Officer-member relations ‘fractured’ at Wrexham

By Dan Peters and Ellie Ames | 02 February 2024

Issues in Wrexham CBC’s planning service mean it is hindered in fulfilling its role, an audit has found.

Audit Wales said ongoing delays in adopting strategic documents, including a local development plan, had created significant risks for the council.

The watchdog described fractured relationships between some members and officers, with officer advice frequently undermined.

However, it found that Wrexham’s planning service had appropriate governance and provided comprehensive member training.

Auditor general Adrian Crompton said: ‘Based on our findings, I have set out recommendations intended to improve the relationship between officers and members, their understanding of respective roles and responsibilities, and the management of corporate risks.'

The review followed claims councillors unlawfully commissioned legal advice for a judicial review of the Welsh Government’s decision to enforce adoption of its local development plan.

Separately, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has confirmed it had started an investigation into Wrexham members while North Wales Police said it was in the process of assessing ‘information relating to the judicial review’ after an allegation of malfeasance in public office by councillors.

It is understood the Welsh Government is active in the case via an informal intervention in support of senior officers.

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