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‘Fantastic’ Executive Board defended – as ‘performance review’ request granted for opposition leaders

Questions have once again been raised about the “efficiency” of Wrexham Council’s executive board.

However such comments have been defended by the council leader, who says he believes the current board lineup is ‘fantastic’.

As Wrexham.com reported earlier this week, no changes were made being made to the lead member lineup for the next 12 months.

Speaking of his decision keep the executive board status-quo at yesterday’s meeting, Leader of Wrexham Council, Cllr Mark Pritchard said: “I would like to put on record and thank all elected members who have worked on the executive board for the last 12 months.

“I class it as the hot seat as it is a difficult place to be, not just in Wrexham but across all 22 local authorities.

“We are making tough decisions and reducing services – in some cases we are stopping services. It is a difficult place to be and you are in the thick of it.”

“Thank you for the support and I look forward to working with you all for the next 12 months.”

But questions were raised over the effectiveness of the 10 lead member roles, with Labour Group Leader, Cllr Dana Davies querying for the second time about the “unequal” workload.

Cllr Davies said: “I have had some concerns and have raised them about the effectiveness of the executive board with the number of 10 you currently have and are continuing to have.

“It appears to be, looking at the workload over the past 12 months, and the inequality, some members are delivering a number of reports. Some have delivered in 12 months between one and three.

“As you are not reducing the board, I would like to ask for a performance monitoring report, to be transparent and see the work you do.”

Cllr Pritchard reiterated his commitment to keeping the 10 executive board members for now, noting that it “works fantastic and that the workload is shared across”.

He added: “Just because they don’t sit at that seat doesn’t mean they don’t work in the background. They work tirelessly.

“I can’t see what you’re coming from with effectiveness, it is a fantastic executive board. You only have to look at the Welsh Audit comments” adding the comments included praise for his own “excellent leadership.”

The proposal of a monitoring report of the executive board quickly descended into requests for reports for all scrutiny committees, their chairpersons and opposition group leaders.

Cllr David A Bithell said: “If you want equality across the council I think it’s only right that I can ask the leader if we can have an effectiveness of the opposition leader and how effective they are.”

Cllr Davies appeared to see that as a joke, and asked if it was good use of officer time. It turned out the suggestion was serious, and after a helpful correction by Cllr Graham Rogers the point was expanded out to cover all group leaders not just Cllr Dana Davies.

It is unclear how ‘effectiveness’ will be measured of any councillor, and what criteria is set by whom, or how it will be fed back to the public domain.

Likewise, there is no indication what a finding of being ineffectual will mean to any councillor.

Top pic: No pictures of council meetings are allowed to be taken so we have no Exec Board ‘action shots’, so this is some ascii art of a meeting in the chamber from our archives.

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