THE contract of Caerphilly council’s interim chief executive could be extended until June 2019, in case the long-running pay dispute moves into a sixth year.

After Chris Burns stood down at the end of 2017, Christina Harrhy was appointed on a six-month contract which ends on Saturday, June 30.

The council’s substantive chief executive – Anthony O’Sullivan – was suspended on full pay in March 2013, following allegations of misconduct, along with deputy chief executive Nigel Barnett and head of legal services Daniel Perkins.

The charges against the three officers were dismissed before a trial, and last year the council agreed pay-outs of £171,000 and £127,000 for Messrs Barnett and Perkins respectively.

The council has not yet been able to reach an agreement with Mr O’Sullivan, and the matter has been referred to a Welsh Government-appointed official.

Councillors will review proposals to lengthen her contract until June 30, 2019, so to provide “continuity for the organisation” for significant projects, including the City Deal.

“Members will be aware of the interim arrangements that have been in place within the authority since the suspension of the substantive chief executive in March 2013," said Lynne Donovan, the acting head of human resources and organisational development.

“Currently, the authority is engaged in a number of significant projects, including City Deal, 21st Century Schools, management of the medium-term financial plan (MTFP) and the collaboration agenda.

“In order to provide ongoing continuity for the organisation, it is proposed to extend the interim chief executive’s contract until June 30, 2019, at which time it would be reviewed again.”

If agreed, the council will be spending £280,949 on chief executive contracts - £137,000 on the suspended chief executive's salary and £143,949 on the interim role – in line with its pay policy.

The report also outlines the aim to have resolved the dispute by the end of 2018, but the interim contract will be "reviewed quickly" by the council, if circumstances in the saga should change at any stage.

“Members will be aware that allegations in relation to the chief executive have been referred to a designated independent person (DIP) to undertake a comprehensive investigation in accordance with the disciplinary proceedings for statutory officers," said the acting head.

“The DIP has indicated that it is likely to take until the end of the calendar year to conclude the investigation.”

Councillors will decide if to support the extension the contract of the interim corporate director for communities – previously held by Mrs Harrhy – also.

That decision will be delegated to the interim chief executive in consultation with Cllr David Poole, the leader of the council, and deputy leaders Cllrs Barbara Jones and Sean Morgan.

The meeting will be held at 6.30pm on Tuesday, April 17.