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Sutton opens its books to the armchair auditors 13.09.10

Sutton Council has thrown open its books to allow taxpayers to see exactly how their money is being spent.

Sutton opens its books to the armchair auditors

Every single item costing £500 or more is being published online as part of the administration's promise to get tough on waste and maintain an open relationship with residents.

The council is one of the first in the country to reveal its data to the armchair auditors.

Cllr John Drage, Executive Member for Finance and Efficiency, said: "We have decided to lead from the front because we believe public scrutiny is a fundamental part of working together with the people we serve

"We need to be honest with local people. It is their money and they should see how it is spent - and they may well be able to help us to use it better.

"The bottom line is that transparency helps all of us eliminate waste – because if we can all see it, we can all do something about it."

The list will be published each month, on the council's website in a format that is accessible and machine-readable, allowing residents to read it easily and developers to build applications to help people 'interrogate' the information.

Councils in England are being urged to publish details of spending above £500 as part of a government "revolution" in transparency, although it looks unlikely that they will be forced by law to open their books.

However, Sutton, one of the Government's Big Society test bed areas, has made the move months ahead of other authorities.

Cllr Drage said: "We're doing this enthusiastically not grudgingly. The Big Society is all about putting more information and decision-making in the hands of local people. People want detail and power not warm words and fluff.

"It's also about a culture change here at the council. Everyone will be given another reason to think twice about spending money unnecessarily. We want to be champions of openness and transparency in order to deliver value for money for our residents."

You can view the information here titled "Payments to suppliers" http://www.sutton.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=10079&cur=2

Last updated: Monday, 11 October 2010

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