THE former chief executive of Slough Borough Council was one of the highest paid local authority employees in the country before she departed, a report has revealed.

Ruth Bagley, who left in December 2016, earned a total of £441,198 in the financial year 2016/17 making her the highest earning council employee in the South East and the sixth best paid in the UK.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) Town Hall Rich List, which was released this week, shows that Ms Bagley was paid a salary of £146, 397 plus a further £77,782 in compensation for leaving her post. By taking her pension contributions of £217,019, she secured the £441,198 total.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TPA, said: “The average council tax bill has gone up by more than £900 over the last twenty years and spending has gone through the roof.

“Disappointingly, many local authorities are now responding to financial reality through further tax rises and reducing services rather than scaling back top pay. Despite many in the public sector facing a much-needed pay freeze to help bring the public finances under control, many town hall bosses are continuing to pocket huge remuneration packages, with staggering pay-outs for those leaving their jobs despite a £95,000 cap passed by the last government.”

As previously reported by this newspaper, Ms Bagley had been signed off sick from work for around six months before her departure, having worked her last day in July 2016. Her final pay-off had caused controversy as The Observer revealed that it had been worth over £300,000 – and councillors who had to vote on it claimed they had not been briefed properly surrounding the circumstances of her departure.

The report also shows that five other council employees, who have not been named, took home more than £100,000 with three pocketing £157,500, £132,500 and £102,500 respectively. Two strategic directors – for customer & community services and the other for regeneration – took home £117, 401 and £131,718 respectively.