12:50pm Friday 5th April 2013
TORFAEN council last night voted almost unanimously in favour of Cllr Brian Mawby taking over as the cabinet member for children and youth services.
At an extraordinary meeting of full council at the Civic Centre in Pontypool, only independent group leader Elizabeth Haynes refused to support the motion brought by council leader Bob Wellington. Cllr Mawby will replace Cllr Mary Barnett in the role, which covers the council’s education department.
Cllr Barnett is being replaced after the education department was put into special measures by schools inspectorate Estyn last month. Estyn’s report criticised the council for a lack of progress made on recommendations made in a previous inspection in 2011.
Cllr Barnett was not at the meeting and was among those whose names were read out in apologies.
Cllr Wellington was the first of many, including the leaders of all three opposition groups, to praise her for her hard work in the role.
Cllr Wellington said the authority had improved “but not deep enough or quick enough.”
He said they were expecting details in a fortnight from education minister Leighton Andrews on what form the special measures would take.
Cllr John Cunningham said Torfaen had taken a brave decision in making a change, while Two Locks and Henllys councillor Ron Burnett called for the head of Cllr Wellington.
He said: “It’s not just about Mary Barnett, she has been made a scapegoat for this. The leader says we needed fresh eyes (for the education role): what about putting fresh eyes on the leadership of this council?Why doesn’t he do the honourable thing for once in his life and resign? “ The meeting also agreed Panteg councillor Norma Parish will temporarily chair the planning committee, a position vacated by Cllr Mawby.
Council also agreed to extend the period in which Cynthia Beynon needs to attend a qualifying meeting to remain a councillor.
Cllr Beynon has been unable to attend for health reasons since October 2011.
Cllr Mawby told council there were many examples of good teaching in the borough, even if the picture wasn’t “entirely rosy”.
He said: “I will do my best but I need your help” and pledged to make sure all councillors are governors on schools in the borough.
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