March 12, 2009

Demand to know Ian Miller's pay-off

I'm sure we were all disgusted last year when Denbighshire County Council refused to reveal the size of former Chief Executive Ian Miller's pay-off. They even turned down a Freedom of Information Act request to release the information. Well, enough's enough. Not ever one to leave a stone unturned, or shy away from a challenge, I am bringing this issue to the fore again.

As Liberal Democrats, we got involved in politics to help work towards a fairer and more transparent kind of politics in Britain, for all people. It is simply unacceptable for publicly-elected, taxpayer-funded organisations to reward failure with generous golden goodbyes. It is in the public's interest to know exactly how our taxpayer money is spent. I doubt you would find many people who'd disagree, and therefore it must surely be deemed to be in the 'public interest'.

As such, I am writing another Freedom of Information request to Denbighshire CC, asking for the release of aforementioned information. And I'll keep asking for it and using every possible resource, including the Information Commissioner, until we find out.

Read below the letter I have sent to Denbighshire CC. Please feel free to comment on the issue using the 'Comments' link below. Do you agree or disagree with the Liberal Democrats in calling for this information to be released?

"I am writing with reference to the resignation of Denbighshire CC Chief Exec Ian Miller last year. I understand that a Freedom of Information Act request has already been turned down by the council.
However, I find this very unacceptable and demand to know the size of the pay-off Ian Miller was given after his departure. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 was introduced to allow the public to gain access to information which is deemed to be in the public interest. As a public authority, which is held accountable for its actions by the court of public opinion, it is very much in the public's interest to know exactly where every pound of tax payer's money is being spent and whether it is being spent appropriately.
A transparent and open public body should be exactly that; transparent and open. If the recent case of Sir Fred Goodwin and his handsome pension pay-off proves anything, it is that the public will not tolerate generous rewards for failure and a total lack of transparency in their publicly-funded organisations.
It is not acceptable to diminish the request by saying, as a spokesperson for Denbighshire CC said quite contrarily to the Daily Post, that it was not in the public interest to reveal the information which was being requested “merely out of public curiosity”. Please would you define the difference between public interest and public curiosity? Surely they are one and the same. And surely, it is in the public interest to know how much of their precious council tax is being spent on paying-off failed chief execs.
So I urge you to come clean over this now and get it done with; if this request is turned down this time, I will be referring it to the Information Commissioner to see what they have to say on the matter."
If you're not really sure what this is about, read here for some background.

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