Fresh war of words over Caerphilly Council pay deal
The pay row engulfing Caerphilly County Borough Council shows no sign of stopping with a fresh war of words between rival councillors.
In the wake of the fallout from revelations that top council bosses had secret pay rises of between 20% and 30%, councillors agreed a compromise deal at a special full council meeting last week.
The council’s chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan will have his salary capped at £137,000 a year for the next four years while pay rises of up to 30% for 20 other council bosses, also previously agreed by a secret committee of councillors in September last year, were revised.
The new pay structure will be kept, but chief council officers will now be moved to the lowest increment level instead of the highest, or the next highest where the lowest increment in the pay deal is lower than the old system.
Following the deal, which Plaid councillors voted against, Plaid group leader Cllr Colin Mann said council taxpayers will be left to pay for the scaled down increases.
He said: “This deal will still cost more than £1.1m over four years – the equivalent of more than 2% on council tax bills.
“Plaid Cymru believes it is crucial that the residents of the county borough don’t pay the price for this Labour debacle through their council tax. Why should residents have to pick up the bill for rises given to some very highly paid officers?
“Under the last Plaid administration council tax was frozen for two years because we wanted to help residents struggling with their fuel, food and energy bills. In the council’s medium term financial strategy, a rise of 2.35% was forecast for the 2013/14.
“But that was indicative and certainly not cast in stone so Labour can if they wish continue to support the residents of the county borough and also maintain the excellent services developed by the Plaid administration. There is no need for them to make council taxpayers pay.
“Residents know that the chief executive will still receive a £100 a week rise, something most people can only dream of, and that is still causing massive anger among residents and low-paid council workers.”
Labour’s council leader Harry Andrews has hit back and labelled Plaid “deceitful”.
He said: “In the council meeting on January 17, Plaid Leader Cllr Colin Mann proposed to terminate the contracts of senior officers and re-engage them on new terms and conditions. Cllr Mann persisted with this, despite being aware that it would be virtually impossible to enforce, would likely lead to the council being unable to deliver its core services and would have huge hidden costs.
“Throughout the negotiations with staff and the trade unions to achieve a voluntary cut, Plaid have stood on the outside trying to be as destructive as possible in order to gain as much political capital as they can. Their Deputy Leader was in favour of the original decision, yet they have taken no responsibility and failed to apologise.”
“I do not believe that they have the best interests of the residents of this county borough at heart. All they care about is short term political gain for their party at the expense of good governance. For the same small minded political reasons, they have no interest in moving on from this situation.”
“Deceitfully, they have chosen to link the pay issue to the forthcoming budget. In reality, the last Plaid administration froze council tax before the 2011 Assembly and 2012 local elections but built a council tax rise of 2.35% into their medium term financial strategy for this non election year. They knew that the alternative would be to cut services. At the time the Labour opposition warned that Plaid were pushing debts into the future. We now have to deal with the mess that they left. Discussions over the budget are ongoing and no decisions have yet been made.”
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