A SETTLEMENT of nearly £700,000 has been reached over a long-running dispute regarding the council's learning disabilities service provider.

In 2017, Somerset County Council transferred its learning disability contract to indepedent company Discovery.

Protests took place outside of County Hall in Taunton while UNISON fought against the proposals.

Following the decision, the union brought an employment tribunal claim against the county council and Discovery after it said inadequate information was given to staff before the transfer.

But before the claim was considered in court, the council decided to settle.

A spokesperson for Somerset County Council said: “Following the transfer of the Learning Disabilities Provider Service to Discovery in April 2017, Unison brought an employment tribunal claim against Somerset County Council and Discovery. This was relating to the adequacy of the information provided to staff prior to the transfer and the claim was due to be considered this week.

“SCC and Discovery believe they fulfilled their obligations in relation to the transfer. However, to avoid a protracted legal hearing with the potential for further action - as well as continued uncertainty for staff – Somerset County Council has reached a financial settlement with Unison (with a total value of £674,000) on behalf of its members and this has enabled the claim to be resolved in a way that is satisfactory for all parties.

“We are pleased that this matter has now reached a conclusion and that we can continue our work to transform learning disabilities services in Somerset.

“The decision to transfer the service was taken so that services could be modernised and become sustainable, providing more community-based support that focusses on individual needs and provides better outcomes.

“We can see this progress in many areas of Discovery' services, for example in terms of employment opportunities, the creation of the Social Value Fund and the shift away from buildings-based services to more creative, community-based options."

UNISON has been approached for comment.