Armchair auditing and the great town hall transparency swindle.
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MORRISON, J. 2014. Armchair auditing and the great town hall transparency swindle. In Charles, A. The end of journalism 2.0. Oxford: Peter Lang [online], pages 153-170 . Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3726/978-3-0353-0563-0
Britain's coalition government has preached an awful lot about local trans- parency. Within weeks of the Conservatives entering their uneasy alliance with the Liberal Democrats in May 2010, the new administration's Pooterish Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, had already earned a reputation as its most hyperactive minister - firing off a volley of press releases promoting initiatives to make town halls more accountable. English councils would not only need to learn to budget more efficiently (in the face of Whitehall- imposed revenue cuts of up to 40 per cent) but, for the first time, we tax- payers would be able to scrutinise their every invoice (up to a point), by assuming the mantle of 'armchair auditors' as they unleashed exhaustive monthly lists of all items of spending worth £500 and over. Not content with embarrassing spendthrift councils over their ostentatious catering contracts or luxurious office furnishings, Pickles was also quick to announce crackdowns on the more dubious means by which they took spending decisions and made information public.