It's Your Right to Know

The Local Government (Accounts & Audit) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006

This statutory instrument gives local taxpayers and electors the same rights to access and copy financial files as the rest of the UK, with one difference.

Local taxpayers and electors in the Province enjoy a right to peruse and copy contracts, bills, receipts, deeds and financial books for 20 days each year.

In England, Wales and Scotland, councils and police authorities choose the dates, but in Northern Ireland the
20 day period is fixed by the external audit service.

Taxpayers and voters have a legal right to question auditors and lodge formal objections to the accounts. It is a
criminal offence for a council to withhold information which should be open to public scrutiny.

Unitary councils in Northern Ireland must
publicise the dates, at least 14 days before the inspection period.

Unlike in the rest of the UK, the province's
policing board is not part of the local government system. The board's annual accounts are subject to a separate legal and auditing procedure, handled by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

For guidance, contact Orchard News Bureau Ltd.