Debate deferred on council gagging order motion

A former NCP car park in Worthing
A former NCP car park in Worthing

GAGGING orders could be banned by councillors to stop details of financial settlements being made secret.

Worthing Borough Council came under criticism in 2014 after details of a financial settlement with parking giants NCP were made confidential.

It meant taxpayers’ were not told how much of their money had been lost in settling the dispute, arising out of a contractual error.

Tarring councillor Tom Wye, who last year resigned in protest over the gagging order but gained re-election in May, presented a motion to full council on Tuesday.

The motion, which called for a ban on future orders, was not debated at the meeting but was passed to the joint governance committee for consideration.

The motion read: “It is morally unethical, poor practice and indefensible to allow gagging orders or confidentiality clauses to be used to conceal facts or restrict transparency when any public body is settling legal disputes with third party contractors that involve public or taxpayer monies.”