Plaid leader appeals for special audit of Caerphilly County Borough Council
The opposition Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly County Borough Council has called on watchdogs to carry out a special audit to ensure no other decisions were taken by the authority’s officers without the knowledge of councillors.
The appeal was made to Anthony Barrett of the Wales Audit Office, whose Public Interest report last week revealed that some council officers pushed through an essential car and annual allowances deal without it ever being presented to councillors. It followed a previous report on the senior officers’ pay scandal.
In a letter to Mr Barrett this week, Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said: “The thing that particularly concerns me about the latter report is the extreme length to which certain officers went to exclude elected members and other staff from the truth of what was happening, even to the holding of at least one secret meeting at which no notes or minutes were taken. I also have in mind the non-declarations of interest and the other matters mentioned in your reports.
“The decision on allowances was then pushed through the system literally just before the council elections last year when elected members were possibly distracted campaigning for the election. A cynic may feel that the timing was to make sure that this escaped the attention of all elected councillors.
“Due to the series of issues that have now been exposed I feel that I have a great lack of confidence in the way that certain senior officers have conducted the affairs of this authority. This feeling is shared by many of my colleagues.”
Councillor Mann added: “I am therefore asking you to consider conducting a special audit of the affairs of CCBC in an attempt to ensure that there are no other matters that have been hidden away from the elected members, the vast majority of staff and also the public, considering their interest as council tax payers.
“In making this request I am bearing in mind my understanding that the buyout of allowances for senior officers only came to public attention after a Freedom of Information request from a member of the public. What else is there that we know nothing about?”
A Caerphilly Labour party spokesman said: “We have already called for a review so we are glad Plaid Cymru is finally catching up.
“From our point of view, we too were unhappy with the decisions made, but we think those unlawful acts in making those allowances only happened as a result of the lackadaisical approach of the Plaid Cymru administration prior to May 2012.”
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