Accessibility Is There - You Need Only Ask the National Newspaper of Wales; Education and Training Quango Elwa Has Been Plagued by Criticism from the Outset. after Damning Reports, Accusations of Management Problems and Redundancies, Outgoing Chairwoman Enid Rowlands Hits Back

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), June 17, 2003 | Go to article overview

Accessibility Is There - You Need Only Ask the National Newspaper of Wales; Education and Training Quango Elwa Has Been Plagued by Criticism from the Outset. after Damning Reports, Accusations of Management Problems and Redundancies, Outgoing Chairwoman Enid Rowlands Hits Back


I see that the announcement that I do not wish to extend my current contract as chair of the National Council - Elwa was greeted with the usual predictable comments from certain opposition AMs.

It seems a feature of the way that some AMs wish to conduct business in Wales that they engage in public expressions of disquiet through the media without once seeking to arrange meetings to discuss the concerns they claim to espouse with those who can answer them.

Indeed in one case attempts on my part to meet a particular AM were repeatedly cancelled while at the same time that individual was calling for more information about Elwa activities.

I accepted the post of chair of the National Council because I strongly believe in the need to increase both accessibility and education and training standards in Wales.

In the past three years the National Council has delivered on the majority of its targets and I am proud of that achievement.

However very early on I made it clear that I would not be seeking a second term.

Our family plans always provided for an extensive period overseas during my son's final primary year which coincides with the end of my contract this autumn, and I reconfirmed this position with the Welsh Assembly Government following the recent election.

I realise that this fact may not fit the spin that the media and others have put on recent events, but in keeping with the training I received as a civil servant, I have throughout my time at the National Council kept detailed records of correspondence and discussions which serve to support this position.

It is an unfortunate fact that the National Council's work over the past 18 months has become dominated by the need to tackle internal financial management weaknesses relating to contract procurement procedures.

These we have addressed in accordance with agreed procedures and the legal advice received from our own lawyers and those of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Part of that process is to run the rule over a wide swathe of contracts to check that there are no outstanding problems.

Had we not done so we would doubtless be criticised by the same people who are seeking now to sensationalise prudent management measures.

We have throughout this period worked closely with the Welsh Assembly Government's civil service. With the support of the Minister, and our colleagues in the Higher Education Funding Council, we have moved to implement the recommendations of the Rawlings Report.

Under the leadership of an interim chief executive the National Council is being restructured within the resources allocated to us by the National Assembly and the necessary foundations for good corporate governance are being laid.

We are also working through a tender process in line with National Assembly requirements preparatory to advertising for a new permanent chief executive and director of finance. …

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Accessibility Is There - You Need Only Ask the National Newspaper of Wales; Education and Training Quango Elwa Has Been Plagued by Criticism from the Outset. after Damning Reports, Accusations of Management Problems and Redundancies, Outgoing Chairwoman Enid Rowlands Hits Back
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