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Errant island councillors 'wreaking havoc'

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Isle of Anglesey Council faces takeover or enforced merger unless its councillors behave properly, according to authority’s leader.

Clive McGregor (Voice of Anglesey) has written a letter to all councillors in which says some had “wreaked havoc” with continued wrangling that was damaging staff morale and the council’s reputation.

Cllr McGregor is to stand down in May in the face of a threatened no confidence vote following the collapse of his coalition.

He has asked councillors to sign an agreement to stop factional infighting, a step he said would be “the only way that we might be able to prevent…bringing in commissioners to take over much of the roles of councillors or, worse still, the compulsory amalgamation of this authority with one or more other authorities”.

Joint working with mainland neighbour Gwynedd Council was explored last winter but reached no conclusion.

One Anglesey councillor said: “Gwynedd did not want anything to do with this basket case.”

Cllr McGregor has said that some, unnamed, councillors’ “sole interest is seeking revenge, by whatever means possible, on members of staff for instigating complaints to the ombudsman”. The ombudsman acts in Wales as an equivalent to the Standards Board for England.

He said Anglesey needed a council with a lower age profile and more female members. At present the average age of its councillors is 62.5, against a Welsh average of 57, and just two of its 40 councillors are women.

Anglesey is in the midst of an emergency inspection by the Wales Audit Office.

This was ordered by social justice and local government minister Carl Sergeant, who threatened “more stringent intervention” after complaints from chief executive David Bowles about councillor conduct and manoeuvring by the Labour, Plaid Cymru, Original Independent and Menai groups to overthrow Cllr McGregor.

Mr Bowles was imposed on the council by ministers after a damning audit report in 2009.

In his letter, Cllr McGregor said many councillors had “remained silent whilst a hard core minority have wreaked havoc within the authority”.

He said: “The reputation of this council has been severely damaged over the years by inappropriate member behaviour.”

Service standards had been high despite this “thanks to the professionalism of our staff [but] lately the reputation that we have forged for ourselves, and the ongoing uncertainty this has created, is seriously impacting on staff morale,” Cllr McGregor said.

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