The salaries of three suspended Caerphilly County Borough Council bosses will cost the authority almost £700,000, it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information request by Plaid Cymru shows that council chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan will have received £333,795 by January 5 next year,
Deputy chief executive Nigel Barnett will get £263,453 while head of legal Daniel Perkins will receive £95,601.
The three men are suspended on full pay while they await trail over charges of misconduct in a public office. A provisional trial date has been set for January 5 next year at Bristol Crown Court.
The FOI request also revealed that legal and audit costs relating to the unlawful payment of allowances totalled £92,735 up to May 1 this year.
The amount paid to interim chief executive Stuart Rosser up to May 1 was £80,389 and other “acting up” pay over the same period totalled £31,672.
Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group on Caerphilly County Borough Council, said: “These latest figures show the alarming cost to council tax-payers of the senior officers’ pay debacle.
“The three suspended top officers will have received £700,000 in pay by the time the matter comes to court while the overall total of salaries paid and fees for legal and audit costs will be a staggering £900,000. That does not include the salary of the new proposed interim chief executive.
“On top of that around £1.5m extra will have been paid to 21 senior officers by the time of the next elections in 2017 as a result of the pay deal. What is even worse is that the Labour-run council has consistently refused to review the pay deals with a view to reducing the burden on the residents of the county borough. At the same time they are looking to axe popular services to the public.
“This illustrates that Labour is happy to look after those at the top while the ordinary employee is left to live on very meagre increases in their pay.?”
A spokesman for Caerphilly Council’s ruling Labour group responded: “This is typical mischief-making by an opposition leader desperate to deflect attention away from his own deputy leader’s involvement in Caerphilly Council’s Senior Remuneration Panel’s original decision.
“The nationalists are of course fully aware that Caerphilly council is legally obliged to pay the salaries of the three suspended senior officers.
“It should be noted that in April 2013 the opposition unanimously supported our council’s pay policy, which included the current salaries paid to senior officers.
“Is Cllr Mann seriously suggesting that Caerphilly council should risk costly legal action by refusing to abide by its contractual obligations to the suspended officers?
“Or is this just another example of Colin Mann’s political opportunism and hypocrisy?
“It’s true that legal proceedings are unfortunately taking longer than originally anticipated, so it is understandable there are concerns about mounting costs. But we must allow the proper legal process to run its course.
“Instead of constantly whingeing, it’s about time Plaid Cymru Caerphilly councillors made a constructive contribution to the ongoing debates about the impact of ConDem government cuts.
“Our Labour-led council is working hard to protect the services residents value most.
“The nationalists are nowhere to be seen when it comes to what matters to our communities.”
A spokesman for Caerphilly County Borough Council said: “Three members of staff are currently suspended on full pay and are subject to ongoing legal proceedings.
“The council has taken expert external legal advice and we cannot take any further action at this time whilst the criminal proceedings are ongoing. The Council has to pay salaries in line with the contracts of employment whilst the officers are suspended.
“Unfortunately the legal proceedings are taking much longer than originally anticipated so it is understandable that there are concerns about the mounting costs, but we must allow the proper legal process to run its course.”