Apology after Caerphilly leader steps down over shares probe

David Poole Image copyright Caerphilly Council
Image caption David Poole has told Caerphilly council colleagues he expects to be cleared

A council's interim leader has apologised to other leaders in south Wales for any "inconvenience" caused by her predecessor, amid an inquiry into his declaration of financial interests.

Barbara Jones apologised to the Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) cabinet after the Wales Audit Office raised issues over David Poole's interest in a company.

He stepped down as Caerphilly leader in September pending an investigation.

The CCR cabinet backed a report calling for code of conduct training sessions.

The region brings together 10 county and county borough councils to promote economic growth across south east Wales through a "city deal" of investment in skills, infrastructure and digital connectivity.

Mr Poole stepped down from the CCR and as Caerphilly council leader pending an inquiry into his holding of shares in the high-tech manufacturer IQE, which had been given £38.5m of public funds.

He has reportedly said he bought the shares in late 2018 - a year after the city deal investment was agreed - and was advised he did not need to declare it.

In an email seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mr Poole said his decision to step down had been "a temporary one" and that he expected to be cleared of any breach of his council's code of conduct.

While not naming him, Ms Jones told the nine other council leaders who make up the city deal cabinet: "I would like to apologise to all members of the committee for any inconvenience that may have been caused to you by the actions of a member of Caerphilly council."

Caerphilly council's interim chief executive Christina Harrhy said the authority had dealt with the issues promptly and robustly, and was working with the Wales Audit Office to address them.

The CCR cabinet accepted a report on the matter, which included a Wales Audit Office recommendation for a briefing or training session for members on their obligations under the code of conduct.

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