Remember the furore just before Christmas when it emerged that Leeds City Council was paying lawyers (with public money) to fight a ruling from the Information Commissioner that it had to disclose the names of four councillors who had been summonsed over non-payment of council tax?
The council subsequently backed down, published the names, said sorry and pledged to learn from the sorry saga.
It looks like it has now learnt a lesson. A report published today on the council’s website said the plan is to publish any such names every year.
“In the interests of openness, it is proposed that the Council publishes annually information about elected members who have been issued with a summons for nonpayment. The information would be published following a process that would also recognise elected members rights under the Data Protection Act,” it said.
Councillors will be able to make representations if they believe they’ve got “compelling personal reasons why (the) information should not be published”.
The name of the councillor and the value of council tax owed will be published even when a summons has subsequently been withdrawn after the council tax account has been brought up to date. The councillor’s details will also be published when the summons is issued in joint name(s) with a member of the public.
The list will be published annually on the council’s website around the same time as councillor’s expenses and interests are updated – in July or August.
The report said councillors were being informed of the new procedures. There was no mention of any reaction to the proposals from our elected representatives.