South West Wales

Ombudsman launches inquiry into Swansea council leaders

  • Story correction, 11 April 2016: We can confirm that the complaint to the ombudsman was not made by the chief executive of the council.

Swansea's top two councillors are under investigation by the public services ombudsman, BBC Wales can reveal.

Liberal Democrat leader Chris Holley and his independent deputy John Hague face questions about their conduct.

It is understood the complaint was referred to the ombudsman by Jack Straw, chief executive of the council.

A Conservative member of the council, Paxton Hood-Williams, is also under investigation. All three councillors declined to comment.

The complaint is believed to refer to alleged discussions between the leader and deputy leader and some opposition Conservative councillors regarding their support for the council's ruling Lib Dem-led administration.

'Normal process'

It is suggested there have been discussions on increasing spending on projects in Conservative-held wards in the run-up to next May's local elections.

A spokesperson for the public service ombudsman said: "I can confirm that we are looking into a complaint against councillor Chris Holley and councillor John Hague."

She declined to disclose anything about the nature of the complaint against them but said the ombudsman was going through the normal process of investigation.

She also confirmed the investigation into Mr Hood-Williams. He declined to discuss the matter when contacted.

Mr Holley and Mr Hague declined to comment while the investigation is underway.

A number of claims regarding the issue have been put to Swansea council by BBC Wales. It declined to respond, citing the ombudsman's inquiry.

Swansea council is run by a 36-member coalition, which includes 22 Lib Dems. There are 26 Labour councillors and five Conservatives outside the ruling group.

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