Wales politics

New children's commissioner may be delayed, say ministers

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Media captionPaul Davies called for a new commissioner to be in place by 1 March

A new children's commissioner for Wales may not be ready to take up the post when Keith Towler stands down in February, ministers have confirmed.

Last month, Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths said the process of replacing Mr Towler was halted purely because of a cabinet reshuffle.

BBC Wales reported that a panel failed to agree on a new commissioner.

Now Ms Griffiths says the role will be advertised "more widely". Conservatives said the process was a "fiasco".

Mr Towler is leaving the post on 28 February after seven years' service.

In a written answer to shadow education minister Angela Burns, Ms Griffiths said the new appointment process will be completed "early in the New Year".

She added: "Whether the new commissioner is available to take up post on 1 March will depend on their individual circumstances."

Ms Griffiths said Deputy Children's Commissioner Eleri Thomas would cover the role if required.

Image caption Legislation prevents Keith Towler's time in the job being extended beyond 28 February

The minister said the earlier recruitment process was advertised "through networks within Wales and on a limited basis in the UK".

But this time the post was being promoted "more widely", she said, "to ensure we attract the widest field of candidates possible".

Ms Burns said this was a "clear admission" that the initial recruitment process was "nowhere near as extensive and detailed as it should have been".

"For the first time, the minister has admitted that a new children's commissioner may not be in post before the old one has left," said Ms Burns.

"That's a fiasco clearly caused by the Labour government's own inability to get this process right."

Ms Burns added that the children's commissioner was "hugely important in prioritising our young people and ensuring they have a voice", and called on First Minister Carwyn Jones to apologise.

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