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“We do comply with data rules” says council

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WIGAN Council has defended its policy of not publishing spending data online as an investigation finds authorities are missing deadlines.

Transparency measures were announced by the Government in 2010, calling for councils to publish details of purchases of more than £500.

But some Town Halls have been exposed as lagging behind on publishing data, an investigation has found.

Wigan Council said it had decided not to publish such data since their website was relaunched in 2013.

A spokesman explained: “Previously we did publish the information on our website, though we found it wasn’t very helpful.

“People would often contact us to specify on particular elements. Therefore we decided to provide the information to those who requested it.

“That way we are able to tailor information according to what they wanted, making it more accessible and thereby complying by the transparency rules.

“If a member of the public, for whatever reason, wanted the information they would ask.”

Last year local government secretary Eric Pickles announced plans to make the transparency measures mandatory by law.

The current regulations require councils to publish the spending data no later than a month after the financial quarter within which the purchase occurred.

Local government minister Brandon Lewis said: “Greater power for local government must go hand in hand with greater local transparency and accountability, and local taxpayers have a right to see where their council’s cash is going.

“We expect all local authorities to publish spending information without exception - it is unacceptable for councils to hide this data from local people.”

Of the more than 150 local authority websites examined, 67 had included figures up to and including November’s accounts.

Another 50 had updated to October and 17 to September.

The results show that one in 10 councils was at least four months behind the deadlines set out in the regulations.

Wigan was the only council found not to have any data on its website.

 

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