MORE than £200,000 has been paid out in ‘golden handshakes’ to two former senior officers at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

The borough council’s Unaudited Draft Statement of Account for 2018/19 highlights how two senior employees got ‘golden handshakes’ – a clause which provides executive staff with a significant severance package, often with confidentially agreements included – which combined amounted to more than £200,000.

These went to the council’s former head of law and governance - Bhupinder Gill - and its executive director of borough development and deputy chief executive, Victor Nicholls

The accounts states Mr Gill left his position in November last year.

As part of him stepping down from the role, the borough council agreed to pay termination costs £121,615.

The borough council also agreed to pay termination costs to the value of £95,772 to Mr Nicholls, who left in December last year.

The payments have been called a 'misuse of public money' by one opposition councillor, who has questioned how the authority can justify the sums agreed upon.

Chair of the scrutiny committee at the borough council Councillor David Potter said due to confidentiality clauses the way the agreements are made will be hard to find.

He said: “How the council has come to these figures I do not know, and if you try to find out why you are met with all these confidentiality clauses.

“This is a huge amount of taxpayers money which is being given to senior executives that no longer work for the borough council.

“It is a misuse of public money and I am sure these figures will be scrutinised as part of the budget.”

The account statement will go before both scrutiny committee and the full council.

Leader of the borough council, Councillor Ken Rhatigan said: “The council never comments on employment matters about individual employees.

“Termination payments are made in accordance with the council’s adopted procedures and the law.”

In the financial year for 2018/19, the borough authority paid out £374,733 in redundancy and exit packages for staff.

Of the eight employment terminations, five were compulsory.