No welcome in the valleys

4th February 2000 at 00:00
REBELLION is rife in Carmarthenshire. The county wants to appoint an acting education chief while they reorganise themselves. The locals are not happy.

The man whom headhunters found for the council is Michael Stoten, the retired former education director of that well-known Welsh authority, Kensington and Chelsea. Unfortunately, heads are distinctly underwhelmed, while NUT Cymru has appealed to First Secretary Alun Michael to have him removed in what should be an interesting test of the new Welsh assembly's powers.

It's hard to tell which is Stoten's greatest offence. Was it his ardent support for nursery vouchers? (Ken nd Chel piloted them and Mr S has praised them in this very organ, along with privatising failing schools and scrapping national pay bargaining - it doesn't go down well in Wales.)

More likely is the fact that he cannot speak Welsh - an unforgivable sin in a county with more Welsh-speakers than any other.

Camarthenshire has been forced by the fuss to hold the post open until today in the hope of finding a Welsh-speaker. It has also had to issue a statement reiterating its commitment to Welsh-language speaking.

And rest assured, whoever gets the permanent post will have to speak the tongue of the valleys.

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