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Council remove ‘open and transparent’ payment publication scheme

A publication scheme that Wrexham Council said formed ‘part of the councils commitment to be open and transparent with its residents’ has been pulled.

Wrexham Council has long published quarterly data dumps of all payments it has made over the value of £500.

This associated webpage has disappeared from the Council’s website, along with the year by year archives of financial information.

We asked Wrexham Council about the disappearance, and they noted there is no requirement to do so in Wales, however travel just over five miles east of the Guildhall similar data is still available in England.

Wrexham Council told us, “There is no requirement in Wales to publish/provide this information and it has been removed from the website.

“The GDPR legislation has significantly increased the risks of publishing such detailed information.”

The information generally gave the supplier name, the amount of the invoice and the reason for the invoice in general and sometimes indecipherable terms.

Wrexham Council are not adverse to openness with a little more effort, reminding you all: “There are opportunities to examine the 2018/19 accounts during the inspection period.”

The window to inspect such documents is open from yesterday and Friday 5th July (9:30am to 4:15pm), and the documents must involve the accounting year up to the 31st of March 2019.

This could include contracts signed by Wrexham Council last year, or that are active during that period. Councillor and Officer expenses forms, including the receipts, are also open for inspection. Deeds of property owned by Wrexham Council, and if there are active leases they are also open to viewing, plus receipts for land sold.

Previously we have exercised this right, looking at how much it cost to change a lightbulb in the markets, discovering the details of how Wrexham Council still had a connection to Eagles Meadow car parks via their lease, and of course which Councillor claimed £1.35 mileage to attend Remembrance Day.

The process is straightforward, you contact Wrexham Council’s Head of Finance (contact details here) noting which documents you wish to inspect, and arrangements and appointments are then made.

Another route for information is via FOI, with the council noting in terms of the £500 payment information, “In addition, the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act are also available.

The removal also means some old FOI’s could need to be re-asked as the answer was often ‘check the website’.

 



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