A new era of local transparency

Here is an interesting email response I received from Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. 

Dear DEAN,

Transparency and openness must underpin every decision your council makes for you.

Fifty years ago this month, Margaret Thatcher’s maiden speech championed a Private Members’ Bill which would ultimately make councils open up their meetings to the press and public. As she argued at the time, ‘The public has the right… to know what its elected representatives are doing’. Indeed, local people should be able to hold politicians and public bodies to account over how their council tax is being spent, and decisions made on their behalf.

We are ushering in a new era of transparency, where every aspect of council business is open to democratic scrutiny and an army of armchair auditors can shine a spotlight on waste and unnecessary cost to help protect frontline services.

For too long, Labour let councils spend your hard-earned cash without proper local accountability. For too long, Labour took local taxpayers for a ride.

You wouldn’t spend your money without knowing what you were buying – so why let the Government?

With greater power for local councils must come greater local accountability. We are committed to increasing transparency across Whitehall and local authorities in order to make data more readily available to you, the citizen, and allow you to hold service providers to account. I recently called on every council in the country to publish all of their spending data over £500 online – and only Labour-run Nottingham are yet to deliver, with their Labour leader arrogantly saying ‘we have much better things to be doing’. What have they got to hide?

Not only will transparency allow you to see where your money goes and what it delivers, throwing open the council books will also unlock the door to new businesses and encourage greater innovation and entrepreneurship.

When the new Government is giving unprecedented power and freedom to councils, it’s more important than ever that local residents can keep tabs on what their town hall is up to. We’re bringing the full glare of the public’s eye onto spending. I invite you to scrutinise where your money goes and help us make sure it is spent on the right priorities. It’s time to put the council receipts at your fingertips.

You can see how your council is spending your money by clicking here.

Yours truly,

Eric Pickles

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government


About Cuts, News and Views

The site’s author is a student at the Birmingham School of Media and a journalist for both Birmingham Budget Cuts and Sony Music Entertainment. He is a PR consultant as well as having worked for the BBC. The author also contributes on a freelance basis to The Times and The Guardian. Dean Hill is a member of The Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Posted on March 1, 2011, in Budget Cuts and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That’s great that Eric Pickles demanded transparency – but we didn’t receive 100% at the council meeting.

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