Long: Unionists and Nationalists hiding over transparency

Councillor Michael Long has asked what Unionists and Nationalists on Belfast City Council have to hide, after they sought to put Alliance plans to increase transparency on the Council on hold.

Alliance brought forward plans for all Committee meetings to be audio recorded once the new shadow Council comes into effect next year, however Unionists and Nationalists on the shadow Strategic, Policy and Resource Committee opposed the proposal which would have had a start up cost of only £500.

Councillor Michael Long: “Alliance is on record as the Party for openness and transparency, yet consistently others have blocked attempts for the public to have full access to decisions made at all levels of government.

“The DUP in particular has a long history of fighting against openness and transparency, so it is little surprise they have been so lukewarm in wanting to open up Council committee meetings further to the general public.

“Having sat through the Committee meeting, I am still unsure what the real reason for the other parties wanting to put our proposal on hold is and I am particularly concerned at the apparent opposition to the new planning and licensing committees being recorded. Many people are already concerned about the transfer of planning powers to Councillors and I think it is vital that there is as much openness and transparency as possible on these committees in particular.

“I must question what they are trying to hide? The public deserve the right to have full access to decisions made by their public representatives and given that the installation of the audio recording equipment will only cost £500 per year with an additional £50 for annual maintenance, one could hardly argue that cost is the barrier.”

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