Failings At Cyngor Gwynedd Children+Families Dept.

Though the parents 2nd stage complaint against Cyngor Gwynedd Council showed serious failings within the Children and Families Department and was upheld by independent investigators in 2010 nothing has changed.

I have read through the report and noticed that many names involved back then are now ensconced as managers in Gwynedd social services, though it is not for me to say if these same people are now acting out of spite or have always been so unprofessional.

My experience working in the mental health field with dementia, learning difficulties, challenging behaviour and acquired brain injury was no use to me at all in this case and I was playing catch up for the first year learning about PDA, the boy’s complex needs and gaining his trust.

I stood back and watched as first the Council got in contact and after discussions agreed that support may be available and a social worker would be assigned. Everyone was wary because of the behaviour of social services in the past but it was agreed that help towards social skills and integration was more important.

A social worker was allocated and a support worker was granted. Unfortunately the support was still not provided and so in desperation a solicitor was contacted and only then was a support worker assigned.

The first social worker was replaced by a second , this time from Children and Families, as the disability team would not assess, due to the boy having too high an IQ. This social worker introduced himself as having no experience of Autism and was not a disability social worker but said he was there to help.

He did not endear himself to anyone over the next period by comments such as –

‘We are really doing the education departments job’

‘What to do you want a core assessment for? I don’t see what use it will be, can you explain to me how you think it will benefit *****? ‘

‘I’m a very busy man you know’ (when he failed to phone back)

‘This service is really for people that need a social worker’

But he was all my partner had to work with and the fact the boy was, finally, going to get help with socialisation and independent living skills was enough for me to still my misgivings and keep my professional mouth shut.

The help and support that eventually began was anything but.

Communication was poor and I mean mono-syllabic from the support worker when asked for feedback. One day he just grunted at me when I tried to engage him.
Different days different times and sessions that were arranged with less than 24 hours notice – and sessions were strictly on a take it or lose it basis.

The stress of dealing with this ‘care support’ had a knock on effect in dealing with other aspects of care and we all suffered for a period.

So a letter of complaint was sent to Support Services at Cyngor Gwynedd Children and Families Dept asking for continuity of times and reminding them that due to the boy’s complexities the family had no idea of where he was taken, what subjects were discussed or how he engaged with others if at all and simply a plea for feedback to help us to help him progress with socialisation.

It is called team work and every professional in the care field will recognise its importance for the child and family – except, it appears, at the Children and Families Department of Gwynedd council.

A letter was duly received apologising for blah blah blah and informing us that we had to ask the social worker to ask the support worker to communicate with us re the sessions !!!! But they did take on board our need for certain times to avoid clashing with the child’s education.

To be fair we were allowed the same time and day every week which removed so much stress and I am grateful for that. Imagine being grateful for a regular weekly slot from a children and families service(!) but I truly was.

The feedback from the support worker however did NOT materialise.
(Another social worker was asked further down the line again if we could have some feedback – again nothing)

In fact we did receive reports written by the support worker eventually. We asked Social Services for their file on the family and they were included. So much interesting information (and mis-information)  But that is for future posts.

My misgivings and worry about what I considered unprofessional and totally unacceptable behaviour turned to anger when I returned home and found my wife crying. She had had a phone conversation with the social worker which had caused her upset.

Then after I listened to the recording of the conversation I became quite upset, too.

A meeting between the social worker and my wife had been arranged but I wanted to be there for support so I emailed Cyngor Gwynedd Customer Care to raise my concerns about their social worker, Jamie Haydon and cancel the meeting.

My email and first contact with Cyngor Gwynedd Council was dated 29th Feb, 2016.

Cyngor Gwynedd Council “Deluged With Complaints.”

More than one in four calls to Gwynedd Council are going unanswered because its departments are being deluged with complaints.

Frustrated residents are giving up after failing to get through to officers within a reasonable amount of time, a report has said.

The biggest areas of complaint have been identified as grass cutting , the closure of public toilets and changes in the arrangements for collecting garden waste.

In total 144,862 calls were abandoned out of more than 500,000 made directly to council workers last year. The problem is particularly acute at peak times on Mondays, Tuesdays and Friday afternoons, the Corporate Scrutiny Committee will be told.

The local authority has admitted that the findings are unacceptable and that it planned to draft in new call centre staff to resolve the issue.

Fewer than half of the calls were answered within 15 seconds last year.

A spokesman for the council said it had been inundated with people ringing them to complain.

“We have experienced unprecedented demand over the past few months with the number of calls; and as the report notes, one of the biggest problems facing the service is lack of staff in the call centre, this was something the council hopes to fix by bringing in new employees.”

The spokesperson added: “As is clear from the report, we have identified a number of things that contribute to these problems and have taken steps to address them, working together with the extremely hard working members of staff at the contact centre.

“We are also recruiting more staff to deal with these problems in the short-term because some of those solutions, like the greater emphasis on self-service, could take a little time to bear fruit.

“The Council is not happy with the performance as it is.”

But UKIP’s Assembly Member for North Wales, Michelle Brown AM blasted the council’s record.

She said: “It beggars belief that the council are seeking to blame the public for their poor performance, especially when the calls have been generated by local people unhappy with the council’s poor performance in other areas.

“Only in the world of a dysfunctional local authority does it seem acceptable to say, ‘if people stopped calling to tell us how badly we’re doing, we would be able to answer their calls more quickly.’

“It’s no surprise to me that people are calling to complain when they are paying more in council tax but getting less for it.

“Nowhere in their plans for dealing with the problem do they mention actually addressing the problems the local people are complaining about.

“It seems logical that if the council want fewer people calling to complain, they should improve their performance as a local authority and give people less reason to complain in the first place.

“The council have clearly forgotten that they work for the local residents, not the other way round.”

see also Gwynedd’s Failing Council –


Challenging Behaviour And Cyngor Gwynedd.

I wonder if the Children and Families Department in Gwynedd ever ask themselves the question “how did we get here ?”

They have had Assembly Members for Wales, Members of Parliament, District Councillors, County Councillors, the Ombudsman for Wales all notified of systemic failures in the Department and asking questions of their behaviour.

I have been astounded at how ineffectual all these people are against council managers – whom, it appears, can behave as badly and unprofessionally as they like and there is no comeback – but that is for another post.

My involvement only began, last February, after a phone conversation between my wife and a social worker.

Remembering that – Gwynedd need to be reminded that challenging bad behaviour does not mean people are whiny bastards – it just means they are challenging bad behaviour.


Gwynedd Councillors Contact Details.

Local Councillors are elected by the community to decide how the council should carry out its various activities. They represent public interest as well as individuals living within the ward in which he or she has been elected to serve a term of office.

They have regular contact with the general public through council meetings, telephone calls or surgeries.

Councillors are not paid a salary for their work, but they do receive allowances. By law, all members of the Council are required to complete a declaration of interest form, the details of which are published annually.

Craig ab Iago

Arthog, 59 Ffordd Rhedyw, Llanllyfni, Gwynedd, LL54 6SN

Home: 01286 479093

Home mobile: 07825 661721


Plaid CymruLlanllyfni

Stephen W. Churchman

Liberal Democrat Group Leader

Minffordd House, Garndolbenmaen, Gwynedd, LL51 9TX

Home: 01766 530661

Home mobile: 07927 609359


Liberal DemocratsDolbenmaen

Endaf Cooke

21 Stryd Llyn, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 2AD

Home: 01286 678 605

Home mobile: 07747 405 562


Llais GwyneddSeiont

Annwen Daniels


3 Pant yr Onnen, Rhiwbryfdir, Blaenau Ffesiniog, Gwynedd, LL43 3LN

Home mobile: 07551 338259


Plaid CymruBowydd and Rhiw

Anwen J. Davies

PlasyngNgheidio, Boduan, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 8YL

Home: 01758 720327


Llais GwyneddEfailnewydd / Buan

Lesley Day

Tyddyn Sydney, Treborth, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2NJ

Home: 01248 355180



Dyfed Wyn Edwards


Swyddfa’r Arweinydd, Cyngor Gwynedd, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 1SH

Work: 01286 679868

Home mobile: 07824 415345


Plaid CymruPenygroes

Elwyn Edwards

Bodaeron, Heol Pensarn, Y Bala, Gwynedd, LL23 7SR

Home: 01678 520378

Home mobile: 07879 337371


Plaid CymruLlandderfel

Gwynfor Edwards

Parth y Gwyddwch, Ffordd y Coleg, Llwyngwril, Gwynedd, LL37 2QN

Home mobile: 07703 824182


Green PartyDeiniol

Trevor Edwards

17 Stryd Fawr, Llanberis, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 4EN

Home: 01286 872319

Home mobile: 07747 757630


Thomas G. Ellis

Y Gilfach, Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd, LL41 4SE

Home: 01766 540902

Home mobile: 07867 982584



Alan Jones Evans

Cefn Isaf, Rhyduchaf, Y Bala, Gwynedd, LL23 7SD

Home mobile: 07879 227 819


Plaid CymruLlanuwchllyn

Aled Ll. Evans

Bryn Llwyn, Chwilog, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 6NX

Home: 01766 810703

Home mobile: 07786 015186


Plaid CymruLlanystumdwy

Dylan Fernley

24 Tan y Coed, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1LU

Home mobile: 07874 225209



Jean Forsyth

23 Maes y Dref, Hirael, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1YL

Home: 01248 355798



Gweno Glyn

Rhianfa, 9 Parc yr Efail, Efailnewydd, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 5TJ

Home: 01758 612235

Home mobile: 07811 441326


Plaid CymruBotwnnog

Simon Glyn

Coed Anna, Nanhoron, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 8PR

Home: 01758 730326

Home mobile: 07929 348432


Plaid CymruTudweiliog

Gareth Wyn Griffith

17 Bryn y Môr, Y Felinheli, Gwynedd, LL56 4LY

Home: 01286 676869


Plaid CymruY Felinheli

Gwen Griffith

Labour Group Leader

19 Llwybr Main, Mynydd Llandygai, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 4LJ

Home: 01248 601 081

Home mobile: 07941 736 483


LabourTregarth a Mynydd Llandygai

E. Selwyn Griffiths

5 Cefn y Gader, Morfa Bychan, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9JA

Home: 01766 513142

Home mobile: 07444 299813


Plaid CymruPorthmadog (West)

Alwyn Gruffydd

Llidiart Ysbyty, Tremadog, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9RN

Home: 01766 513025

Home mobile: 07836 366899

Llais GwyneddPorthmadog – Tremadog

Annwen Hughes

Plas Uchaf, Talsarnau, Gwynedd, LL47 6YA

Home: 01766 780971

Home mobile: 07919 582741


Plaid CymruLlanbedr

Christopher Hughes

4 Cae’r Eglwys, Rhostryfan, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL54 7LQ

Home: 01286 831553

Home mobile: 07827 812 935

Plaid CymruBontnewydd

John Brynmor Hughes

The Sun Inn, Llanengan, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 7LG

Home: 01758 712660

Home mobile: 07909 922571



Louise Hughes

20 Maesegryn, Llanegryn, Gwynedd, LL36 9SH

Home: 01654 711051

Home mobile: 07854 969441



Sian Wyn Hughes

Hiraethog, Lon Isaf, Morfa Nefyn, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 6BS

Home: 01758 720968

Home mobile: 07980 100095


Plaid CymruMorfa Nefyn

Jason Humphreys

29 Heol Newydd, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9ED

Home: 01766 514905

Home mobile: 07446 790289


Llais GwyneddPorthmadog (East)

Peredur Jenkins

Cabinet Member for Resources

Cae Glas, Llanfachraeth, Dolgellau, Gwynedd, LL40 2EH

Home: (01341) 423693

Home mobile: 07799 761735


Plaid CymruBrithdir and Llanfachreth / Y Ganllwyd / Llanelltyd

Aeron M. Jones

2 Gernant, Bethesda Bach, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL54 5SJ

Home: 01286 832425

Home mobile: 07882 847043


Llais GwyneddLlanwnda

Aled Wyn Jones

Llwyni’r Wyn, Trefor, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL54 5LB

Home: 01286 660662

Home mobile: 07778 164157


Plaid CymruLlanaelhaearn

Anne Lloyd Jones

Hendy, Tywyn, Gwynedd, LL36 9RU

Home: 01654 710457



Brian Jones

Cefn-y-Bwlch, Lon Bwlch, Cwm y Glo, Gwynedd, LL55 4ED

Home: 01286 870831

Home mobile: 07964 286372


LabourCwm y Glo

Charles Wyn Jones

Dwyros, Ffordd Glanffynnon, Llanrug, Caernarfon, LL55 4PP

Home: 01286 676733


Plaid CymruLlanrug

Dyfrig Jones

Yr Hen Fecws, Carneddi, Bethesda, Gwynedd, LL57 3SF

Home: 01248 605468

Home mobile: 07810 874882


Plaid CymruGerlan

Elin Walker Jones

8 Lôn y Bryn, Eithinog, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2LH

Home: 01248 364234

Home mobile: 07808 472204


Plaid CymruGlyder

Eric M. Jones


Afallon, Groeslon, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL54 7TU

Home: 01286 830626

Home mobile: 07469 215011



John Wynn Jones

Cabinet Member for the Environment

131 Ffordd Penchwintan, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2YG

Home: 01248 352670

Home mobile: 07734 173407


Plaid CymruHendre

Linda Ann Jones

Llys Gwilym, Llan Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, LL41 4NY

Work: 01766 832378

Home: 01766 762775

Individual MemberTeigl

Sion W. Jones

10 Cremlyn, Bethel, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 1AJ

Home: 01248 670491

Home mobile: 07565 306965



Eryl Jones-Williams

22 Pentre Uchaf, Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd, LL44 2HF

Home: 01341 242758

Home mobile: 07340 035378


IndependentDyffryn Ardudwy

Beth Lawton

22 Maeshyfryd, Bryncrug, Tywyn, Gwynedd, LL36 9PS

Home: 01654 711851

Home mobile: 07747443619


IndependentBryncrug / Llanfihangel

I. Dilwyn Lloyd

Eryri House, Carmel, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL54 7AB

Home: 01286 882 149



June Marshall

30 Maes Berea, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 4TQ

Home: 01248 370955

Home mobile: 07788 134010


Liberal DemocratsMenai (Bangor)

Dafydd Meurig

Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulatory

Isfryn, Llanllechid, Bethesda, Gwynedd, LL57 3LB

Home mobile: 07765 400140


Plaid CymruArllechwedd

Dilwyn Morgan

Ger y Llyn, 41 Heol Tegid, Y Bala, Gwynedd, LL23 7EH

Home: 01678 520685

Home mobile: 07824 983305


Plaid CymruY Bala

Linda Morgan

Meusydd, 5 Blaen Ddôl, Dolgellau, Gwynedd, LL40 1SE

Home: 01341 421355

Home mobile: 07551 301187


Plaid CymruDolgellau (South)

Dewi Owen

Esgairgyfela, Aberdyfi, Gwynedd, LL35 0SP

Home: 01654 767267

Home mobile: 07866 201803



Edgar Wyn Owen

Glyn Awel, Waunfawr, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 4YY


Plaid CymruWaunfawr

Michael Sol Owen

Plas y Coed, Lôn Caernarfon, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 5LG

Home: 01758 612132

Home mobile: 07786 500420


Plaid CymruPwllheli (North)

W. Roy Owen

Independent Group Leader, Leader of the Opposition

39 Maes Meddyg, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 2SF

Home: 01286 672 618

Home mobile: 07817 674915



W. Tudor Owen

Langdale, 2 Uxbridge Square, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 2RE

Home: 01286 672436

Home mobile: 07774 628909


Plaid CymruPeblig

Nigel Pickavance

30 Kingsley Avenue, Maesgeirchen, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1TA

Home: 01248 370166

Home mobile: 07944 694801



Peter Read

Parc Glas, Pentreuchaf, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 8DX

Home: 01758 750196

Home mobile: 07876 725730


Llais GwyneddAbererch

E. Caerwyn Roberts

Ysgubor, Llandanwg, Harlech, Gwynedd, LL46 2SB

Home: 01766 780344

Home mobile: 07704 805767


Plaid CymruHarlech/Talsarnau

Gareth A. Roberts

4 Bryn Heulog Terrace, Bangor, LL57 4SY

Home: 01248 372930


Plaid CymruDewi

John Pughe Roberts

Cerddin, Llanymawddwy, Machynlleth, SY20 9AJ

Home: 01650 531234

Home mobile: 07713 165941



W. Gareth Roberts

Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Wellbeing

Cwrt, Aberdaron, Gwynedd, LL53 8DA

Home: (01758) 760478

Home mobile: 07967 467379


Plaid CymruAberdaron

Mair Rowlands

Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Leisure

9 Glantraeth, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1HQ

Home mobile: 07912 433202


Plaid CymruMenai (Bangor)

Angela Russell

Brig-y-Don, Llanbedrog, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 7NU

Home: 01758 740555

Home mobile: 07789 554507



Dyfrig L. Siencyn

Deputy Leader

Plas y Bryn, Ffordd y Gader, Dolgellau, Gwynedd, LL40 1RH

Home: 01341 422243

Home mobile: 07712 199541


Plaid CymruDolgellau (North)

Mike Stevens

Verano, Pier Road, Tywyn, Gwynedd, LL36 0AU

Home: 01654 712225

Home mobile: 07778 564755



Gareth Thomas

Cabinet Member for Education

Alaw Cynfal, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd, LL48 6PR

Home: 01766 770015

Home mobile: 07855 441206


Plaid CymruPenrhyndeudraeth

Glyn Thomas

7 Maes Hyfryd, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 1DN

Home: 01286 678654



Ioan Thomas

Cabinet Member for Housing, Customer Care, Libraries, Deprivation and Equality

Strade, 65 Cae Gwyn, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 1LL

Home: 01286 673828

Home mobile: 07810 648647


Plaid CymruMenai (Caernarfon)

Hefin Underwood

14 Bron y De, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 5AT

Home: 01758 613859

Home mobile: 07872 665467


IndependentPwllheli (South)

Ann Williams

14/4 Stryd y Ffynnon, Gerlan, Bethesda, Gwynedd, LL57 3TR

Home: (01248) 601583

Home mobile: 07778 552247


Plaid CymruOgwen

Eirwyn Williams

20 Min y Môr, Cricieth, Gwynedd, LL52 0EF

Home: 01766 522802



Elfed Williams

12 Ffordd Deiniol, Deiniolen, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 3LL

Home: 01286 871406

Home mobile: 07729 394230



Gethin Glyn Williams

Dwynant, Bontddu, Dolgellau, Gwynedd, LL40 2UR

Home mobile: 07890 705180


Plaid CymruAbermaw

Gruffydd Williams

3 Llys Llywelyn, Nefyn, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 6JF

Home mobile: 07486 686783


Plaid CymruNefyn

John Wyn Williams

1 Blaen y Wawr, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 4TR

Home: 01248 370 737

Home mobile: 07989 134 456


Plaid CymruPentir

Owain Williams

Llais Gwynedd Group Leader

Gwynus, Pistyll, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 6LY

Home: 01758 750557

Home mobile: 07768 960695

Llais GwyneddClynnog

R. H. Wyn Williams

Llwyn, Lôn Rhoslyn, Abersoch, Pwllheli, Gwynedd, LL53 7BE

Home: 01758 712779

Home mobile: 07483 228140


Plaid CymruAbersoch

R. Hefin Williams

Ffiolau’r Grug, Rhiwlas, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 4GA

Home: 01248 352 890

Home mobile: 07922 997 592


Plaid CymruPenisarwaun

Mandy Williams-Davies

Cabinet Member for Economy and Community

19 Y Sgwar, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, LL41 3UL

Home: 01766 830652

Home mobile: 07787 934308


Plaid CymruDiffwys and Maenofferen

The Story Behind A £1.5 Million Grant In Gwynedd.

Previous blog posts ‘Service User Involvement in North Wales’ and ‘We Control All The Outcomes’ describe how there is no effective or genuine representation for ‘services users’ and carers in north Wales and indeed never has been. If anyone at any time had ever ‘listened to’ a service user or carer the ‘services’ would simply not be in this state. For years, ‘service user involvement’ was left to completely ineffective bodies like the ‘Independent Advocacy Service’ or the ‘Gwynedd and Ynys Mon Users Forum’ (which were staffed and managed by people who were terrified of the staff and managers of the lethal services whom they were supposed to be holding to account), or Unllais (whom I knew were refusing to make representation regarding the mental health services even when they were being told of the most serious abuses). Until March 2016 Unllais held the contract for service user involvement in north Wales. Considering how hopeless Unllais had been at representing and involving service users, the ending of their contract would have been the most wonderful opportunity for the Betsi to begin some real ‘service user and carer involvement’. Readers will know that this never happened and instead a new nightmare is promised, as the ‘contract’ was subsequently given to CAIS/Hafal, who have now formed another vehicle, CANIAD (please see blog post ‘Introducing Caniad!’). So Dr Dafydd Alun Jones and Lucille Hughes, who sit on the Board of Trustees of CAIS, are now responsible for ‘service user involvement’ in north Wales. We can assume that the outcome from this will therefore be truly grim. Many of my previous blog posts describe the unethical and criminal behaviour of Dafydd Alun Jones – and Lucille Hughes was named in the Waterhouse Report as knowing that a paedophile ring was operating in Gwynedd Social Services whilst she was the Director of these ‘Services’ but that she was failing to act. Dafydd and Lucille are now in their eighties, they have never protected the interests of service users and carers before and I very much doubt that they are going to start now.

As soon as I heard that CAIS/Hafal had landed this ‘contract’ from the Betsi, I was interested to find out exactly how this had happened, particularly as there seems to massive conflicts of interest in many other ‘contracts for services’ being handed out by the Betsi. Blog post ‘A Total Lack of Transparency’ details how the whole process has been shrouded in secrecy.

So I recently put in a FoI request to Wrexham County Borough Council (who were inexplicably allowed by the Betsi to ‘lead’ on this whole travesty) in an attempt to find out exactly how CAIS had landed this contract and the identities of the people involved. Last week I received a reply from Wrexham Council which didn’t answer all my questions but did provide a lot of enlightening information. Wrexham Council told me that I wasn’t allowed to reproduce ‘copyrighted’ information without permission and although I’ve written to them requesting this permission I haven’t received a reply. So I cannot reproduce the wonderful information that I have been provided with in it’s entirety, but I can blog about the salient points within this information.

The first surprise that I got was how much this ‘contract’ was worth. It was worth 1.5 million. That’s right, the Betsi have channelled 1.5 million quid to Dafydd et al for five years worth of ‘service user involvement’. The Betsi are currently nearly bankrupting the Welsh Govt so bad is their financial position. But CAIS have been given 1.5 million. The information given to me also confirmed that a grand total of FOUR unidentified service users were ‘involved’ in this process. And I bet they won’t see much of the 1.5 million that has been handed over – indeed, I was sent a rather simplistic ‘presentation’ allegedly designed by one of the ‘service users’ regarding what ‘involvement’ means to him and he mentioned that he was able to claim his expenses. So he gets his bus fare and the price of a lunchtime sandwich reimbursed and Dafydd et al net 1.5 million.

The information provided told me that there were only two ‘bids’ put in for the ‘tender’, one from Unllais and one from CAIS/Hafal. The fact that ‘service user involvement’ was subject to a ‘tendering’ process alone excludes nearly all service users and carers. How many patients and carers are ever going to ‘bid for a contract’? How many even knew that all this was happening? I didn’t and I actually try to keep aware of what is going on in the mental health services in north Wales. But people on the ‘professional’ networks will have known all about it, because the information sent to me revealed that ‘from January 2014 onwards, the Health Board’s Commissioning Manager…attended all the Local Planning Groups in North Wales’. Well you won’t find many service users and carers in them, but ‘professionals’ know all about these planning groups, who sits on them and when they hold their meetings. It was also mentioned that the Commissioning Manager attended ‘Third Sector’ networks (CAIS is a Third Sector organisation) and Service User and Carer networks. Now in a region that was not blighted by corruption and criminal activity in the mental health services, the Commissioning Manager attending Service User and Carer Networks would be a positive sign. But in north Wales, most ‘service users’ experiences of the ‘services’ are so bad that when they finally wave goodbye to the services (if indeed they ever manage to obtain a service in the first place) they want no more to do with them. They do not join a ‘service user network’. Furthermore, in my experience the ‘service user networks’ in north Wales have always been manipulated or indeed completely controlled by the ‘services’ themselves or the lame third sector organisations such as MIND who have for years colluded with the abuses of the mental health services. And some of the service user groups are run by CAIS. So it’s highly unlikely that any grassroots service user and carer groups would have encountered the Commissioning Manager who was allegedly publicising the commissioning process.

But what if north Wales happened to have a really enterprising group of service users and carers who did know that a commissioning process was happening and who were even prepared to form a group to bid for this contract? Well the information provided to me suggests that they would have found such bidding very difficult indeed. For a start, the information regarding the bidding process and what needs to be done to land the bid successfully is littered with acronyms with are never explained. I have a PhD and a research background in social policy and sociology in the Welsh context and I didn’t know what most of those acronyms meant. But it gets worse. Even if a group of service users had managed to plough through all this and somehow decipher it, at the ‘Meet The Buyer Event’, in the ‘procurement information’, provided by Rachel Glynn-Thomas (‘category manager’) there was a reference to a preference for the bidders to make use of technology – specifically to submit the bid via e procurement, ‘utilising the Bravo Solutions etenderWales software hosted by the Welsh Government’. Well that will be familiar to every service user and carer in Wales won’t it, they’ll use it daily. Service users wanting to bid will have needed a good accountant as well, because they had to complete one of the most taxing spreadsheets that I’ve ever seen, worse even than the spreadsheets that I used to complete when I wrote research bids for the research councils that fund academic research (and I had the University accountant to help me). Now, even if our hypothetical service user group did contain a social policy expert, an accountant, someone who was familiar with procurement procedures used by the Welsh Govt as well as someone who knew how to install and use the specialised software used by the Welsh Govt for procurement, there was something interesting about when the ‘Meet The Buyer Event’ was held. I don’t remember seeing it being advertised anywhere. But if I was someone who might have been looking out for an opportunity to bid for a Welsh Government contract and was familiar with the procedure of bidding for these contracts, I’d have been looking at the website Sell2Wales. The contract was advertised on Sell2Wales – but not until nearly a month after the ‘Meet The Buyer Event’ had been held. So anyone attending that ‘Meet The Buyer Event’ (the only opportunity to receive information and ask questions) could have only known about it from an inside contact.

The ‘Meet The Buyer’ event was held in the Boardroom of Optic St Asaph, a location virtually impossible to get to by public transport – so interested service users who did know about it will have needed their own cars to get there. The people making up the panel at the ‘Meet The Buyer’ event included Wyn Thomas (Assistant Director, Community Partnership Development, BCUHB), Vicky Jones (Regional Substance Misuse Commissioning and Development Manager), Jane Jones (Partnership Manager, BCUHB), Rachel Glynn-Thomas (Category Manager, Wrexham Borough County Council) and Sion ap Glynn (Business Support Wales). These are not the sort of people that your average service user would know – but I bet people from CAIS knew them, particularly as CAIS already provide ‘substance misuse services’ on behalf of the Betsi and thus work ‘in partnership’ with them.

There were also two ‘service users’ on this panel, a David Holmes and an Andrea Hughes – however at least one of the powerpoints supplied to me allegedly presented by the ‘service users’ contained a number of highly complex flow charts. I have yet to meet a service user who would ever include such things in a presentation on ‘What Involvement Means To Me’. These managerialist flow charts were also noticeably inconsistent with the rest of the presentation material from the ‘service users’, which pivoted around claiming expenses, supporting others, feeling like a valuable human being, undertaking an entry level education course and no longer being sectioned. I suspect that the managerialist flow charts had been added to those presentations by someone else.

The information supplied to me also suggested that someone might have been expecting a bid from CAIS/Hafal. The information is littered with references to ‘substance misuse services’. Indeed mentions of ‘substance misuse services’ were being prioritised – again and again they were mentioned in the remit after ‘service user involvement’. But there are other rather big clues as well. One slide sent to me in response to my FoI request was a presentation by Jane Jones, Partnership Manager, BCUHB. She certainly seems to gearing up for a partnership with CAIS/Hafal – her presentation states that ‘we would welcome bids from a consortia or partnership but partners must be clear about their partnership arrangements before submitting an application’. No doubt Jane Jones wanted to ensure that any such partnerships contained the word ‘CAIS’ in their ‘arrangements’. The biggest clue however is contained on the slide prepared by Rachel Glynn-Thomas regarding ‘procurement information’: ‘WCBC [Wrexham County Borough Council] on behalf of the Six North Wales Authorities represented by the Area Planning Board for Substance Misuse and with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board…’ So at the very heart of the ‘procurement process’ was the Area Planning Board For Substance Misuse – who are presumably the people who have already commissioned CAIS to provide ‘substance misuse services’ and know them well. Rachel’s slide mentions the need to ensure ‘best value’ and that a marketised commissioning process is the best way of achieving this – ah, so that’s how 1.5 million found its way into the pockets of Dafydd Alun Jones, Lucille Hughes et al…

The dirty deed has now been done, the dosh has gone to CAIS/Hafal and now Dafydd, Lucille and their mates are dictating what ‘service user involvement’ in north Wales looks like. One of the slides sent to me gives some ‘facts and figures’ regarding the region covered by the Betsi. It mentions that there are 1,600 staff employed in the Mental Health Division. So ‘service users’ who dare to complain are faced with 1,600 people sticking together like glue. (It’s tempting to suggest that there are probably more staff employed in the Mental Health Division than patients successfully obtaining a service.) And now they’ve got CAIS to represent their interests against the 1,600 people.

Whilst reading through the information supplied to me in response to my FoI request, any, many questions sprung to mind. But the biggest question of all surely has to be that if CAIS have been given 1.5 million for five years worth of ‘service user involvement’ how much are they raking in for providing all their other ‘services’? As Private Eye would say, I think we should be told…