CONCERNS have been raised over the number of council papers being discussed behind closed doors at Kilncraigs.

Issues around transparency were highlighted by Councillor Dave Clark last week in relation to documents exempt from the public eye at Clackmannanshire Council.

Staff from the Audit Commission presented their findings for the year at the Audit Committee on Thursday, September 26.

Cllr Clark, who chaired the meeting, said he was "troubled" by the volume of so-called blue papers being submitted.

The independent auditor suggested next year's work could include examining documents deemed exempt, but gave no hard commitment.

He added: "We'd intend to look at the pattern of use."

Under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973, local authorities may exclude the public and press from sitting in on certain parts of meetings.

Usually, this would be done to protect sensitive information, often relating to businesses, particular contracts or details of individuals, as set out in the legislation.

When this policy is employed, the related documents are not made available for public view.

At last week's meeting, the council's legal expert told the chamber that marking documents as exempt is based on officers' judgement and the statutory framework has to be applied.

However, she highlighted that it was then up to councillors to go public with a document if they wished to do so by raising a motion before the matter is called.

The audit of annual accounts by the commission, the paper being debated when Cllr Clark raised the issue, said: "Openness and transparency supports understanding and scrutiny.

"There are increasing public expectations for more openness and transparency as citizens want to understand how public money is used.

"A transparent organisation shows the basis for its decisions and shares information about how it is using its resources such as money, people and assets.

"Overall, the council conducts its business in an open and transparent manner.

"Members of the public can attend council and committee meetings.

"Minutes of these committee meetings and supporting papers are available on the council's website.

"The website also provides public access to a wide range of information including registers of members' interests, current consultations and surveys, and how to make a complaint."