AN attempt to make public the amount of money paid out to a suspended council officer who resigned on Monday has been rebuffed.

Peter Bates, former chief operating officer at Cheshire East Council, stepped down from his role after being suspended from the local authority since December 2017.

The council stated it ‘does not comment on individual staffing matters’ when the news was announced.

But at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting Cllr Sam Corcoran, Labour group leader, called on CEC’s Conservative leader Cllr Rachel Bailey to make the details of any resignation pay-off public.

He said: “Would the leader agree with me that work provides human dignity, and therefore being suspended on full pay for over a year is not good for the individual – despite what some commentators on social media might have said?

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“It’s also not good for the council, which has to cope with uncertainty, and it is not good for the taxpayer, who has to pay the salary.

“Given that the renumeration of senior officers is disclosed in the council’s accounts, so the information I am asking for will be made public in due course, would the leader like to draw a line under the whole matter now by revealing the full amount paid to the former section 151 officer on his departure from CEC?

“Or will the information be kept secret until after the elections?”

Mr Bates had served as CEC’s section 151 officer – a statutory role responsible for finance – until April 2017, and continued his duties as chief operating officer for another eight months before his suspension.

According to the 2017-18 statement of accounts for CEC, he earned a salary of £138,013 plus a pension contribution of £41,941 and expenses of £79 over the course of the year.

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Responding to Cllr Corcoran’s question, Cllr Bailey insisted she was not able to make the information of any possible pay-off public.

She said: “As a long-serving member of the audit and governance committee, and also as a member who is diligent in reading the constitution and the member code of conduct, you know very well the answer to that question.

“It is not within my gift to share matters that relate to staff who are either in employ of this authority or no longer in employ of this authority.

“There is no smoke and mirrors – that is a simple state of fact, that I can’t make a comment, and I believe you know that already.”

Cllr Liz Wardlaw, cabinet member for health and deputy leader of CEC, added: “It is imperative that we follow the HR guidelines and rules, and that privacy is maintained where privacy is due.

“In due course if these matters are made public then so be it.

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“But at this time, to be compliant with the HR code and our code of conduct – and indeed [to have] that respect for someone’s employment – it would not be appropriate to comment.”