CHALLENGE CONTINUES TO COUNCIL SECRECY OVER NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR APPOINTMENT

November 14, 2008 11:12 AM

A Freedom of Information Act request to establish the facts behind the appointment of Sir David Pepper as non-executive Director of Gloucestershire County Council has been refused.

No details of the amount of public money being spent on the appointment are being released. No details of the job description or responsibilities of the new Director will be released to elected councillors nor to the public.

An appeal against the refusal is being made by Liberal Democrat councillors to the Information Commissioner's Office which has legal responsibility for ensuring no maladministration has taken place.

A motion to next week's Full Council meeting calls for the Conservative administration in charge at Shire Hall to reveal the truth about the appointment to people in Gloucestershire.

Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Liberal Democrat leader, said: "The continued secrecy over this appointment by the Conservative administration is now raising questions over what they are trying to hide from taxpayers in Gloucestershire. Again and again the administration is refusing to give any details of the amount of public money this appointment is costing taxpayers. People elect their local councillors to make sure the council spends their money wisely. The extent of the powers of this new appointment is being kept secret and no questions about the work of this new Director will be allowed."

The council's announcement of a non-executive director for the council is an experiment not tried before in local councils. The expenditure of public money by the council on this appointment comes at a time of increasing financial problems for the council and the recent problems over council investments.

Cllr Ceri Jones, Liberal Democrat member of the Constitution Committee added: "There is great concern this appointment breached the council's constitution as no elected councillors were even allowed to ask questions or review the appointment. The all-party appointments committee was not involved and no details of any contract to secure the Director position have been published. Such secrecy is an insult to elected councillors and more importantly to the people we represent."