Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

What about transparency at City Hall?

We've had MPs' expenses, we've had MLAs' expenses and now we can view their details online. What about Belfast councillors' expenses and the lack of transparency?

I submitted two Freedom of Information requests relating to a full breakdown of two councillors' expenses in November 2009.

Belfast City Council informed me that I couldn't have the information I wanted, citing exemption 22 of the FOI Act, which is an intention to publish it in the future.

This, I was told, would be June 2010. I asked for a review of their decision, citing the fact that the council has yet to publish the full breakdown of any councillors' expenses in the past (it only publishes total amounts) and the fact they couldn't guarantee I'd receive a full breakdown.

The review was to be completed on December 16, 2009, but the council has asked for extra time due "to the complex public interest considerations which have to be taken into account".

So we have the bizarre situation where we can have transparency at Westminster and Stormont, but not at Belfast City Council.

JOHN COLLINS

Belfast

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