Nottingham

Nottingham City Council paid £500k in 'gagging clauses'

More than half a million pounds was spent last year to ensure Nottingham City Council staff did not talk about the terms of their redundancies.

Figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request revealed it paid £580,000 in compromise agreements.

The TaxPayers' Alliance described the payments as gagging clauses.

But the council said the term was inaccurate because the "standard agreements" did not prevent workers from talking about their ex-employers.

It said that while staff could not discuss the specific terms of their redundancies, they were were to free to bring whistle-blowing complaints or speak generally about their time as an employee.

The figures obtained relate to 134 staff who were made redundant in the last financial year. They were paid, on average, £4,000 each on top of any redundancy pay.

The FoI request, submitted by BBC Radio Nottingham, had asked for the amounts paid out in the last five years, but the council only revealed the amounts for 2012-13.

Councillor Graham Chapman, deputy leader of the council, insisted the agreements do not prevent former staff from talking about the organisation.

However, he said they do stop people suing the council for any injuries or unclaimed holidays.

"It can be very expensive going to tribunals and they can drag out for ages and ages, taking an enormous amount of time, an enormous amount of money and you can actually be paying out for injury," he said.

"It's actually capping off the risk, for the benefit of the taxpayers. It's far more sensible to do that rather than risk future litigation."

Jonathan Isaby, from the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "This is about agreements which have a non-disclosure clause, which is about a gagging clause, which is about stopping potential whistle-blowers from talking to the media."

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