Mid Wales

Ceredigion council leader 'sorry' for BBC TV outburst

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Media captionEllen ap Gwynn told a TV crew to "get out of my room"

A council leader has apologised for "losing her temper" and swearing in a BBC programme investigating paying consultants to advise on cuts.

Ceredigion council leader Ellen ap Gwynn told BBC Two's Who's Spending Britain's Billions? presenter Jacques Peretti and his crew "please get out of my room, the bloody lot of you".

PricewaterhouseCoopers was paid £2m to help make "£12m to £14m" in savings.

"I am apologising," she told a council meeting on Thursday.

Ms ap Gwynn responded to calls from fellow councillors to apologise after the leader of four years was accused of bringing Ceredigion council into disrepute.

Council chairman Dai Mason rejected suggestions to discuss Ms ap Gwynn's conduct in the full council meeting out of "fairness to those who haven't seen the programme" and because it was not on the agenda.

Image caption Plaid Cymru councillor Ellen ap Gwynn became leader of Ceredigion council in May 2012

Ceredig Davies, leader of the opposition, said: "I will be asking the monitoring officer under our code of conduct to hold the leader of the council to account for bringing this council into disrepute."

Paul Hinge added: "This is disgusting. You are stopping democracy. This is stopping open and transparent council."

Ms Gwynn said she "had to respond" and outlined the council's challenge of saving £34m over four years following budget cuts which has meant the council losing "50% of our senior staff."

The leader reminded her council the decision to bring external consultants was agreed "by everyone in the chamber" and PwC won an open tender.

Ms Gwynn said she refused to answer BBC reporter Jacques Peretti's questions "on legal advice."

"I would challenge anyone of you not to lose your temper if you were pressed on the same point three times," she said.

"I do acknowledge that I lost my temper and I shouldn't have done so because I don't think I have ever done such a thing.

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Media captionCeredigion council leader Ellen ap Gwynn tells BBC Wales she "let herself down"

"But everybody has their failings. I am apologising to you and myself as I let myself down."

The BBC Two documentary investigated the activities of management consultants hired by Ceredigion, Powys, Pembrokeshire and Torfaen councils.

The investigation by Who's Spending Britain's Billions?, which emphasised the reluctance of local authorities to disclose fees paid due to "commercial confidentiality", claimed three Welsh councils paid PwC a total of £5m plus a percentage of the savings, which the programme claims is 16%.

A Welsh Local Government Association statement said: "WLGA supports the use of consultants where they add value and where there is a clear demonstrable business case to do so.

"Many councils are having to manage extraordinary levels of change and require specialist external support to help them deliver more for less.

"It would not be cost effective for the public sector (or any other organisation) to permanently retain such specialist capabilities."

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