I’ll make this my last post, for a while, on the changes to local government introduced by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles MP.
Eric’s announcement today that he is urging all councils to publish details of all spending over £500 in full and online is a revolution in local government transparency. Report by BBC HERE, and in the Daily Telegraph too. In typically forthright fashion, Eric says that,
“The public should be able to see where their money goes and what it delivers. The swift and simple changes we are calling for today will unleash an army of armchair auditors and quite rightly make those charged with doling out the pennies stop and think twice about whether they are getting value for money.”
There’s nothing like openness to uncover waste and duplication. It’s just a shame that Eric is only urging councils to become more transparent. What it does do however, is offer the opportunity for councils to show how open they are, without the need for regulation to force them to do it.
Nearby Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council is quoted in Eric Pickles’ press notice as an example of good practice. Here’s their web page on transparency. Impressive stuff. Worth noting that Windsor and Maidenhead is a unitary council and therefore responsible for more services than Surrey Heath. Refer to my previous blog post to read about how unitary councils differ from Surrey Heath.