Posted by: John Brace | December 26, 2013

Cllr Williams “lack of personal accountability for the numerous errors of judgement made by officers & councillors”


Cllr Williams “lack of personal accountability for the numerous errors of judgement made by officers & councillors”

                   

Near the end of the last Council meeting, after most people in the public gallery had left, Council decided to remove the guillotine (had they not done so it would’ve meant going straight to a vote on the motion and amendment without any speeches) for the movers and seconders of the motion on the Improvement Board and the movers and seconders of the amendment on that motion. If you’re not familiar with the conventions of how politicians are referred to in the language of Wirral Council just substitute Members in her speech for councillors.

Cllr Pat Williams (as the seconder of the Lib Dem amendment) made a speech on Wirral Council’s “improvement journey” (a phrase I dislike but couldn’t think of anything better) which can be heard starting at 3:58 on the video clip above.

Cllr Pat Williams (Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group): Thank you Mr. Mayor. I know it’s the spirit of peace and goodwill but in my opinion the Notice of Motion is too congratulatory and ignores the views expressed at the public meeting on the Improvement Board.

Quite clearly there are still unresolved issues of ongoing concern to the public. There is also a lack of personal accountability for the numerous errors of judgement made by officers and councillors during the period which led to the involvement of the Improvement Board.

To be proud of the quickness of the improvement of any Council in the country is seen as a badge of honour. The fact that this Council was in such a dreadful situation that there was a need for the Improvement Board’s involvement seems to be just accepted without any humility or shame.

Of course any improvement is welcome and to be fair to certain people and Members of the Council, particularly newer Members I don’t doubt their sincerity in wishing that Council becomes an outstanding Council.

However some longer established councillors are going to take some time to be convinced that Wirral Council is on the right track and is going to be willing to keep on the right track and that lessons have been learned by those who got us into the mess in the first place.

Labour encouraged Members to fully engage in the policy and performance committees and visioning events. The committees I believe in part are too big, particularly the Family and Wellbeing Committee and have far to wide an area of responsibility to allow full engagement in monitoring what is going on in various service areas.

The scrutiny reviews which are going to be undertaken have been interesting and very worthwhile. Hopefully they will influence future policy making. However to be done properly, they are very time consuming. In the meantime the ongoing work of the Council is not in my opinion being properly monitored.

The need for much more improvement is necessary. It must not be forgotten that Council exists to serve the people of Wirral. It is so easy to get bogged down in policies and procedures, but if they are not in the best interests of the people that they represent they are not worth the paper they are written on.

And of course Mr. Mayor, we must always consider the well being of staff and ensure that they are treated fairly through this period of ongoing change so that we can all work together to everyone’s mutual benefit.

I would say to the Administration “Good try, but could do better” and we’ll look for more improvements for when the Improvement Board come back and see has actually been achieved. Thank you.

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Responses

  1. How true,but unfortunately the Libs Dems are not in control of the Council. So as with everything else it will be ignored by our ‘Dear Leader’ and his Politburo.

    • With elections in May, ‘Dear Leader’ and Labour won’t want to score own goals by giving the people of Wirral the impression that either of the opposition parties represent the public’s interests more than that of Labour.

      On the Wirral Globe website (although it’s hard to tell whether this will be reflected in the voting in May) and elsewhere online there has been an increase in comments by people from the Wirral who are to put it politely disgruntled with Labour’s running of Wirral Council.

      As the elections are combined with the European elections on the same day, the European campaign adds an extra layer of uncertainty to what the final outcome will be for who has control of Wirral Council from May of next year.

  2. Fully agree with you John in not liking that awful phrase, “Improvement Journey”… so here’s a more accurate substitute:

    “Relentless, ongoing, shameless cover-up”

    • “You might very well think that; I couldn’t possibly comment”

  3. Bravo that the Lady I saw looking over at us in the Improvement Board meeting, has put on record the mood of the public meeting.
    The panel were not heckled but presented with inconvenient facts that took away from their self-congratulatory expressions.

    By God if you appoint a member of the original PIB as Chief Executive you certainly could not admit to failure!! The script wrote itself including impressive journey, fastest improving council(How the **** did they measure that?) , open and transparent. Cllr Williams is correct that more humility is needed from some politicos who formerly presided over the abyss, and now miraculously it seems steer the ship into balmy waters.

    For my part, and my particular case, any Chief Executive and Council Leader that allows the excuses offered in the BIG report to stand cannot be any other than a lightweight. If they are not being deluded by their officers then to let the WBC apologia within Grant Thornton’s report be published I would call them charlatans.

    • The Cabinet Member’s report also contained this paragraph about that meeting.

      “As part of the consultation, Members of the public were invited to provide a comment or raise a question at a public meeting on 15th November. Approximately 35 people attended the public meeting and six Wirral residents submitted questions; in addition the Chair received a letter by hand. The overall tone from the six people submitting questions or comments was to disagree with the review reports findings of considerable improvement in Wirral Council and in the main to ask the Improvement Board to remain.”

      Graham Burgess’ former role on the Improvement Board was as the Chief Executive peer.

      In a hypothetical world where I was in Cllr Phil Davies’ shoes, had I received what I guess is in the BIG and ISUS reports I would’ve immediately referred them both to the Audit and Risk Management Committee to be discussed in public with any officers involved invited along for a grilling.

      However I’m not Cllr Phil Davies, nor am I a councillor. I’m pretty sure when he became Leader he stated at a full Council meeting that he wanted Wirral Council to be more open and transparent (it has been in some ways such as uncollected debts to Social Services and care home payment frauds), but as the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

      • In a hypothetical world where I was in Cllr Phil Davies’ shoes, had I received what I guess is in the BIG and ISUS reports I would’ve immediately referred them both to the Audit and Risk Management Committee to be discussed in public with any officers involved invited along for a grilling.

        John yes that would have been the way forward in mine own opinion. The excuse that publication would compromise criminal proceedings is wearing very thin indeed. The evidence is all documentary, in ledgers and in files. If I see someone smashing a shop window and looting and I know who they are nobody will stop me from announcing to the world that I saw John Adams break and enter. Whether I name names, for example , that the subcontractor who prepared Company 6′s budgets for BIG, was Fieldcrest Limited , Director , Paul Davies aged 59, does not undermine the case for his prosecution if the documentary evidence is plain {which I think is}.He of course has the option of taking me to a civil court for libel which I can defend.

        As far as any case against wirralbiz is concerned I believe that the moment has well passed. Credit checks will reveal that the company is rated credit untrustworthy. The delay caused by WBC in action has infinitely more effect on the recoverability of damages than any naming of persons.

        What motive might there be to make excuses and not act. The uncharitable might surmise that positive action would impel those in the dock to sing like canaries, and bring the whole House of Cards down, Jack of Knaves and Ace of spades alike.

        • Well despite the prospect of criminal proceedings, the Audit and Risk Management Committee had a twenty-two minute discussion over the £45k care home fraud, so if there’s a political will (caused by being embarrassed in the press) then they will do it.

          In the meantime welcome to the way things are done at Wirral Council (with apologies to Lewis Carroll).

          Painting the roses red
          We’re painting the roses red
          We dare not stop
          Or waste a drop
          So let the paint be spread
          We’re painting the roses red
          We’re painting the roses red

          Oh, painting the roses red
          And many a tear we shed
          Because we know
          They’ll cease to grow
          In fact, they’ll soon be dead
          And yet we go ahead
          Painting the roses red

          Painting the roses red
          We’re painting the roses red
          Oh, pardon me
          But Mister Three
          Why must you paint them red?

          *talking*

          Huh? Oh! Well, the fact is, Nigel
          We planted the white roses by mistake
          And…

          *singing*

          The Leader likes ‘em red
          If he saw white instead
          He’d raise a fuss
          And each of us
          Would quickly lose his head
          [Nigel:Goodness!]
          Since this is the part we dread
          We’re painting the roses red

          Painting the roses red
          We’re painting the roses red
          Don’t tell the Leader what you’ve seen
          Or say that’s what we said
          But we’re painting the roses red
          Yes, painting the roses red
          Not pink
          Not green
          Not aquamarine
          We’re painting the roses red!

          • John you are just too clever for me. Thankfully also for them red-rose painters

  4. […] At the last Council meeting last month, Cllr Pat Williams gave a speech (reported in full on this blog) in which she stated “There is also a lack of personal accountability for the numerous errors of judgement made by … […]


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