Council reveals spending details

HARTLEPOOL Mayor Stuart Drummond has welcomed the move for local authorities to be more transparent after the council published figures for all payments of £500 or more.

Every council in the country has been asked by the government to prepare and publish payments to suppliers by the end of this month.

Hartlepool Borough Council has recently uploaded its figures, which are exclusive of VAT, on its website and they reveal the extent of what the authority has to fork out for.

The Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles set the January deadline to publish itemised spending online as part of a transparency drive.

It is a move welcomed by Mayor Drummond, who said the public has a right to know what taxpayers' money is being spent on.

Mayor Drummond said: "I have no problem whatsoever with publishing these costs. This is, after all, public money and the public has a right to know where their money is being spent and what on.

"I am not sure if this is something the council would have done anyway as it is quite time consuming, but there is certainly nothing to hide and I welcome the move.

"There is a perception that all the council does is cut the grass and empty the bins, but these figures show the full range of costs that the council has and hopefully it will help show that council tax payers are getting value for their money.

"These figures will also be useful to councillors because as a cabinet we often deal with quite big numbers when it comes to the budget and making decisions. This may help members see the full breakdown of costs."

The figures cover the three month period between July and September last year and they include gas, water, electricity, telephone, printing and insurance costs.

Vehicle hire, advertising costs, legal and consultant fees are also included in the 160-page document as well as grants given to community groups in Hartlepool, recycling and general maintenance costs.

The figures, which will be published on a quarterly basis, also include costs relating to last summer's Tall Ships Races event, which saw dozens of ships and almost a million people flock to the town.

Everything from hotel fees, catering costs, equipment hire, the cost of fireworks and fees paid to bands that performed at the major maritime event are included.

TO see a full breakdown of the payments visit http://www.hartlepool.gov.uk/downloads/file/6583/council_expenditure_july-sept_2010