Culture and Heritage of Wales Non-Essential

I wrote a while ago that I’d be looking for the Welsh Government to answer some questions related to the appointment process for the Chair of the new Welsh environment/natural resources agency. Here is the government’s response to the questions I posed:

    • What were the selection criteria for the post?
    • Which candidates were eliminated from consideration at the short listing stage and why? What scores did the non-selected candidates achieve?
    • Who was on the recruitment panel? What scores were achieved by the shortlisted candidates?
    • What scrutiny, if any, was made of Professor Matthews’ role in the lack of investment in Northern Ireland Water that caused the catastrophic failure of supply in December 2010?

The criteria against which selection was made were listed in the candidate pack which was available for anyone to view on the Welsh Government recruitment web pages.  I attach a copy of the document for your information.

You will see from the pack that skills and experience sought were the following:
Skills and Experience – essential

    • An outstanding record of leadership, organisational transformation and development at Board level or equivalent in a complex organisation
    • Experience of leading the development and implementation of strategies aimed at achieving organisational goal
    • Excellent track record of inspiring and enthusing staff and stakeholders that demonstrates an inclusive and collaborative approach including working in partnership with staff representatives
    • Leading or being part of the leadership in developing organisational cultures
    • An exceptional ability to communicate, including handling the media and wider public audiences, and building relationships at all levels. Strong interpersonal skills are required, including the ability to negotiate, persuade and influence
    • The ability to contribute independently and pragmatically to the advice given to Ministers
    • A track record of managing complex and challenging relationships at a senior level in a multi-stakeholder environment
    • Well-developed analytical reasoning skills and judgment  based on an expert ability to process and interpret complex information
    • Able to demonstrate leadership and a creative and pro-active approach to problem solving with a high level of professionalism
    • Ability to ensure that the organisation’s financial dealings are prudently and systematically accounted for, audited and publicly available showing a commitment to transparency and openness
    • Understanding of the public sector context and understanding of and commitment to the principles of public life
    • Able to demonstrate a track record of commitment to and notable delivery against principles of equality and diversity

Skills and experience – desirable

    • A demonstrable interest in, and understanding of sustainable development
    • Experience of working in a commercial or regulatory environment
    • Understanding of the constraints imposed by operating in the public sector
    • Understanding of the culture and heritage of Wales and a commitment to ensuring that, along with its language, they are reflected in the working of the Body

A panel established to advise the Minister on the appointment had an independent chair (Catherine Bishop) appointed by the Office of the Commissioner on Public Appointments who ensured the appointments process, from start to finish, adhered to the procedures required by the Commissioner on Public Appointments. The remainder of the appointments panel consisted of:  Gareth Jones (Director General, Sustainable Futures – Welsh Government); Bernard Galton (Director General, People, Places & Corporate Services – Welsh Government); and Peter Davies (Wales Commissioner for Sustainable Futures).

Details of other candidates for the post remain confidential.  The decision to recommend Professor Matthews for appointment followed thorough consideration of his qualities and experience set against the requirements of the post.

There are a few points of particular note here. Firstly, an “interest in” the Welsh Government’s central organising principle for the devolved public sector, sustainable development, is merely a desirable attribute. Given that this body will be bound by the Sustainable Development Bill when it becomes law, that seems a peculiarly low bar for candidates to jump.

Secondly, the only answer the Welsh Government could come up with to this question “What scrutiny, if any, was made of Professor Matthews’ role in the lack of investment in Northern Ireland Water that caused the catastrophic failure of supply in December 2010?” was “The decision to recommend Professor Matthews for appointment followed thorough consideration of his qualities and experience set against the requirements of the post”. To you and me, that means that no scrutiny was made of the “years of neglect” that led to the crisis during which hospitals had to rely on the fire service for water.

Thirdly, this criterion “Understanding of the culture and heritage of Wales and a commitment to ensuring that, along with its language, they are reflected in the working of the Body” appears to be optional. So we can expect this new body – one of the largest public sector organisations in Wales – to be able to opt out of a commitment to reflect the culture, heritage and language of Wales in its working.

I understand that the Chief Executive has been appointed. He (I make an assumption alluded to here) will need to have some of the same attributes as the Chair in order to convince the people of Wales that the new organisation will be anything other than a British establishment body with British establishment values. Starting with “An exceptional ability to communicate, including handling the media and wider public audiences, and… the ability to negotiate, persuade and influence”.

5 Sylw

Filed under Welsh Government

5 responses to “Culture and Heritage of Wales Non-Essential

  1. Richard Sletzer

    Good for Professor Matthews. And well done him on getting the job despite not knowing anything about Welsh culture or the Welsh language.
    The two aforementioned are the biggest drag-anchors holding back Wales and the Welsh economy and totally irrelevant to his new job

  2. Perhaps the ‘well done’ should be on getting the job despite his track record in Northern Ireland.
    I’d be intrigued to see any evidence you might have on your second point. As far as I’m aware, there is none. And the relevance to his job is laid out in the job criteria that are listed above.

  3. Richard Sletzer

    I haven’t made any comments here before because this blog, seemed an “in” Welsh thing – decked out in Welsh with a Welsh name. It wasn’t until the other day I realised most, in fact all the comments are in English – which tells its own story.
    Evidence? I spend most of my time in North Wales where it’s all around us. Councils operate in Welsh,MPs are expected to be Welsh speaking as are AMs and all senior public appointees – plus the bulk of public sector workers including teachers.Assuming 15% that the population can speak Welsh, which is a pretty big assumption, it means that all these important posts are being recruited from a tiny section of the population. It is hardly surprising these people are in the main sub-standard because better,,brighter people are excluded . With substandard decision-makers at the helm Wales is going backwards.
    As a language, Welsh itself is not fit for purpose which is why most Welsh people abandoned it – but unfortunately it has been allowed to become the secret code of the self-perpetuating hierachy and imbued with an artificial status which it just doesn’t deserve. Language is just a toolIt is a languages .As Lord Elis-Thomas says: “Languages do not have a fate, or beginnings or ends. They are social formations and they are made or unmade by people who live an economic and cultural life.
    To deify, to reify the language, to turn it into some kind of spiritual good is, I think, a disaster.”. Just for once he is right.
    Welsh language and “Welsh culture” whatever that is, has got nothing to do with what comes out of our taps. I’m glad someone at last realises that.

  4. All you seem to have provided is anecdotal evidence. The same sort of evidence that my friend brings out to justify smoking – his great-uncle smoked 40 a day and lived to 100 in rude health.
    Your stats on the proportion of people speaking Welsh are wrong, even on an all-Wales basis. One council operates in Welsh (Gwynedd), and there the proportion of bilinguals is much higher than the all-Wales average. But of course, you know this and you’re using falsehoods to promote your own agenda.
    Again, if you have any evidence that Wales is “going backwards” as a result of the Welsh language I’d be delighted to publish it.
    You say that the Welsh language is “not fit for purpose”. I’d be grateful for your further thoughts on that – unless those further thoughts are unsubstantiated as most of your assertions appear to be.
    Finally, you seem adept at constructing a self-defeating argument:
    “I spend most of my time in North Wales where [the Welsh language is] all around us… all these important posts are being recruited from a tiny section of the population”.
    I don’t want this blog to become a pro/anti Welsh language discussion board. If this is your only interest then please direct your attention elsewhere.

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