The Senedd has formally approved the nomination of Michelle Morris for appointment as the new Public Services Ombudsman for Wales (Ombudsman).
The body, which investigates complaints made by people against public bodies in Wales, will see Michelle Morris take over from the outgoing Ombudsman, Nick Bennett, on 1 April 2022. The Ombudsman also considers complaints about breaches of the Code of Conduct by elected members of Town and Community Councils or County Councils.
This follows on from the Senedd’s Finance Committee pre-nomination hearing of the new Ombudsman in December 2021 which led to a recommendation to the Senedd to approve their choice which will now be appointed by Her Majesty.
This will also be the first Ombudsman appointment made since the Public Services Ombudsman (Wales) Act 2019 came into force. This landmark piece of legislation, introduced by the Finance Committee in the Fifth Senedd, provides the Ombudsman with powers to investigate complaints of their own accord and for setting up model complaints-handling procedures to ensure consistency in the process across Welsh public services.
The new Ombudsman, Michelle Morris, has a background in local government and joins from Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council where she has held the position of Managing Director since 2017. Prior to this she held a number of senior positions in local government in Wales and Scotland.
Michelle Morris said, “I’m delighted to be appointed as the new Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.
“The role of the Ombudsman is crucial to ensuring that complaints regarding public services or elected councillors can be dealt with independently and that when things go wrong, they can be resolved, and that lessons are learnt for the future.
“I’m looking forward to working with the team and I’m determined to continue the good work of the Ombudsman.”
Peredur Owen Griffiths, Chair of both the Senedd’s Finance Committee and the interview panel, said, “I’m very pleased that the Senedd has voted to approve the Committee’s choice as the new Ombudsman.
“The Ombudsman plays an important part in Wales ensuring that public services treat everyone fairly; the power to investigate complaints – for free - is a crucial aspect of that role.
“Michelle Morris is an excellent appointee and will be a strong advocate of our rights when anyone in Wales uses public services.
“I’d like to thank Nick for his work over the last few years and the solid foundation he leaves the office of the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.”