Asking where our money is being spent

Submitted on Fri, 03/07/2009 - 4:26pm

Unless you have lived in a cave for the last two years you will be fully aware of the current recession we are all experiencing and the 'credit crunch' times we are living in.  We are all much more concerned about where our money is being spent as there seems to be less of it.  Therefore we should all be alarmed to read the article in today's Mercury outlining the huge £930k overpaid to staff and even deceased members of society in what can only be described as a 'massive blunder' by Hertfordshire County Council. 

More and more we seem to be asking "where is our money being spent?" MPs are now forced to reveal their expense claims as a result of the scandal that engulfed Parliament.  However local representatives do not appear to be quite so forthcoming.  Last week we saw how Hertford Town Council had paid £36k in legal fees to an ex-employee but were not forthcoming with answers as to why or for whom and legally they are not obliged to so we may never know.  It seems to me that more needs to be made of this lack of transparency at local level.  It was encouraging today to hear that David Cameron wants Councils to be more open about the spending of public money and to declare any expenses over £500.  It is important that we are informed where our money is being spent and these decisions should not just be being made behind closed doors. 

We need representatives who ask questions and get results.  We do not want people who hide behind rules and regulations.  We elect people to act in our best interests not their own best interests.  We need people who will stand up and say "why is that money being spent in this way?" It's our money and our right surely to have the facility to find out where the money is going? 

Voters in Castle and Sele have the chance to elect two new town councillors to represent them.  Let's hope the right choice is made and we start seeing more transparency and accountability in local government.

06/07/2009 - 21:58 by Nigel


I asked a question about this at East Herts Council on 25th March.

"Councillor N Clark referred to the Conservatives Policy Green Paper, “Control Shift - Returning power to Local Communities”, which stated that they will “require councils to regularly make basic information about their spending available to the public online.  Councils will be required to list all items of expenditure above a certain level...”  This strategy had already been adopted in London by the Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, for all items above £1,000 and by the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, for all items above £500.  He asked the Leader of the Council when East Herts Council would adopt this Conservative policy.

In reply, the Leader expressed his hope that a Conservative Government was little more than a year away at most.  He read an extract from the Green Paper and expressed his support for the proposals contained within.  However, he raised a slight concern in respect of the potential additional workload that would ensue in dealing with queries.  He believed that the experience of the Greater London Authority and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead would need to be evaluated.

Councillor N Clark asked a supplementary question as to whether the Leader agreed with the assertion within the policy document that the proposals would help reduce wasteful expenditure.

In reply, the Leader believed that it was too early to say and that the experience of others was needed."


08/07/2009 - 15:14 by Editor

Thanks for your comment Nigel.  It is encouraging to see that the right questions are being asked and we will wait and see what the results are.  It seems fair to expect our local councils to do the same as our MP's and we do have a right to know where public money is being spent.

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