Council was among last to publish spend details

EASTBOURNE was among the last seven councils in the country to comply with a ministerial demand to publish details of all items of spending of more than £500.

The government’s Communities and Local Government minister Eric Pickles last year called on councils to provide financial transparency by publishing spending information over £500 online by January 2011 and neighbours Wealden, Hastings and East Sussex councils all put their expenditure online and backdated it to the start of the financial year.

But it was only when Eastbourne Borough Council was shamed for not complying with Mr Pickle’s demand on a BBC website this week that the authority revealed the figures for January and they went online Wednesday lunchtime.

The council however says it has done nothing wrong and only received the draft guidance from the government this week and has fully complied with it.

A spokesperson for the council said, “The publication of all council expenditure above £500 was not part of a race to see which local authority could achieve it first.

“Eastbourne Borough Council made it clear the figures would be uploaded to the council website by the end of February 2011 and updated on a monthly basis.

“The information went live on February 9, including spending data for January 2011. This in line with government guidance and something very few other authorities in the UK achieved.

“The council will always support steps to enhance transparency and openness in the delivery of public services and hopes local people will welcome this new area of the website, www.eastbourne.gov.uk/council/data/transparency.”