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Rutland County Council leader responds to anti-corruption group’s protest

Leader of Rutland County Council, coun Roger Begy

Leader of Rutland County Council, coun Roger Begy

A council leader has responded to a protest by a group calling for greater transparency.

On Monday Rutland county councillors Richard Gale, Dave Richardson and Nick Wainwright stood outside the council offices in Catmose on Monday with a banner that read: “Openness and transparency. What is the council afraid of?”

The councillors are members of the Rutland Anti-Corruption Group and are concerned that questions they have asked about council activity have gone unanswered.

The council is carrying out an investigation into the group at the request of a number of councillors.

Today (Tuesday) leader of the council, coun Roger Begy (Con), said there was “nothing to hide”.

He added: “I find it very difficult to understand how we can be even more open and transparent than via our current constitution.

“We have nearly 90 meetings per year held in public. These vary from monthly full council to fortnightly cabinet to regular scrutiny panels.

“At every one of these there is a standard item that allows questions from councillors. Key decisions are taken at full council and decisions at cabinet can be called in for review.

“Thus this group has had the opportunity to hold both councillors and officers to account in public. That is why we have these opportunities for decisions to be questioned and decided in public.

“I welcome opposition and challenge. We get that from the Independents, from the Liberal Democrats and from the Conservatives if they do not agree.”

Coun Begy said the report into the group’s activities had been commissioned to protect the reputation of the council and its staff. He added: “We want the report to be very clear that there is nothing going on that shouldn’t be going on.” “

Yesterday (Monday) coun Gale (Independent) said: “The members of Rutland County Council’s Rutland Anti-Corruption Group believe there has never been a time as important as now about being open and transparent with the electorate who have all been tightening their belts as money has become scarce.

“In the spirit of openness the group have been asking questions to ensure best practice and good financial reports are being made available to councillors before decisions to spend ratepayer’s money are made.

“Over the last 18 months many questions have been submitted to councillors and council officers.

“However, many of the questions asked remain unanswered and important information is denied to us.”

Coun Gale added that he had asked for time to talk to the council before the investigation into the group was launched, but had been denied the opportunity.

The group is considering making the protest a weekly event.

 

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