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PEMBROKESHIRE and Ceredigion are among the lowest when it comes to staff suspensions and payments while not working, according to Conservative party figures.

The Welsh Conservatives have called for an enquiry across Wales after figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) showed that more than £7million was paid out over the last three years.

Pembrokeshire was among the 16 local authorities that responded with ten staff suspended over the three years, for varying amounts of weeks, totalling  36.

This includes one person suspended for 31 weeks in 2016/17, who was paid £22, 839.

Over the three years a total of £69,202 was paid.

A spokesman for Pembrokeshire County Council said:Pembrokeshire has one of the lowest figures in Wales as the Council works hard to ensure suspension is an action of ‘last resort’, previous options being redeploying someone to an alternative workplace or working off-site.

“It should also be acknowledged that safeguarding investigations can be lengthy.

“They often involve social care and police involvement and internal ‘employer’ investigations can only happen once these statutory procedures have concluded.”

Leader of the Conservative group at Pembrokeshire council, Cllr Rob Summons, added: “The Pembrokeshire figures appear to very good indeed. I am unable to comment on the rest of the country. This will all fall in with employment law and any enquiry will show what is happening.”

Cardiff Council made the biggest total pay-out – £1,408,193 – followed by Powys Council, who paid suspended staff £850,621 in this three-year period.

The third highest amount spent was by Caerphilly, who paid out £584,773.

Welsh Conservative and Shadow Local Government Minister Mark Isherwood AM, said: “The concern here isn’t about paying those who are suspended from work: due process must take place, but the sheer number of staff being suspended is problematic.

“That over 750 council staff have been suspended shows the investigation system is broken, a huge number of public servants are not working in the public interest, or both.”

Ceredigion County Council’s figures were “partially or inconsistently” presented with more than five recorded for each year specified.

This shows a total of five to ten, with weeks totalling 192 and payments topping £133,533.

Ceredigion County Council were contacted for comment.

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