KEVIN Madge's decision to keep the Chief Executive of Carmarthenshire County Council in post whilst a criminal investigation takes place has undermined the authority of First Minister Carwyn Jones.

That was the message from MP Jonathan Edwards this afternoon after the failure of the council leader to suspend Mr James, from his £180,000-a-year role.

In a further twist, the Guardian understands that members of the local authority's Executive Board will be receiving an update on the situation from Cllr Madge at 5pm this afternoon.

"There is no formal meeting of the Executive Board, but as I indicated yesterday I am holding a series of discussions with my senior colleagues today to update them on my meeting with Dyfed Powys Police," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Edwards accused Cllr Madge of "diminishing" the role of council leader and exposing Carmarthenshire residents to further financial risks in challenging the Wales Audit Office reports.

“The Leader of the council has had at least three opportunities to recognise the seriousness of the WAO reports – the latest of which was an announcement that a criminal investigation is being conducted by the police – but he has failed," he said.

“His failure to suspend the chief executive and failure to accept the findings of the audit reports demonstrates a complete dereliction of duty to the taxpayers’ of Carmarthenshire. He will expose residents to further financial risks should the council challenge the audit reports in court.

“The First Minister has publicly called on Carmarthenshire to consider the law and to deal with the situation. By allowing the chief executive to remain in post, and to dismiss the findings of the audit report, Kevin Madge is ignoring the First Minister and has entirely undermined his authority.

“The Welsh Government has been aware of Carmarthenshire Council’s intention to pay the chief executive’s legal costs since 2010 but it has failed to act. It has allowed the council to ignore and bypass legislation from Wales’s own national government.

"The residents I represent have therefore been let down by both the Welsh government and the labour and independent executive of this council.

“Kevin Madge needs to go. His inaction has diminished the role of Leader – he is clearly incapable of fulfilling the job required of him.

"Before he resigns, he should show just one iota of courage and suspend the chief executive.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “The First Minister has made clear the importance for any local authority to consider the law and has urged the council to seriously consider the recommendations made in the report.”