Transparency and the willingness to be completely open with you the residents of our district, is a state of mind, I believe. And the current elected mindset who control Folkestone & Hythe District Council needs to change, because it is neither willing or transparent.
Transparency is the foundation of local accountability and the key that gives you the residents of our fantastic district the tools and information you need to enable you to play a bigger role in our district. I want to give you as much data as is possible to allow you to better understand what it is the council does, how it spends its money, on what, and why, if elected on May 2nd.
Our Tory led Council for the last 20 years have not been transparent with you, the residents, of our district that we have had the Highest Council Tax rates in Kent for the last sixteen years, according to the Ministry of Housing Community and Local Government.
commercial confidentiality should not, in itself, be a reason for the Council to refuse to publish the data/information, nor should embarrassment.
Our Council has hidden information from you, such as the overcharging by P & R on the central heating, gas and hot water repair contract. The overcharging was between £1 – £1.5 million pounds and our Council and the other 3 Councils who were part of the Contract have desperately tried to hide this fact from you the public.
If any Cllr sits on an outside body, the agenda and minutes of those meetings ought to be published on the Council’s website. There are a lot of local quango’s who make many decisions behind closed doors which affect residents of the district and which you ought to know about.
Our Council should not be of the mindset where they see it as “taking a hit” in terms of the challenges they face when publishing information. This mentality is evident as they now publish Cllrs Allowances yearly instead of monthly. It is evident by the position they took when the £320 lunch was revealed. They were very defensive and bunker minded. I would if elected revert back to monthly data and publish such lunch data – not that eating out would happen very often. It would help with Transparency, yes the Council might ‘take a hit’ but by being consistently open, I believe we can win the trust of you the residents.
The culture of the elected officials needs to change and the emotional hurdle the incumbent Tories have with Transparency needs to change too, as would it for any new parties who enter the Council chamber on May 2nd 2019.
Cllrs should not be allowed to hide their offshore accounts. Current Folkestone & Hythe District Council Cabinet sources are fearful that if it becomes widely know that David Monk and his Deputy both have offshore accounts, the sky will fall in. This is not illegal, but it doesn’t help with Transparency.
The Council’s income and expenditure in 2017/18 was approximately £100 million pounds. It’s necessary to be asked by you the public, ‘Why are you spending all this money?’ and then demonstrate why, as when you get stuck into the details it proves and shows that it is justifiable and proportionate. The positive gain to the Council is that by going further than required by the Transparency Code 2015, most journalists, bloggers and residents will I believe give credit to the council for showing self-confidence, openness and transparency.
Folkestone & Hythe District Council should aim to be as transparent as the US government site USASpending.gov. However, that in itself is not enough. I would encourage the Council if elected to analyze the data and set it out in useful ways making it relevant and understandable to you the residents of the district. Other councils are already doing this. Here’s a wonderful example of how data can be used by the late great Hans Rosling
I would ask our Council to consider a new initiative posting analytics and visualization to help inspire researchers, data scientists and members of the public to understand what this data is and to offer suggestion on how it might be used. At present it analysis could be applied to parking, planning, environmental health, housing and much much more.
The use of data in the 21st century is becoming ever more important and is driving improved decision making, this is relevant to the Council, Councillors and you the residents. We should no longer have a bunker mentality towards transparency. Instead we should embrace the fact that sunlight is the best disinfectant and by doing so unleash the power of data because it has the power to transform all our lives for the better and improve trust and transparency.
Vote Bryan Rylands
Folkestone Central Ward – May 2nd 2019
I accept postal votes
Published by Bryan Rylands Avenay Court Sandgate Rd Folkestone CT20 2LN