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Calls for end to gagging orders

Freedom of Information requests have revealed that Bristol City Council has paid off more than 120 staff with ‘gagging orders’.

The clauses – which are usually part of a severance payment - prevent staff from speaking out about their former employer after they no longer work there.

Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West, has said the practice must end as it is preventing former employees with legitimate complaints about the council to speak out.

According to reports, one former boss of the Serious Fraud Office received £462,000 and signed a confidentiality agreement.

In a survey of 256 councils in Britain, the figure for Bristol is the second highest in the country.

"We have seen the damage done by silencing whistleblowers in the NHS and now it appears scores of staff in our city council have also signed such agreements.

For too long councils have produced these gagging clauses, often with a large pay-off, effectively buying their silence forever, with tax-payers' money.

It is an absolute disgrace that Bristol is at the top of the national league table in gagging its employees from speaking out.

As Bristol City Council has been buying the silence of so many of its employees with taxpayers' money, many may wonder what it is that the Council has to hide.”

– Charlotte Leslie, MP for Bristol North West

George Ferguson says there are not enough smaller homes

George Ferguson has released this quote, saying the council will not immediately evict people affected by the new 'bedroom' tax.

An estimated 3,700 of our 28,000 households are likely to be affected by the new spare room subsidy/bedroom tax in particular. If tenants wanted to move we have nowhere near that number of smaller properties for them to swap into, meaning that coping with this change is often outside their control.

– George Ferguson, Bristol Mayor


Bristol City Council to buy new office space

100 Temple Street Credit: Bristol City Council

Bristol City Council is to spend around £18 million to buy central Bristol office accommodation at 100 Temple Street near Temple Meads. Contracts have been exchanged with current owners Aviva Investors Property Trust.

The Council says the purchase is part of the on going programme to radically improve the way it works and save money. This includes:

Reduction in office space from 53,000sq m to at most 32,000sq m. This is a reduction of 40% of office area. The Mayor has asked officers to draw up plans for further reductions:

· Consolidation of central Bristol offices primarily into City Hall and 100 Temple Street

· Long term direct revenue savings of an estimated £40 million over the following 25 years.

· The plans include a refurbished City Hall on College Green, including new public facilities.

Mayor George Ferguson said:“It makes complete sense for the council to vastly reduce the number of offices it currently owns or leases across the city, and consolidate into a few core offices.

The location of 100 Temple Street is very strategic next to Temple Meads and the planned Metrobus interchange, as well as being right at the heart of our ambitious plans for Redcliffe and the whole Enterprise Zone area."

Ferguson's budget approved

George Ferguson was elected as Bristol's first Mayor in November. Credit: Rod Minchin/PA Wire

George Ferguson's first budget as Bristol Mayor has been approved.

Councillors supported a £35 million cut in spending and council tax increase of just under 2%. The Mayor admitted his plan had shortcomings but blamed it, in part, on central Government.

Plans for a swimming pool in East Bristol and a recycling centre in the south of the city have been revived.


Holocaust Memorial Day

This Sunday is Holocaust Memorial Day, when people around the country will be invited to remember those who were killed in acts of genocide.

To mark the event, Bristol City Council has launched a series of workshops to bring communities together and ask what we've learned from the past.

Bristol Rugby to stay at Memorial Stadium for at least one season

Following the announcement that Councillors voted to approve Sainsbury's plans to redevelop the Memorial Stadium site, Bristol Rugby say they will be staying at the stadium for next season.

Bristol Rugby have agreed terms to remain at the Memorial Stadium for the 2013/14 campaign.

The Club will then consider their long-term options over the duration of next season.

– Bristol Rugby
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