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We have every right, in many cases, to read confidential papers

October 9, 2014 11:26 AM
By Cllr Jack Cohen in Barnet Press

Councillor Jack CohenWHAT confidential papers are Barnet councillors allowed to see?

Well, according to Barnet Council, only those when the councillors "need to know". Even then councillors will be only granted access under strict rules.

The law is quite clear, in my opinion - councillors in many cases do have a right to know and do not have to jump through hoops to prove their need.

Here in Barnet it is being proposed that councillors will, if they prove they need to read confidential information, be summoned to North London Business Park where, under threat of I don't know what and under the close supervision of a very senior officer, be permitted to read but not copy or take away the document in question.

Is this the way to run the council?

Perhaps, if the borough alchemist had discovered the secret of turning metal into gold, then there might be a case for secrecy, but other than that there should be no secrets between officers and councillors.

I strongly believe that councillors should be intrusive, should be checking up and should be holding officers to account.

I said as much at a council meeting. Many councillors came up to me afterwards and confessed they agreed.