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UNION CALLS FOR PRIVATE CONTRACTORS TO BE MORE OPEN TO PUBLIC SCRUTINY

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Unison has called on the government to make the relationship between councils and the growing number of private con...
Unison has called on the government to make the relationship between councils and the growing number of private contractors more open to public scrutiny.
Responding to a proposed review of access to information in local
government, Malcolm Wing, the union's head of local government said:
'In the interests of probity and public accountability, it is important to
put as much information on contracts with the private sector as possible
into the public domain. We are particularly concerned about the over use of
'commercial in-confidence' to hide from view information about contracts.
This is becoming increasingly important as ever more sensitive areas of
public service delivery are being contracted to private providers.
'Private companies bidding for work in the public sector should accept that
they are under stricter requirements in relation to openness than in the
purely private domain. The money being awarded is public money and should
be fully accountable to the public.'
Unison also supports government moves to increase from three to five days
the period in which councils must publish information before decisions are
taken.
Mr Wing added: 'As decision making becomes increasingly complex in local
authorities, with more decisions being made by mayors, individual cabinet
members and cabinet committees, it is very important to increase, rather
than reduce the amount of public information in advance of decisions
actually being taken.
'We also believe that the definition of 'key decisions' should be amended so
that both councillors and the general public can be kept properly informed
of how private companies are delivering services and are held accountable
for them.'
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