The leader of Carmarthenshire county council has urged councillors to “put aside their differences and work together” after he survived a vote of no confidence at an extraordinary meeting yesterday (Thursday).

Councillor Kevin Madge, along with deputy leader Pam Palmer and former leader Meryl Gravell were subjected to the motion following a day-long debate into Wales Audit Office (WAO) Public Interest reports in relation to the granting of a libel indemnity to chief executive Mark James and a pension “pay supplement” received by Mr James, which the auditor ruled had been little more than a “tax avoidance” scheme implemented for the benefit of the council chief.

Cllrs Madge, Palmer and Gravell had all sat on the council’s executive board which approved the indemnity and pay supplement, both deemed “unlawful” by the WAO.

Speaking after the vote, which failed by a margin of 41 to 28, Cllr Madge said: “I am obviously pleased to have received a vote of confidence from the council today.

“However, I feel the important thing now is for all of us to work together.

“The fact remains that we are facing the toughest financial challenge for a generation and we need to put aside our differences and work together for the good of Carmarthenshire and its residents.”

Cllr Madge’s plea appeared to have fallen at the first hurdle however and done little to heal the rift within the council with the leader of the Plaid Cymru opposition group claiming the result had further damaged the council’s already beleaguered reputation.

In a statement released today (Friday), Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, who submitted the no confidence motion, said: “A serious error was made by the executive board in 2012 on the pensions issue, but no-one will be called to account.

“This is a disgraceful state of affairs, which is sure to further damage the council’s reputation.

“Indeed, the public have every right to be outraged by the council’s behaviour.”