Tuesday 9 July 2013

More questions than answers - the council's annual accounts

This week Carmarthenshire's county councillors will be asked to "consider" and approve two vast glossy reports, debate a motion on pylons in Brechfa Forest and sign off a further nine reports as part of their monthly meeting, all within the space of a couple of hours.

Over in the Audit Scrutiny Committee, members will be asked to run their eyes over the council's annual statement of accounts - not so glossy, but packed with figures and statements and who knows what lurking in the murky depths.

Like Victorian children peering through the window of a sweet shop at Christmas, the first place bloggers go in the Annual Statement of Accounts is the section dealing with fat cat senior officer pay. Scroll down to section 6.35 (roughly half way through).

The first thing we notice is that someone who was earning between £155k and £160k left the council in 2011/12. In fact, a comparison with the previous Annual Statement seems to suggest that this individual was a bit of a shooting star, as there was nobody in that bracket previously. Although the council is supposed by law to name anyone earning over £150k, it didn't.

Someone else who was earning between £100k and £150k received a pay-off of £134k (presumably a year's salary). The individual is not named, but is believed to have walked straight into another highly paid post with a different council - Pembrokeshire to be precise.

The Director of Regeneration and Leisure, Dave Gilbert, saw his salary fall from £130k to £104k, but it turns out that this was because he now only puts in a four day week. Strangely our contribution to his pension pot fell from £15,630 to zero.

The biggest beast, of course, is the Chief Executive himself. The exact extent of his earnings have always been shrouded in fog, but the accounts tell us that his earnings fell from £185k to £181k in 2012/13. Pension contributions fell from £22k to zero.

How these figures are arrived at is not at all clear. The chief executive's salary is supposed to be £165k (excluding fees, allowances and pension contributions).

It is also worth reminding ourselves that these figures relate only to his work in Carmarthenshire. Income from other activities, such as his non-executive director role with the Welsh Government, is not part of the package. Neither is any compensation he may receive for being part of the task force sent in to sort out schools in Monmouthshire.

The only elections in the financial year 2012/13 were the council elections in May 2012, and we know that Mr James took an advance of £20,000 on those fees immediately before the end of the 2011/12 tax year.

So where did the £16,000 paid on top of his basic £165k come from? And why were no pension contributions paid?

Oh, and despite repeated claims that the council has been cutting back on top earners, the report shows that the numbers earning more than £60,000 stayed stubbornly static at 67. What seems to have been happening is that quite a few left the council with very large pay-offs, with promotions and new appointments swallowing up future savings.

And all of that from just one page out of hundreds and hundreds facing councillors this week


Anonymous said...

"Someone else who was earning between £100k and £150k received a pay-off of £134k (presumably a year's salary). The individual is not named, but is believed to have walked straight into another highly paid post with a different council - Pembrokeshire to be precise." Clearly the individual was not made redundant so can CCC please explain what "other departures agreed" means?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this be the individual!


Anonymous said...

You must follow up on missing people Cneifiwr its the least a good blogger like yourself can do.

Cneifiwr said...

I couldn't possibly say Anon @14.24, but Carmarthenshire County Council must have been in a very generous mood - they even let him work 2 days a week in Haverfordwest before moving.

Anonymous said...

@ Cneifiwr 15:31 ... hmm, well here we have an article that is not so generous


Anonymous said...

Anon 14.24

I think I know why he left.

Anonymous said...

so the solution according anon 16.45 is to allow 30yr old mum to have a child a year Is that good for the children - i think not

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately many that work in social care take the p!!! and get moved over or out to another county in a better paid job...All the same!!! CCC prefer to promote pricks

Would be interesting to know how much was paid by CCC to gag previous employees etc too?????

Maybe that is the " other departures agreed"??????????

Anonymous said...

@ anon 21:39 - Was this anon 16:45 solution? - I think not! What I am thinking right now is that you should never ASSUME as it only makes an ASS out of U not ME.

Anonymous said...

Council seem to create jobs/promotions to ensure all grant funding is used! Joint development officer positions up 1000000%

Amazingly we in Carmarthenshire need everything developed by development officers? Another joking job!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 11.21

I don't understand how this system works. Why would a bloke moving to another job receive any payment at all for doing so? If you or I got a job in Pembrokeshire we wouldn't get a penny! I think serious questions need to be asked when CCC say they are so strapped for cash! This isn't an isolated case. It is a ridiculous amount of money to pay one individual considering the wages he was on, and the even higher paid job he was going into.

Anonymous said...

Disappointed that you do not look into the murky mess that is Pembs CC or are you just fixated on CCC

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @8.59 My fixation with CCC is probably something to do with the fact that I live in Carmarthenshire.

If you are interested in the goings-on in Pembrokeshire, a very good place to start is Old Grumpy - there is a link on the right of this blog.

Anonymous said...

@ anon 08:47 - I totally agree with your sentiment! Sadly, it would appear that CCC thrive on keeping people in the dark and hence the reason why we all need to raise awareness in our communities of issues such as this. It is an obscene amount of money to pay an individual who has left CCC for pastures new, particularly when services and salaries of employees further down the ladder are being cut.

Anonymous said...

Anon 13.42

Shouldn't these be questions our elected Councillors should be asking? and A.M.'s, and as importantly Cardiff Bay?

These are also the stories that the likes of the Carmarthen Journal should be covering on their front pages, so that the public at large is aware of what's going on. There should be a public outcry. The divide is too big.

Anonymous said...

Of course councillors should be asking the questions and the press should be printing them.Problem is CCC is officer led and the present administration is hand-in-glove with them

Anonymous said...

We should bombard our County Councillors or call for a public Meeting. Don't know whether it would make any difference though!

Anonymous said...

@ anon 15:48 - I wholeheartedly agree and I am sure that if enough of the public shout loud and long enough councillors, A.M.'s, Cardiff Bay and the media will have no option other than to take action.

@ anon 16:07 - Yes, I agree but we have the power to turn the situation around.

@ anon 16:50 - You are right we should! “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead

Anonymous said...

Paper won't print due to CCC removing their adverts... Paper would be broke!!! How about a community newspaper??

Could set up an online petition ??

Anonymous said...

Paper would be broke sooner if people stopped buying it to prove a point that we want a true reflection of what is really going on!

Anonymous said...

Most have, sales have dropped and long may it continue!! Can read the basic bull online for free anyway!

Online petition seems good any ideas Cneifiwr?