The interim leader of Caerphilly County Borough Council has issued an apology after the Wales Audit Office (WAO) deemed former council leader, Cllr Dave Poole, to have breached its code of conduct.
Cllr Barbara Jones issued the apology at a Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) City Deal cabinet meeting on Monday, October 21.
Cllr Jones said: “I would like to apologise to all members of the committee for any inconvenience that may have been caused to you by the actions of a member of Caerphilly council.”
Cllr Poole resigned as leader of the council in September and referred himself to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales after the the WAO wrote to the council’s interim chief executive Christina Harrhy with concerns over a potential conflict of interest.
As the leader of the council, Cllr Poole was a member of the cabinet of the CCR City Deal – an economic development partnership of ten local authorities, including Caerphilly.
It has since been revealed that Cllr Poole held shares in a company that benefited from £38.5 million of public money.
However, Cllr Poole told Labour councillors: “I honestly believe that I will be found to be innocent of any of the accusations that have been made against me.”
In the meeting, the cabinet members of CCR were asked to consider and approve proposals to address issues found in relation to registration of member’s interests as a result of this breach.
The report presented to the committee made clear that neither the CCR officers, the regional cabinet nor the accountable body’s monitoring officer were made aware of the issue until a declaration was made during a city deal cabinet briefing.
Following the breach from Cllr Poole, the WAO sent letters to the council and the City Deal Office.
The CCR includes ten authorities from across South East Wales and aims to bring about significant economic growth in the region through investment, upskilling and improved physical and digital connectivity.
Interim chief executive Ms Harrhy said the authority had dealt with the issues promptly and robustly and was working with the WAO to address the issues.
Cllr Jones said that she fully endorsed the recommendations in the report, which included training sessions for the committee on the code of conduct.
The chairman of the committee, Rhondda Cynon Taf council leader, Cllr Andrew Morgan, said he fully accepted the suggestions from the WAO.
The recommendations were approved by cabinet.