The Chief Executive of Caerphilly council has been suspended following a report by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) that found his £27,000 pay rise was unlawful.
The WAO said they had discovered a number of issues with how the decision was carried out.
– Caerphilly county borough council statement
In the circumstances the Chief Executive has recognised the difficulty that this creates in terms of him fulfilling his responsibilities as Head of Paid Service, and that his continued attendance at work during this period would not be appropriate. He has agreed, following discussions with the Leader, to be suspended from his duties pending the outcome of these investigations.
On Wednesday, Gwent Police referred the matter to Avon & Somerset Police to complete an investigation.
– Gwent Police
Having considered the Wales Audit Office report and having received advice from our Legal Services Department, we have decided that it is a matter that should be investigated by the police to ensure complete transparency and independence.
However in light of our close proximity and working relationship with Caerphilly County Borough Council it’s not appropriate for it to be investigated by the Gwent Force, and as such the investigation has been referred to Avon & Somerset Police.
Avon and Somerset Police says it has been asked to follow up a report which labelled pay rises made to senior members of staff at Caerphilly Council "unlawful."
– Avon and Somerset Police
We can confirm that Avon and Somerset Police has been asked to review a Wales Audit Office’s auditor’s report on Caerphilly County Borough Council. We will be liaising with the CPS on this matter.
Caerphilly Council's decision to award pay rises to senior members of staff is to be investigated by police, according to the Caerphilly Observer.
"In light of our close proximity and working relationship with Caerphilly County Borough Council, it’s not appropriate for it to be investigated by the Gwent Force, and as such the investigation has been referred to Avon & Somerset Police", a Gwent Police spokesperson told the paper.
The UNISON union has given its support to today's Wales Audit Office findings.
“UNISON has always argued that the decision to award such lucrative pay awards to the Caerphilly Council’s Chief Executive officers was immoral, insensitive and unjustified" said the union's Caerphilly branch secretary Gary Enright.
“The workforce in Caerphilly has suffered a three year pay freeze and many are struggling to make ends meet. The Chief Officers’ pay award has left a bitter taste in workers’ mouths and morale has been affected.
“The officers involved have an opportunity to stand alongside the workforce, do the right thing and to forgo any award given.”
– Spokesperson for Caerphilly County Borough Council
We are currently reviewing the recommendations contained in the report.
It is important to stress that the decision of the Senior Remuneration Committee was rescinded at a meeting of full council on January 17th, where independent external legal advice was received and a new decision was reached.
The Wales Audit Office report will be considered at a meeting of full council in due course, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.
Pay rises made to senior members of staff at Caerphilly County Borough Council were "unlawful on a number of grounds", according a report by the Wales Audit Office.
In December workers at the council staged a walkout after the Chief Executive was reportedly given a pay rise of around £27,000 in the September.
The meeting of the Senior Remuneration Committee was not properly advertised in accordance with the Local Government Act and neither were agendas for the meeting made available for public inspection as they should have been.
Certain officers, including the Chief Executive, who would have been (and indeed were) beneficiaries of the decision were present at the meeting to approve the salary increases. No declarations of interest were made and these officers did not leave the room while the decision was made. Consequently they participated in the decision making process when they had a disqualifying financial interest.
– Anthony Barrett, the Appointed Auditor and Assistant Auditor General
Additionally, the report presented to the Committee was written by the Chief Executive who was himself a direct beneficiary of the decision made and who gave advice on a matter in which he had a financial interest.
Finally, this report did not consider the full range of options identified. Nor was there any detailed and explicit consideration of these options in the meeting of the Committee.