Minister praises South Glos Council for transparency

Posted on Wednesday 22nd September 2010 at 8:10 am by SH (Editor)

Greater transparency in how local money is being spent is helping South Gloucestershire residents take part in a new online budget consultation forum, which gives them the chance to post their views on what priorities the council should focus on.

Whether it is investing in our schools, the district’s roads or services for older people, it is important that local residents are given an opportunity to comment on the spending challenges facing the council.

The council’s commitment to openness and transparency in how local money is spent has been recognised by recent Government praise for being the first local authority in the region to publish details about spending over £500.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP said: “I am delighted to see that South Gloucestershire Council is way ahead of the game in putting this information online.

“As a trailblazer of transparency it’s a great example for other councils to follow and demonstrates just how easy it is to show taxpayers where their hard-earned cash is being spent.”

Councillor Allan Higgs, executive member for corporate affairs, said: “I am delighted that our efforts to lead the way in becoming more transparent have been recognised by the Secretary of State.

“The council is not spending its money; it is spending residents’ money and, in the months and years ahead, we need our residents and local businesses to be able to scrutinise the way we are paying for services and suggest ways that we might provide a better service for less money.

“This will help us adapt to the public spending reductions that are needed to pay off the very high national debt.”

To view council invoices of £500 and over, please visit www.southglos.gov.uk/payments500.

The budget forum is available on the council’s website at www.southglos.gov.uk/budget.

And if you don’t have internet access at home, you can log on for free at your local library.

Source: South Gloucestershire Council

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2 Responses to “Minister praises South Glos Council for transparency”

  1. Theunis Viljoen Says:

    This data would be worth 500 times more if South Gloucestershire provided monthly analysis of the payments to suppliers over £500 rather than a quarterly aggregation. It means that users cannot compare monthly trends.

    BIOLAP now has details of more than 50 Councils’ data on its free Council Expenses Dashboard at – http://www.biolap.co.uk/index.php/councilexpenses.html providing such monthly analysis.

    Users can slice and dice, compare and sort the data as well as drill through to the detailed underlying transactions.

  2. Andy Perkins Says:

    I have to say this did make me laugh.

    A few years ago I had cause to write to the local papers when the Council magically found £1.35million at the end of the 2008/09 financial year. Most of this money was tied up in the bricks and mortar of houses belonging to elderly people who owed the council money but who had yet to sell their houses. Despite this the accountants now praised for their financial transparency said it was OK to declare this as the Council’s money and use it to balance the books.

    More recently, residents may be aware that the Conservative-run Council has decided to close its current 8 elderly persons’ homes and looks set to abandon plans to build two new elderly persons homes of its own in favour of leasing the land to an external company for them to do it. In the process, the Council estimates it will cost them £2million in redundancy and associated payments. The paperwork behind this decision says that this £2million is being “amortised” over 10 years. Amortised is an accountant’s term for “spread over”. However, questioning by myself at a recent council meeting found out that this £2million would be payable by the council over a much shorter time period and nowhere near the 10 years being suggested. Only on paper, by the accountants who do the Council’s books, will the £2million cost be spread over 10 years. I wish my bank manager would let me “amortise” my debts like that.

    And yet the Conservative minister in London still praises the Council for being a “trailblazer of transparency”. This wouldn’t be because South Gloucestershire Council is run by the Conservatives would it ?

    Cllr Andy Perkins (Labour)
    Councillor for Woodstock ward, Kingswood
    South Gloucestershire Council