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