A FACT-finding mission that saw Powys Council staff and a councillor go to Belfast to see a pilot scheme targeting a deprived part of the county was officially sanctioned and did not cost the county's tax payers.

The Council's Anti-Poverty Champion, Cllr Joy Jones who went on the trip to The Shankhill Road project with staff from the county's social services department had been criticised by sources from within the Independent-Conservative Group for going on the trip that was taking funding away from the underfire department.

This is because she voted against the budget in March and said that she could not support a five per-cent rise that's going to hit the weakest in the community.

A councillor from the group told The County Times, that the trip was using money that should have been used to help the recovery of the Children's Services Department.

He also said that the trip had not been signed off by senior staff or members of the cabinet.

However this has been proved wrong and it was confirmed that it had been backed by the Regional Partnership Board which that was set up in 2016 following the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act.

Its key role is to identify key areas of improvement for care and support services in Powys and The Council is a key member of the board.

Cllr Jones said: "I am disappointed that any fellow councillor has questioned this trip when it has cost the council nothing and its sole purpose was to look at ways to improve the life’s of young people who are disadvantaged."

"I was invited to attend the trip as it is important that we look at other ways councils work to support their communities.

"No money came from children’s services and the trip was fully sanctioned by the Regional Partnership board and Welsh Government.

Council leader, Councillor Rosemarie Harris, said; "As a key part of its improvement plan, the county council is developing a Welsh Government promoted Children’s First initiative with a pilot scheme targeting a deprived part of the county.

"As part of that work the Regional Partnership Board – made up of public sector and third sector bodies in Powys including the teaching health board – has funded the project from Welsh Government ICF funding, which has to date included resourcing a part time project co-ordinator, community and family engagement activities and a research trip to Shankill Road, Belfast.

"The Shankill Road project has been promoted by Welsh Government as a good practice example where a Children Zone Model has been deployed over many years and has transformed a very troubled community into one that is cohesive and supportive of its residents.

"It was one of the areas brought over to Wales as an example of excellence by the Welsh Government to launch the Children’s First project.

"Funding for the trip was from the Welsh Government’s ICF grant, no Powys money was involved and approval given by the Regional Partnership Board and Welsh Government.

"I was not aware of arrangement details but that is not unusual for a partnership project that is not being funded by the county council.

"The new Powys Children’s First project will be based on the Newtown Flying Start project area, which includes the town’s estates of Maesyrhandir, Trehafren, Treowen and Vaynor. It is an exciting project and we are confident it will make great difference to local youngsters.”

In October the Care and Social Services inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) now known as the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) produced a damning inspection report into Powys council's children's services in October 2017, which revealed missed opportunities to safeguard children, poor risk assessment and serious performance issues with frontline services.

The council has produced the improvement plan on time and a programme for the next three years.