THE outside business dealings of senior town hall staff could soon be made public after Bolton Council was issued a High Court threat by the country’s information boss.

The threat comes after transparency campaigner John Greenwood asked for details held on the council’s register of interests in a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

When the council refused, Mr Greenwood, from Breightmet, reported the council to the government’s Information Commissioner.

The commissioner has now ruled that the details of the register of interests should be released. The register records the name of council officers and any personal interests they have, such as ownership of property, family associations, business interests, shareholdings and membership of organisations that may conflict with their decision-making role.

Mr Greenwood said: “This is a major victory for the public and those wanting open, transparent governance over Bolton Council who sought to keep the status quo of secrecy.”

As part of the decision notice issued to Bolton Council, the commissioner acknowledged that releasing some of this information would intrude into their private lives and may cause them distress.

He also found, however, there was a case for disclosing it in the public interest because the officers are responsible for decisions that affect the local community and involve spending public money.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has also released guidance that could open the floodgates for similar requests to other authorities across the country.

Bolton Council has been given 35 days to release the information or risk being reported to the High Court.

A spokesman for the authority said the council is seeking advice with a view to appealing the matter.