Carmarthenshire County Council’s Labour group has slammed claims that the authority would face a bill of almost half a million pounds to part company with its chief executive.

Today’s Guardian exclusively revealed that the ruling Labour group had voted to veto any “golden goodbye” deal for Mark James, who has submitted a request for severance after 13 years at the helm of the local authority.

Party representatives dismissed reports that the likely outcome of any farewell deal would see Mr James pocket a £130,000 lump sum, with the authority forced to stump up a further £315,000 in “actuarial strain” – costs associated with pension payments and other expenses.

Documents seen by the Guardian reveal how councillors of all parties have been briefed by a senior authority figure in relation to ten possible options for the chief executive’s potential departure.

Councillors were informed that only three of the options were considered viable, two of which – a severance package with a mutually agreed termination of contract and a redundancy deal based on the restructuring of the authority’s top brass – would each cost the Carmarthenshire rate-payers more than £445,000 in the form of a pay-off and subsequent costs.

However, Mr James’ request for a severance package to come into effect on April 1 falls outside the range of the authority’s staff severance programme, which is set to end on March 31 – the end of the tax year. He has until January 10 to alter his request should he wish to bring it into line with the authority’s scheme.

The third viable option - a settlement agreement similar to the one controversially accepted by the former Pembrokeshire chief executive – would see Mr James receive payment of up to four years pension, around £300,000, or payment of future salary as a lump sum – potentially up to £800,000, but most likely around £135,000.

Any package of more than £100,000 would have to be approved by a vote of full council.

Following today’s revelations, Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards and AM Rhodri Glyn Davies branded each of the three proposed deals “a disgrace”.

"That saying farewell to a very controversial Chief Executive could cost county residents more than 23 times the average annual Welsh salary - an eye watering £446,000 - is a disgrace. No person, no public servant, deserves or is worth that level of cost associated with their departure from what is already a very highly paid job with a very, very favourable pension pot,” said Mr Edwards.

“Irrespective of which option is pursued in order for Mr James to leave the authority, I believe the decision should be brought in front of the full council, in front of the live broadcast cameras, so that residents can see exactly how each councillor votes.”

Mr Thomas added: “As I have said before: the Chief Executive has indicated his desire to leave the authority. If he wants to leave then nobody is stopping him. But I believe no more public money should be paid out for his departure.”

However, the Guardian has been told that the council’s ruling Labour group will reject all three of the options proposed.

Instead, the Guardian understands the group will only accept a “status quo” option.

Such an option would see Mr James’ request for severance rejected, forcing him to remain in post or resign.

The advice to councillors states that Mr James could attempt to sue the council for constructive dismissal should he decide to resign, but – even if successful – any payout would be limited in law to £72,400. The average payment in constructive dismissal cases is around £7,000.

Council leader and head of the Labour Group, Cllr Kevin Madge told the Guardian today that the “status quo” decision had the backing of Cllr Emlyn Dole, leader of the county’s Plaid Cymru group.

“I met with the leader of the Plaid group and have kept him fully informed of the situation,” Cllr Madge told.

“Plaid Cymru have agreed to follow the Labour Group line on this issue.

“Mr James was perfectly within his rights to apply for severance as a member of staff and that is currently being considered.

“However, we have spoken to people and our own work-force and gauged public opinion all across the county, and the sense of feeling we have found is very strong.

“This is a difficult situation, but we fully understand what people think and what they are saying.

“The Labour Group has made its decision.

“We as the Labour Group have met and our decision is that we are only willing to support the ‘status quo’ option.”