The Civic Centre in Pontypool
The Civic Centre in Pontypool Credit: Cwmbran Life

WILL the new joint chief executive for Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen council favour one authority over the other or will both councils be treated as one in the future a councillor has said.

At a special Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council meeting on Wednesday, June 12 councillors held a wide ranging debate on the merits that Torfaen County Borough chief executive Stephen Vickers also become the chief executive of Blaenau Gwent.

Mr Vickers has been in post at Torfaen since April 2021.

Labour’s Cllr Jules Gardner: “I welcome this as a short to medium term solution to the issue we have of hiring a chief executive.

“It allows us to build new talent within the senior leadership group that will allows us to nurture a new chief executive.”

He said that the arguments raised during the debate on whether the councils will remain separate raised questions for him.

Cllr Gardner said: “I do feel there’s a bifurcation of council interests as we move forward especially in terms of competition.

“If we remain autonomous where will this chief executive’s allegiances lie?

“Or are we seen as one council with some sort of merger.”

Council leader Labour Cllr Steve Thomas said: “At this stage we’re keeping our autonomy and separate leadership teams and no move at this point to go further.”

“Let’s see how this works out and build from there.”

Labour’s Cllr David Wilkshire said: “Whether your loyalties are to one or t ‘other, when you have two children you love them both the same and he (the chief executive) will have two children.

“Hopefully he will understand that we want as much from him as Torfaen will want.

“I can’t see him wanting to come here to make things worse for us as he has a reputation to live up to.

Councillors agreed the proposal.

The council has been searching for a permanent chief executive for over two years when former managing director, Michelle Morris left Blaenau Gwent in March 2022 to become the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Former director of social services, Damien McCann stepped up into the role and has been the Blaenau Gwent “interim” chief executive ever since.

But with Mr McCann due to retire at the end of this month, the council needed to move fast to find a suitable replacement.

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