Hull & East Riding Councils publish spending

February 02, 2011 4:32 PM

Well done to Hull City Council who is now publishing all spending online - not just spending above £500. I hope other councils will take note and follow suit. If Hull can do it, other councils can too. The information is also presented in a user friendly format, and you can easily see where your money is going. There are a number of redactions though. Some I can understand - such as payments to foster carers - others I'm not sure about. The council must keep the number of redactions to a minimum. If it doesn't the net result will be more Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, which will defeat the object of the exercise. If spending is open and transparent, taxpayers will not feel the need to issue FOIs in the same way as they did before.

Unfortunately, although East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) is now publishing all spending above £500, the way it is presented leaves much to be desired. You have to increase the size of the page by 200% before you can easily read anything. This means it is impossible to read with whole width of the table on one page. Anyone with any sense should have realised this, or perhaps they did? It looks like it has been done deliberately. ERYC may be sticking to the letter of the law, but they are not in keeping with the spirit of the law. Making it harder for taxpayers in the East Riding to see where their money is going implies the council has something to hide.

The leader, Cllr Stephen Parnaby, says he is committed to the government's Local Transparency Agenda. If his words are to mean anything (bearing in mind how he tried to hide a £364K payment to a senior council officer last year) he should instruct officers to change the format. It is not good enough to simply publish the figures. They have to be easily accessed by everyone.Well done to Hull City Council who is now publishing all spending online - not just spending above £500. I hope other councils will take note and follow suit. If Hull can do it, other councils can too. The information is also presented in a user friendly format, and you can easily see where your money is going. There are a number of redactions though. Some I can understand - such as payments to foster carers - others I'm not sure about. The council must keep the number of redactions to a minimum. If it doesn't the net result will be more Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, which will defeat the object of the exercise. If spending is open and transparent, taxpayers will not feel the need to issue FOIs in the same way as they did before.

Unfortunately, although East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) is now publishing all spending above £500, the way it is presented leaves much to be desired. You have to increase the size of the page by 200% before you can easily read anything. This means it is impossible to read with whole width of the table on one page. Anyone with any sense should have realised this, or perhaps they did? It looks like it has been done deliberately. ERYC may be sticking to the letter of the law, but they are not in keeping with the spirit of the law. Making it harder for taxpayers in the East Riding to see where their money is going implies the council has something to hide.

The leader, Cllr Stephen Parnaby, says he is committed to the government's Local Transparency Agenda. If his words are to mean anything (bearing in mind how he tried to hide a £364K payment to a senior council officer last year) he should instruct officers to change the format. It is not good enough to simply publish the figures. They have to be easily accessed by everyone.

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