Carmarthenshire county council badly damaged by 'unlawful' allegations, say Plaid
11:21am Monday 7th October 2013 in News
CARMARTHENSHIRE county council's reputation has been badly damaged by allegations of unlawful payments, according to the Plaid Cymru group on the local authority.
They were responding to the news that auditors believe two transactions involving chief executive Mark James to have been illegal.
The matters now under scrutiny are the granting of a £23,217 indemnity to pay for Mr James's legal costs in his libel case and counter claim against Towy Valley blogger Jacqui Thompson, plus renumeration totallying £16,353 paid to the chief executive in lieu of employer pension contributions.
"The taxpayers of Carmarthenshire have every right to know exactly why these two payments, amounting to some £40,000 of their money, were made," reads the Plaid statement.
"We’d like to know if anyone on the Executive Board at that time challenged the legality of the payments. If not, why not?
"The Audit Committee was right to insist that responsibility for the two disputed items of expenditure should be laid at the door of the Labour-Independent Executive Board, rather than the full council.
"Whatever the outcome of this affair, the council’s reputation has been badly damaged."
Meanwhile, Glanaman-based councillor David Jenkins, the chair of the county council’s audit committee, has called for urge a quick resolution to the current stalemate over the conflicting views of the council and the Wales Audit Office.
“These are just two items in an otherwise excellent report, which gave the council’s finances a clean bill of health” said Cllr Jenkins. “But they are items of considerable public interest and the difference of opinion needs to be resolved as quickly as possible”.
"As things stand, it’s a bit of a 'Mexican stand-off'. As both parties involved in the dispute are publicly-funded bodies I hope a resolution can be reached without incurring great legal costs at the expense of the public purse.”
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