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Suffolk: Anger as £500k of public money is used to silence council staff

PUBLISHED: 10:07 16 February 2011 | UPDATED: 10:07 16 February 2011

Anger over council compromise agreements

Anger over council compromise agreements

Archant

SUFFOLK: County council chiefs have been criticised for using more than £500,000 of public money to silence disgruntled employees.

Suffolk County Council has spent a total of £521,277 on gagging orders over the last 12 months to ensure staff don’t whistle-blow once their contracts have been terminated.

That figure is almost double what the organisation spent on “compromise agreements” during 2008 and 2009 and comes just months after sweeping cuts, including the axing the entire £230,000 budget for school crossing patrols as well as a number of bus services. The data, obtained following a Freedom of Information Request, revealed that during 2010 a total of 41 council employees were given Compromise Agreements ranging in payments of between £2,000 and £60,000.

Between January, 2008, and September, 2009, the council spent £208,263 on the agreements and the steep rise has prompted fierce criticism.

County Councillor Kathy Pollard, leader of the Suffolk Liberal Democrats, said: “That is a huge amount of money to be paying staff simply over disagreements.

“There has to be a question mark over the council’s management style because clearly the problem is escalating and something needs to be done.

“This is really an unnecessary expense. Perhaps the council also needs to look more carefully about who they employ in the future.”

Emma Boon, a spokeswoman for the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: “Suffolk County Council should make a full explanation of why these payments were made so that they can be subject to public scrutiny.

“Departing staff shouldn’t need cash bungs to keep quiet about matters that are confidential for legal reasons; nor should the council be forking out to try to protect their own reputation and stop ex-staff airing dirty laundry.

“It is important that taxpayers’ money is not used to stop local residents knowing what their council is up to when they have a right to know.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Suffolk County Council does everything it can to keep employment-related costs to a minimum.

“Such agreements are used sparingly by the council and often include items like pay in lieu of notice which is a cost employers would normally bear.

“It’s important to recognise that these cases represent only around 0.1 per cent of our workforce.”

n Do you think these figures are steep? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

19 comments

  • This is our money being used by this council to stop us hearing what they are up too? They must be laughing all the way to the bank. Vote them out NOW

    Report this comment

    ITSTEAPOT

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

  • How much more are the people of this country going to just keep putting up with?

    Report this comment

    Mary Mary

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • Perhaps the people of Suffolk should take a stand against this council! If everyone refused to pay Aprils 1st Council Tax payament in protest, I wonder what that would do to their Cash Flow, would it make them tighten their belts!? Do you think there will be enough in the coffers to give Andrea her £18k a month pay packet??? Or perhaps we just wait until the first child is killed tring to cross the road on their way to school and then we sue the coucil for their negligence! The People V's Suffolk CC!! Until people are willing to do something about this useless bunch of spendthrifts then nothing will change.

    Report this comment

    bunny 2shoes

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • I'm probably going to upset people but I don't think Andrea Hill is overpaid for the number of staff and functions she is responsible for plus the flack she takes. The UK Director of a company responsible for approx the same number of staff and covering just one function had a remuneration package of £600K plus agreed for this year. If these disgruntled people want to cause trouble it would cost considerably more to take them to court to defend the comments than shut them up now.

    Report this comment

    Anne Hayward

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • Not good I agree .... but does Archant allow its employees freedom to say what they want?

    Report this comment

    Johnthebap

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • This £500k could have kept the recycling centres open.

    Report this comment

    Neil (Suffolk)

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • does'nt this just prove that we pay far to much in poll tax,for them to waste it like this ,yes poll tax call it what you like it is still poll tax.Time to rebel.

    Report this comment

    viceroy

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • Unbelievable,so easy to give other peoples money away, must ask what the highly paid Chief Executives answer is to all this, also, makes you wonder what they have to hide to pay someone £2,000 to keep quiet, something really must be wrong to pay £60,000, those responsible, should be made to pay the whole £500,000 back, by having there salaries reduced by 50% until it's all repaid. also, it should all be made public for the taxpayer to read.

    Report this comment

    Keith Drury

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • Save the services - close their final salary pension scheme

    Report this comment

    Mr Judge

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • I no longer live in Suffolk but keep in touch. I am sure many other councils and public authorities do the same. £500,000 spent instead on unpaid carers' respite would have made a real difference to carers wellbeing.

    Report this comment

    Keith Adams

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • We should sack all senior members of Suffolk County Council and run it ourselves through a council of the people of Suffolk.

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • And what if it is the employer who breaks the agreement, which in any case is there for their protection? Jail the employer?

    Report this comment

    torytw

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

  • £500k on 0.1% of the workforce so potentially £50 million if it was all staff. Unbelieveable. £500k would keep our libaries and pay for most of the school patrols.

    Report this comment

    Robert Ward

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • This is just theft and stealing from the people of Suffolk. It is a thorough disgrace that our own money should be used to pay for concealing the truth from us.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • The government should be able to enforce gagging orders on these people without having to pay them hush money.This should be allowed as it is in the national interest. We need to save money and this would be a significant saving. The government should have to prove to a court that a gagging order is needed then it should be applied free of charge to them. Punishment for breaking the order would be lengthy prison sentences, problem solved, for free!!!

    Report this comment

    Lord Bumble

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • This is surely what has gone wrong in this country. How can they spend our money, TO COVER THEIR OWN BAACKSIDES ,it is not theirs to spend . We pay an enormous amount of council tax to pay , for services to the community and salaries,pensions to people to that should be looking after the residents of suffolk, not themselves.

    Report this comment

    richard procter

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • All this anger. Those at the top do not live here in Suffolk as previously reported in the Evening Star - why would they care where your money goes?

    Report this comment

    Bluetooth

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

  • Sadly, as an employer, I know that because of the legal system contracts are hard to enforce and to avoid punitive legal costs it is less expensive to settle out of court.

    Report this comment

    DALINE

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

  • If its costing that much one has to wonder what the whistle-blowers were going to say.

    Report this comment

    zaax

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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