Bradford Council delays publishing expenditure over £500

January 26, 2011 12:14 PM

Time is almost running out for councils to publish all spending above £500. On 10 January, it was reported that with just three weeks to go, only 135 of the 326 English councils had so far complied. If some councils can manage it - including Hammersmith and Fulham who started publishing this information last June -  why can't others? Is it incompetence, or do they have something to hide?

The Bradford Telegraph and Argus reported on Monday that Bradford Council will not have this information up in time. Here is the reason the leader, Cllr Ian Greenwood gives:
There’s an obligation been put on us by the Communities Secretary to disclose all bills of £500 or above. We won’t be doing that until all the invoices have been purged of commercially-sensitive information that could enable Bradford suppliers to be undercut by firms elsewhere once the details are published.

The council has had months to prepare for this. It has had plenty of time to publish these details online. The council should also ensure it is getting the best deal for taxpayers. It should be procuring goods and services at the best possible price. Many local businesses should be able to do this, but if they can't, other suppliers should be sought. What else will the council try to hide in the future? What else will it regard as sensitive information? Will it try to hide embarrassing expenditure? These delaying tactics do nothing to convince taxpayers their money is not being wasted.

Bradford taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent. They have a right to look through this information, and if they want, challenge the figures they see. There is no excuse for not doing this on time.

Is your council trying to something similar? If it is, please let me know.Time is almost running out for councils to publish all spending above £500. On 10 January, it was reported that with just three weeks to go, only 135 of the 326 English councils had so far complied. If some councils can manage it - including Hammersmith and Fulham who started publishing this information last June -  why can't others? Is it incompetence, or do they have something to hide?

The Bradford Telegraph and Argus reported on Monday that Bradford Council will not have this information up in time. Here is the reason the leader, Cllr Ian Greenwood gives:
There’s an obligation been put on us by the Communities Secretary to disclose all bills of £500 or above. We won’t be doing that until all the invoices have been purged of commercially-sensitive information that could enable Bradford suppliers to be undercut by firms elsewhere once the details are published.

The council has had months to prepare for this. It has had plenty of time to publish these details online. The council should also ensure it is getting the best deal for taxpayers. It should be procuring goods and services at the best possible price. Many local businesses should be able to do this, but if they can't, other suppliers should be sought. What else will the council try to hide in the future? What else will it regard as sensitive information? Will it try to hide embarrassing expenditure? These delaying tactics do nothing to convince taxpayers their money is not being wasted.

Bradford taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent. They have a right to look through this information, and if they want, challenge the figures they see. There is no excuse for not doing this on time.

Is your council trying to something similar? If it is, please let me know.

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