Council hits back at ‘danger’ claims
ATOWN council is refuting allegations that the public was put in “grave danger” following “a string of health and safety failings.”
Only six members currently remain on Beaumaris Town Council due to mass resignations during and after a heated row in the chamber in midDecember.
At a subsequent public meeting on January 8, arranged by the eight former members, about 300 people turned out to hear calls for fresh elections due to grievances over the authority’s running, including allegations that the body had failed to ensure the public’s safety.
According to former councillor Alwyn Rowlands, the clerk, Prof Trevor Ashenden, had been informed on four separate occasions that he was being suspended from his duties because of “a catalogue of health and safety issues.”
These, according to Mr Rowlands, included office equipment not being appliance-tested and staff not receiving adequate training to work at height or to handle goods.
But Prof Ashenden has consistently stressed that he has not been made aware of the nature of the allegations against him.
A statement released last Wednesday by Beaumaris Town Council stated that an ongoing independent investigation has so far failed to uncover such instances.
Committing itself to follow “the highest possible standards,” the council wrote: “The investigation has been thorough and is being conducted with the aid of external human resources and health & safety consultants.
“It has included a detailed audit of current H&S arrangements, and thorough investigation of allegations of supposed ‘ grave dangers’ posed to both council staff and the public.
“The investigation is not yet complete; however, priority has been given to the most serious allegations and these have been proved to be unfounded.
“To date, no aspect of the council’s working practices have been found unsafe or dangerous.
“As soon as the council receives the detailed report from the H&S consultants any recommendations will be acted on immediately.”
Despite the allegations being lodged against the town council in early January, the authority has also explained the delay in answering the claims, blaming procedures.
It said: “It is hoped that the press and public appreciate the fact that, as well as making the day to day decisions for the town, the town council also acts in the capacity of employer.
“Employment matters must be dealt with in accordance with the various laws which govern the employee/employer relationship, including the data protection act.
“The duty to keep certain employment matters confidential is incumbent both on acting councillors and officials and those that have left their posts.
“The council regrets that this matter could not have been dealt with more expeditiously.
“It is unfortunate that the policies and procedures, which must be followed by those in public service, had not been followed from the outset.
“The council would like to reassure the townspeople that the matter is now being dealt with in accordance with the proper legal processes.”
By-elections for the eight remaining seats are to be held on March 8, with the former members all having announced their intentions of running for their former seats.
A decision to fully finance the poll, set to cost up to £6,000, was rubber-stamped by members during last week’s meeting.
Following the meeting, former mayor Frank Carr, said he had “no regrets” about standing down and seeking reelection. salaries paid for the lowest levels of staff in the Assembly Commission.
The pay bands for AM staff continue rising up to a top salary of £38,762 for a senior advisor with several years experience.
Mr Tuppen argues that while the lowest level of political staff do research, there are staff doing research for the Assembly Commission who earn management salaries of up to £38,690.
A spokesman for the independent Renumeration Board said it was conducting a review.
An Assembly source conceded there were significant pay discrepancies, but said: “The difference is that some of our researchers have PhDs.”
“We had no choice but to stand down, given the circumstances,” said Mr Carr.
“The public had a right to know what was going on, and we felt the only thing we could do was to stand down from the body. As a group of eight, we will be fighting these elections to gain a fresh mandate to do what we think is right.
“It’ll be up to the people of Beaumaris to decide if they agree with us.”