Town hall secrecy to come under spotlight in new council code of transparency

The Westmorland Gazette: "End Town Hall secrecy" - Pickles "End Town Hall secrecy" - Pickles

COUNCILS have been ordered to sign up to a legally binding transparency code - to help end town hall secrecy.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles wants to see more local authorities revealing what they spend on corporate credit cards, among others.

The new legislation applies to local authorities with budgets over £6.5 million, like South Lakeland District Council, Cumbria County Council and Eden District Council, among others.

The move has been welcomed by local council tax campaigner, Steve Atkinson, of Loppergarth near Ulverston, who has been in regular touch with Mr Pickles’ office.

Mr Atkinson has asked Cumbria County Council to fully reveal the sums paid to its former chief executive, who retired early in May.

The authority has told him the figures will be published in summer 2014. Mr Atkinson described the announcement by Mr Pickles as ‘great news’.

He said: “I have spent some seven months arguing with Cumbria County Council, and attempting to find out the magnitude of the payoff awarded to Jill Stannard in her early retirement. I received the news that the Secretary of State Eric Pickles has imposed a legally-binding "policy of transparency" to all councils generally.”

Included under the new transparency obligations are greater data on the £220bn property assets held by councils and information on local authority contracts and tenders to help small firms bid for town hall business.

‘Councils need to make sensible savings to help freeze council tax and protect frontline services,’ said Mr Pickles.

‘This new wave of town hall transparency will empower armchair auditors to expose municipal waste - from surplus offices, corporate credit cards to trade union pilgrims, and help councillors drive down costs. Greater power for local government must go hand in hand with greater local transparency and local accountability.’

Comments (2)

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10:56pm Mon 23 Dec 13

snuggle-bunny says...

Can't wait
Can't wait snuggle-bunny

8:28pm Wed 25 Dec 13

SteveAtkinson says...

Ive now just received a 3 weeks overdue replyto my FOI request regarding the payoff to the retired x chief fire officer - age 51, and it is now obvious that CCC is taking no heed of this new transparency law. They again refuse to disclose this sum of money (it,ll be another 1/2 million or so) and again stating "confidentiality". They tried this with Stannard, though after my brief word with Mr Pickles dept were thoroughly smacked down here - "you cannot insert confidentiality clause into an issue regarding public monies". Its been wholly obvious for years that CCC borderline corrupt, and will (and do) "try anything" to prevent exposure here. Trouble is "they already have been exposed" and I will now be hitting them yet again but this time, will have this new law on our side !
Ive now just received a 3 weeks overdue replyto my FOI request regarding the payoff to the retired x chief fire officer - age 51, and it is now obvious that CCC is taking no heed of this new transparency law. They again refuse to disclose this sum of money (it,ll be another 1/2 million or so) and again stating "confidentiality". They tried this with Stannard, though after my brief word with Mr Pickles dept were thoroughly smacked down here - "you cannot insert confidentiality clause into an issue regarding public monies". Its been wholly obvious for years that CCC borderline corrupt, and will (and do) "try anything" to prevent exposure here. Trouble is "they already have been exposed" and I will now be hitting them yet again but this time, will have this new law on our side ! SteveAtkinson

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