Monday, 29 March 2010

FREEDOM OF COUNCIL INFORMATION

Here is an extract from :-
Conservative Technology Manifesto

"All local councils will be required to
publish online every item of spending over
£500. In addition, we will require local
councils to publish procurement contracts
and tender documents in full. To tackle
runaway local council salaries, we will require
councils to publish the names and the full
remuneration package of all senior local
authority staff earning over £60,000. We will
also require councils to publish data on
individual councillor expenses, enabling the
public to compare councillor expenses across
the country."

But this does not go far enough,all Senior
Officers meetings should be open to scrutiny
by the public, as are the workings of Councillors.
I can hear the screams of agony from Officers all
over the country, they are not, however, loud
enough to frighten us the Council Tax payers,
Nobody in their right mind would give a service
provider £1400 a year,unquestioningly, you would
want some control over how it was used.The theory
is that Councillors should do this, but as we know from
Statements by Councillors and our own experiences,
it is Officers that control the Council and how the
money is spent.Therefore it is attendance at those
meetings which is even more important to us than
those of Councillors.The scream of “confidentiality”is
a fallacious argument often used by Officers to hide
behind what they are really doing,There are actually
only the very smallest number of activities that are
“confidential” and in terms of what we should know
is happening even they are dubious, although you
would not believe that listening to age old arguments
by Officers, Time to clear away Local Government
Official Secrets.It is time Councillors insisted that ,
Officers opened themselves up to public scrutiny,
we have a chance to do it in the next few weeks,
by quizzing all those candidates that knock on your
door, One simple question, “When will we be able to
scrutinise Officers activities” and get an answer that
satisfies you, don’t accept no for an answer!!.

It not necessarily that we would want to question every
£500 of expenditure, but much more importantly the
underlying premise for the spending of funds,quite often,
in direct contravention of what local people need or want.
This is not all bad for Officers as they may be able to justify
some of the more bizarre decisions, directly to the Public,
something they conspicuously fail to do presently. As Officers often
tell us they have nothing to hide, then they cannot object to being directly
scrutinised.

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