Caerphilly council pay-row probe to take six months - and cost up to £28,000
CAERPHILLY council’s investigation into its own senior officers' pay rise fiasco will cost up to £28,000.
Acting chief executive Nigel Barnett told a full council meeting tonight that the process should take a maximum of six months, with staff changes as a result of the internal secondment of a solicitor costing between £10,000 and £28,000.
The cash will come from council reserves.
It was also agreed that head of legal services Dan Perkins relinquishes his role as monitoring officer for six months while the issue is investigated.
Mr Perkins was present at a hush-hush meeting last September, where it was agreed on chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan’s recommendation to give huge pay rises to 20 senior staff.
While a compromise deal has since been struck that will still cost the local authority up to £1.5 million over the next four years, the issue caused uproar among council staff- many of whom have had their pay frozen for three years.
Avon and Somerset Police are investigating and Mr O’Sullivan is now suspended as the Wales Audit Office report is investigated.
But, Mr Barnett stressed that Mr Perkins will continue with his duties as head of legal service, just not as monitoring officer in council meetings, where he said a "conflict of interests" could be created.
It was also agreed at the meeting to create an investigating and disciplinary committee comprising of seven members.
Leader of the opposition Plaid Cymru group Colin Mann said it should have equal Labour and non-Labour members, so it has ‘credibility", as the pay rise fiasco happened under Labour’s watch.
But, it was agreed it will be politically-balanced, representing the make-up of the council, with four Labour, two Plaid Cymru and one Independent councillor.
The members will be appointed by council leader Harry Andrews after nominations are given by the other groups in the council.
These will then be given training and use a new disciplinary procedure, implementing it with regard to findings in the Wales Audit Office report.
* OVER one hundred Cwmcarn High School parents and pupils donned T-shirts with the words ‘Fund our Way Home’ written on them- as they launched a campaign aimed at raising £1 million.
Caerphilly council has asked the Welsh Government for that amount to fund remedial work at the site, but campaigners are intent on raising it themselves.
Kelly East said: "We’re selling bricks for £2, £5, £10 and £50 and hope we will raise as much as possible. If the money comes from other sources, we can use it to enhance the school.
In the council chamber, long-time supporter cllr David Rees, made a point, saying "It’s warm in here, let me take my jacket off", before revealing a ‘Fund our Way Home’ T-shirt underneath, to applause from the public gallery.