'Cost of Caerphilly pay rise fiasco rocketing' - Plaid
2:30pm Wednesday 4th September 2013 in News
THE cost of suspending its top two bosses over the pay fiasco continues to rack up for Caerphilly council and will rise to hundreds of thousands of pounds, according to the opposition Plaid Cymru group.
It made a Freedom of Information request to the local authority, which showed £170,000 has already been spent on top of the £314,000 set aside to pay the wages of chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan and his deputy, Nigel Barnett.
Mr O’Sullivan has been suspended since March, when he was arrested on suspicion of fraud and misconduct in public office after huge pay rises were awarded to 21 senior officials at the authority.
This followed the chief executive awarding himself a rise from £132,000 to £158,000, a move that caused uproar as most staff had been on a two-year pay freeze.
The rises were given in September last year, with Mr O’Sullivan accepting a compromise rise of £5,000 after these came to light in November.
He was arrested and is now on bail as an Avon and Somerset Police investigation continues, with his deputy, Nigel Barnett, also arrested over the same allegation in July, and he is now also suspended.
While £314,000 was set aside to pay their wages as police officers continue to probe the wage hikes, former chief executive Stuart Rosser agreed to return and steer the ship in July. While he has returned for an initial six-month period, working 3.5 hours a week, the outlay will amount to £45,000 for that period and £90,000 if he stays on for a year.
The FOI made by a Plaid supporter shows that lawyers Geldards have charged the authority £40,341 plus VAT for legal advice since last September, while the cost of seconding audit expert Gill Lewis, from the Aneurin Bevan Health Board is around £20,000 for 40 days’ work, although this could be extended. The local authority has paid a further £19,782.72 so far to officers taking on more senior roles following the suspensions.
Leader of the Plaid group on Caerphilly council Colin Mann said: “The information shows just how the top officers’ pay scandal is continuing to impact on council tax-payers and the costs are likely to continuing to grow substantially in the coming months.”
A council spokesman said: “Police investigations into the senior pay issue are ongoing and we have put appropriate temporary measures in place to allow the effective running while these continue.”
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