Eryri park chair steps down citing ‘work demands and personal commitments’
Dale Spridgeon Local Democracy Reporte
The Chair of Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri/Snowdonia Park Authority has stepped down citing “work demands and personal commitments” as her reason for leaving.
Councillor Annwen Hughes was the first woman elected to the prestigious role and, according to a spokesperson for the organisation, she informed the Authority of her plans to leave at the end of November.
Cllr Hughes had been an Authority member for a number of years and had previously held the Vice-Chair position.
She is also a Plaid Cymru county councillor for Cyngor Gwynedd for the Harlech and Llanbedr wards, and also represents the Harlech Community Council.
A recent meeting to elect a new chair was blighted by “technical issues” and has been postponed until February 2024.
An Authority spokesperson said: “Cllr Annwen Hughes informed the Authority on November 20 of her decision to relinquish the Chair of this Authority.
“She cited an increase in work demands and personal commitments on herself and did not feel that she could any longer provide the time and dedication needed for the role as Chair of the Authority. The election of a Chairman during the (December) National Park meeting faced technical issues.
“In the spirit of fairness and with respect for the candidates, the members voted to postpone the election until the next Authority meeting in February.”
Cllr Hughes was recently at the centre of row after Harlech Community Council – where she is clerk – was scammed out of £9,000. It had been found in December, 2022 that two payments of £4,500 had been made to a third party without proper authorisation from the council.
The fraud followed a breach of the clerk’s email address that allowed a third party to access the account.
Councillors informally apologised in September after residents raised a series of questions about the council’s financial procedures, with one resident saying: “It rather seems that local residents are losing confidence in the council, several turned up to ask questions at the meeting.”
After the incident was publicised, Ms Hughes had said: “This matter has been dealt with by the community council and will not be discussed further.”
Adrian Crompton the Auditor General for Wales said following routine audit work on councils’ annual returns it probed how Harlech had fallen victim to the fraud. The auditor had tried to identify how procedures had failed to prevent the loss of public money.
The investigation had resulted in a warning by the watchdog that councils must tighten up their cyber security measures.
Harlech Community Council says it has now “tightened” its financial procedures after the incident saw the loss of around 10 percent of its budget.
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