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Council spends more than £1million of Bexley taxpayers cash on "hush money"

PUBLISHED: 10:52 07 October 2013 | UPDATED: 13:06 08 October 2013

Bexley Council spent more than £1million on keeping departing employees in the last three years, the Bexley Times can reveal.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that in the three financial years up to March 2013, the council paid £1,000,609 on compromise agreements.

These are severance deals departing employees sign which keeps them quiet in return for money.

It means they cannot take the council to employment tribunals or divulge information their employer might wish to keep secret.

Malcolm Knight, author of the Bexley Is Bonkers blog, said: “The answer to your question is that I am amazed at the figure you have been quoted but have no idea who it could have gone to. And clearly from a taxpayers’ point of view it is too much. Anything is too much.

“On the other hand, if you are a council with skeletons locked in the cupboard, it might be money well spent.”

The 55 employees who signed the agreements includes both council officers and those working in state-maintained schools.

A council spokesman said: “It is the our practice to use compromise agreements to protect the council against the risk, expense and time involved in employees challenging procedures or decisions when an issue has been dealt with and their employment comes to an end.

“We have clear policies in place, agreed by elected members, to limit the amount of severance and redundancy payments that are made.”

Do you think this is an acceptable way to spend public money? Contact the newsdesk on 020 8477 3858, email robin.cottle@archant.co.uk or tweet @BexleyTimes.

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