Friday, 27 December 2013

Council to publish expense-claims



North Ayrshire Council is to begin publishing monthly all expenses-claims submitted by councillors.

The move comes in response to a call from Three Towns Independent councillors Ronnie McNicol and John Hunter.

Cllr McNicol (Saltcoats & Stevenston) submitted a Motion to last week’s meeting of the Council, calling for the local authority to publish on its website all expenses-claims made by councillors.  As Ronnie McNicol later explained to the3towns, “The public pays these expenses and I think they have every right to see what councillors are claiming.”

The Independent councillor’s Motion, seconded by John Hunter (Ardrossan & Arran), called for such information to be made available every month, and also that the local authority publishes a list of attendance at meetings.  Cllr McNicol said, “This will allow the public to see who attends meetings and who doesn’t.”

During discussion of Cllr McNicol’s Motion, suggestions were made by some councillors that it might prove difficult to compile data on expenses-claims to allow monthly publication.  However, Ardrossan SNP councillor Tony Gurney, a university lecturer in Information Technology, confirmed it was a simple process to scan claim-forms submitted by councillors and to post them on the Council’s website.

On the conclusion of debate, councillors agreed to the proposals in Cllr McNicol’s Motion.

In 2011 the3towns revealed a Labour councillor had submitted five separate expenses-claims relating to meetings that official documents showed he had not attended.  The information came to light following a Freedom of Information request submitted by the3towns.

Saltcoats & Stevenston Labour councillor Alan Munro subsequently maintained that the five separate occasions on which he made mileage claims in relation to meetings he had not attended were the result of a diary mix-up.

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