tasks of the interim Managing Director, to be appointed by the Minister.
13. The Board should consider:
- the comprehensiveness of the plan: does it adequately address all of the AGW’s recommendations and the underlying weaknesses in para.8?
- the level of detail of the plan: does it describe in sufficient detail the actions to be taken, with appropriate and credible milestones and deadlines?
- the commitment to the plan: are all relevant members and officers committed to implementing the plan, and are responsibilities allocated accordingly?
- the deliverability of the plan: are appropriate levels of funding, and human resources, skills and capacities, available to implement the plan while also maintaining the Council’s core business and adequately managing opportunity costs?
- The wider implications and coverage of the Plan for making sustainable change to the culture and behaviours of elected members which have created the current difficulties.
14. The Board may advise the Council on any of these matters (see para.23 below). It should advise the Minister of its conclusions or of any other matter relating to the plan as it deems appropriate (see para.26 below).
15. Having developed a recovery plan, the Council must naturally implement it. This is at the heart both of the intervention and the Board’s role in it: full and sustainable implementation of a satisfactory recovery plan should fully discharge the terms of the Minister’s direction.
16. The Board should monitor and evaluate the Council’s progress in implementing its recovery plan, having particular regard to:
- The underlying weaknesses described in para.8 above, whether or not directly addressed in the plan itself;
- The pace of change: whether this is reasonable in terms of the plan itself and more generally;
- The capacity for change: whether the Council has deployed adequate resource and expertise to the change programme, or whether further specialised external support should be provided;
- The ownership of change: how far relevant members and officers are engaged in implementation.
17. The Board may advise the Council on any of these matters (see para.23 below). It should advise the Minister of its findings or of any other matter relating to implementation on a regular basis (see para.26 below). It should also advise the Minister of any need for the Council to receive further external support, so that such support can be identified and provided.
18. Recovery must involve more than narrow compliance with the direction and/or the AGW’s recommendations: it entails establishing new arrangements which will endure without the need for external support and which will adequately address current and future challenges which the Council is likely to face.
19. The Board should consider the extent to which the implementation of the recovery plan and the processes and arrangements it establishes:
- are rooted and mainstreamed in the Council’s organisational culture and values;
- are sufficiently robust to withstand political change and/or the departure of key officers;
- are sustainable without external support and advice, including in particular that provided as part of this intervention;
- leave the Council well-placed to address general and specific challenges which appear likely to arise in the medium term.
20. The Board may advise the Council on any of these matters (see para.23 below). As a minimum, it should advise the Minister of its findings on this matter no later than three months before the end of the period of intervention, as this will be critical to a decision on whether to allow the direction to expire, or to extend it. The Board may also advise the Minister on any issue relating to change sustainability at any point as it sees fit (see para.26 below).
Questioning and evidence-taking
21. The Board’s work clearly needs to be informed by a thorough and detailed understanding of the progress that the Council is making.
22. Under the terms of the direction, the Board has the right to question any member or officer of the Council, and to have access to any council documents, meetings or proceedings. The Board should exercise those rights, in particular, so as to:
- receive regular and formal reports from the Leader, interim Managing Director and any other senior members or officers as appropriate;
- question the Leader, interim Managing Director and others as appropriate about progress being made and any issues arising;
- question others outside the Council (for instance, the Auditor General or his nominee) about the progress being made. Any such questioning will be by agreement; the Board cannot compel those outside the Council to give evidence to it;
- review documentary evidence of progress (the Board may ask the Secretariat to summarise voluminous papers for their consideration);
- where possible, attend meetings or proceedings of the Council as observers (this would be best done by Board members individually). Such attendance should, where possible, be discussed and agreed in advance at meetings of the Board, and reported to the subsequent meeting.
Advising the Council
23. The Board, whether collectively or individually, is encouraged to provide advice to Members and officers of the Council about any matter within the Board’s remit.
24. Such advice:
- may be offered by the Board on its own account or in response to a request from the Council, the Minister or the Welsh Government;
- may be given orally or in writing;
- is to be given at the Board’s sole discretion. The Board and/or its members may decline to advise the Council on any matter or in response to any request;
- is to be given and accepted freely, without prejudice and in good faith;
- does not bind the Council or create any liability for the Board, its members, the Minister or the Welsh Government for any action taken in pursuance of it;
- should, if given by a Board member individually and not in a meeting of the Board, be reported by that member at the next full meeting of the Board.
25. The Board may also engage additional advice or support from third parties itself, or suggest that the Council does so where the Council may not have sufficient skills, experience or capacity to undertake the work itself.
Advising the Minister
26. The Board should advise the Minister regularly of their deliberations, findings and conclusions.
27. Such advice:
- should include a formal report by the Chair of the proceedings and outcomes of each meeting of the Board. The Secretariat will, on request, draft this for the Chair’s approval;
- may cover any matter within the Board’s remit;
- should in particular comment on whether the Minister should take further action as regards the Council, principally by varying, extending or revoking the current direction;
- should, at regular intervals agreed with the Minister, evaluate whether the prospects for the Council to deliver the change required during the next period are realistic and achievable; and whether the extent of the Direction is sufficient to support the council in doing that;
- should, no later than three months before the expiry of the direction, evaluate the progress the Council has made and the sustainability of the changes effected (see para.22 above).
28. Members of the Board are also free to raise any issue with the Minister individually, at any point. This should normally be done through the Secretariat in the first instance.
29. The Welsh Government will provide a secretariat to the Board, the members of which will be:
- Reg Kilpatrick (deputy Director Local Government Policy Division);
- Steve Pomeroy (Local Government Policy Division); and
- Lisa Hughes (Local Government Policy Division)
30. The secretariat will produce agendas, minutes and working papers for all meetings of the Board; it will also, at the request of the Chair, produce a draft of the Chair’s periodical report to the Minister.
31. All queries about the workings of the Board, whether from Board members, council members or officers, or others, should be directed to the secretariat.
32. The Board will meet monthly in the first instance, moving to bi-monthly or quarterly meetings as the process of recovery becomes better established. The secretariat will arrange meeting dates and times, so far as possible to accommodate Board members’ professional and personal commitments.
33. Board members are encouraged to attend all meetings but may convey apologies through the secretariat if they are unable to attend. They will nonetheless receive all papers relating to the meeting.
34. The Board will meet in North-West Wales, at a location to be determined. This will not be on the Council’s premises.
35. Meetings will take place in private. Only Board members, observers, the secretariat and any persons giving evidence to the Board shall be entitled to attend.
36. The Council operates through the medium of both Welsh and English, and, like Anglesey generally, includes many whose first language is Welsh. Members and officers may thus wish to address the Board through the medium of Welsh; the secretariat will arrange simultaneous translation into English on such occasions.
37. The costs incurred by the Board and its members will be borne by the Welsh Government. Board members have been separately informed of the process for claiming fees and expenses in connection with Board work.
38. The costs of any third-party advice or support provided under para. 25 are to be met by the Council.