The Welsh Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson, Peter Black has welcomed today's announcement by the Local Government Minister that she will be updating statutory guidance on how local councils must publish decisions on senior officer pay and commencing the provision in the Local Government (Democracy) Wales Act 2013 from April this year, that will give the Remuneration Panel for Wales oversight of pay rises for Chief Executives.
The Minister's decision will mean that any future plans by a local authority to vary the salary of its Chief Executive that is not in line with other staff, will have to be brought to the attention of the remuneration panel who will issue their view, which the council will need to take account of. The updated guidance on statements as to how a council approaches the setting of pay for senior officers will ensure a consistent approach across Wales and make scrutiny and accountability easier.
"The opposition parties fought for these provisions to be added to the Local Government (Democracy) Act precisely because we were concerned at the lack of accountability of Chief Officers and the Councillors who set their pay," said Mr. Black. "It was prompted by what had occurred in Caerphilly, but further developments in Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, where payments to their respective Chief Executives have been declared unlawful by the Wales Audit Office, have served to underline the need for a tougher approach.
"There needs to be clear accountability and transparency when it comes to the setting of pay for senior officers in local government. Too often it seems that councillors are failing to assert their authority on these issues and decisions have been taken that are open to challenge. I hope that the decision of the Minister to give an oversight role to the remuneration panel and to tighten up guidance, helps to redress the balance and drive out any abuses of the system."