EDITORIAL: Councils cannot strategise in secret

To some extent it was inevitable that the draft regulations in the Local Government Bill would be overturned by one body or another. In an era characterised by increased pressure for corporate transparency and accountability from both NGOs and central Government, the option for local authority executives to hold strategy meetings behind closed doors represents a step back to the dark ages.

To some extent it was inevitable that the draft regulations in the

Local Government Bill would be overturned by one body or another. In an

era characterised by increased pressure for corporate transparency and

accountability from both NGOs and central Government, the option for

local authority executives to hold strategy meetings behind closed doors

represents a step back to the dark ages.



While the bill was put together with good intentions, the concept that

local council meetings should be anything other than open to the press

and public is a complete anathema and runs contrary to all the

principles enshrined in the Best Value pilot project introduced by this

Government.



But for all the Government directives, the real shift in consciousness

needs to take place at a local level. The sheer fact that the option for

privacy and secrecy was included in the draft bill in the first place,

is a clear indicator of the enormous mindshift that still needs to be

undertaken at executive level within local councils. Transparency cannot

begin and end in a council’s press office.



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