Transcript of interview of Huw George by Gary Owen last week.
GO New information has been given to the police concerning the abuse of children in Pembrokeshire schools; this is following a meeting between Assembly ministers and the new leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, Jamie Adams. Officers have been criticised about the way they dealt with claims about the way in which children were locked in dark rooms in some schools and a childs hands had been tied behind him by a teacher.
The deputy leader of Pembrokeshire county Council, Councillor Huw George, now joins us on the Post Cyntaf. How do you explain what went wrong here, how could Pembrokeshire children be treated like this?
H.G. Well what happened in the past is awful and there is no way of defending it. We as a council are sad that this happened and we are putting guidelines in place, and policies and training, and that is important. Training for every teacher and anyone who works with children to make sure that they have the skills to respond to everything that happens, not just as individuals but as a team
GO That does not explain however what went wrong why this happened. and Leighton Andrews says that serious questions continue, amongst which I am sure is why did the council say in the first place say that the dark room was the only case when it is obvious that this was not true because government officers have found a number of them in the county.
HG Well I cannot discuss that with you Gary because there is an investigation going on into those rooms at this moment and it is difficult to discuss matters that the police are investigating currently.
GO Yes but questions are piling up and what about accountability here, dont you think that you for example should consider your position as deputy leader considering that you were responsible for safeguarding children when this matter was first raised?
HG well you started by saying that the meeting yesterday was very constructive and the meeting between the leader was
GO (interrupts) I do not remember saying that it was constructive because it appears to me that there is difference of opinion about what happened in the meeting yesterday, I hear the leader of Pembrokeshire County council saying one thing and I hear Leighton Andres saying that serious questions remain so I do not remember using the word constructive.
HG Well Jamie Adams came out of the meeting saying, and I spoke to him immediately and he said that the ministers, Leighton Andrews and Gwenda Thomas listened intently and politely to what he had to say and he had evidence to show them how the authority had moved on and the ministers had listened and heard a large number of things but they were given new evidence yesterday afternoon and they were pleased to accept the new evidence and were very willing to work with us but that does not change anything that has happened and they are very serious matters.
GO And as a result of this are you confident that you should stay in your post as deputy council leader?
HG My conscience is clear, I do my best every day and continue to do so and am very willing to look at things that happened in the past.
GO Do you accept the blame for things that happened in the past?
HG Well a large number of those things happened before I was in the job but that does not excuse what has happened or the seriousness and I take the responsibility seriously
GO What about the officers who were in place at the time, do you still have confidence in them?
HG Well we have evidence to show that the council has moved miles from where we were and they have followed us and led us so far and they are eager to complete the job and to show the ministers and the parents and especially the children of Pembrokeshire that Pembrokeshire is a safe place to receive education.
GO Is it? There is going to be concern about the safety of children, parents will have heard about this. Are you confident that parents can trust you to give the best care to children at this moment and to put their children in the care of the authority after all this?
HG Well there is a meeting this afternoon where the evidence given to the ministers yesterday is being put before the full council and this evidence has been consistently been shown to councillors along the journey. Great steps, and there are people who have come back to the county and have said, You have come far. but, Gary, there is a distance to go and we will continue to the end
GO But on the program yesterday the Plaid Cymru assembly Member, Simon Thomas said there was a need for immediate intervention and that you have had enough time. To say that there is a long way to go is not going to be a comfort to any parents listening this morning. They want to know that things have been sorted as soon as possible and that is what Simon Thomas is saying, that you have had sorted it out already.
HG Well Ill go back to the meeting yesterday, the leader said the meeting was very constructive, the minister listened and gave the leader the opportunity to show the evidence and when he came from the meeting, confident that we and the ministers would reach the same objective namely the safety of children in Pembrokeshire,
GO You have a week now to persuade the minister that you have put the house in order in the county council in Pembrokeshire, are you confident that you are going to be able to answer his questions and calm his fears before then?
HG Well yes, yes. The leader is preparing the answer to the letter at this moment. He was at it late last night and a letter will be going back bringing all the evidence on paper so that the minister will have the evidence in his hand.
GO Councillor Huw George, thank you very much.