A LONG-RUNNING dispute involving pay rises for senior officers at Caerphilly council will have cost taxpayers £4.1 million by next year.

Councillors will be asked to set aside an extra £242,000 to pay for the investigation and the salary of former chief executive Anthony O’Sullivan.

Mr O’Sullivan, together with deputy chief executive Nigel Barnett and head of legal Daniel Perkins, was suspended on full pay in March 2013 following allegations of misconduct.

The charges were dropped before trial, with Caerphilly council agreeing to pay-outs of £171,000 and £127,000 for Mr Barnett and Mr Perkins last year.

But the authority has yet to reach an agreement with Mr O’Sullivan, with the head of the investigation estimating that it will take until March 2019 at the earliest to resolve the issue.

Council leader David Poole said: “It’s disappointing and hugely frustrating that we are being asked to provide further funding to allow this investigation to reach a conclusion.

South Wales Argus:
Caerphilly council leader David Poole

“We are facing significant cuts over the next few years and none of us want to see our shrinking budgets being diverted away from frontline services.

“Unfortunately, we are bound by a statutory process which is completely outside of our control and it is absolutely essential that we fully comply with relevant employee legislation.”

Last April, the council agreed to pay £193,000 for Mr Sullivan’s salary and the costs of the investigation by a Welsh Government-appointed official, known as a designated independent person (DIP).

But the payments only covered the period up to December 31, and councillors will now be asked to approve the release of further funding to last up until July 31 next year.

This includes £108,000 towards Mr Sullivan’s salary and £134,000 towards the legal costs of the DIP’s investigation.

Councillor Colin Mann, leader of the council's Plaid Cymru group, described the figures as “staggering”.

“This is public money that could have been spent on frontline services,” he said.

“I have no confidence that this matter will be resolved by the end of July 2019, and I fear it could go on much longer. T

“This whole debacle has been a stain on Caerphilly and the ruling Labour group has been in complete control of the authority throughout this mess.”

The meeting will take place on Thursday, December 13, with the authority due to meet again in July to review the situation.