It cost taxpayers a mindblowing total of £453,000 for the West of England Combined Authority (Weca) to part company with its former boss, it can be revealed.

Last month the organisation announced it had agreed a £219,000 severance payoff to chief executive Patricia Greer.

But it has now emerged that the golden handshake was less than half the amount of money it had to fork out over the prolonged saga, which began when Dr Greer began a leave of absence at the end of last November and did not return to work before the settlement on August 31.

On top of this, Weca also paid a staggering £97,000 on legal costs, plus £14,000 towards those of the ex-top officer, as well as nine months’ full salary amounting to £123,500 that it was paying her during that period at the same time as it was paying interim chief executive Richard Ennis, who was on even higher wages as an agency worker.

The figures were revealed at a meeting of the combined authority’s cross-party audit committee on Monday, September 18.

But councillors said they were satisfied that the process had been undertaken correctly.

The £219,000 exit payment was approved in July at a behind-closed-doors meeting of Weca’s employment and appointments committee.

That committee comprises metro mayor Dan Norris and the leaders of the organisation’s three councils – Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset – although the minutes have not been published so it is not known who was actually there or whether anyone sent a deputy.

Audit committee chairman Bristol Cllr Geoff Gollop (Conservative, Westbury-on-Trym & Henleaze) told the meeting on Monday: “It is important we are open about this and the fact it has happened and we disclose what the costs were, and then others can make up their minds what they think about that.

“I was being made aware of the overall situation that was developing, not the detail which I would not have expected to be made aware of.

“There was an awareness of a need to comply with all the requirements of the decisions being taken in the right way but also to arrive at a result that crystallised the situation without potentially developing further.

“I was concerned about how long the process was taking, but it wasn’t for the want of trying by officers that it took time.

“My take is that it was a difficult and delicate situation and what was important was the fact it was resolved in a way with the lowest possible cost and damage to the authority, so I’m very happy it was being dealt with in an appropriate way.”

Interim director of law and democratic services Dan Dickinson said: “The employment committee received very careful and considered advice on all the relevant matters that applied in reaching the decision so I’m content the governance process around that was fine.

“I’m content that the way it was handled was correct.”

A Weca spokesperson said: “The legal costs for this matter to the combined authority is approximately £97,000 – of which £67,000 falls into 2023/24 and the other £30,000 was in 2022/23.

“These costs will have been invoiced through our normal processes and therefore the values will be within the financial accounts within respective years.

“The £14,000 legal costs are those which we have paid the former CEO as a contribution to her personal legal support, as required to do so in order to settle.

“This was in addition to the £219,000.”

LDRS, Adam Postans