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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

West Somerset council to make savings to save its future

West Somerset council is needing to make savings Credit: PA

West Somerset council is so financially stretched that its very future is in doubt, according to a confidential report seen by this programme.

The council, one of the smallest in the country, will have to make savings over the next two years, but after that faces a merger with other authorities, it says.

The report, by the Local Government Association, says the sparsely-populated area is facing a growing budget deficit which means that it will not be able to provide even minimum standards of service in the future. Various options are proposed, including sharing services with other councils.

West Somerset say tey'll consider the report next month.


Vulnerable children in Wiltshire put at risk

The report found significant shortcomings in services designed to protect vulnerable children and young people in Wiltshire Credit: ITV West

Vulnerable children have been put at risk by inadequate child services in Wiltshire, according to Ofsted. The inspection in March found serious shortcomings in child protection. Of 92 cases selected at random, 17 had to be sent back for review.

Wiltshire Council has taken £500,000 from its reserves to address the problems Credit: ITV West

Wiltshire Council admits the findings were "not good enough" and has put in an extra 500 thousand pounds to address the failings. You can read the full inspection report here