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Council again withholds secret report despite LDRS appeal

A city council is continuing to withold a secret report into its finances despite an appeal by local democracy reporters.

As previously reported on HTFP, Nottingham City Council has refused to make public a report by accountants Ernst & Young into up to £40m of illegal spending.

In September, the Local Democracy Reporting Service appealed against the council’s decision to refused a freedom of information request it had originally submitted In July.

Now, following the appeal and an internal review, the council has upheld the decision to withold the information.

A previous report on the council secrecy issue in the Nottingham Post

A previous report on the council secrecy issue in the Nottingham Post

Senior Information Officer David Brewster said in the response: “Disclosure of this report undermines ongoing remediation work around Financial Controls across the whole council, and the delivery of good governance which is counter to any public interest in disclosure.

“It is felt disclosure would be likely to be detrimental to this remediation process.

“There is a strong public interest in ensuring that the quality and frankness of this remediation process is not harmed by the disclosure of the report in relation to a confidential process.

“The public interest clearly lies in protecting the ability of senior officers and commissioned parties to carry out and maintain the confidentiality of this process.

“It is the opinion of the council that there is no compelling public interest in overriding this confidentiality.

“It is therefore believed disclosure of this report would have a significant disruptive effect; it would divert limited resources in the council to manage the effect of disclosure and future disclosures of confidential reports.”

According to a report on the Notts TV website, the Local Democracy Reporting Service will now be appealing the decision with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Cllr Kevin Clarke, the leader of the Nottingham Independents and Independent opposition group, said: “We fully support it being taken to the ICO. At the end of the day we live in a democratic country and it is taxpayers’ money that has paid for this investigation.”