28 Oct 2011

Wirral Council in turmoil

What on earth is going on at Labour run Wirral Council?

Over the past few weeks Wirral Council has been rocked by a series of scandals which point to serious incompetence and waste of taxpayers’ money. To cap it all, the local MP has now called in the Serious Fraud Office amid allegations of serious malpractice.

First, we had an independent review into how Wirral Council is managed. This is a truly shocking exposure of incompetence and mismanagement. I would urge you to read the brief summary which, as the Wirral Globe put it, revealed a devastating catalogue of failures by Wirral Council and claimed the authority was in the grip of a corrosive and inward-looking culture where the needs and rights of residents had become submerged under its “bureaucratic machinations.”

The report really confirms what many people have said for many years, that Wirral Council is hopelessly mismanaged and does not serve its local residents well. Of particular concern to all council tax payers will be that Wirral Council’s failures include:

·        being unable to understand and implement fees and charges properly

·        not being able to commission, manage and, where necessary, dismiss failing contractors and suppliers  

…in other words, wasting taxpayers’ money

It is very important to remember that for 24 of the past 25 years Wirral has been a council led by the Labour Party. It is surely no coincidence that this report was commissioned during that one brief period when Labour was not in control.

You would therefore expect that Labour would do the decent thing, that its leader would step down and an inclusive response to what is clearly a major crisis would be implemented.

But, that would be expecting Labour to put Wirral people first.

Instead, Labour has set up what is cheerfully called a “turnaround team” consisting of, you guessed it, Labour councillors.

So, Labour’s response to a damning report on the management of a Labour run authority is to set up a crack response unit run by, eh, the Labour Party.

But, it doesn’t end there….

On September 30th we learned that the district auditor has questioned whether Wirral Council has “proper arrangements to secure value for money in its use of resources.”

The criticisms relate to the outsourcing of a multi-million pound highways contract which could have left the council facing “substantial damages”. The auditor’s report concludes that Wirral Council is unable to determine whether it is receiving value for money.

In other words, Wirral Council is failing in its basic duty to manage our money effectively. It is yet another confirmation that Wirral residents are being comprehensively failed by a delusional political elite.

But it doesn’t end there either….

Following the district auditor’s report, a group of council employees approached local MP Frank Field with serious claims relating to the council’s handling of the highways contract referred to in the auditor’s report.

As a result of their approach, the Serious Fraud Office has been asked to investigate whether the council is guilty of malpractice in signing this contract.

It is, perhaps, instructive in my view that council employees approached their MP rather than the local councillors who are directly responsible for how Wirral runs its affairs.

A very rotten borough

It is very clear that Wirral Council needs to change and change quickly. Unfortunately, the same people who presided over such a rotten borough are still in charge. The Labour Party has let down the people of Wirral. At a time when local government is under attack from savage government cuts, we simply cannot trust Labour to provide the leadership we need.

As if to confirm this, today’s Daily Post carries the headline “Wirral Council predicts budget deficit to rise to £100m.

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