THE leader of Blaenau Gwent council has said the authority has been “open and honest” about a review into bacteria found in water supplies at schools in the area, following accusations of a “cover up”.

Several schools in Blaenau Gwent had to delay re-opening for the autumn term after lockdown due to legionella bacteria in water supplies, which led to an independent review.

In a scrutiny committee earlier this week Cllr Steve Thomas, the council’s Labour group leader, questioned why the independent review was not published until Friday, claiming there had been “a cover up attempted”.

However, in yesterday’s (October 14) executive committee meeting, the council leader Nigel Daniels, said they had been open and transparent.


Cllr Daniels said: ”It was politicians and this executive that asked for this review to be taken and I know officers were supportive of that view, but we actually brought it to the table and we wanted it done.

“We have been open and transparent about everything.

“I suspect maybe in times past some of the appendices attached might not have seen the light of day “But we wanted everything out in the open for schools, public, everyone to see.

“We have taken those criticisms appropriately and we will abide by those criticisms and put appropriate measures in place “I’m not really sure how much more transparent from political and professional perspective we could have possibly been.”

Following the executive meeting, Cllr Joanne Collins, executive member for education and Cllr Joanna Wilkins, executive member for the environment issued a joint statement.

The statement said: “Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge and indeed a steep learning curve for all organisations involved. We were in an unprecedented situation where due to lockdown our schools had been closed for a long period of time – something which has never happened before.

“Toward the end of the summer we worked positively with our school leaders on plans to safely and effectively open schools for check in sessions at the end of the summer term, which included comprehensive health and safety checks.

“The vast majority of our schools opened successfully by the date requested by Welsh Government. Unfortunately, early test results on water sampling at some school sites did cause us concern and where alternative arrangements were not found we made the difficult decision not to re-open those schools at that time. In doing so, and in taking this precautionary action, we continued to put the health and safety of our pupils, staff and families first.”

The statement said that all schools were open for learners in the summer term.

“As a result, the council commissioned an independent report in order to give us the opportunity to review and strengthen our procedures in relation to water testing going forward,” the statement read.

“The report found that the Council’s response did not put any learner or staff member at risk, but has made some recommendations on how processes could be strengthened going forward.

“We fully acknowledge the findings of this report and we will be working hard to implement the recommendations which include making improvements to training, policy and data monitoring.”