A former Welsh Government minister has been slammed after accusing the chief executive of Flintshire Council of adopting a ‘begging bowl mentality’ in an online row over funding.
The remarks by Labour AM Alun Davies (pictured above – left) have caused anger among senior politicians in the county after they were posted on Twitter over the weekend.
It followed an announcement by the local authority’s highest-earning official Colin Everett (pictured above – right) about the relaunch of a campaign to ask the Cardiff administration to provide more money for all councils in Wales.
Flintshire Council has cut back on its spending by £85m in the last eleven years and needs to find a further £13.5m of savings in the next financial year.
As one of the lowest funded councils per head of population in Wales, it has led national calls for fairer funding.
— Alun Davies 🏴 (@AlunDaviesAM) August 1, 2019
However, the former Local Government Secretary responded by accusing Mr Everett of ‘dishonesty’ and claiming authorities needed to deliver structural changes.
Flintshire’s Labour cabinet member for social services has now strongly condemned the AM’s comments, which she described as ‘disgraceful’, and warned that a lack of finances was putting frontline services at risk.
Sealand councillor Christine Jones said: “When you speak to someone like he was speaking to the chief executive on Twitter, I think it’s shameful.
“His understanding of local government is just abysmal.
“That comment he made to Colin about begging bowls was disgraceful towards the chief executive of a local authority who’s trying his hardest to work with his team of officers and councillors in cabinet to give the best services for Flintshire and get a fair settlement.
“That’s all we’re asking for is a fair settlement so we can deliver public services.
“We’re at crisis point, especially in social care as we don’t get the money for out of county placements and it’s not just in Flintshire, it’s across all of Wales.”
Last June, plans outlined by Mr Davies, which could have seen the number of councils in Wales reduced from 22 to 10, were abandoned by the Welsh Government.
There were also calls for him to be sacked by in October after he compared councillors to ‘Oliver Twists’.
He was later replaced by Wrexham AM Lesley Griffiths following a cabinet reshuffle by the incoming First Minister Mark Drakeford.
Despite being criticised for his latest remarks, the Blaenau Gwent representative said he stood by his comments and made further calls for authorities to agree to a restructure.
He said: “We are losing thousands of jobs and key services not only because of Tory austerity but because we have an unsustainable system and structure.
“To face future challenges, local government needs to deliver on its many promises to deliver fundamental and far-reaching reform.
“I warned local government last year that they needed to move beyond the annual begging bowl approach.
“Since then they have not delivered a single new commitment to fundamental reform.
“It is the people of this country and those employed by local government who are paying the price.”
By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).