'Stop the shenanigans' - Blaenau Gwent council leader tells critics

UNDER FIRE: Blaenau Gwent council leader Hedley McCarthy

UNDER FIRE: Blaenau Gwent council leader Hedley McCarthy

First published in Gwent news
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THE under-fire leader of Blaenau Gwent council is calling for his critics in his own group to stop "anonymous sniping" and get on with the job of running the council.

Yesterday Councillor Hedley McCarthy hit back at the criticism as "sour grapes" and said such talk was "destabilising the council".

He hit back after sources in the Labour group told the Argus he is facing fresh criticism just a week after the Argus was given letters which said he has been accused of not doing enough to get education out of special measures.

A source told the Argus at a meeting of the Labour party at the beginning of the year there was a a leadership challenge over concerns about the leader in relation to education.

The source said ‘leading’ Labour group members are calling for an emergency group meeting to discuss the ‘leadership crisis’ within the council. The source said Cllr McCarthy is failing to take responsibility for failures within the council and a lot of the criticism comes from within the Labour party.

The source said: “Hedley managed to hold on by telling the Labour group he would bow out half way through his term in office in a bid to fend off attack and he didn’t want to show weakness by going straight away - now members want him out.”

Another source, close to the Labour party in Blaenau Gwent, told the Argus: “There was a meeting of the Labour group in January or February, where they called for him (Hedley) to go. That’s true.

“The pressure is on Hedley to bow out gracefully, but he doesn’t seem willing to go – he’s prepared to take everyone down with him by the looks of it.

“He said he would leave and he’s not. There’s a lot of disgruntled Labour councillors who are asking for Steve Thomas (the deputy leader) to hold a meeting.”

Cllr Steve Thomas said: “This is news to me. My view is all Blaenau Gwent councillors know the council is in a serious financial climate at the moment and has had to take some pretty stern measures. I’m focussing on that, getting on with the job.

"No one has made me aware of a meeting to discuss leadership. I have not been asked by anyone to hold a meeting – that would be down to the chairman of the Labour group in Blaenau Gwent cllr Derrick Bevan."

Cllr Bevan said: “Yes, we had our usual meeting at the beginning of the year. Leadership was discussed and the leader was voted back in.”

When asked if the leader was asked to step down or resign halfway through, he said: “No, not really. It was suggested but it did not go any further. No one has asked me to hold a meeting.”

Cllr McCarthy hit back: “It’s important to note we have a collective leadership here at Blaenau Gwent. No one is saying anything within the party as far as I’m aware. If they had a complaint they would come to me.

“I'm not halfway through my term in office for one thing. There was no challenge to my leadership - I was elected unanimously. There is no pressure on me to bow out. I am not planning to resign.

“I do have a distaste for anonymous sniping. I am doubtful that people loyal to the Labour party would do something like this, because they should understand the difficulties we are in and the progress we are making.

“As far as I am concerned the Labour group is united.”

He added: "In 39 years of being a member of the party – I was first elected when I was 25 – what I know for sure is a divided party is no good to anyone. It’s time people stopped these shenanigans and got on with the job.”

The first source also said the minority Independents were looking to have a vote of no confidence in the council’s leadership which could see some labour councillors joining them.

John Hopkins, leader of the independents, said: “We have always got that intention. Twelve months ago I spoke very clearly and asked the leader to stand down in the best interests if the council and the community, because auditors said in their reports that he was ineffective.

“He said no. That was his decision. The problem is the council is not improving in any way. He is unable to solve any problems and he’s really negating his responsibilities by asking the deputy leader to be the spokesperson within the council.

“His leadership is not respected within the council and most importantly, the message coming from the community is unless he stands down the public are going to lose confidence in the total council.

“The council is in bad straights and it’s the leader who has overall responsibility. I don’t know what the Labour group are going to do – we independents have only 10 members. The Labour party are the only ones who can remove him. But the council is in a poor state of health and because of that I think no one wants to take the job of leader on.

“I’m having no end of calls from the community saying, 'what’s he doing?' I’m just passing on the message for the community – that there needs to be a change of leadership."

Cllr McCarthy said Cllr Hopkins' claims of failure in the council rankled with recent positive reports from the Welsh Audit Office and Estyn, and being singled out by Lesley Griffiths AM as a council making "significant improvements" at a recent Welsh Local Government Association conference.

"It's despicable," he said. "It's blatant hypocrisy and is destabilising the council at a time when we've just got onto a firm financial footing. It's just sour grapes."

Comments (11)

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8:18am Tue 19 Aug 14

taffygwent says...

Its not sour grapes you are an ineffective leader you have managed to worsen an already difficult situation but you stay on the gravy train.
Its not sour grapes you are an ineffective leader you have managed to worsen an already difficult situation but you stay on the gravy train. taffygwent
  • Score: 9

9:31am Tue 19 Aug 14

KarloMarko says...

"Grey skies are gonna clear up, Put on a happy face; Brush off the clouds and cheer up, Put on a happy face...And spread sunshine all over the place!"
"Grey skies are gonna clear up, Put on a happy face; Brush off the clouds and cheer up, Put on a happy face...And spread sunshine all over the place!" KarloMarko
  • Score: -5

10:34am Tue 19 Aug 14

kez1968 says...

It's not just him they want to get rid of but the bloody lot of them, corruption and ineptitude runs through the entire labour run council, labour has done nothing for this borough since its creation, all that it's created is self serving councillors feathering there own nests, while the borough rots.
It's not just him they want to get rid of but the bloody lot of them, corruption and ineptitude runs through the entire labour run council, labour has done nothing for this borough since its creation, all that it's created is self serving councillors feathering there own nests, while the borough rots. kez1968
  • Score: 14

11:57am Tue 19 Aug 14

Abertillery29 says...

I agree with all the comments above. Also isn't it about time the business regarding Councillor Scully is sorted out or have I missed what is happening or has happened there? Lets just hope - but I'm not holding my breath - that the people of Blaenau Gwent wake up to all the failed promises and policies of this Labour run council over many,many years.
I agree with all the comments above. Also isn't it about time the business regarding Councillor Scully is sorted out or have I missed what is happening or has happened there? Lets just hope - but I'm not holding my breath - that the people of Blaenau Gwent wake up to all the failed promises and policies of this Labour run council over many,many years. Abertillery29
  • Score: 8

4:04pm Tue 19 Aug 14

Julesblaina1 says...

Why cant the ruling Labour party see what damage they are doing to Blaenau Gwent, Services are being cut left right and centre to save money but they never take into account the amount of redundancy they have to pay out. They set up a Life Leisure Trust without consulting the residents of the borough and they all their cronies sit on the board. Education has been failing for years and we will see this thursday that results are just as bad as previous years. Time for Hedley and Steve to go.We have the most councillors than any other council per resident and what do we get for it, nothing. Time for the Welsh Government to step in
Why cant the ruling Labour party see what damage they are doing to Blaenau Gwent, Services are being cut left right and centre to save money but they never take into account the amount of redundancy they have to pay out. They set up a Life Leisure Trust without consulting the residents of the borough and they all their cronies sit on the board. Education has been failing for years and we will see this thursday that results are just as bad as previous years. Time for Hedley and Steve to go.We have the most councillors than any other council per resident and what do we get for it, nothing. Time for the Welsh Government to step in Julesblaina1
  • Score: 5

4:06pm Tue 19 Aug 14

Julesblaina1 says...

Today Education Minister Mr Lewis said that during Blaenau Gwent's re-inspection in January last year, Estyn once again concluded the performance of the education services and the authority’s prospects for improvement were "unsatisfactory" and that the department should stay in special measures.
Today Education Minister Mr Lewis said that during Blaenau Gwent's re-inspection in January last year, Estyn once again concluded the performance of the education services and the authority’s prospects for improvement were "unsatisfactory" and that the department should stay in special measures. Julesblaina1
  • Score: 4

4:50pm Tue 19 Aug 14

taffygwent says...

When the labour party go can they take Eddie Legge with them please
When the labour party go can they take Eddie Legge with them please taffygwent
  • Score: 19

6:40pm Tue 19 Aug 14

stevey says...

It's a shambles, not a town centre toilet open, closed to save money, can you believe it in this day and age?
It's a shambles, not a town centre toilet open, closed to save money, can you believe it in this day and age? stevey
  • Score: 6

7:59pm Tue 19 Aug 14

On the inside says...

So no one quoted has any knowledge of the request for a special meeting. Seems odd? Unless the reporter is lying to create a story. Name names, or provide verifiable evidence, or accept you have no story. Journalistic standards in this country are at an all time low.
So no one quoted has any knowledge of the request for a special meeting. Seems odd? Unless the reporter is lying to create a story. Name names, or provide verifiable evidence, or accept you have no story. Journalistic standards in this country are at an all time low. On the inside
  • Score: 2

7:55am Wed 20 Aug 14

theviking666 says...

On the inside says Journalistic standards in this country are at an all time low. A lot like local councillors then.
On the inside says Journalistic standards in this country are at an all time low. A lot like local councillors then. theviking666
  • Score: 4

4:56pm Thu 21 Aug 14

Julesblaina1 says...

https://www.assembly
wales.org/gethome/e-
petitions/epetition-
list-of-signatories.
htm?pet_id=1048&show
frm=0

Petition to reduce the number of councillors and exec members of Blaenau Gwent Council
https://www.assembly wales.org/gethome/e- petitions/epetition- list-of-signatories. htm?pet_id=1048&show frm=0 Petition to reduce the number of councillors and exec members of Blaenau Gwent Council Julesblaina1
  • Score: 0

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