THURROCK Council passed a motion to make the council’s finances more open and accountable to the public. The motion was proposed by Homesteads Conservative Councillor James Halden and seconded by Orsett Conservative Councillor Mike Revell. The motion will bind cabinet members to have to give specific reports on the finances of their departments for debate in full council.
Cllr Halden proposed his motion by saying “There is no such thing as council money, it is taxpayer money. We need to show our constituents who work, why they are being taxed. I believe in low tax as a conservative, but to achieve this we need to have a transparent budget to challenge.”.
Cllr Revell said “We are delighted that we had full support across the Council to improve the way in which we demonstrate clearly to our hard working residents that we will, as councillors check accounts at all levels of the council. By so doing we make certain that the money they pay in their council tax is not wasted.
The motion clearly sets out that the Portfolio Holders must in future, not only give updates on the money that they have spent, but are given the opportunity to explain how they spent it.”
It is worth reminding ourselves of the words of the Audit Commission in March 2009 concerning the financial duties of councillors:
1.Elected members should engage in financial policy and not leave it to officers.
2.Should question policies year on year and not mechanically use officers’ policy templates.
3.Should take an interest in financial matters and challenge assumptions.
If we follow this guidance we can make council budgets transparent to the public and in so doing demonstrate that we give value for money.It is up to all councillors to make certain it happens.”