Gwent quango clerk hits back over audit report

SLAMMED IN REPORT: Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board

SLAMMED IN REPORT: Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board

First published in News

THE former clerk of the Gwent public body criticised in an auditor’s report this week said he would welcome a public inquiry.

Dean Jackson-Johns said he was “extremely disappointed” with the Wales Audit Office report into Newport-based Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board and said he would support a public inquiry to clear his name.

Mr Jackson-Johns is the former clerk and engineer for the organisation which manages drainage on the Gwent Levels.

The auditors listed a series of damning findings following an audit of the board’s accounts for 2010/11 including that Mr Jackson-Johns had received overpayments to his salary and had submitted his own pay proposals resulting in him being paid thousands more than agreed in his contract.

The report also raised concern that Mr Jackson- Johns recommended his wife Iolanda’s post as officer and personnel manager be regraded in 2004.

Mr Jackson-Johns said: “My salary reviews were done through exactly the same process as other salaried board employees. When an employee felt their workload or responsibility had increased they had the opportunity to formally request a reviewof their salary.” He said employees would then be formally interviewed and assessed and the committee would make a decision.

He said he was responsible for the management of five drainage boards which is why his salary was reviewed and said that has not come through in the report.

He said his salary was printed each year in the organisation’s annual accounts at the insistence of the Wales Audit Office.

Mr Jackson-Johns added: “If questions are raised over my reviews there must be question marks over the salary reviews of every other employee over the last ten years who has gone through the same process.”

He said he co-operated fully with the Wales Audit Office and is disappointed with the report which he said “skirted over the bigger issues”.

He said: “I worked extensively with the audit office, gave a detailed reply and stated my concerns at the time. None of my concerns were addressed.”

Mr Jackson-Johns said the report does not mention that he worked for the board as an employee and said questions needed to be asked about the responsibility of board members.

He said they were ultimately responsible and culpable for the decisions of the board and the employees.

Mr Jackson-Johns said he was extremely concerned by the report’s findings but said he was relieved Gwent Police had confirmed there was no case to answer and no criminal activity had taken place.

Queries over spending

THE report said the Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board lost sight of the fact it was a public body and did not show it had always spent public money wisely.

It made a series of findings which stretch over a number of years, including that the board spent more than £9,000 of taxpayers’ money on so-called inspection visits for board members and guests abroad.

The audit board said standards of governance and management at the drainage board also fell short of what the public has a right to expect.

Manager speaks out against call by MP

THE general manager of Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels IDB spoke out against a Newport MP’s call to reopen an investigation into the quango.

Richard Penn, general manager of Caldicot and Wentlooge Levels Internal Drainage Board said Paul Flynn MP hadn’t acknowledged changes to the organisations and governance of the board when commenting.

Mr Flynn said questions must be asked about how the quango is run in the future but Mr Penn said: “Mr Flynn clearly hasn’t taken the time to read the Wales Audit Office report as he would have seen it acknowledges the significant changes to both the organisation and the governance of the board.

“He would have noted that the report makes no recommendations other than that the board should complete the programme of improvement and consider recovery of the excess salary paid to the former chief executive.”

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