Friday 1 August 2008

Snoop on the Council

There has been much talk in recent months of the power given to councils under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. This Act was designed to help catch major criminals and terrorists, but some councils, for example Poole, have abused it for other purposes, such as spying on a family to see if they really lived in the catchment area for a popular school.

Now it is our turn. Under Section 15 of the Audit Commission Act 1998, we have the right to inspect all books, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating to any council business. For example, I recently asked to see all the receipts relating to the purchase of 14 plasma screens for the council’s offices. These screens cost in excess of £33,000 (before installation and software costs are added) but more on that in a few days.

Under Freedom of Information rules, you can ask for details of the Chief Executive’s expense account, for example. But under the Audit Commission Act, you can demand to see the actual receipts and you have a right to make copies.

So, if there is anything you want to know or, better still, anything you think the council doesn’t want us to know, get your Section 15 notices in to the council before 4.30pm on 20th August 2008. Click here for more details.

Remember, every penny the Council spends is our money. We have an absolute right to know how they are spending it. Do let me know if you turn up anything interesting. Write to dontcallmedave99 @ (remove the spaces)

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