NOTE: This content is old - Published: Wednesday, Feb 29th, 2012.
A report by the Wales Audit Office has described Wrexham Council’s decision making process as “cumbersome, overly complex and time-consuming.”
The report, which is to be discussed by the full council today states that the council is not consistently following its own constitution, which states that: “lead members should be accountable for political choices and performance in the lead role and appear before scrutiny committees in respect of matters within the lead role.”
The audit office also concluded that scrutiny committees needed to hold the executive board to account, evaluate the validity of executive decisions and challenge inappropriate decisions.
Other findings were that all elected members should support, and adhere to respectful, appropriate and effective relationships with employees of the council and advised that executive lead members take stronger roles in leading their areas, rather than rely on officers.
Commenting on the findings Wrexham MP Ian Lucas Mr Lucas said: “I agree with these assessments. I deal with the council regularly on behalf of constituents and I have noticed tendency myself.
“The nature of the ruling council coalition of Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Plaid Cymru and Independents also means that each group cherry picks policies to both applaud and oppose – despite each being collectively involved in the running of the council.
“This means not only do lead members fail to stand up and defend the decisions they take on all sorts of issues – they also attack the very council they each draw thousands of pounds from for their role and, as no-one takes responsibility for council decisions, its officers.
“Councillors should take more responsibility for their decisions and should stop hiding behind officers.”
However, last week Deputy Leader of Wrexham Council David Bithell, an independent, hit back at criticisms from Labour councillors accusing them of pre-election point scoring.
He said: “I find it quite amusing that Labour councillors criticise the coalition of members given that they walked away from running the council.
“They criticise lead members, the very posts they refuse to take up, ‘not my responsibility mate’ – this is nothing but pre election point scoring.”