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Posted by: John Brace | 11th December 2014

7 Wirral Council councillors, 1 appointment to be longlisted & an HR consultant from Penna PLC; what could possibly go wrong?

7 Wirral Council councillors, 1 appointment to be longlisted & an HR consultant from Penna PLC; what could possibly go wrong?

                                                 

Employment and Appointments Panel (Head of Specialist Services) Wirral Council 10th December 2014 Chris Hyams explains the purpose of the meeting

Employment and Appointments Panel (Head of Specialist Services) Wirral Council 10th December 2014 Chris Hyams explains the purpose of the meeting

What I’m writing today is an insight into how Wirral Council rushes decisions, it doesn’t seem to follow proper decision-making processes, gets itself in a pickle and how it can bungle even something simple like deciding on a long list based on applications for a senior post at Wirral Council.

First you need to know a bit of background to this story. The current postholder with the title of Head of Specialist Services Emma Taylor (which is in the Families and Wellbeing Directorate) gave Wirral Council her three months notice two and half months ago and leaves at the end of this year. Due to her being one of the senior managers at Wirral Council it is politicians (not officers) that choose her replacement.

On 27th October 2014 the Employment and Appointments Committee (made up of Wirral Council councillors) met, decided on a panel to decide of 4 Labour councillors, 2 Conservative councillors and 1 Lib Dem councillor, the job description/person specification, terms of reference of the panel, to appoint Penna PLC as recruitment consultants (who get paid £15,000 for this recruitment) and also on the process and timescales.

The job was then advertised, applications were sought (which went to Penna PLC) and the closing date for applications was 5th December 2014. Below is a screenshot of the page on Penna’s website for it (currently here but as applications have closed this link may not work for long):

screenshot Lead Wirral website taken on 11th December 2014 Wirral Council Head of Specialist Services timetable

screenshot Lead Wirral website taken on 11th December 2014 Wirral Council Head of Specialist Services timetable

As you can see the closing date for applications for this post (which went to David Slatter of Penna PLC shown in the above video) is 5th December 2014.

On the 2nd December 2014 (before applications for the post had even closed), the agenda for the Employment and Appointments Panel (Head of Specialist Services) was published.

Items 3/4 on the original agenda stated:

“3. Exempt Information – Exclusion of Members of the Public

The public may be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information.

RECOMMENDATION – That in accordance with section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items of business, on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined by the relevant paragraphs of Part 1 of Schedule 12A (as amended) to that Act. The public interest test has been applied and favours exclusion.

4. Appointment of Head of Specialist Services, Families and Wellbeing Department

To consider the applications for this post. ”

Interestingly between the agenda for this meeting being published and the version of the agenda we got handed out just before the public meeting started (late), agenda item 4 had been changed to add (Applications enclosed) (see below).

Employment and Appointments Panel (Head of Specialist Services) 10th December 2014 agenda

Employment and Appointments Panel (Head of Specialist Services) 10th December 2014 agenda

Now this is the weird aspect of this, the agenda published on 2nd December stated the public interest test had been applied (by a Wirral Council officer) stating no reason why the public were to be excluded, based on applications that were yet to be supplied by Penna until after the closing date of the 5th December.

Applications were circulated to those on the panel, I saw this with my own eyes being done in person on the evening before shortly before the Cabinet meeting on the 9th December 2014.

However a different bit of the Local Government Act 1972, s.100B (4) and (5) required the applications for item 4 to be circulated five clear days before the meeting (which obviously didn’t happen).

The law is quite clear that even for items where they are planning to exclude the press and public that this has to happen otherwise the item can’t be taken unless “by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the minutes, the chairman of the meeting is of the opinion that the item should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.” and I didn’t see that happen during the first three items.

The meeting itself started five minutes late as Cllr Tony Smith was late and was over by about half an hour later.

The other point I would like to raise is this? If the public and press were excluded, why was David Slatter of Penna PLC (who is neither a Wirral Council employee nor councillor) allowed to stay in the room? Shouldn’t he have left and why didn’t the Chair ask him to when we left?

However it often happens at Wirral Council meetings that the Chair assumes anyone sitting round the table the committee is sitting on is an employee or councillor. For example recently the Pensions Committee excluded the press and public from part of a meeting. We left, but their auditor from Grant Thornton stayed despite falling into the category of press/public just because they were sitting around the table, therefore it was assumed they could be there.

I’ve seen the same happen at many other Wirral Council public meetings too that go into private session. There are members of the public present but they stay and the meeting carries on despite them being excluded from the meeting. Maybe chairs don’t understand what exclusion of the public means?

Politicians (especially those chairing meetings) can’t have it both ways. If the committee agrees to exclude the public then public and press (not councillors and officers) have to all leave. Otherwise it makes a complete mockery of the law and brings Wirral Council’s decision-making into further disrepute!

Do chairs of public meetings at Wirral Council actually understand what they’re deciding? Are the legal advisers advising the committees aware of the laws about public meetings or do they (mainly) just only offer an opinion if asked for the sake of their careers and not “rocking the boat” with politicians who could get them suspended?

Or is the real answer that Wirral Council has outsourced even part of its HR function to the private sector so much that it couldn’t actually function without having the private sector present during private parts of public meetings when the private sector seemingly have no actual legal right to be there? Am I wrong to expect fairness in Wirral Council’s decision-making?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this and will be interested to read the minutes of yesterday’s meeting when they are published too.

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Responses

  1. Another rat leaving the rapidly sinking ship!

  2. Mr Brace an ” Employee ” comes in very different Guises, Master/Servant, Contract, etc, it would be for a Court to Decide if you wished to push the Fact of your Restriction from a Meeting, citing the fact, of a member of the Public being present whilst you were not.

    However, perhaps it was a point of Order at the meeting. Although consider how the Reasonable Bystander may see that, he was there to assist the meeting.

    However the view I would take is that he should have given his advice prior to the meeting to the Chair and legal Adviser and been on hand if any points were raised were his expert Advice was needed, outside the meeting. As you have already pointed out, you like to pick your time and place

    • Indeed, but I can probably achieve more by making public my concerns than a long drawn out court case ever could! 🙂

      After all when the law did get changed about the filming of public meetings of local councils (and other bodies) this blog was referred to in the DCLG press release. However unlike the Rt Hon Eric Pickles I haven’t gone as far as comparing Wirral Council’s stance on filming to being similar to Stalin’s Russia.

  3. G’day John

    As I think you can see from Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods and the departure of Beverley and Dave Garry and ignoring Grant Thornton and pretending the DCLG haven’t been in touch, as contradicted by their auditor, they just make up their own rules.

    Either that or they just don’t know how it is supposed to work.

    I shudder to think what went on before YOU and my other heroes Lordly, Morton, Highbrow, Cardin.

    Ooroo

    James

    Ps I presume they only have one last chance to tidy up Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods to everyone’s satisfaction this year being The Special Cabinet Meeting?

    Or, I will just keep mocking them in my irreverent style. It is easy they just keep cocking up (Reno).

    Who will be up against “Phil the Dill” next year talking of cocking up?

    That would then leave the leadership for “The Dunny Chain Wearer”. As if he’s not anyway.

    • I think you will find they know how it is supposed to work

  4. Mr Brace or Mr Griiffiths, when is that “Special Cabinet Meeting Please?” and will it be confined to Big,etc?

    • Reprahnehpets My Dear Friend

      I was just suggesting that Big etc should be resolved before next year.

      The Cabinet Meeting is mainly about Lyndale and Tranmere’s Training Ground

      Date: Wednesday, 17 December 2014
      Time: 6.15 pm
      Venue: Committee Room 1 – Wallasey Town Hall

      You can look up all meetings and agendas on the Wirral site.

      Ooroo

      James

      Ps There is no mention of Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods they are maintaining their vow of silence.

      Some might say because they are dumb *******

    • The Special Cabinet meeting is on Wednesday evening and it’s about Lyndale School and Tranmere Rovers Training Ground.

  5. Thanks Mr “G” I was just surprised in relation to Big, Etc. I thought that had been resolved, obviously not to everyone’s satisfaction though and I can understand that.

    • G’day Reprahnehpets

      Having a farce of a meeting on 8 October were the CEO rolls out all the heavy weights to say they don’t understand contracts and say it is not our money and tell more porkies does not represent justice in any way shape or form.

      I will haunt these barstards for ever until there is proper justice and I hope they have long careers.

      Ooroo

      James

  6. Mr G, unfortunately, that is an opinion shared by only a small number of people, at this stage and without out proof of wrong doing, it will remain that way.

    • Reprahnehpets

      Until they admit there mistakes, or, crimes this will always hangover them.

      I said there was criminality, “Highbrow” has all the evidence there was criminality, the original policeman said there was no question that there was fraud, the chief auditor bodged up a report and was effectively sacked with a lump of loot, the original auditor vanished as did her report, “The Pretend Friend” thought they were guilty and got them to spend £50,000.00 on a Grant Thornton Investigation that did prove criminality and the DCLG auditor has a lot to say for himself.

      “The Football Shirt” said the contract was complicated but it wasn’t our money at the farce of 8 October and the dumb auditors just sat there and said nothing and then the bloke from the Raving Loony Party said “Highbrow” should apologise.

      What for catching them all out.

      Wake up and smell the coffee.

      Ooroo

      James

      Ps By the way I know your true identity.

      • Well if you know their true identity as least you know it isn’t me!!!

  7. Mr G, I am not disagreeing with you, what I am saying is in order to prove the point you are making, you have to have evidence. I maybe able to assist your quest very shortly. The Pretend Friend and others know that. I would not only be asking for the Administration to be called in either. Just lets see what they’re Truly Capable of and take it from there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ps ” I could not care less what you know about me or those other people, you or them do not frighten me, I am nearer to the end of my life than the start, so do not play them games, you Tart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • As the catchphrase goes “Come on, calm down, calm down, calm down & calm down”.

        • G’day You

          Where have you been?

          Tell your mate will you how much evidence “Highbrow” has got will you.

          Ooroo

          James

          Ps I am not calmed up John I am just laughing at these buffoons and will continue to until they fix everything. They are truly laughable walking round the dump all self important.

          • Hi James, been busy writing (see Will Wirral Council’s Cabinet decide to close Lyndale School on the 31st August 2016? for what I published a few moments ago.

            The calm down comment was mainly aimed at the other commenter deciding to use personal insults towards you.

            As to the evidence, I can’t say here what evidence some people may or may not have as obviously I have a duty of confidentiality to individuals. However there’s plenty in the public domain already on Wirral Council’s website for those who care to look, plenty of related FOI requests on whatdotheyknow.com et cetera et cetera.

            Well the report that contains their action plan of what to do to fix things is delayed. Graham Burgess will leave, there’ll be an Acting Chief Executive (David Armstrong) and I doubt things will start moving much until a new Chief Executive is in post.

            After all the ARM recommendation states “Chief Executive” not “Acting Chief Executive” or “Assistant Chief Executive” so if you’re being purely technical, as he’s not the Chief Executive David Armstrong won’t have to do anything about it. 😀

  8. G’day John

    Don’t worry about Reprahpets insulting me he should no better with his background, pompousness and need to stay anonymous.

    As cowardly as those at the council that keep their gobs shut.

    His insults are nothing to the insults of them in the council, insulting and disrespecting the whole electorate over Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods.

    I still say they will save Lyndale and then look for credit but if they don’t they are even lower than I think of them now and you don’t get that low.

    Have a great weekend John and keep up the great work.

    Ooroo

    James

  9. I do not need to calm down, calm down, I am in control of my emotions, Thankyou. I was merely expressing my opinion as to Mr G’s Comments, as to knowing who I am. I will however respect your views on the matter.

    • Tempting though flaming may be, I just didn’t want the comments threads to possibly degenerate into a flame war.

      Also you are writing comments through the protection of a nom de plume/pseudonym whereas Mr. Griffiths isn’t. I realise you were expressing your opinion, hence why I left the comment as it is.

      • G’day Mate

        Just been to Tescos to do Xmas shopping and while I was choosing the beans WITH SAUSAGES for Xmas Day as I haven’t been able to get a job since those heady days at at “Wirral Funny Bizz” “The Football Shirt” and “The Chamber Potty’s”
        flagship “Invest in Thyself” Wirral.

        Now known as “The Chamber Potty”.

        “Lets all go to Reno”.

        “Highbrow” called me and had me rolling in the aisles as he had been on a bus talking to a neighbour about “The Clowncil” and some people interrupted to say they worked at the said same and said that everyone knows “The Football Shirt” and Gra Gra are liars.

        “Highbrow” has converted them to Wirral Leaks.

        Mate we will gain a lot more momentum in the New Year.

        Hope “He who can talk for twenty minutes without breathing” gets the job that would be the icing on the cake.

        Not cake for you you fat cake eating “Dunny Chain Wearer”.

        Ooroo

        James

        PS They already read John “Tarratino” Brace.

        • Wirral Leaks is better at graphics than me and competition is always a good thing in the media. Keeps me on my toes.

          People also stop me in the street from time to time to talk about Wirral Council. There are however only so many hours in the working week to do my job and effectively (compared to the public sector) a shoestring budget to cover the activities of Wirral Council.

          Anyway happy Christmas.

          • My Humblest of Heroes

            You are perfect just the way you are.

            Ooroo

            James

            Ps I bet Wirral Leaks doesn’t have what you have…….

            A supersonic swivelling tripod with built in lie detector for those meetings.

            Keep up the great work.

            Luv ewes. (It is me here John not the Pretend Friend).

            • I’m not Doctor Who! 🙂


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