Following the online publication of the register of interests, I tabled a written question (as is the protocol) at the EDDC Full Council meeting on Wednesday (22 February), asking when the register of gifts and hospitality would also be published online.

Cllr Ian Thomas, portfolio holder for Corporate Services’ answer stated:  “Effective April 2012”

My verbal supplementary question was:  “How will this be made public?”  Eventually, after talking for a little while about search engines, Cllr Thomas gave me the answer I was waiting for: 

“And there will be a press release.”

There are specific rules on councillors receiving gifts or hospitality from anyone, whether they be developers or residents.  I believe that the rules state that any gifts of a value equivalent to or over £25 must be declared on the register. 

As with the old system for looking at the register of interests, currently residents must make an appointment to view the register of gifts and hospitality.  The news that it will soon be available online is another positive step forward for the council in terms of democracy and transparency.