Open­ing book on KCC spend­ing

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page -

goods and ser­vices each year.

Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron has al­ready said that he in­tends to force coun­cils to pub­lish much more in­for­ma­tion about how pub­lic money is spent.

Cllr John Sim­monds (Con), KCC cabi­net mem­ber for fi­nance, said he wanted KCC to take a lead in meet­ing the much greater ex­pec­ta­tions of the pub­lic for coun­cils to be open and trans­par­ent.

“Read­ing the runes, greater trans­parency of in­for­ma­tion is go­ing to be quite crit­i­cal. We are a far more open author­ity than peo­ple give us credit for... and the more peo­ple un­der­stand the pres­sures we are un­der, the bet­ter.”

The county coun­cil is to de­velop pro­pos­als on how to pub­lish reg­u­lar ac­counts of its spend­ing and wants to im­ple­ment them within a year.

Cllr Sim­monds warned that there were prac­ti­cal prob­lems given the size of KCC and its bud­get, as well as con­fi­den­tial­ity is­sues.

“In one week, we have 6,200 trans­ac­tions of £1,000 or more. What I do not want to do is put lots of in­for­ma­tion out there that no­body will make any use of.

“I am in favour of open­ness but the pub­lic will not thank us if we spend mil­lions do­ing it.

What­ever we end up with, we have to make it worth­while.”

The plan was wel­comed by op­po­si­tion Lib­eral Democrats, who had pro­posed such a move be­fore the elec­tion.

Cllr Tim Prater (Lib Dem) said it was a step in the right di­rec­tion and ac­knowl­edged that any ac­counts needed to con­tain eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble in­for­ma­tion.

“It is im­por­tant the in­for­ma­tion is what lo­cal peo­ple want and the lo­cal me­dia want.”

De­tails of the dis­clo­sure scheme are to be de­vel­oped by fi­nance chiefs and KCC says the pub­lic will be con­sulted.

Martin Gur­don and Sue Gam­mon at the Ash­ford Heart Sup­port Group meet­ing

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