While we wait to find out why the Audit Office found these arrangements so objectionable, here is a public interest report dealing with yet another aspect of breach of the rules over in Caerphilly. Readers will note that officers failed to declare an interest, and that one or more of them took part in the decision making process, even though they stood to benefit personally from the arrangements.
The auditor notes that in respect of the council's Chief Executive the only body which had the authority to agree the changes was the full council, which was of course not consulted.
For readers in Carmarthenshire wondering what the council meant when it said "there may have been shortcomings in the procedures by which it [the pensions tax dodge, ed.] had been adopted", there may be a few clues in the statement dealing with Caerphilly.
Perhaps the Carmarthenshire reports have got stuck in the Christmas post.
Meanwhile Caebrwyn is firing on all cylinders over on Carmarthenshire Planning Problems with a report showing that there a signs of a long overdue peasants revolt, with the council coming under fire from the public for proposals to cut respite care and plans to ramp up charges for sports facilities.
CAERPHILLY COUNCIL CAR AND LEAVE ALLOWANCE PAYMENTS ‘UNLAWFUL’
Caerphilly County Borough Council acted unlawfully when it paid its Chief Officers to ‘buy out’ their entitlements to an Essential Car User Allowance (ECUA) and Annual Leave Allowance (ALA). The Appointed Auditor, Anthony Barrett, has published a report today to draw the public’s attention to a failure in governance arrangements at the Council and inadequacies in the processes it adopted in making these payments.
There are three matters which led the Appointed Auditor to reach this conclusion. Firstly, the decision to buy out the allowances was done without proper authority or clear recording of how the decision was made. It was not taken by a formally constituted members’ body, even though, in respect of the Chief Executive, only the Council had the power to take such decisions.
Secondly, the Chief Officer group all had a conflict of interest, as they held a pecuniary or personal interest in the decision. These interests were not declared and one or more of these individuals took part in the decision-making process.
Finally, there is no evidence that the decision to buy out these allowances for Chief Officers was published, contrary to the Council’s Constitution in respect of delegated decisions.
Appointed Auditor and Assistant Auditor General, Anthony Barrett, said today:
‘There are clear lessons to be learned by the Council around the processes that were followed when deciding to buy out the Chief Officers from their entitlement to car and annual leave allowances. The informality of meetings and decisions, the conflicts of interest, the lack of record keeping, the failure to follow advice and publish decisions – these are all of significant concern and the public needs to be aware of what has happened. The Council now have one month to respond to my report and to highlight the steps it is taking to ensure this never happens again.’