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Is the council witholding financial information from us?


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11 replies to this topic

#1 megilleland

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Posted 17 October 2017

The council used to publish its expenditure figures for each month very promptly. However the council have since made a decision to publish its expenditure figures only every three months for the periods ending June, September, December and March. This seems at variance with the government's Local Spending Data guidance which states that:
 

Data should be published monthly, as soon as possible after month end but no later than 30 days after month end.

Authorities may wish to publish the data for longer reporting periods e.g. quarterly, year to date, etc. There is no reason why they should not do this, but this should be in addition to the individual monthly files.

 

The council's delay in publishing their expenditure figures promptly would appear to delay and prevent the public and councillors from seeing the ongoing state of their council's expenditure as in the case of the Blueschool House and Link Road fiascos. Maybe it would be better to go back to the old system, which this council practiced quite easily over the past years, and these problems would be picked up much earlier.


Edited by megilleland, 17 October 2017 .

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#2 Denise Lloyd

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Posted 17 October 2017

Of course they are but even if they say they are not they do make it very difficult to find different things out 


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#3 Denise Lloyd

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Posted 18 October 2017

https://www.google.c...X3hWLuV7eGSuzxj


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#4 megilleland

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Posted 18 October 2017

 

I assume it is part of the Herefordshire Council Farms sell off - Glewstone, sub-estate 6. The total guide price for the Herefordshire Council farms is £38,020,000 - just about cover the increased costs of the Link Road and Blueschool House Hub and Fisher German commision - £352,000 according to council contracts.
 

Line 192:
Contract Title
ESPO Reference 2700-15  Estate Management Cocsultancy Services    

Directorate
Economy, Communities & Corporate    

Department
Property services    

Contracts Manager
Beale, Helen    

Brief description
The appointed agents will be responsible for marketing the estate and implementing the disposals programme agreed by cabinet.

Estimated Contract value
£352,000

Start date
01/08/2016

Review date
31/01/2019

Option to extend

No

Quotation or tender
Quotation

 

I am sure the real figure for Fisher German's part in this scheme will be far more than £352,000, judging by my past experience of buying and selling my homes over the years. Maybe the true figures will be 

revealed in time. I see that the original post of Herefordshire Council FARMS has had 21,899 views so far - plenty of interest.

 


Edited by megilleland, 18 October 2017 .

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#5 Denise Lloyd

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Posted 18 October 2017

In reply no 3 to Herefordshire Council Farms there are various links to Herefordshire Council these are no longer available - why?

 

I am sure that this is not part of the Council sell off and I know there was once a list of Herefordshire Council farms but can no longer find this info.


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#6 megilleland

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Posted 18 October 2017

Links in post 3 working for me Denise.


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#7 Denise Lloyd

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Posted 18 October 2017

Yes they are for me now! 


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#8 megilleland

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Posted 27 October 2017

When it comes to transparency this council leads the way. Having sent them an email:
 

The council used to publish its expenditure figures for each month very promptly. However the council have since made a decision to publish its expenditure figures only every three months for the periods ending June, September, December and March. This seems at variance with the government's Local Spending Data guidance which states that:
 
Data should be published monthly, as soon as possible after month end but no later than 30 days after month end.

Authorities may wish to publish the data for longer reporting periods e.g. quarterly, year to date, etc. There is no reason why they should not do this, but this should be in addition to the individual monthly files.

The council's delay in publishing their expenditure figures promptly would appear to delay and prevent the public and councillors from seeing the ongoing state of their council's expenditure as in the case of the Blueschool House and Link Road fiascos. Maybe it would be better to go back to the old system, which this council practiced quite easily over the past years, and these problems would be picked up much earlier.

Any comment?

 

The figures for July, August and September have now been published, but the council decided to not help the enquiring mind by jumbling the dates over this period all in one table. Is this to hide information which would have easily stood out in the original format. Surely not.


Edited by megilleland, 27 October 2017 .

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#9 megilleland

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Posted 08 November 2017

Here is the council's reply to my questions above.

 

Dear Mr. Gilleland,

 

Thank you for your queries. I have liaised with the finance team involved with the publication of the data and can now respond to you.

 

The council used to publish its expenditure figures for each month very promptly. However the council have since made a decision to publish its expenditure figures only every three months for the periods ending June, September, December and March. This seems at variance with the government's Local Spending Data guidance which states that:
 
Data should be published monthly, as soon as possible after month end but no later than 30 days after month end.

Authorities may wish to publish the data for longer reporting periods e.g. quarterly, year to date, etc. There is no reason why they should not do this, but this should be in addition to the individual monthly files.

The council's delay in publishing their expenditure figures promptly would appear to delay and prevent the public and councillors from seeing the ongoing state of their council's expenditure as in the case of the Blueschool House and Link Road fiascos. Maybe it would be better to go back to the old system, which this council practiced quite easily over the past years, and these problems would be picked up much earlier.

 

Any comment?

 

The Transparency Code 2015 requires local authorities to publish certain sets of information (“datasets”) as “open data”. Open data is data published in a machine readable, non-proprietary format so that users can access and re-use it regardless of which computer system they use. The dataset requirements in the Transparency Code include expenditure exceeding £500

 

Some datasets must be published at least quarterly and not later than one month after the quarter to which the data and information is applicable (as stated in Part 2.1 of the Code); this includes the expenditure over £500. Other datasets must be published at least annually (as stated in Part 2.2 of the Code). It is recommended that some information including expenditure exceeding £500 be published monthly or as soon as it becomes available, however this is not something local authorities must do. Equally, the 2010 Local Spending Data Guidance is guidance and not statutory.

 

The council is therefore not wrongly publishing expenditure data by doing so on a quarterly basis, as this is in compliance with the Transparency Code 2015, and the council’s procedure for publication of data under the Transparency Code.

 

The decision to publish the data quarterly rather than monthly was as a result of work capacity within the finance team who prepare and publish the data. The finance team will however review to see if they are able to return to a position of monthly publication, in recognition of the greater transparency that this provides.

 

Note the figures for July, August and September have now been published, but the council has decided to not help the enquiring mind by jumbling the dates over this 3 month period into one table. Is this to hide information which would have easily stood out in the original format?

 

The data can be easily sorted by date, no data is hidden by this. The finance team will include in their review how the data is presented to ensure that it is easily accessible.

 

Please let me know if you have any further queries regarding this.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Anthony Sawyer

Information Access and Records Manager

Herefordshire Council


Edited by megilleland, 08 November 2017 .

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#10 Ubique

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Posted 08 November 2017

Martin , as our Researcher your thoughts now are ...............?
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#11 megilleland

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Posted 08 November 2017

The data can be easily sorted by date, no data is hidden by this. The finance team will include in their review how the data is presented to ensure that it is easily accessible.

 

It was far easier before. You didn't have to play around sorting the information out, you just opened the data for each month and away you went, everything clearly laid out. Yet again the council throw more obstacles in your path. It's the same strategy used in all their business and day to day activities to b*gg*r you up - for example let's put more traffic lights on the roads to slow up the traffic flows. How many lights are there on the city roads?

 

Authorities may wish to publish the data for longer reporting periods e.g. quarterly, year to date, etc. There is no reason why they should not do this, but this should be in addition to the individual monthly files.

 

I am reading this wrong or are the council? Publish data individually for each month obligatory.


Edited by megilleland, 08 November 2017 .

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#12 Denise Lloyd

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Posted 09 November 2017

I agree Meggi......... when I try to find something in the Council website I seem to go  round and round in circles until I get to what I am looking for.  By contrast for example you go to Tesco website type in for arguments sake Sauvignon Blanc and up comes all varieties of SB sold by Tesco.  It should be that simple on the Herefordshire Council website but it is not.  It has just been over complicated


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