Saturday, 16 May 2009

Expenses: Edinburgh Councillors

The administration on Edinburgh Council has denied my request to publish full details of councillors' expenses.

Councils are obliged by law to publish costs of councillors expenses.   The expenses summary for 2007/8 for Edinburgh Councillors can be found online here (though it is very difficult to find - there are no obvious links from the council's home page, from the register of interests pages of individual councillors or from the Council's publication schedule under the Freedom of Information Act).

However, the expenses summary, published in May every year for the 12 months to the end of the preceding March, is just that - a summary.  So last month, before the present revelations led by the Daily Telegraph, I called for publication on the internet of full expenses claimed by Edinburgh councillors.  My call was reported in the Evening News here and in the council papers here - see item 11.1.

However, the Lord Provost ruled that because summary information was already published on the Council website, my motion was incompetent, failing to accept my argument that my motion was to publish full information.   That is simply not an acceptable response and I expect to submit an amended motion to the May council meeting.   To date informal discussions suggest the Administration may be willing to accept the publication of some detail of expenses claimed.  

The Lord Provost in his ruling clearly did not understand the implications of my motion in the current climate and I am sure will accept it in slightly amended form when it is resubmitted to the next meeting of the full council later this month.

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