The Restriction of Information

I am a firm believer of ‘Open and Transparency’ in Local Government and have pushed at many doors to make the Council more open and therefore better understood by the people of Cornwall. I blogged a few days ago about an incident at Cornwall Council’s Cabinet where those not on the Cabinet were barred from seeing certain information. This information was in reference to Equal Pay Claims and the Monitoring Officer, who I have great respect for gave advice that because this information was so sensitive it could not be given to those outside the Cabinet.

Ok, I can completely understand his advice, but only to a point. Personally I do not want access to the complete report, as to be honest there is no need. What I should and have been pressing for is a ball park figure of the liabilities that Cornwall Council faces in a worst case scenario. The simple reason is if it is a large amount this could then have an effect on the budget and/or the services we provide. As a back-bencher this information is important and therefore should be provided.

So my best attempts using various bits of legislation have failed. I have though managed to get the answer that any money will be made available from the reserves. My worry is the possible settlement for equal pay claims could be rather large, or otherwise we would have been told.

This whole issue is frustrating not only because I believe we could be facing a rather large settlement, but for me once information has been restricted once, it is very easy to use it again. It is like the thin edge of the wedge.

Lastly, the most worrying aspect of it all is not just the money, but the fact of being an equal opportunity employer is finding itself being taken down this course of action in the first place.

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