Council criticised over capital spending data
Caerphilly Council has been criticised for being unable to provide a ward-by-ward breakdown of capital spending in the county borough.
In response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request seeking the data, the council said it doesn’t have that information and it is too costly to provide a record of capital spending at ward level.
Councillor Lindsay Whittle, leader of the opposition Plaid Cymru group, described the revelation as unacceptable and said councillors need to be better informed of spending in their wards.
Plaid Cymru submitted the FOI request for capital spending over the last five years in seven wards initially – Penyrheol, Trecenydd and Energlyn, Aber Valley, Llanbradach, Hengoed, Ystrad Mynach, St Cattwg, and St Martin’s.
To provide a breakdown. the council said it would involve looking at 70,500 transactions and that would prove too costly under financial limits set for the FOI Act.
Councillor Lindsay Whittle said: “I’m very surprised that ward level data is not kept on capital spending. I find that unacceptable.
“Councillors from all parties clearly need to be better informed so they can gauge better where the council is spending the public’s money.
“Surely there is a computer programme available in 2022 that would make this type of information easily accessible.”
Fellow Plaid Cymru councillor Greg Ead added: “I find it staggering that Caerphilly CBC is saying it will take so long to identify this information.
“Anyone who has half- decent competency with Excel should be able to analyse expenditure across a range of factors including wards. Are they seriously saying that they are unable to do this, or are they just unwilling?”
In response to the FIO, the councils said: “Under the Freedom of Information Act, we a have a duty to provide advice and assistance to help you narrow, reform or refocus your request so that the cost of complying with it falls below the appropriate limit of £450.
“Unfortunately, on this occasion, the ward level data is not separately held and would require the examination and extraction from over 70,500 transactions, therefore we are unable provide the detail requested without exceeding the appropriate fees limit.
“Over the last five financial years, there have been an average of 14,100 transactions per annum.”
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