Speculation over the future of Craven’s head of finance is growing after it was revealed she has been off work for three months.

Joanna Miller, Craven District Council’s corporate head of finance and section 151 officer, has been off work – it is understood on full pay – since February 18.

Mrs Miller is believed to be one of the subjects of an independent inquiry called by councillors following a policy committee meeting in December.

The results of that inquiry are nearing completion and will be presented to the three leaders of the council’s political groups, or their substitutes, plus one other councillor, before going before a special meeting of the council’s policy committee.

A date for the special policy meeting, which is likely to be held in private without the public or press, has yet to be set.

Mrs Miller joined the council in April, 2010 and replaced former head of finance, Susan Goodhall, who was employed as a consultant. She is paid £61,785 for her role as corporate head of finance, plus £2,500 for section 151 officer.

In January, when Mrs Miller had not been attending council meetings, the council took on former Selby District Council officer, Nicola Chick as interim finance manager and deputy section 151 officer.

When Mrs Miller joined the council in April, 2010, its general fund balance was £169,000. It is currently at more than £1 million.

A council spokesman was unable to say whether Mrs Miller was on full pay while off work, because of her “contractual entitlements”.

But the spokesman did confirm that the council’s current finance structure was made up of a corporate head and a finance manager and Mrs Chick was filling the role of finance manager, which includes the role of deputy section 151 officer, on a temporary basis.

The spokesman added: “Joanna Miller has been absent from work since February 18.

“The independent inquiry report is currently being finalised and will be presented to members in due course.”

The spokesman said the council would not incur any additional costs over and above those planned for 2013-2014.