Only one internal improvement board left

An internal Powys County Council improvement board remains in place for the Highways Transport and Recycling (HTR) department, to scrutinise its performance.

Cllr James Gibson-Watt. Liberal Democrat group leader at Powys County Council.
Cllr James Gibson-Watt. Liberal Democrat group leader at Powys County Council.

But at a recent meeting of the council’s cabinet a decision was taken to remove the improvement boards for the Education and Housing departments.

The improvements board infrastructure has been a mechanism used by the council to drive better performance in several departments following poor inspection reports in recent years.

Stopping the boards is a sign that the council’s “journey to excellence” is getting closer to its destination.

Council leader, Councillor James Gibson-Watt explained: “I’m please to say some of the improvement boards have run their course and are no longer required.

“By their very nature, these changes will involve the scrutiny committees more in overseeing the improvement work.

“I think that’s a really good development, I’m really happy with that and I’m sure the scrutiny committees will be really keen to fulfil those extra functions.

“So that’s a strengthening of the council’s scrutiny arrangements.”

Cllr Gibson-Watt added that there was still a need to have the HTR improvement board .

“It is still felt that there is a need for the board as the services is facing some specific problems that need addressing, but further reviews will be undertaken in six to 12 months,” said Cllr Gibson-Watt.

Cabinet approved the changes unanimously.

The improvement boards were set up in the autumn of 2020 after the external Improvement and Assurance Board, which was established in March 2018 to drive “the required change and improvement” at Powys, was disbanded.

The board was chaired independently by the former chief executive of Swansea Council, Jack Straw who reported on Powys’ progress to the Welsh Government.

It followed the highly critical report by the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) into the council’s Children’s Social Services which was published in October 2017.

Following the critical Estyn inspection in September 2019, the Education Service was added to the board’s remit.

When the internal boards were set up, Housing and HTR were also included.

There was one overarching Corporate Improvement Board, chaired by the former council leader Rosemarie Harris that looked at the progress of each individual improvement board.

Meetings of these four boards would be chaired by the relevant cabinet member.

The purpose behind the individual boards was that departments understood the expectation of them as well as finding out whether they were being funded properly.

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