Plaid Cymru councillor reported to Public Services Ombudsman in pay row
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.
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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