Wales politics

Caerphilly council pay rises dispute cost nearly £3.2m

Chief executive Anthony O'Sullivan, his deputy Nigel Barnett, and head of legal services Daniel Perkins
Image caption Anthony O'Sullivan, Nigel Barnett and Daniel Perkins had charges against them dropped

The cost of a long dispute over pay rises to senior officers at Caerphilly council has reached nearly £3.2m.

The chief executive and two others are on leave on full pay after the Wales Audit Office (WAO) declared their salary rises unlawful in 2013.

So far more than £1.8m has gone towards their pay, and another £900,000 has been spent on legal costs.

Councillors have now set aside another £469,000 for further costs if the case is not resolved by the end of the year.

This includes the estimated cost of £1,000 a day for an external legal investigation that is due to last 100 days.

It will take the total cost to the equivalent of £37 per household in the county borough.

Chief executive Anthony O'Sullivan, his deputy Nigel Barnett and head of legal services Daniel Perkins were suspended after the WAO ruling.

It was claimed they agreed to give themselves a 20% increase when most other council staff faced pay freezes.

A criminal case, involving charges of misconduct in public offices, was dropped in 2015.

An internal investigation into the three senior officers is now under way.

The final decision will be made by an investigating and disciplinary committee made up of Caerphilly councillors, which is being advised by a barrister.

'No other option'

Caerphilly council leader Dave Poole said: "Many people are concerned about the length of time that this matter is taking to resolve.

"I fully understand and share these concerns, but it is important to stress that we are bound by a statutory process, over which we have no discretion.

"No one wants to see scarce council resources being diverted to fund these proceedings, but the simple fact of the matter is that we have no other option but to follow the proper statutory process.

"I would like to assure council tax payers across the county borough that the investigation is being dealt with as quickly as possible, but we must ensure this is done fairly and thoroughly."

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