Caerphilly borough council agreed at its meeting on Thursday to set aside even more money to settle the employment of its ex-chief executive including £108,000 in wages to the disgraced boss – even as it plans to cut its Meals On Wheels service to some of its most vulnerable residents saving £160,000.
A lively protest by anti-cuts campaigners dressed in the hi-viz ‘yellow vests’ of the French protesters expressed the furious reaction of working people in Caerphilly borough as this fat cat continues to rake it in while council workers experience real pay cuts and services are being cut to the bone by the council. Councillors rushed past, unwilling to have anything to do with campaigners. One councillor hinted that the entirely peaceful protest might constitute anti social behaviour. The only people guilty of anti-social behaviour are the ones cutting our essential services!
178 Vulnerable Caerphilly residents will lose their Meals on Wheels provision if the council gets away with its plans to axe the entire scheme in the borough. Only one individual will retain the service. This is a completely unacceptable attack on some of the neediest people in the area.
For the first time life expectancy in Wales has actually gone down. Campaigners lay this at the door of austerity measures and fear that people’s lives are at risk under the council’s plans.
Councillors have said that those losing their meals on wheels “can buy frozen meals from the shops” – this to people too unwell to get to the cooker.
The long running saga arising from a council committee decision to award a 20% pay increase to its chief executive, Anthony O’Sullivan, has already cost the council close to £4 million. Councillors from Labour and Plaid Cymru allowed the pay rise to go through ‘on the nod’ in a report prepared by council officers in 2013. A walkout by council workers who were facing the fifth year of a pay increase forced the council to back track and O’Sullivan and two other executives were suspended after the Wales Audit Office declared their pay rises were unlawful. Criminal charges against the three were eventually dropped.
But incredibly O’ Sullivan is still being paid while on special leave and the legal costs mount. Caerphilly council are preparing to slash vital services including leisure centres in Pontllanfraith and Cefn Fforest.
Islwyn constituency Labour Party has passed a motion demanding that Caerphilly borough council passes a no cuts budget and abolishes the post of chief executive – a simple way to end this extravagant farce. Now the Labour councillors must act on this motion – or step aside and allow those campaigners through who are prepared to fight.