05:00PM, Tuesday 03 October 2017
An agreement for councillors to vote on severance packages for council staff was made at a Slough Borough Council (SBC) meeting on Thursday.
The council’s Conservative group originally submitted a motion asking that all severance packages of £60,000 or more be approved by full council.
At the meeting at The Curve in William Street, Slough’s Labour group amended the motion proposing that all severance packages ‘over and above an individuals’ statutory/contractual entitlement’ should be approved by full council.
Councillors were seeking more transparency and control over high value exit pay due to a growing number of expensive severance packages being negotiated in secrecy.
At Thursday’s meeting Cllr Ted Plenty (Lab, Langley St Mary’s), said that since April 2016, 12 employees have left SBC with settlement packages - meaning payments above the legal and contractual requirements.
He said that since April 2016 about £1m has been forked out by SBC for settlements.
“That’s a lot of tax payer’s money,” he added, questioning whether some severance pay was a way of ‘buying silence’.
“I’m very concerned about gagging clauses. I have it in writing that the council does not oppose gagging,” he said, adding that he will show proof of this at a council Audit and Corporate Governance Committee meeting on Wednesday, October 11.
Reflecting on the current secrecy over council exit pay, Cllr James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Green) said: “We’ve been treated like mushrooms here for the past few years in terms of being kept in the dark.”
Cllr Rayman Bains (Con, Upton) made references to SBC’s former Chief Executive Ruth Bagley, ex-head of legal services Amardip Healy and former monitoring officer Gurpreet Anand, saying they were all high-level SBC staff who left this year and last.
“Clearly there is something going on behind the scenes which we as a council, as councillors, still need to get behind, we need to know why,” he added.
He accused Slough’s Labour party of using gagging orders to prevent them from talking about why they left.
Councillors approved the proposal.
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