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
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.