And then there was one

February 22, 2011 5:49 PM

So it’s official. Nottingham City Council is the only local authority in England that is refusing to publish all spending over £500 online. The council’s deputy leader has described the requirement – which for the time being remains voluntary – as a waste of time and money.

Nottingham taxpayers will rightly question their council’s sincerity in its self-proclaimed concern with value-for-money. Can it really be that all of the other 353 local councils in the country have managed to find the time and resources to tell their residents what their council tax is being spent on, but Nottingham City cannot? In this age of electronic databases, is it really so expensive to search the accounts for all payments over £500, pop them into an Excel spreadsheet and upload it onto the council website?

A recent spate of recruitment adverts by the council suggests that it is not quite as strapped for cash as it would like its taxpayers to believe. It is currently advertising for a Corporate Director – Communities and a Corporate Director – Development, both with fat cat salaries of £120,000-£144,000. Maybe they could offer a tenth of that salary for an IT student at Nottingham Trent University to do a quick search of the accounting databases once a month and pop the results on the council website?

To add insult to injury, a plague of council propaganda posters is currently sweeping through the city centre. The usual posters advertising soft drinks and washing power have become conspicuous by their absence. Instead, Nottingham residents are being bombarded by a range of ‘feelgood’ posters singing the praises of the council’s services. These are offset by foreboding black posters with a giant pair of scissors warning: ‘Your council is facing major cuts in central government funding.’ The poster claims that the council wants local residents’ input in making ‘difficult decisions’ on the budget. And yet, how can the people of Nottingham make informed decisions when the council won’t publish the details of its spending in the first place?

Nottingham City Council’s Labour leadership is using the tenuous excuse of cost to make a political stand against the Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, while continuing to fritter away money on overpaid executives and a Soviet-style propaganda offensive. As usual, the main losers from these political games are ordinary hardworking people – Nottingham taxpayers. While the rest of country are now able to see for themselves how their council tax is being spent, Nottingham residents are forced to remain in the dark.

So it’s official. Nottingham City Council is the only local authority in England that is refusing to publish all spending over £500 online. The council’s deputy leader has described the requirement – which for the time being remains voluntary – as a waste of time and money.

Nottingham taxpayers will rightly question their council’s sincerity in its self-proclaimed concern with value-for-money. Can it really be that all of the other 353 local councils in the country have managed to find the time and resources to tell their residents what their council tax is being spent on, but Nottingham City cannot? In this age of electronic databases, is it really so expensive to search the accounts for all payments over £500, pop them into an Excel spreadsheet and upload it onto the council website?

A recent spate of recruitment adverts by the council suggests that it is not quite as strapped for cash as it would like its taxpayers to believe. It is currently advertising for a Corporate Director – Communities and a Corporate Director – Development, both with fat cat salaries of £120,000-£144,000. Maybe they could offer a tenth of that salary for an IT student at Nottingham Trent University to do a quick search of the accounting databases once a month and pop the results on the council website?

To add insult to injury, a plague of council propaganda posters is currently sweeping through the city centre. The usual posters advertising soft drinks and washing power have become conspicuous by their absence. Instead, Nottingham residents are being bombarded by a range of ‘feelgood’ posters singing the praises of the council’s services. These are offset by foreboding black posters with a giant pair of scissors warning: ‘Your council is facing major cuts in central government funding.’ The poster claims that the council wants local residents’ input in making ‘difficult decisions’ on the budget. And yet, how can the people of Nottingham make informed decisions when the council won’t publish the details of its spending in the first place?

Nottingham City Council’s Labour leadership is using the tenuous excuse of cost to make a political stand against the Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, while continuing to fritter away money on overpaid executives and a Soviet-style propaganda offensive. As usual, the main losers from these political games are ordinary hardworking people – Nottingham taxpayers. While the rest of country are now able to see for themselves how their council tax is being spent, Nottingham residents are forced to remain in the dark.

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