A CLACKS councillor said he was "troubled" by the volume of documents being discussed behind closed doors at the local authority.

Last Thursday, February 6, Cllr Dave Clark again raised concerns over the number of so-called blue papers at Clackmannanshire Council, calling on external auditors to examine the issue when they assess transparency.

The Clackmannanshire North representative said he was "troubled" some information cannot be put into the public domain later adding that "it bothers me".

It is not the first time the local Labour leader voiced his concerns, indeed he made similar calls in September last year.

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

A council may require certain information or material to be kept confidential for a variety of reasons, including for data protection, to avoid its work being undermined, commercial reasons, because information is covered by legal privilege or where an obligation of confidence exists.

It was previously highlighted in the Kilncraigs chamber that councillors could vote to go public with a document deemed exempt by staff by raising a motion before the paper is called.

However, it is understood the issue goes beyond the documents that are tabled for committees and full council meetings.

Elected members regularly ask questions from officers, relating to upcoming papers or as part of their own scrutiny work, outside of the chamber and may get replies that indicate the information is "confidential".

That means they are not allowed to share their findings widely.

The issue is not necessarily that a specific bit of information should not be made public, but that it is bundled together with details that may be in the public interest and the "confidential" label may apply to it all.

However, advice sought by the Advertiser from the Standards Commission indicated that elected representatives can ask whether just certain parts of their correspondence could be disclosed if they do not consider it confidential.

It is also understood a councillor is able to ask an officer whether information can be disclosed and in some cases, this could be a matter of timing.

Ultimately, the Code of Conduct for Councillors makes clear: "Legislation gives you certain rights to obtain information not otherwise available to the public and you are entitled to exercise these rights where the information is necessary to carry out council duties.

"Such information is, however, for your individual use as a councillor and must not be disclosed or in anyway used for personal or party political advantage or in such a way as to discredit the council.

"This will also apply in instances where you hold the personal view that such information should be publicly available."