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Council defends secrecy after daily refused access to illegal spending report

A council leader has dismissed a regional daily’s front page plea to make details of illegal spending public.

Nottingham City Council leader David Mellen has claimed “not all reports are meant for everybody to see” after the Nottingham Post called for the public release of the report by Ernst & Young.

The review looked into financial controls at Nottingham City Council after the illegal spending of more than £40m, but a decision to keep it secret prompted the Post to launch a campaign for its publication.

The newspaper splashed on its plea on Saturday after a Freedom of Information request by agenda editor Oliver Pridmore was refused by the council.

Notts finance

In an accompanying editorial, Oliver wrote: “In its response on September 7, Nottingham City Council decided that the public interest was outweighed by the ‘harm’ that disclosing the full report would cause.

“We are therefore in a situation in which a taxpayer-funded authority is refusing to publish the full version of a taxpayer-funded report, which could ultimately impact taxpayer-funded services.

“This is only made more farcical by the fact that the Leader of Nottingham City Council, Labour’s Councillor David Mellen, has apparently been unable to see the full report himself. That means that not a single elected member of Nottingham City Council has been allowed access to this crucial document.”

The Post will now be requesting an internal review into the decision not to publish this report.

Defending the decision, Cllr Mellen told the Post: “It’s a technical report commissioned by officers, for officers.

“In all of our worlds, there are reports that are not meant for everybody to see.”