Caerphilly County Borough Council has agreed to recruit a new interim chief executive on a salary of £142,524. That’s £11,000 more than what the current one is getting.
The controversial decision, taken at a council meeting on Tuesday June 10, has led to fresh clashes between Labour and Plaid Cymru on the issue of senior management pay.
The ruling Labour group welcomed the decision on the pay agreement. The opposition Plaid group heavily criticised the move to advertise the interim post at £11,000 more than what the current acting chief executive Stuart Rosser is getting.
Mr Rosser, who will step down in July, is currently filling the role in place of Anthony O’Sullivan, who, alongside deputy chief executive Nigel Barnett and head of legal Daniel Perkins are suspended on full pay.
Plaid Cymru group leader Colin Mann called for the post to be advertised at £131,000, the salary currently paid to Mr Rosser, but the interim chief executive said this would mean his deputy could be paid more than whoever fills the role.
The job had previously been advertised at £142,000 before Mr Rosser agreed to take on the six-month role in a part-time capacity on a reduced rate.
The salary level now advertised is the same rate which sparked the original scandal over council bosses’ pay.
The Labour group described Plaid’s actions as “shambolic disarray”, claiming the agreed salary will attract the best candidates.
Deputy leader Gerald Jones, went as far as to ask whether Cllr Mann should consider his position as opposition leader.
He said: “It was clear to everyone in the council chamber that Cllr Mann’s proposal to offer an uncompetitive salary rate for our new interim chief executive was a non-starter.
“So much so that even his own Plaid Cymru Group Members were holding their heads as he pressed on with his proposal.
“Two members of Cllr Mann’s own group – including former council leader Lindsay Whittle – abstained from supporting Cllr Mann’s proposal and another nationalist councillor left the chamber before the vote was called.
“It’s clear that not only has Cllr Mann misjudged the needs of our county borough and its residents, but that he’s also losing the support of his own political group.”
Cllr Mann dismissed the claims as “a load of nonsense”. He said: “Gerald should be concentrating on the issues of his own group who are split down the middle quite often.”
On the issue of chief executive pay, Cllr Mann added: “Stuart Rosser, who has acted up as chief executive, was prepared to accept a salary equivalent to £131,000 a year and I fail to see why Labour is quite happy to up the pay of a new interim chief executive.
“I believe the salary at £131,000 a year – far higher than some council chief executives – is sufficient to attract good quality candidates.
“Given the multi-million pound bill for the senior officers’ pay saga, I would have thought Labour would be looking to save some public money. Clearly not.
“What sort of message is this sending to the public who are facing further cuts in services in the coming years?
“The answer seems to be that Labour will look after those at the very top.”
• Anthony O’Sullivan, Nigel Barnett and Daniel Perkins have been charged with misconduct in a public office, and are due to appear before Bristol Crown Court on September 2 to enter a plea.