Caerphilly council £4m pay row could mean rule changes

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image captionCharges against Anthony O'Sullivan, Nigel Barnett and Daniel Perkins were dropped in 2015

A pay dispute at a Welsh council - predicted to cost £4m - could mean rule changes to stop similar future cases.

First Minister Mark Drakeford promised a review after an investigation at Caerphilly council has concluded.

Ex-council chief executive Anthony O'Sullivan was suspended on full pay in 2013 amid allegations of misconduct but charges were dropped before trial.

He is yet to reach an agreement with the council and is on special leave while an investigation takes place.

Mr O'Sullivan was suspended, along with his deputy Nigel Barnett and the head of legal services Daniel Perkins, after the Wales Audit Office declared their pay rises were unlawful.

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

Criminal charges against the three men were dropped in 2015, and Mr Barnett and Mr Perkins left their jobs in October last year with compensation payouts between them of nearly £300,000.

image captionMark Drakeford said the current system for dealing with such matters does not work

At question time in the Senedd on Tuesday, Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government had appointed an independent person to investigate Mr O'Sullivan's case at Caerphilly.

He added that "as soon as the current system has worked its way through, we will institute a review of it. It is not satisfactory".

"It does not work," he added.

"It does not deliver for local residents or for the council itself. But, when you are in a process, you have a legal obligation to see it through."

It followed questions by UKIP group leader Gareth Bennett who said "this ongoing fiasco has certainly been on your watch".

Hefin David, Caerphilly Labour AM, said he has been calling for a change to the procedure since he was elected.

"As soon as the Caerphilly investigation is complete, I anticipate that we will see changes to prevent this situation from ever happening again in Wales," he said.

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