Tuesday 13 May 2014

Carmarthenshire council; 'caught taking from the poor and giving to the rich' - Cllr Caiach writes to the Western Mail

Good letter from Cllr Sian Caiach in today's Western Mail which I have copied below. The police investigation might be over but the fallout certainly isn't.

Cllr Caiach also reminds us of the latest scandal which saw County Hall quietly arrange for the Scarlets to pay off a third party loan. My complaint is currently in the hands of the Wales Audit Office.

As for the police investigation, I have now made a Freedom of Information request to Gloucestershire Constabulary for the details;
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/carmarthenshire_county_council_i (with thanks to the Dyfed Powys Police Commissioner's office for advice)

Don't forget there's a full council meeting tomorrow (webcast here) and it will be interesting to see whether the Plaid opposition follow the calls made by MP Jonathan Edwards last week for the unlawful payments to be paid back. This week's South Wales Guardian opinion piece also supports Mr Edwards view.

Here's Cllr Caiach's letter;
Taking from poor and giving to rich 
SIR – The police investigation into extra salary payments for two council chief executives to compensate them for changes to pension rules has been dropped. There was no criminal case to answer. 
Here in Carmarthenshire the Labour-led council was delighted to give an extra £16,000 a year to our well-paid chief executive, who already earns more than first minister Carwyn Jones. 
The decision was made by the executive board and not reported to ordinary councillors or the public in general. It was only when accounts showed a sudden unexplained increase in the CEO salary, found by a member of the public, and the Wales Audit Office investigated, that the sad story of the secret pay rise emerged. 
The executive board councillors in Carmarthenshire are the employers of the chief executive. Although the WAO judged the payment as unlawful, this council has denied that it could be, as any employer can reward an employee as much as they see fit. 
There are two very disturbing issues. The pay increase was hidden, presumably because an executive board cutting its own council staff did not wish to be seen giving a massive pay rise to its best paid officer just to protect his already generous pension. 
This is not the only payment hidden from the public recently, the same council hid a donation of almost £300,000 to cover a debt for the Scarlets Rugby club in the paperwork of a car park sale. Also, when the truth comes out, the Welsh Government is either unable or unwilling to stop these practices, even when condemned by their own Audit Office. 
As a county councillor, just like the public, I am being kept in the dark. I am not informed by the council leaders about incidents where public money is secretly given away. The payments may not be criminal, but are certainly not moral and the time, money and spin wasted to hide them is disgraceful. 
Who would have thought that in tranquil West Wales a Labour-led council has decided to adopt a policy of expanding the wealth gap? This supposed Labour administration cuts services to the vulnerable (blaming the evil Westminster Government), privatises our social care, sponsors our local rugby region and over rewards our highest paid employee. 
All funded by the public, but openness and transparency sadly lacking. In essence, local government caught taking from the poor and giving to the rich. 
Our chief executive, we've been told, could earn much more money in the private sector. Perhaps he should look into that? With re-organisation on the horizon, I'm sure we can find a cheaper option. 
Councillor Sian Caiach
People First /Gwerin Gyntaf, County Councillor for Hengoed Ward, Llanelli


Anonymous said...

Ah, Bryn Parry Jones and Mark James CBE...the Gary Barlows of west Wales...and I don't mean their ability to sing.

Anonymous said...

Exellent post as always from Sian Caiach and you Jaqui.Where do we go from here though?

Anonymous said...

I'm not legally obliged to buy Gary Barlow CD'S. I AM legally obliged to pay my taxes & rates, I don't have a choice about it however much the communities services are cut, however tight my finances get.
A picture is worth a thousand words & Banksy's 'Rickshaw' springs to my mind.

Redhead said...

Wales Audit Office new Code of Practice: