Auditor should attend crunch County Hall meeting – Plaid

South Wales Guardian: CLLR DAVID JENKINS: "Deeply concerned." CLLR DAVID JENKINS: "Deeply concerned."

GLANAMAN-based Plaid county councillor David Jenkins, has called Mr Anthony Barrett, of the Wales Audit Office, to be invited to the council’s extraordinary meeting on February 27 to present his two public interest reports.

Published at the end of January, the reports found that Carmarthenshire County Council acted unlawfully on two matters. Firstly, the decision of the executive board to cover the legal costs of Chief Executive Mark James's libel counter-claim and secondly, the decision of the executive board to pay an additional “supplement” to the Chief Executive’s pay instead of putting those payments into the pension fund.

Since their publication, the 28-member Plaid Cymru opposition group has said the Chief Executive and three members of the authority’s Executive Board cannot continue in their roles and have subsequently announced they will be presenting motions of no confidence against them.

Cllr Jenkins, chair of the local authority's audit commitee, has now asked council chairman Terry Davies to invite Mr Barrett to the extraordinary meeting to present his reports.

He said the Plaid Cymru Group had found "a series of flaws" with the way in the council leadership is responding to the situation.

He went on to say that, given the Wales Audit Office has since confirmed the council is only publishing selective information, the authority as a whole would be better informed if the auditor himself was present.

“The Plaid Cymru Group is deeply concerned by the way in which the council’s leadership is responding to this serious situation.

“It is publishing statements and legal advice at a rate of knots, yet the information it publishes raises far more questions than it answers.

"As things stand, the council leadership has not provided any new evidence and has not provided all of the reports we have called for.

“More disturbing is that, despite the council issuing all 74 councillors with copies of e-mails its officers have had with the Wales Audit Office, the Audit Office now says we have not seen all correspondence.

“I believe councillors would be far better informed if the appointed auditor himself presents his reports to the full council as he did in the case of Caerphilly Council.

“We will, of course, respect the auditor’s independence and ensure he is not dragged into a debate, but I believe he should be invited to present his comprehensive reports which he rightly stands by.”

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