Bristol Green Capital claims rebuffed over spending transparency

A composite image of Stephen Williams and the Clifton Suspension Bridge Image copyright Stephen Williams/Jon Craig
Image caption Stephen Williams claims the council has hidden its spending behind a "faceless and unaccountable private company"

A former MP's claims that Bristol City Council is "hiding" how it spent £8m of taxpayers money on being Green Capital have been rebuffed as "misinformed".

In an open letter, Stephen Williams warned some would claim the cash was "frittered away" on talking shops, art projects and mutual back slapping.

The council denied the claims saying the Green Capital Project had been through the scrutiny process 11 times.

Bristol was awarded the status of European Green Capital for 2015.

'Full transparency'

The city was given £7m from the government to support its ambitions for the year, with an additional £1m given by the city council and £745,000 from Arts Council England, according to city director for the authority, Nicola Yates.

A limited company called Bristol 2015 was created and contracted to the council to manage events and activities during the year.

But Mr Williams, the Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West from 2005 until 2015, claimed the council was attempting to "hide behind the faceless and unaccountable private company".

"Key to any appraisal of the year will be full transparency of the amounts of public money spent during the year," he wrote.

Ms Yates wrote a lengthy reply saying she believed he had been "somewhat misinformed regarding transparency".

"Since the money was awarded... it has consistently been reported to the council's audit committee to ensure proper scrutiny of the spending of public funds," she said.

The council could not produce a line by line budget as it did not hold that level of detail for any of its' suppliers of goods and services, she added.

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