Kingston Council has paid out more than £500,000 in settlements to former employees in the last five years, the Surrey Comet has learned.
A total of 10 senior managers have left the borough’s employ with pay-offs since 2008, including four who left by “mutual agreement” and signed contracts forbidding them from speaking about their jobs or reasons for leaving.
They include former director of children’s services Duncan Clark, who quit Kingston in 2012 with a year’s salary of £128,625 – days before the damning Ofsted report into child protection was made public.
In the same year as Mr Clark’s departure, another manager left with a £36,000 pay off.
The other six received payments as part of a redundancy package. Ten other senior managers left or retired without additional payments.
In total, the council forked out £506,236.15 to former employees. The figures were released by the council following a Freedom of Information request by the Surrey Comet.
Kingston resident Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Of course staff who are made redundant are entitled to payment, but the council needs to ensure that they are not excessive.
“Far too often the terms of redundancy in local authorities are far more generous than is standard in the private sector.
“Residents should be deeply worried about the use of compromise agreements, which are tantamount to gagging orders, because they effectively silence former employees who may be in a position to expose failings or wrongdoing.
“These deals go against the principle of openness and transparency, which should be paramount for any public body that is spending taxpayers’ money.”
Kingston Council leader Derek Osbourne said he thought it was likely the four settlements contained non-disclosure agreements.
He said: “I imagine these are people we have dismissed and took us to a tribunal.
“What we do as a rule of thumb is if somebody is claiming unfair dismissal, we try and settle a package that is cheaper than the cost of an industrial tribunal.”
Pay-offs between 2008/2013
Two redundancies – payments of £50,643.08 and £48,650.10
One “mutual agreement” (payment of £60,000 in settlement)
One redundancy – £55,928.97
One mutual agreement – £30,000
Two redundancies – £39,180.48 and £42,082.77
No redundancies and none left by mutual agreement
One redundancy – £15,125.75
Two mutual agreements – £128,625 and £36,000