Transparent Councils?

Posted on January 31, 2011 by Builder Bob There have been 0 comments

You Must be Joking

 

But Eric Pickles isn’t.  He’s just given local councils just a weeks notice to allow the public to ‘look at their books’.

Imposing the deadline he set in June 2010 for them to do this, he has made it clear that the 210 who have made some information available online have not gone far enough.  Also that there are still 150 Councils who have not done anything.

Right Target, Wrong Time

Councils now have to put details of all expenditure over £500 on line – members expenses, salaries of senior people, costs of meetings, contract bids, and much more besides.

Great – but does Eric really think that causing both officers and members in your Local Authority to expose themselves to the full glare of public enquiry is going to encourage them to do anything to help the economy move forward? 

Simple things like making sure there is enough land with planning permission for all the people who want to ‘Self-Build’ to stand a chance of doing so.  Or, of providing officer time to help home improvers and extenders to find their way through the increasing burdens of the revised Building Regulations 2010?

My guess is that however Councils tackle this attack on their former privacy, it is more likely to slow down and make these processes harder – and probably more costly before long. That is especially likely to be the case when he allows them all to set different rates for their various services under the Localism Bill.

More Haste – More Waste

Maybe Mr Pickles will be proved right in thinking that greater transparency will be a good thing.  But whether this is likely to cut unnecessary waste and costs in the short term, as he believes, or result in the reverse and worsen the cost of the unintended consequences, is a moot point.  

 

Your Right to Know

Like it or not, the Minister has just put a rocket up your Councils backside. And, in giving you the right to know how your Council spends YOUR money, he has potentially given both individuals and citizen groups a tool to help their future cause.

Now you can be proactive in finding out how much it costs the council to make house building plots available, block planning permits, and monitor both legal and illegal home improvement works. It might even be something your friendly reporter would like a crack at.


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