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Pickles: Publish councillors' voting records online

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Communities secretary Eric Pickles has said there is a “strong case” for individual councillors’ voting records to be published online, after research revealed just 22% of authorities had a record of how members had voted on council tax.

The research, by the pressure group Conservative Way Forward, found 67% of local authorities were unable to say how individual councillors had voted on setting council tax levels. This was because votes had been taken verbally or by hand.  

In response Mr Pickles said MPs’ individual voting records were published online, adding: “There is a strong case for the same degree of local accountability over changes to council tax bills.”

Conservative Way Forward used the Freedom of Information Act to ask 340 councils which of their elected members voted for and against the authority’s council tax policy for 2013-14 and which members abstained.

Only 22% were able to say which way individual councillors had voted. Eleven per cent did not reply to the FOI request.

The group’s executive director Paul Osborn said the findings revealed a “severe democratic deficit”.

“If members of the public cannot even find out how their own councillors voted in setting the council tax, there is little wonder why disillusionment for politics in this country is at an all-time high,” he said.

“We believe key votes such as setting of the council tax should be recorded and made accessible to voters on the council’s website.

“With a large number of councils ignoring the government’s efforts to freeze council tax and many dodging a local referendum, this will help ensure those who take public office remain accountable to the electorate for their actions.”

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