Thursday, 6 December 2018

Why A Blog About Cyngor #Gwynedd Council ?

I feel it is time for a recap of the events that led to this blog being created.

The 2010 Independent Investigation - with all points upheld - was highly critical of Gwynedd SS and their management team in their treatment of an autistic child. But the recommendations of the Report were not acted upon and the child and family were ignored.

Our local MP, Liz Savile Roberts was contacted for help but her very good friend at the council, Marian Parry Hughes, intervened and Liz then ignored our request for a meeting to provide her with our evidence. Liz has continued to ignore our correspondence.

At the time, the child was on a CIN plan managed by a social worker whose attitude beggared belief, culminating in the social worker not bothering to turn up for a review of the child's case. A meeting that he, himself, had organised with parents and a teacher, letting them all down and wasting everybody's time.

A complaint was raised about his behaviour and that of the Head of Services. To say it was dealt with badly is an understatement and a Stage 2 complaint repeatedly refused. (The Ombudsman has since recommended that ALL officers involved in the complaint be given re-training in the Statutory Complaints procedure)

So I began to blog the story of how Gwynedd Council have behaved.

I have been careful to name only those officers who have behaved badly and deliberately not named one manager whom, I believe, had her arm twisted by more senior managers to misrepresent the Investigation of the censoring and mishandling of personal information and the Council's own data breach.

Gwynedd Adult services were recently lambasted by the Ombudsman for how they treated a young, autistic man. This case was only brought to the Ombudsman's attention because the Complaints department had refused to accept their complaint, also.
If those named would like the right to reply they have only to contact me. I am also willing to consider and/or publish their version of events if they so wish.

I would also like to thank those who have supported the family in our attempt to access services for 'high functioning' autistics and those children that continue to fall between the gaps in services.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Cyngor #Gwynedd Council - And The Other Reports..?

So Gwynedd Democratic Services were made aware of the Independent Investigator's Report and the issue with the council refusing to accept it, in January, 2018.

But what are Democratic Services and what do they do ?

It appears to be a service within the council that advises and caters to the questions and needs of council members - the councillors.

Democratic Services are also the office to contact for an English translation to be made available for webcast as all council business is conducted in Welsh.

The October, 2017 Report highlighted failings with the Children's department relating to social workers carrying out assessments through to Child In Need Plans and records not being properly maintained.

The Ombudsman for Wales Report, April, 2018 into Gwynedd council highlighted service failure and maladministration from 2010 to 2016 including withdrawing support before assessments that showed 'predetermination' i.e set up to fail.

The Investigation of the Data Breach and mishandling and censoring of personal information, in June.

An investigation that still leaves the legality of the two officer's actions in question. Worse when it is realised that the same two officer's were dealing with an Official Complaint at the time - badly.
So badly the Ombudsman 'recommended' retraining in the Statutory Complaints procedure for the officer's involved !!

So many Reports that have been brought to the attention of Audit, Care Scrutiny and Democratic Services over the last period.

The Care Inspectorate Wales Review was presented to Care Scrutiny at the Extra-ordinary Meeting held on the 6th November to much praise and backslapping from members.

This backslapping went on for so long that the meeting must have over run and the presenting CIW officer had to leave the meeting before it concluded.

The rush to get the Complaints Handling Report through before lunch was obvious.
There was no mention of the Department's annus horribilis regarding any of the above Reports nor the fact it has been sixteen months since the last annual Report.

Any pertinent questions that could/should have been asked were batted away by both Cabinet Member, Dilwyn Morgan and the author of the Complaints Report, Dafydd Paul, stating to the meeting they did not wish to discuss individual cases.

Wow...and what of the serious concerns raised ?

The Care Scrutiny Meeting was also NOT webcast - much to one council member's quite obvious surprise.

A request had been put to Democratic Services for the meeting/webcast to be to be translated, we were informed that this meeting would not be webcast. After asking for an explanation an email was received stating that webcasting hours were limited and then another, saying that it was an extraordinary meeting and, as such, would not be webcast but a translation would be available for any members of the public who attended.

Very odd when all other council extraordinary Meetings were webcast !

A member of the public actually turned up for this meeting and visited Siop Gwynedd, in Caernarfon for directions. The meeting was not on their computers and no-one knew anything about it.

It was only due to those on the desk who asked and phoned around that the wherabouts of the meeting was eventually located.

The Annual Complaints Handling Report is a legal document that is used by the Council, and other organisations, as an indication of the Department's performance in carrying out its Statutory Duties.

This Report does no such thing.

And where are the Minutes of this Extra ordinary meeting of the Care Scrutiny Committee ?

Thursday, 15 November 2018

We Then Emailed Cyngor #Gwynedd Care Scrutiny Committee.

Mention has already been made of Vera Jones, Democratic Services Manager, at Cyngor Gwynedd, who was CC'd into the email sent by Medwyn Hughes, in response to our email, that raised  concerns over the mishandling of our Stage 2  'Independent' Investigation.

Mr Hughes also CC'd the following people into a further email to us -

James Gareth Huw (CG)
Jones Luned Fon
Eryl Jones-Williams

Now I am not really sure who the first two are but Eryl Jones Williams is the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee. The same committee that all councillors, bar one, were sent the below email on the 10th Sept 2018 - 

Dear Care Scrutiny Committee Members
We write in regard to the Autism Report which is to be presented to the care scrutiny committee and to bring to your attention to our own case involving our 'high functioning' autistic (******)

The Reports makes no mention of the challenges that those with 'high functioning' Autism and their families face in day to day living and that they may require exactly the same kind of support that Autistic people with additional learning disabilities need to enable them to live any kind of  full and independent life. The report focuses solely on those with a Learning Disability only, disregarding and abandoning those who are deemed 'higher functioning'.
Gwynedd council have for years now been talking about those people who 'fall between the cracks' in terms of support and that things were in the pipeline to help.
The Report(s) show that the council have not lived up their promises as their Report states that no support is to be given without there being a Learning disability. Do the council not recognise Autism as a lifelong disability ?
This Council seem to have little regard for the various 'acts' that are in place to ensure that appropriate and adequate assessment and support be provided for autistic individuals, regardless of their intellectual functioning, i.e the 2014 care act, 2010 Equality Act, NICE guidelines
We are one of those families with a 'high functioning' autistic child (soon to be adult) and part of our story is below. Every time an Independent person looks at Gwynedd council and their treatment of ASD and their families, they understand the issues and find against the council.
In this case, every time that there has been an Independent Investigation of the facts, it shows that the Department has failed, in many respects and has little understanding of the needs, or the assessment needs of such individuals.
A Senior Manager from the  Department has stated that there are no specifically autism trained social workers in this area, how then can any comprehensive assessment of an autistic person's needs be carried out in this area ?
We think that there are serious issues in relation to the lack of support, poor handling and inadequate assessment of autistic people and their families by this Department.
Briefly, this family raised a stage 2 complaint in 2010 with all points of complaint upheld but no recommendations acted upon.
Since 2014 we have had to endure bad and unprofessional behaviour from social workers and senior managers culminating in a stage 2 complaint raised on the 25th May, 2017.
The 'Independent' Investigation highlighted serious failings and upholding or 'not requiring to uphold'  all points of our complaint. This was presented to the council in October, 2017.
Gwynedd council refused to accept the findings and the case is currently being investigated by the Ombudsman for Wales.
This is on top of the recent Ombudsman's Investigation report of April, 2018 into the department that highlighted maladministration and service failure in this case dating from 2010 through to 2016.
Also in June 2018 a Report by a Gwynedd Council Information Manager also upheld the part of our complaint that related to a data breach - involving the release, to us,  of the names of two children receiving services from the council and Youth Justice team and the local school in Bangor they attend and also stated that redactions made to our personal information should not have been carried out.
The full Report can be found here -
We wish to meet with and share these various reports with any members of the care scrutiny committee that share our concerns and that have any interest in challenging this department's failings in regards to our case and to question/challenge this Department's lack of understanding and proper assessment and support for autistic people in general.
We as parent carers of a 'high functioning' soon to be 18 year old young (******) have been recently told by social workers that there are no autism services in this area, or even vulnerable adult services. We have no place to go to ask for specialist support and advice needed as our (******) reaches into adulthood.....
This should be a matter for scrutiny.
We had not one reply.
So we emailed the Scrutiny Committee once more...but that is for another post.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Further Emails With A Cyngor #Gwynedd Councillor.

Reading through the correspondence with Gwynedd's Chair of the Audit and Governance committee in respect of the 'Independent' Investigation and the Ombudsman's Report is quite revealing.

Several emails were sent over some considerable time and during our correspondence he also CC'd others into the conversation when he replied to us.

 Mr Hughes was also made aware of other emails that we sent to the relevant services in our attempt to obtain the Independent Investigator's Report of our complaint.

Mr Hughes wrote to inform us he has asked relevant officers for all Reports.
Some time later Mr Hughes wrote to inform us he is still waiting for the Reports.

Now it is worrying that the legal department were taking so long to get all relevant documents/Reports to the Chair of the Audit committee - Mr Hughes was also Vice-Chair of Gwynedd Council's Care and Scrutiny Committee at the time.

On the 19th June 2018, confident that by now he would have received all the Reports, we asked Medwyn - again - to meet with ourselves and our local councillor to discuss the serious issues highlighted by the Independent Reports within Gwynedd Children and Family services.

R Medwyn Hughes did not reply and we never heard from him again.

Monday, 12 November 2018

We Emailed Medwyn Hughes - Bangor Councillor.

In January of 2018 we sent an email to Richard Medwyn Hughes - 

Dear Richard,

My wife and I came across a copy of the report you authored in your capacity as Chair of the Audit and Governance committee dated 28 Sept, 2017. We also discovered that you are Vice-Chair of the Care Scrutiny Committee for Gwynedd Council.

I believe it is my families case that is mentioned in the report as being referred to the Ombudsman, the reason for this being the Council's refusal to escalate our complaint to Stage 2 of the complaints procedure.

We raised other issues related to but different from our earlier complaint and the Ombudsman advised us to raise this as a separate complaint with the Children and Family Department.

Due to the difficult history of the families case we raised an immediate stage 2 complaint with Customer Care, that was in May of last year, which has still not been concluded.

We believe the Council has behaved in an obstructive and delaying manner. There has been no proper communication or information forthcoming from the Council during the process and a staggering lack of transparency.

For your information we include a copy below of an email sent today to our MP, Liz Saville Roberts.

We note there is a Care Scrutiny Committee meeting later this month and ask if this meeting is open to the general public ?

Also, we would be happy to share and discuss our experiences with anyone from either the Audit and Governance Committee or the Care Scrutiny Committee to provide clarity on the situation regarding the Customer Care department and how the Complaints procedure has been implemented in our case.

For your information a stage 2 complaint was raised regarding the ongoing issues in this case in 2010 and all points of complaint upheld but recommendations never acted upon.

The Head of Children and Families has stated this report to be irrelevant to the current situation - we do not agree. Yet another example of the attitude that we have encountered for so many years.

The Department have repeatedly cited their disability criteria along with the Equality Act and even the Social Services Care Act 2014 as a means to refuse services rather than provide much needed support. This needs to change.

His response on the 10th of January 2018 was to CC the Democratic Services Manager, Corporate Support Department, Vera Jones into the email.

Dear ***********

I acknowledge receipt of your email dated 06/01/18.

I have asked the officers concerned about your issues.

The Audit and Governance committee of which I am Chair tend not to look at individual cases but at trends and practices involving circumstances like this.

The Care Scrutiny Committee meetings are streamed live and are open to the public where space is available.

However as you have raised this issue  with me I have sent your email on.

No doubt an officer will be in touch as soon as possible.

In the meantime you should also contact your local councillor along with including your postal address to me in a future email.

R Medwyn Hughes

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Cyngor #Gwynedd Council.

On November 1st, 2018, Cabinet Member for Children, Dilwyn Morgan received an email.
Dear Mr Morgan,
We wish to bring to your attention, as Cabinet Member for Children and Families, our experiences with Gwynedd Social Services department.
To date there has been an Independent Investigation with all points upheld from 2010.
A second Independent Investigation, with all points upheld, in October, 2017, both were highly critical of the Children and Families department.
A Local Ombudsman for Wales Investigation of 2018 highlighted maladministration and service failure going back from 2010 through to 2016.
There is also an Information Manager's Investigation Report, dated June, 2018, concerning the release of the names of children on CIN plans. Including the redactions and mishandling of our personal Information and the question of legality of officers actions that remain unanswered.
There is also a second Ombudsman's Investigation currently ongoing.
We are at a loss to understand therefore how the council is publicly acknowledging the CIW Inspection yet nothing is mentioned of the more negative Reports.
We ask for a meeting with you to discuss our concerns. We also have concerns regarding the Children and Families Department's Complaint Handling Report 2017/18 that we have just had sight of and that you will be presenting to the Care Scrutiny Committee on November the 6th. 
Mr Morgan thanked us for the email and informed us that he had asked for a full briefing on the matter, then would get back to us and would look at the matters thoroughly.


Wednesday, 17 October 2018