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Councillors to get more information on Gwent Archives and Crematorium

outside of a crematorium
Gwent Crematorium at Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran, Torfaen. Source: Google Streetview.

COUNCILLORS in Blaenau Gwent will receive more information on what’s happening at the Gwent Archives and Crematorium from next year onwards.

This is one of the recommendations given to councillors to endorse following a probe that looked at the relationship between Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council and the organisations or companies it has an interest in. This follows a damning report by Audit Wales in January 2022 which highlighted “deficiencies” in the governance and oversight arrangement of the council’s arm’s length company, Silent Valley Waste Services.

Following the criticism, the council set up an “assurance review” into the arrangements it has with other companies. The review findings will be presented at two council committees this week.

Firstly, the Governance and Audit committee on Wednesday, October 18 and also a “special” meeting of the Partnerships scrutiny committee on Thursday, October 19.

The report said: “The list within the scope of the review, as agreed and signed off by Audit Wales, was Aneurin Leisure Trust, Education Achievement Service (EAS) Gwent Archives and Gwent Crematoria.”

“One thing to note in respect of the four companies within the scope of the review, none of the positions as representatives of the council on these companies are remunerated.”

The report notes that no “further action” or “recommendations” are needed in respect of EAS or Aneurin Leisure Trust. On the relationship with Gwent Archives and Gwent Crematorium the report explains that they were both established as a Joint Committee on a regional footprint across Gwent and are funded by the five local authorities.

The lead authority for the archives is Torfaen Council although is actually based in Ebbw Vale at the ground floor of the General Office – which has become then headquarters of Blaenau Gwent council.

The crematorium is run by Newport Council even through it based at Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran in Torfaen. The report explains information on the archive is available on Torfaen Council’s website. Likewise, information on the crematorium can be found on Newport Council’s website.

The problem identified by the review is that information on both archives and crematorium is not officially fed back into Blaenau Gwent’s “democratic process.” The work of neither archives or crematorium is looked at by a scrutiny committee and no official meetings between council officers from Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen or Newport take place. The report provides a number of recommendations for Blaenau Gwent to adopt by the end of March 2024.

These are:

  • That a “link officer” is identified and tasked with holding regular liaison meetings with Gwent Archives and Gwent Crematorium.
  • A briefing for councillors on the operations and services provided by the archives and crematorium is organised.
  • A term of reference ‘governance toolkit’ for use by officers across the council for the companies is developed.
  • All relevant documents and accounts for Gwent Archives and Gwent Crematoria are seen twice a year by Blaenau Gwent’s Partnerships Scrutiny Committee and full council where relevant from 2024/2025 onwards.

Comments from both committees will be included in the report which will be presented to all councillors at a meeting on Tuesday, October 24.

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Councillors to get more information on Gwent Archives and Crematorium