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Council defends disclosing waste accounts

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Nottinghamshire County Council has been criticised for making accounts relating to a £850m waste management contract open to public inspection.

The local authority is in court as part of a judicial review hearing prompted by French-owned multi-national waste company Veolia, which complained that disclosing details of its contract with the council breached confidentiality.

The council said that it was following the letter of the law by making “all books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts relating to them” open, including the commercial details of its £850m contract with Veolia.

But Veolia complained to the High Court that it had gone too far.

It claimed that the disclosure of invoices indicating how much it charged for its services breached the firm’s right to confidentiality and seriously damaged its ability to compete with other contractors.

The company has asked Mr Justice Cranston to quash the council’s decision to disclose such information to local resident Shlomo Dowen, of the action group People Against Incineration.

Veolia added that it does not object to disclosure to Mr Dowen and other interested persons so long as it does not include commercially-confidential information.

However, the council argues that it is required to do so by the 1988 Audit Commission Act, which gives local government electors the right to object to items in their authority’s accounts.

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