The Wasting Mule reports that that The Welsh Government has been forced to make a U-turn and agree to make the pay of council chief executives subject to an independent regulator.
Opposition parties at the National Assembly had threatened to vote down the Local Government Democracy (Wales) Bill. if the Government didn’t drop its opposition to a change in top local government officers’ pay arrangements.
The issue has become highly controversial since it was revealed last December a scandal involving huge secret pay rises awarded to senior managers at Caerphilly council following recommendations made by chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan.
Mr O’Sullivan’s own salary rose from £132,000 to £158,000 after the increases were approved by a committee of one Plaid Cymru and four Labour councillors.
A The Mule reports that a further 20 senior managers also received substantial pay rises, but the bulk of the council’s staff were on the third year of a pay freeze.
The rises were rescinded in January after a public outcry, and under a compromise, Mr O’Sullivan’s increase went down from £26,000 to £5,000.
The chief executive was suspended in March on full pay after a report from the Assistant Auditor General for Wales, Anthony Barrett, said various aspects of the pay award were unlawful.
Opposition parties have in recent months been calling for the fixing of chief executives’ pay to be taken out of the hands of individual local authorities and taken over by an independent remuneration panel of the kind that already sets pay for AMs and councillors.
Next Tuesday is the deadline for amendments to the Local Government Democracy (Wales) Bill.
Plaid Cymru local government spokesman Rhodri Glyn Thomas welcomed the Government’s change of heart.
He said: “This will be a positive step forward. It cannot be right that some low-paid council workers are denied a living wage while the pay of council chief officers continues to rise.
“And it is ludicrous, for example, that the chief executives of Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire councils are paid more than the chief executive of Swansea council.
“It has become increasingly clear in recent months that the people of Wales support Plaid Cymru’s attempts to bring senior officer pay under control.
“Senior pay is currently set individually by each local authority. This results in 22 different pay policies existing across Wales, despite councils being told to collaborate on a range of issues.”
The interesting here may ne that the opposition parties seem to be acting in unison as they did recently over the proposed "downgrading" of the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
Plaid supporters may be loath to see the party apparently working with the Tories but in both cases the cause is a right one.
Labour who are still relying on voters blaming everything on the Westminster coalition seem content to do nothing in the Assembly passing health reforms to the local Welsh Boards (in the case of the Royal Glamorgan etc) and then denying responsibility.
Or Carwyn Jones giving us a yearly progress on his Governments progress which appears which is a mass of statics but where his government set no targets.
The whole of the Assembly need to shake of its lethargy and if this means the Opposition parties increasingly attack together . So be it.