A LONG-running dispute over pay rises for senior officers has cost Caerphilly council more than £4 million.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by Caerphilly’s Plaid Cymru group found that the dispute has cost Caerphilly County Borough Council £4.089 million, up to November 1.

A report at the end of last year said that the costs were expected to reach £4 million by July 2019.

More than £1 million of the costs incurred were for the salary of the former chief executive Anthony O’ Sullivan.

His salary cost the council £1.2 million over the investigation period.

Mr O’ Sullivan was suspended in March 2013 amid claims relating to pay rises given to senior officers, and he was subsequently placed on special paid leave.

While Mr O’Sullivan had remained on special paid leave, his deputy Nigel Barnett, and head of legal services Daniel Perkins, agreed to pay-outs worth nearly £300,000 between them after criminal charges relating to the matter were dropped in 2015.

At the beginning of October this year, in a special council meeting, councillors voted to support a report - compiled after a lengthy investigation - recommending Mr O’Sullivan’s dismissal.

The former chief executive has said he intends to appeal the decision at an employment tribunal.

Total salary costs for the period, including the head of legal services and the acting chief executive, have reached £2.4 million.

Other costs incurred during the investigatory process include £1.39 million in legal fees and £298,000 in settlement costs.

As of November 6, the total legal cost still yet to be paid is £34,455.

Leader of the Plaid Cymru group at Caerphilly council, Cllr Colin Mann, said: “These figures should be seen against a backdrop of a proposed 6.95 per cent hike in council tax from April and further cuts to frontline services such as turning off our street lights.

“Each and every household in the county borough has paid £85 towards the bill.

“Imagine how many better things that money could have been spent on.”

A council spokesman said: “These figures have previously been widely reported and details of the costs have also been disclosed in council reports throughout the period of the investigation.

“It is important to stress that the council was obliged to follow a statutory process when undertaking this investigation and the matter has now been concluded.”