Report's damning verdict on Labour-run Cardiff Council

September 4, 2014 3:18 PM

A damning Welsh Audit Office report into the performance of Cardiff Council has revealed Labour's failure of leadership since it took over running the Council in 2012.

The report's scathing attack on Labour's "fragmented leadership and management" has heaped pressure on Cllr Phil Bale, leader of the council. This report is in stark contrast to a similar one released in 2011, when the Welsh Lib Dems led the council, which praised the Lib Dems' "clear and firm leadership and sound governance".

Cardiff Labour/Lib Dem comparison

"This report is painfully bad," said Cllr Judith Woodman, Leader of the Cardiff Lib Dems. "It makes a number of recommendations but we have little confidence that Phil Bale has the experience or skills to implement those changes in the required timeframe. You have to ask questions of his ability to be running the city.

"That said, it's not just his failure but a failure of his party. Heather Joyce stood down as leader days before the Audit Office came in. She must have known how bad things were going to be and decided to dodge the bullet."

There are now fears that, unless swift improvement is made, the Welsh Government could be forced to appoint Commissioners to run the Council, as they did for Anglesey in 2011.

The report points to 'political instability' as a key cause of the Council's failure to deliver its program of change.

"Bale is leading a party that is in utter disarray," said Woodman. "In the two years Labour have been running the Council, there have been two leadership challenges, four Councillors have resigned (at huge cost to the city in terms of by-elections), countless Cabinet reshuffles, five different cabinet members with responsibility for Children's Services and claims from within the group of systemic sexism. If they can't even run themselves, how can you expect them to run a capital city?

"If the Commissioners are called in, the damage to the Council's reputation is inconceivable."

The current report comes a few months after the administration launched a listening exercise that has already run into widespread ridicule.

"Phil Bale's so-called 'Cardiff Debate' probably sounded a good idea at the time," said Jenny Willott, Welsh Lib Dem MP for Cardiff Central, "but it's set to last for three years. The city simply hasn't got that long.

"Other councils across the UK are using innovative ways of coping with a changed environment for local government. They're getting on with implementing change, not sitting around chatting about it."

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