Wales

Chairman quits in row over clerk suspended over adult images allegations

David Roberts Image copyright Welsh Assembly/BBC
Image caption David Roberts has been suspended on full pay since September 2017

A community council chairman in south Wales has resigned amid a row about a clerk suspended over allegations of adult images on his computer.

David Roberts has been on full pay since being suspended 16 months ago by Sully and Lavernock Community Council.

Steve Oaten quit saying he had "had enough" criticism of his handling of the matter, amid claims the £80,000 cost could bankrupt the authority.

Mr Roberts said: "This is a personnel issue which is confidential."

A report seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) said six images of "an adult/inappropriate nature" had been found on his work computer, although it was "unclear" how they came to be there.

Leaked emails also seen by the LDRS show councillors were concerned that the cost of the ongoing disciplinary situation could "bankrupt" the council.

An acting clerk was hired after Mr Roberts was suspended, and a wage bill projected to reach £80,000 by March 31 is about half of the council's annual expenditure.

'Mortified'

Retired police officer Mr Oaten said he was "disappointed" at the way that some councillors had conducted themselves since his election in March 2018, six months after Mr Roberts was suspended.

"I am not prepared to deal with unreasonable and selfish people who have their own agendas," he said.

"I have dealt with the suspended clerk in line with the wishes of the council whilst taking legal advice and guidance. I can do no more than that."

The outgoing chairman said he was also "mortified" by the "overbearing" conduct of some members to the temporary clerk.

A group of villagers and councillors are now understood to be calling for the authority to be wound up, but Mr Oaten said he would rather see its membership change with "a few new faces".

One councillor, who did not want to be named, told the LDRS that Mr Oaten had been "shoddily treated" and "stitched up".

Sully and Lavernock Community Council did not respond to requests for comment.

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