Monday, 28 June 2010

Letting people have information

I was at Overview and Scrutiny Committee this evening pushing for more citizen access to information.

Before the election I asked for some research about how easy it is for a member of the public to find and read agendas and minutes for meetings run by organisations like the Waste Disposal Authority, the City Region Cabinet and MITA (Merseytravel).
Remember these are bodies which discuss and made decisions about public money and services.

We found that in some cases there was literally nothing that could be found easily.

Now that can't be right. The default position should be that these documents are easily accessible. Non availability should be the exception (and there will be times when that has to happen).

So this evening we were discussing a motion which was basically about doing a bit more research and then lobbying for more transparency.

We agreed that the research would happen, although I have to say I was not impressed that it seemed to take me some effort to convince people of this basic democratic point.

Of course it might be that no one is interested in going on line and reading about MITA's Rail Committee or the Fire Authority's community safety committee. But that is not an argument against. The information should be available for those times when someone does want to look.

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