13 June 2011

Justice Minister Lord McNally is set to visit Northamptonshire County Council tomorrow (Tuesday 14th June) to learn about the council’s achievements in transparency.

During his visit Lord McNally will speak at a cabinet meeting about the government’s vision for transparency in local government, as well as meeting the people involved in this work at the council.

He has chosen to visit Northamptonshire as it is recognised that the council is one of the most transparent in the country. The council was one of the first to publish details of expenditure over £500, senior salaries, contracts and assets, and its drive to making information available was already well underway before the government detailed their transparency agenda in May last year.

Lord McNally said: "The public deserves a government that is open and accountable, at both a national and local level. In these tough economic times a household’s council tax is a big expense, and it is only right that people should know where that money is being spent.

"The Freedom of Information Act, which we are currently updating, is a vital tool that members of the public, as well as journalists, can use to hold public bodies to account.

"Northamptonshire County Council is at the forefront of transparency in local government, and I am looking forward to learning more about how the council has achieved this."

Cabinet member for business intelligence and performance Cllr Joan Kirkbride said: “We are very pleased to be hosting this visit from Lord McNally and the opportunity to discuss with him the work we have been carrying out over the past year to make Northamptonshire County Council more transparent and fully open to scrutiny by the public.

“Having been at the forefront of enhancing local transparency ahead of the government’s announcements last year, we are now focussed on using the agenda to open council business up to our residents. Our most recent innovations include webcasting of council meetings and the launch of a community asset transfer policy.

“Throughout our journey towards greater transparency we have been consulted with by other local authorities and leading government officials, as our early progress has meant that we have been well-placed to help other organisations looking to move their own transparency programmes forward.

“This is not the end of our efforts and we remain committed to continuing the transparency agenda as we go forward.”

Lord McNally is due to address the cabinet meeting at 2:00 p.m.