Conservative-run Trafford Council is now publishing details of expenses claimed by Trafford Councillors online, with claim forms now available for the public to see on the Council website.
The information for each member who has made a claim will be provided from 1st April 2010 and will be updated each month.
As well as member's expenses, details of spending with the Council's various suppliers are also provided online. The aim is to make Council spending more transparent so residents can see where public money is being spent. The first report is for April – June 2010 and will be updated each quarter.
These changes to expenditure details online come as the Council is named as one of only ten of 434 authorities described as having 'truly open' data on OpenlyLocal.com's Open Data Scorecard. Openly Local is described as a place to access data about the workings of your local council. The key is to put that information into a structured form, so it can be reused for things like comparative analysis."
Trafford is making data, which is not about individuals or identifies any person, available under a licence with no restrictions on its use. The idea is that the information is more freely available, reducing the need to contact the Council to request specific, detailed information. Data is formatted so it can be identified by its technical structure and meaning, making it possible for automated collection for re-publishing and linking with other data.
The information can then be used by other programmes to create applications for simpler sharing and comparison, for example election results can be automatically be downloaded into another programme and displayed online, such as a news website, next to other authorities' results.
Examples of 'open data' that the Council has made available include election results and the location of Council maintained trees in the Borough.
Leader of Trafford Council, Cllr Matt Colledge, says:
"It is important that residents and businesses can understand where money is being spent and what on as it is their taxes that pay for the majority of the services we provide.
"We are the first council in Greater Manchester to publish this amount of detail of our expenditure and one of the first in the country to do so. By being transparent about members expenses residents will be able to see that the councillors they have elected are working hard for residents and delivering value for money."
"We are committed to using technology to increase our transparency which is why we have signed up to the open data scheme as is important for us to make our information available for people in a useable form."