Wales politics

Welsh council chiefs' pay: deal approved in assembly

A deal on pay for top council officials between Welsh ministers and the opposition has been passed in the assembly.

It means an independent panel will make recommendations on local authority chief executives' pay.

Opposition parties had threatened to block legislation to reform local democracy without the agreement.

An amended bill was passed by AMs on Tuesday, with the opposition parties welcoming what they called a U-turn.

As it has only half the seats in the assembly chamber, the Labour Welsh government needs the support of its opponents to get legislation passed.

Plaid Cymru AM Lindsay Whittle claimed it was a "great victory" for his party and "a testament to the way our politicians on all levels have opposed unjustifiable pay hikes in local government".

Liberal Democrat Peter Black said: "I am pleased that we, working alongside the other opposition parties, have forced the Welsh Labour government's hand on this."

Though also welcoming the decision, Conservative Janet Finch-Saunders warned "it is still possible for local authorities to bypass such recommendations and award bumper pay rises to chief executives at a time when low paid council staff face pay freezes".

The Conservatives, she said, had wanted to strengthen the legislation further.

Local Government Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "The bill now provides a platform for the Local Government Boundary Commission for Wales, soon to be renamed the Local Democracy and Boundary Commission for Wales, to carry out its important work in ensuring democratic balance in local government and introduces reforms which I believe will assist and strengthen democratic processes in relation to local government."

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