ACCOUNTABILITY AND LOCAL AUTHORITY ANNUAL REPORTS: THE CASE OF WELSH DISTRICT COUNCILS

ACCOUNTABILITY AND LOCAL AUTHORITY ANNUAL REPORTS: THE CASE OF WELSH DISTRICT COUNCILS LAW* INTRODUCTION As democratic institutions, it is essential that local authorities are accountable to local citizens for their performance. If service consumers or taxpayers are unhappy with their council’s performance then, in principle, it is possible to seek improvements through the ballot box. Between elections, the public can press their claims in person, through pressure groups or through direct participation in the delivery of services. However, effective accountability in practice is impossible without accurate information on local authority performance. Such information has been described as ‘the life blood of accountability’ (Day and Klein, 1987, p.243). The public cannot make valid judgements on council policies unless information is provided on the quantity, quality and cost of local services. The provision of such information is not, by itself, a sufficient condition for effective accountability which also requires the application of sanctions if performance is poor (Stewart, 1984). However, it is a necessary condition. In the absence of performance data, the concept of accountability and indeed the whole local democratic process is simply a sham. Annual reports are not the only source of performance information. The public may also make judgements on the basis of media coverage of local authorities and http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Financial Accountability & Management Wiley

ACCOUNTABILITY AND LOCAL AUTHORITY ANNUAL REPORTS: THE CASE OF WELSH DISTRICT COUNCILS

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1991 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0267-4424
eISSN
1468-0408
DOI
10.1111/j.1468-0408.1991.tb00349.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

LAW* INTRODUCTION As democratic institutions, it is essential that local authorities are accountable to local citizens for their performance. If service consumers or taxpayers are unhappy with their council’s performance then, in principle, it is possible to seek improvements through the ballot box. Between elections, the public can press their claims in person, through pressure groups or through direct participation in the delivery of services. However, effective accountability in practice is impossible without accurate information on local authority performance. Such information has been described as ‘the life blood of accountability’ (Day and Klein, 1987, p.243). The public cannot make valid judgements on council policies unless information is provided on the quantity, quality and cost of local services. The provision of such information is not, by itself, a sufficient condition for effective accountability which also requires the application of sanctions if performance is poor (Stewart, 1984). However, it is a necessary condition. In the absence of performance data, the concept of accountability and indeed the whole local democratic process is simply a sham. Annual reports are not the only source of performance information. The public may also make judgements on the basis of media coverage of local authorities and

Journal

Financial Accountability & ManagementWiley

Published: Sep 1, 1991

References

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