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Plaid Cymru councillor reported to Public Services Ombudsman in pay row

Published in News at 13:59, Tuesday January 15th, 2013. Last updated at 13:09, Monday January 21st, 2013


A second councillor on Caerphilly County Borough Council has been reported to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales in the row to give huge pay rises to top council bosses.

Plaid Cymru councillor James Fussell, who is also the deputy leader of the Plaid group, has been reported to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. He follows Labour councillor David Hardacre who has also had a complaint made against him.

Caerphilly Observer understands the complaint about Cllr Fussell originated from the council’s head of legal Dan Perkins, who is also the local authority’s monitoring officer.

Exact details are unknown, although it is likely the complaint revolves around Cllr Fussell’s role in the controversial decision to award 21 top council officers, including the chief executive, huge pay rises.

Cllr Fussell was on a committee with four others which voted for the pay increases. Cllr Fussell has previously stated he did not vote in favour of the increases.

Other councillors on the Senior Remuneration Committee were Labour’s Christine Forehead (chair of the committee), Keith Reynolds, Gerald Jones and David Poole.

Plaid’s group leader Cllr Colin Mann defended Cllr Fussell and said: “I am puzzled as to why he has been reported. James maintains he did not vote for the increases and it is difficult to see what grounds there are to report him to the Ombudsman.”

A spokeswoman for the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales confirmed that a complaint against Cllr Fussell had been made and was under consideration for allegedly breaching the local authority’s Code of Conduct.

Caerphilly County Borough Council has also been asked to comment.

The complaint against Cllr Fussell follows one against Labour councillor David Hardacre.

Cllr Hardacre’s son Gareth Hardacre is the council’s head of human resources and organisational development. He was present at the meeting of the Senior Remuneration Committee on September 5 when rises for top managers, including himself, were approved.

Cllr Hardacre, the cabinet member for performance and asset management, was present when the minutes of the committee meeting were received and noted at a full council meeting on October 9, but allegedly did not declare an interest.

Council chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan was among the 21 senior bosses awarded pay increases at the secret meeting in September. His salary is now believed to be around £158,000, a £35,000 increase on previously published figures. A chief officer once on £71,000 now appears, under the new pay structure, to have had an increase to more than £99,000.

The pay rises have caused huge anger among staff who staged a walkout last month.

Labour councillors have already apologised for the way the decision to award the pay rises was made and have promised to investigate ways to have it reversed.

A special meeting of Caerphilly County Borough Council will be held at the council offices in Ystrad Mynach on January 17.

The meeting is open to the public, although councillors could decide to exclude the public.


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  • Trefor bond

    If indeed a complaint has been made against the Deputy Leader of the Plaid Cymru Group of Councillors on Caerphilly Council, particularly if that complaint has been made by the most senior officer of the Council as reported, a Solicitor, and the Council`s monitoring Officer ( The Councillors Conduct Policeman),then in the interest of transparency, and in the public interest, the public have a perfectly reasonable right to know the nature of the complaint. In this case that information is being denied the Caerphilly Observer`s Editor, why?, is a mystery.

    In all cases when elected members of an authority are considered to have erred, and, offended in some way against the rules and regulations, the people who elected them, and who pay their salaries and pension contributions as Councillors, have a right to follow that process, each Councillor also has the right to defend themselves using the same transparent process.

    If the public in Caerphilly are ` kept in the dark` about the nature of this alleged complaint, one may, and could, consider it to be biased, after all Councillor Fussell is alleged to be the one Councillor on this council who broke ranks in order to keep the public informed about the recent huge pay hike to senior officers, is he being punished for that?? or am I on the wrong track altogether? That`s the danger when people keep these public interest features close to their chests for no better reason than self interest.

    Quite rightly, the nature of the complaint laid against the other Councillor, Labour`s David Hardacre, was very quickly reported in all local newspapers and on the Caerphilly Observer pages. Indeed that Councillor had sufficient respect for those who elected him to make a public statement about his position, that is how it should be.

  • Cllr. Richard Willia

    The culture of secrecy is deeply embedded in the Caerffili County Borough and is not consistent with the ethics of local democracy. First we have a secret meeting to award pay rises costing us hundreds of thousands per annum. Then there are complaints flying about regarding the conduct of two members resulting from this meeting ‘in camera’.

    If allegations are made against an elected representative, particularly if they are from the council’s head of legal services, the public deserve to know the nature of the complaint. Perhaps Cllr. Fussel himself will write to these pages, as presumably the wording of the allegation is known to him? Perhaps not though, in this topsy turvey CCBC world; the truth will eventually come out and the secrecy surrounding this matter does nothing to improve the confidence of the public in their representatives nor of the council’s code of conduct.

    Let us hope that rational thinking prevails soon and that the local democratic process once more operates in an environment of transparency. I look forward to a press release from the CCBC enlightening everybody of the real nature of the complaint.

  • JEFF

    There must be something serious going on here.

    Councillor Harry Andrews, leader of Caerphilly Borough council, has used the national newspapers of Wales today, to call on Councillor Fussell to `Consider his position` due to the serious nature of the complaints made against him by the Borough council senior legal officer Dan Perkins.

    What really is going on here?????