Published: December 18, 2012
Town Council gives 'thumbs down' to new transparency guidelines

Burnham-On-Sea town councillors have this week given a 'thumbs down' to government proposals to make councils more transparent and accountable.

At a meeting of the town council's Policy and Finance Committee on Monday, members debated whether to adopt a new government code of practice that has been proposed for councils across the UK to make them more accountable.

The code seeks to encourage councils to publish details of all expenditure over £500, plus councillor allowances and expenses, copies of contracts and tenders, and also details of senior employee salaries, responsibilities and budgets.

Cllr Phil Harvey said: "We could spend many, many hours pulling all the data together with our limited resources, but this would add to the overall workload and would not be of real benefit to taxpayers. The code just seems disproportionate for a small council of this size."

Cllr Neville Jones agreed: "I would question the relevance of this to a council of our size - it just seems to be pure job creation."

Town Clerk Eileen Shaw added that much of the data mentioned in the new code of practice is already available through Freedom of Information requests.

She concluded: "While we agree to the principle of data transparency, the code would seem to be disproportionate for a council of this size."

"By not differentiating between parish and town councils with a budget of over £200,000 and other sections of local authorities there is no allowance made for the workload to produce the information, between a council employing two members of staff and those employing two hundred."

The council is compiling a response to the Department for Communities and Local Government on the matter. The wording of the recommended code of practice can be viewed here.

 


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