‘Delay merger of social services’ – councillor’s plea

A CAERPHILLY councillor is calling on the authority’s leader to delay plans to share the running of its social services with Blaenau Gwent council pending the outcome of a Wales Audit Office investigation.

Blackwood councillor Nigel Dix says the decision to amalgamate Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent’s social services departments at this time would be a “disaster” for service users in Caerphilly.

He said the driving force behind the decision was not quality of service, but an exercise in saving money, and he has very serious concerns about the merger taking place before an investigation into the overall running of services at Blaenau Gwent council, as announced last week, is completed.

He said: “Blaenau Gwent needs time and space to sort out its problems, this is the wrong time to be carrying out such an exercise.

“I am calling on the minister and the leader of Caerphilly council to stop this process. To carry on would be a reckless and irresponsible act, as a councillor my concerns are for the people of Blackwood and Caerphilly.”

Council leader Allan Pritchard said he was surprised Cllr Dix had made such comments as the proposal has been welcomed by the minister for local government, Carl Sargeant, as well as the minister for social services, Lesley Griffiths.

He added: “This flagship collaboration will deliver better outcomes for vulnerable members of society and will proceed in line with the cabinet decisions of both councils.”

The Wales Audit Office launched an investigation into the overall running of Blaenau Gwent council after its education department was placed in special measures this month for failing its children after an inspection revealed shocking levels of pupil performance.

As a result the authority was stripped of executive powers over education and a board from Neath Port Talbot council was set up to run the department.

The WAO investigation will look at how the council’s corporate governance – the administration of the council as a whole – is performing to see if any other significant problems need addressing.