Police investigation into unlawful pay rises at Caerphilly County Borough Council will be “meticulous”
Avon and Somerset Police has said it will be “meticulous” as its investigation into unlawful pay rises at Caerphilly County Borough Council continues.
Pay rises of up to 30% for 21 senior council bosses, including Chief Executive Anthony O’Sullivan, were agreed by a secret committee of councillors in September 2012. The decision was later deemed unlawful by the Wales Audit Office.
Mr O’Sullivan was suspended from his post after the Wales Audit Office report was published in March and then referred to Avon and Somerset Police for investigation by Gwent Police.
Detective Superintendent Steve Jeffries, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “We are continuing to review the Wales Audit Office’s report on Caerphilly County Borough Council.
“As you would expect our review will be thorough and will not conclude until we are satisfied we have properly considered the report.
“While this work continues we are not able go into the details of our work however people can be confident that we will be meticulous in our review this matter.”
In January this year, amid huge anger from staff and the wider public, councillors agreed a compromise deal reducing the pay rises, but this will still cost the local authority £1.5 million over the next four years.
Council leader Harry Andrews also faced and survived a vote of no confidence on the issue.
Meanwhile, Plaid Cymru has said it intends to amend a new Welsh law to stop similar pay scandals from happening again.
The Local Democracy Bill is progressing through the National Assembly and AM Rhodri Glyn Thomas, the party’s Shadow Minister for Local Government, has set out a Plaid Cymru amendment which would take senior pay out of the hands of council officers and put it under the remit of an all-Wales independent remuneration body.
Fellow AM Lindsay Whittle, a former leader of Caerphilly Council who is still a councillor representing Penyrheol, said: “The proposals put forward by Plaid are an attempt to prevent the Caerphilly Council pay debacle, which caused such a furore among the public and the council’s employees, happening again.
“Plaid’s proposals would stop the secret awarding of pay rises which followed a report written by the chief executive which led to huge increases for himself and 20 other senior officers.”
Cllr Keith Reynolds, Caerphilly Council’s deputy leader, welcomed the comments from Avon and Somerset Police.
He said: “Our council acted swiftly to refer the Wales Audit Office’s report to the independent Avon and Somerset Police, to investigate whether any possible criminal activity had taken place. We look forward to the conclusion of Supt Jeffries’s work so that any necessary action can be taken.
“In the meantime, our Labour-led Caerphilly Council is getting on with the job Caerphilly voters have given us – delivering essential, high-quality services to the people of our county borough.”
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