Thursday 19 December 2013

A Public Interest Report

The Wales Audit Office has now been suggesting for some time that it may publish public interest reports dealing with what it sees as the unlawful arrangements concerning the libel indemnity and pension contributions paid to the Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council. The council recently backed down on the payment of employer pension contributions, saying that it did so without admitting that it had done anything wrong.

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 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.’


Anonymous said...

How does Cneifiwr suggest the savings are made ?
What ideas does he and Plaid have to save £11m of cuts brought down from Cardiff/ Westminister .
Ps you can not touch School {protected}

Cneifiwr said...

Anon @12.44 I think the Plaid group will be presenting its own budget proposals.

And while they may, relatively speaking be peanuts, the council continues to waste what add up to huge sums on daft legal cases, a bloated PR operation, evangelical churches, unnecessary office rents (e.g. Eastgate), limos, a box at the Scarlets, countless events held at Parc y Scarlets which could be held for free or cheaper elsewhere, a bloated senior officer corps, the council newspaper, wasteful and pointless advertising, duplication of effort in many council departments....I'm sure readers could add a great deal more. And while we're at it, perhaps the Council leader and his two useless deputies could take a salary cut.

Anonymous said...

Well said,Cneifiwr.With all this going on what word should
be used to describe it,does it start with C?

Anonymous said...

The leader and his two useless deputies could take a salary cut... And the leader of the opposition.

Cneifiwr said...

So let's get this straight Anon @23.59. Your response (presumably as a member or supporter of the ruling Labour/Independent coalition) to the waste, incompetence and unbridled greed which characterises this council is to call for the leader of the opposition to take a pay cut? No wonder we're in such a mess.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, the unlawful payments should surely be paid back to Council, including the legal fees for the libel case.
I'm sure Mr James was so outraged he would have paid for the libel case himself if the Council had not been so generous.
As to the cuts, if the leadership of the council were more open, all could see where cuts are appropriate. In the meantime how about not having favoured contractors and putting everything out to tender?

Anonymous said...

They can do what they like,Labour will always be safe in Wales,if it was not for the people of the Western part of Wales north,mid,and south voting for other parties they
Would get a full house in Cardiff every time.Put a red
Rosette on a donkey further east and they would vote it in.