2:32pm Tuesday 7th January 2014
A REPORT into a scheme involving holidays and car user allowances at Caerphilly council has been referred to the police for investigation.
Gwent Police has referred the Wales Audit Office probe to Avon and Somerset Police, which has already looked into the matter of controversial pay rises at the authority.
The force said the matter should be investigated to ensure transparency.
Avon and Somerset says they are yet to make a decision on the request from the force’s chief constable Jeff Farrar.
Auditors found that thousands of pounds in payments to Caerphilly council’s chief officers to buy out their entitlement to essential car users and annual leave allowances, and the decisions that led to them, were unlawful.
The Wales Audit Office said that the deals were approved by those who stood to gain from them, and the proposals and decisions were not made known to councillors, or published.
Last summer it emerged that 40 senior officers at Caerphilly council received payments averaging £2,500 each for buying out the car allowances.
The total was more than £102,000.
The buy-out of additional annual leave cost close to £116,000, with the overall buy-out payment sum reaching £218,563.
A spokesman for Gwent Police said it has considered the public interest report by the Wales Audit Office and decided it should be investigated by police "to ensure complete transparency and independence."
“However in light of our close proximity and working relationship with Caerphilly County Borough Council it is not appropriate for it to be investigated by the Gwent force, and as such the investigation has been referred to Avon and Somerset Police," he said.
“This is consistent with the previous approach in respect of chief officer pay awards already which is currently [under] investigation by Avon and Somerset.”
An Avon and Somerset spokesman said the force is aware of the chief constable's request: “We will be making a decision about this request in due course.”
A separate case regarding fraud claims over pay rises for senior officers has been referred by Avon and Somerset Police to the Crown Prosecution Service for a decision.
Both the council’s chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan and his deputy Nigel Barnett remain on police bail.
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