All three opposition parties had joined forces to force the u-turn by the Welsh Government by threatening to vote against the bill. Plaid's Simon Thomas confirmed that his party will support the legislation and has confidence that the independent panel will keep salary levels down.
He also dismissed warnings from the Welsh Local Government Association that the move could lead to legal challenges. He said the WLGA had been 'defending the indefensible' and hoped that, after 'an initial flurry of huffing and puffing' it would offer leadership.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Local Government Association, which represents local councils, said any attempts to change the way Chief Executives and other senior officers are paid could lead to employment tribunals and put off talented staff taking up key roles in Wales.
In the last analysis the legality of this proposal could be subject to judicial challenge and we would expect local government to be fully consulted and involved in any proposals which may impact on remuneration in the sector. The main question must be, has the National Assembly fully considered the wider implications of this proposal in terms of equal pay and the potential ramifications it might have on all council employees in Wales?
Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black said the credit for forcing the Welsh Government to change its mind on council chief executives' pay should not belong to any one of the opposition parties. He said it was because all three stood firm.
When all three opposition parties work together, we can force the Welsh Labour Government to improve legislation for the better of Wales. It would be quite churlish of one political party to claim ‘victory’ on this issue. The three opposition parties work well together, and indeed with the government, and we hope this will continue. Curbing excessive pay was a priority for us and we are glad that the Welsh Labour Government has listened to us.
Plaid Cymru says the Welsh Government has agreed to create an independent panel to set the salaries of local council chief executives. It follows pressure from the three opposition parties who threatened to defeat important legislation if no such step was taken.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas who had tabled an earlier amendment to the Local Democracy Bill welcomed what he said was a necessary 'u-turn' by the Welsh Government.
The Welsh Government has done the right thing in bringing forward this amendment. The fact that some senior officials have been able to award themselves eye-watering pay rises, while low paid council workers are denied a living wage was wrong, and the Welsh Government has done the right thing in tackling this issue.**
The Welsh Government recognises that the pay of local authority chief executives is an issue which needs to be determined in an open and transparent way and there needs to be effective mechanisms in place to ensure this happens. Listening to concerns over this matter, we are currently considering options for this at Stage 3 of the Local Government Democracy (Wales) Bill.
The Welsh Government could be forced to take steps to cap the pay of local council chief executives or face defeat over important legislation. I understand the Local Government Minister is holding talks with all three opposition parties to try to secure a majority in the Senedd.
Plaid Cymru AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas, with the support of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, has tabled an amendment to the Welsh Government's Local Democracy Bill to limit the salaries of senior council officers. When the opposition parties unite, Labour doesn't have enough votes to defeat them.
In separate meetings, the opposition parties have told Lesley Griffiths they'll vote the bill down if it doesn't include provisions on Chief Executives' pay. They've been led to believe that she's now looking for a form of words that at least one of the other parties could support.