Home » Outspoken councillor celebrates Conwy managers leaving authority
Conwy North Wales Politics

Outspoken councillor celebrates Conwy managers leaving authority

Conwy County Council

AN OUTSPOKEN councillor celebrated Conwy managers leaving the authority, proclaiming ‘they weren’t very good’ whilst accusing the council of ‘piddling around’ with its regeneration effort.

Abergele councillor Paul Luckock made the comment at a Bodlondeb council meeting this week when discussing a review of how Conwy manages the regeneration of its towns.

The economy and place scrutiny committee met to discuss closing its town regeneration programmes in Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Abergele, and Llanrwst to cut costs.

The various town regeneration programmes have been credited with helping to provide investment into each town, such as Colwyn Bay’s Porth Eirias and the flagship Coed Pella council building.

Instead the council is proposing to discuss regeneration as part of a wider remit at local area forums – made up of all councillors whose wards fall in regeneration areas.

Currently town regeneration programmes have a select membership from the public sector as well as the private sector – such as businesses.

Whilst cutting costs associated with council officers’ working hours, some councillors fear the new way of working could lack focus, dilute the regeneration effort, and exclude private stakeholders.

But Abergele councillor Paul Luckock went a step further in his criticism, appearing to celebrate some council workers leaving the authority.

“The big picture is is our regeneration strategy overall effective and efficient?” he said.

“I’m very sceptical. I’ve been here two years now nearly. I worry a lot about our strategic vision in terms of the regeneration of our towns.

online casinos UK

“I think we are playing around with a means to an end, but we are not dealing in relation to the means to the end, and what all of us want in terms of the outcomes is credible business plans worked out, shovel-ready, which we can then compete when money becomes available, but we also, I think, want some of our own projects, not always chasing these competitive funds which we are putting in (such as submitting to Welsh Government).

“So the first bit of means to an end we need to sort out is our capacity and capabilities, which in my view we are far too timid about, which we should bring forward a business plan that provides training for staff who are accredited project managers, and as part of that business plan, have a clear route for recruiting and retaining people because we’ve lost some good project managers since I’ve been here – and some project managers who weren’t very good have gone anyway. I can think of one or two projects that I’ve known about. You know, it is good that they’ve gone in a sense.”

Cllr Luckock added, “The reality is that we’ve got to get our overall regeneration strategy sorted. I don’t think across the council there is anybody thinking we’ve got this right. We are sort of piddling around with this issue about local area forums – our local area forum hasn’t met since August.”

But chief executive Rhun ap Gareth disagreed.

“It is about that wider perspective, the best use of officers’ time, at a time when there are incredible pressures across the council, but the incredible pressures are also on the project teams, and we are all alive to it,” he said.

“Whilst I completely appreciate some of the comments made by Cllr Paul (Luckock), I would gently remind, at a time when we are looking at statutory obligations and the ability of local authorities to deliver those, we have to have that in mind when we are setting budgets.”

He added, “We also bear in mind the majority of these boards flourished at a time when money was available in terms of European funding, which isn’t there anymore. We have a levelling-up fund, but we don’t know the future. So there is a lot of uncertainty there over whether we can deliver regeneration projects.”

Mr ap Gareth then said Conwy’s officers did a “sterling job” across teams.

Cllr Nigel Smith added, “I don’t agree with what Cllr Paul (Luckock) has been saying about our regeneration projects not being successful.

“They could be better. There needs to be a better plan. We are over critical of ourselves. You’ve only got to open your eyes and look at Colwyn Bay and Rhos on Sea areas, Llandudno, Conwy, even in the east of the county. We are looking great, and we forget that.”

Cllr Goronwy Edwards then told members there were few officers and little money available to carry out the work, asking councillors to be mindful before asking officers to undertake extra tasks.

But other councillors appeared resistant to closing the town regeneration programmes and instead widening the remit of local area forums.

Cllr Andrew Wood said, “I personally value the Abergele regeneration board,” he said.

“Why get rid of something that works? It works fantastically well.”

Cllr Louise Emery said it was vital private stakeholders remained part of regeneration discussions.

“I don’t really mind what it is called. I just like the idea of having a meeting between the private and the public sector,” she said.

“So the people we’ve had on the Llandudno regeneration board are really important stakeholders in the town. You can’t really do anything in Llandudno without their say so or without their permission, or you’d want them onboard.”

But Cllr Simon Croft said new members couldn’t get on the boards in their current form and was all for the new local area forums.

Cllr Chris Hughes added, “In terms of Colwyn Bay regeneration board, it has representatives from the church, has representatives of business, and representatives on the town council.

“I think the point that does need to be made is that any of those who are permanent members wouldn’t want to come to a local area forum. They wouldn’t be interested in drainage issues or stuff like that. They are interested in the regeneration of our town.”

The committee backed the report that will go to cabinet, but council officers must first come back with more information in regard to the framework, structure, and membership of the local area forums.