Saturday, June 09, 2012

Wirral Council and the Discredited Local Government Ombudsman

Further to my earlier post, Wirral Council: Where was the Local Government Ombudsman?

Recent events have made the Local Government Ombudsman's position even worse.

Frank Field slams Wirral council higways contract ‘incompetence’

WIRRAL council was so incompetent “serious fraud was probably impossible to organise”, an MP claimed today. [my emphasis]

Birkenhead MP Frank Field spoke out following a watchdog’s damning report into the council's actions.

The public interest report by the district auditor looked into a multi-million pound highways contract which the council signed to save money.

It found the council was unable to show the contract actually provided value for money and also criticised the council’s technical services director David Green for meeting the winning contractor and then failing to fully declare an interest. Mr Green was suspended earlier this year while the auditor finished his report.

Mr Field, who asked the Audit Commission to investigate after being contacted by council whistleblowers, said: “I had come to believe the administration of the council was merely broken-backed. I was clearly far too optimistic.”

My comment: Good job he didn't ask the discredited Local Government Ombudsman to investigate for if he had they would have just buried the problem for Wirral Council as they have with many other of their wrongdoings over the years.

Read the full story from the source Liverpool Daily Post

Council director 'probably broke EU rules' over multi-million pound highways contract

A SENIOR Wirral Council officer met a private contractor months before his firm was awarded work with the local authority worth tens of millions of pounds.

An astonishing report published today by the Audit Commission concludes that David Green, the council's currently suspended Director of Technical Services, “probably” broke European Union Treaty rules by meeting with the company representative – and by further then failing to declare an interest when the contract was awarded.

It is the second time in six months the council has been seriously rebuked for failings in its corporate governance.

Last year independent consultant Anna Klonowski found that in Wirral, practices which would be viewed as abnormal in most other local authorities "had become seen as commonplace”. [my emphasis]

My comment: Over the previous six years the Local Government Ombudsman only ever found Wirral Council guilty of maladministration twice.  Yet in six months two other bodies not only find significant wrongdoing they also report abnormal practices. All going on over the six years the LGO was issuing glowing annual reports about Wirral Council.

Read the full story from the Wirral Globe

Wirral Council is going back to old ways

Many vulnerable people became casualties and had their lives devastated by the terrible happenings that took place that were ignored initially but then highlighted in the detailed AKA report. [my emphasis]

My comment: What would have happened if any of these vulnerable people had complained to the Local Government Ombudsman? Well if the Ombudsman's track record is anything to go by they would have been dismissed out of hand after a quick telephone call with the council.

Read the full letter from the source Wirral Globe

More background blog posts about Wirral Council here

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