The appointment of four new council superdirectors, earning a combined £500,000, will leave taxpayers footing a compensation bill of up to £1 million.

Cash-strapped Brighton and Hove City Council made the announcement on the same day it mapped out how it was going to save £3.6 million from this year's budget.

It is the first step in a restructure of the local authority as planned by its chief executive, John Barradell.

The new appointments - all male and external candidates - will each earn £125,000 a year.

A panel of Conservative and Labour councillors had the final say in the appointments.

The four superdirectors , known as strategic directors, will replace the current system of six superheads.

The successful candidates, who have all come from other local government bodies, will force the council to make at least three costly payoffs.

Union representatives last night said this could add up to £1 million.

An additional top post of finance director will be filled for the foreseeable future by Catherine Vaughan, current director of finance and resources.

It comes at a time when the local authority pledged to make up to £75 million of savings over the next three years.

The new staff are Geoff Raw (strategic director of place) , Charlie Stewart (strategic director of resources) , David Murray (strategic director of communities) and Terry Parkin (strategic director of people).

The changes mean that Di Smith, director of the city's Children and Young People's Trust, strategy and governance director Alex Bailey and Scott Marshall, director of housing, culture and enterprise, will lose their jobs.

The council's environment director, Jenny Rowlands, had already announced she would take up the post of chief executive at Lewes District Council in September.

Joy Hollister, director of adult social care, had also announced, in January, that she was leaving.