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Posted by: John Brace | 7th September 2015

Why did Wirral Council include Ian Coleman as a whistleblowing contact in the Passenger Transport Contract?

Why did Wirral Council include Ian Coleman as a whistleblowing contact in the Passenger Transport Contract?

                                                 

Here is my first question to Wirral Council’s auditor (Grant Thornton) about the Passenger Transport Contract.


Wirral Council has a contract with Eye Cab Limited called the "Passenger Transport Contract". This contract started on the 1st September 2014 and runs to the 31st August 2015 and is for the provision of taxi services.

I requested to inspect a copy of the contract (see Audit Commission Act s.15(1)(a)) which was arranged for the 4th September 2015. As a local government elector for the Wirral area, I can question the auditor about the 2014/15 accounts from 9.30am on the 18th August 2015 until the accounts are closed (see Audit Commission Act 1998 s.15(2)).

Page 36 of the contract has a section titled &quotSection 5 CONFIDENTIAL COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE (Whistle-blowing) A Guide for Suppliers and Contractors (see attached page 36).

Passenger Transport Contract Wirral Council page 36 of 40 thubmnail

Passenger Transport Contract Wirral Council page 36 of 40

At the bottom of this page of the contract it details two people that a complaint under the whistleblowing procedure can be made to.

The second of these individuals is:

"Ian Coleman, Director of Finance, Wirral Borough Council, Finance Department, Treasury Building, Cleveland Street, Birkenhead, Merseyside, CH41 6BU"

Wirral Council’s Employment and Appointments Committee agreed early voluntary retirement for Ian Coleman on the 3rd October 2012 (see attached minutes).

Therefore as Ian Coleman was not an employee of Wirral Council at the time the Passenger Transport Contract was put out to tender (or when the contract was agreed) why was he included as a whistleblowing contact in the contract?

Yours sincerely,

John Brace

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Responses

  1. My guess would be it’s another case of sheer, unbridled incompetence.

    It’s similar to the ongoing external “independent” investigations charade, and the kind of problem that flares up when proven corporate bullies carry on abusing their power, by opting to employ their friends, relatives, or “YES” people – those who will feel beholden, cowed and will often have a propensity to be …

    a. stupid
    b. incompetent or;
    c. on the fiddle

    …rather than going for the brave option of employing from a broader cross-section of the wider population: i.e. from those who will not simply be put there to pull the drawbridge up in order to advance and protect abusive Wirral Council’s well-embedded fortress mentality.

    • Well don’t worry. The legislation makes it quite clear that although I have a legal right to ask a question, that doesn’t give any legal right to an answer.

      Audit Commission Act 1998, s.15(2):

      “(2) At the request of a local government elector for any area to which the accounts relate, the auditor shall give the elector, or any representative of his, an opportunity to question the auditor about the accounts.”

      Audit Commission Act 1998, s.15(3):

      “(3) Nothing in this section entitles a person—
      ….
      (b) to require any such information to be disclosed in answer to any question.”

      So there we go!

    • No Stoopid remember they dont READ contracts and not having read them they lose them
      as for the senior member of the Audit and Risk committee, first they squall that they haven’t seen literature then three months later they declare in open meeting that they considered their duty was not to read the same literature but place their entire trust in the officers!I am speaking of Cllr Hale’s, in my view, preposterous speech at the ARMC in October 2014.

      We have to rely on un-expensed John to pick up these doodahs and not on our venerable councillors.

      • The councillors have far greater access rights to documents held by Wirral Council than I do! So do the auditors!

        I was once described on Reddit as similar to the Mrs Cake for local government (it’s a Terry Pratchett reference).

        I can claim expenses from myself, but being self-employed it would reduce my wages. Thankfully I get paid though and the total amount is not subject to FOI requests (but Wirral Council knows what it is for tax purposes). 😀

  2. G’day John

    Would that be the same Grant Thornton who had an independent investigation for £50,000.00 plus into Wirral “Funny” Bizz’s criminality and finding it and then just had it ignored by the crud at Wirral?

    Let me remind you about the crud at Wirral involved in the conspiracy for want of a better word

    Norman
    Wilkie
    Garry
    Tour
    Armstrong
    Adderley
    Ball
    Basnett
    Bradbury
    Burgess

    Sorry John did I forget

    Coleman

    The same Grant Thornton John that was at Gra Gra’s farce of a public meeting into Big, ISUS and Working Neighbourhoods of 8 October 2014 and sat there listening to Adderley and Ball stand publicly lying and didn’t say boo to a goose.

    A goose……sorry John, Foulkes wasn’t there.

    Ooroo

    James

    “Ankles” would have been up to his neck in free pork pies and grog at the public expense as he was most nights that year except charity nights when he was bailing people.

  3. No Stoopid remember they dont READ contracts and not having read them they lose them

    • Well if they don’t read the contracts (whether politicians agreeing to them or senior officers recommending them) it gives them plausible deniability if it turns out later something goes wrong doesn’t it?

      I can just imagine a senior officer saying I don’t have the time to read a long contract (too busy managing), that’s what we pay contract managers £30k+ for or this is what we have a Corporate Procurement Unit for.

      Or a politician (or group of politicians) saying we only agreed to the contract because the senior officer recommended it.

      In fact even when Cabinet has agreed contracts worth £10s of millions, I don’t remember the contract (or contract alterations) being included with the papers for the meeting making the decision. All politicians get is a summary provided by officers (who in turn rely on other officers).

      So major decisions are being decided on trust and faith.

      Mind you as lot 4 of this contract (Passenger Transport Contract) relates to taxis for councillors (at evenings and weekends), well everyone will have to have a lot of plausible deniability won’t they?

  4. lastly this does show how little store they put on encouraging employees and subcontractors assist them in policing the disbursement of public money. It is all just by rote probably picked up and lifted from a pre 2012 contract.

    • Oh it’s earlier than that, this is lifted from their policy from December 2009.

      Since then politicians have agreed many changes to the whistleblowing policies, been reassured everything is ok etc. Meanwhile bureaucratic inertia just means everything gets stuck in a time warp and carries on as before.

      • These merry-go-rounds are really starting to make me feel VERY sick!

        • Thanks, I’ve been meaning to get in touch with you to remind you that another public meeting about the Saughall Massie/fire station/Wirral Council issue is happening next week on the 15th September 2015 starting at 6.00pm in Committee Room 1 at Wallasey Town Hall.

          • Oh, thank you John. I’m ashamed, but I didn’t know that this meeting was happening.and am cross with Chris Blakeley and Steve Williams for not letting interested people know about this. Are there any rules about speaking etc? Or is it just a ‘listening exercise’?

            • It’s not a “call in” of a decision so councillors don’t get to call witnesses. It’s just a motion and debate (but if the motion is agreed it will block the proposal).

              Unlike the Fire Authority which allow a petitioner and/or delegation to speak, you’d need the permission of the Chair of the Committee to do so during the meeting.

              Motions were originally debated by councillors at meetings of all 66 of them in the Council Chamber. Wirral Council is trying to include the views of the public in the policy and performance committees, however unlike Liverpool City Council there isn’t an agenda item for the public to ask questions and make statement during the meeting.

              If you want to speak during the meeting, I suggest you contact whoever is down as the contact for the meeting and Cllr Blakeley and ask in advance of the meeting.

              Labour councillors have a majority of councillors on the Committee so it will be up to them whether Cllr Blakeley’s notice of motion is agreed or not.

              • OK. Thank you so much John.

              • Hi John,

                Chris has stated that the public can’t speak. It’s a council debate about his notice of motion.

                Sorry to be a nuisance, but I’m confused to increasingly dizzying heights.

                I watched a meeting about this a while ago on your Youtube channel (I don’t know the date, but it was just before the budget) Chris Blakeley’s notice of motion about an alternative location; still green-belt in Saughall Massie, but not publicly amenable and according to the e-mails, was being put forward in the (?) call for exercise (?). It wasn’t agreed.

                Is this coming meeting to debate a different motion, or is it the same one again, given that no extra funding has appeared from central government?

                Thank you

                • It’s not a Council debate on his motion as Council referred it to the Regeneration and Environment Policy and Performance Committee to decide on. Therefore different rules apply.

                  The rules that apply aren’t in Wirral Council’s constitution but were recently decided by the Coordinating Committee on the 23rd June 2015, see the rules here. I include the rule below:

                  Referral from Council of Notices of Motion

                  Council Standing Order 7 enables Notices of Motion to be referred to a Policy and Performance Committee. Under those circumstances:

                  a) A member of the Council who has moved a motion which has been referred to any committee shall be given notice of the meeting at which it is to be considered. The member shall have the right to attend the meeting and an opportunity of explaining
                  the motion.

                  b) During the Policy and Performance Committee meeting:

                  i. The proposer will be invited to put the case for the Notice of Motion
                  ii. Committee will debate the proposal
                  iii. An outcome will be agreed to either endorse the proposal, reject the proposal or amend the proposal
                  c) The Policy and Performance Committee shall report back to Council which will debate the report or the recommendation of the Committee.

                  However another part of Wirral Council’s constitution states:

                  Article 3 – Citizens and the Council

                  Citizens have the following rights. Their rights to information and to participate are explained in more detail in the Access to Information Rules in Part 4 of this Constitution.

                  ….
                  (iii) Participation – Citizens have the right to participate in the Council’s
                  question time and contribute to investigations by Policy and
                  Performance Committees. Citizens have the right to submit petitions to
                  Councillors or officers about matters that are of local concern.

                  I might also point out the following rights that everyone has (see Article 21). In fact if you look in the lobby somewhere this is up on the wall signed by the previous Mayor Cllr Adrian Jones:

                  Article 21.

                  (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
                  (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
                  (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

                  Note 21(1) states “directly or through freely chosen representatives”.

                  I might also point out that article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:

                  Article 25

                  Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

                  (a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives;

                  (b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors;

                  (c) To have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in his country.

                  The truth is there’s no bar on someone other than councillors speaking. Employees of Wirral Council often speak during meetings.

                  However if anyone dares to speak during a public meeting that isn’t a councillor or employee, say for example like last night a member of the public (in this case my wife) with hearing problems asking someone to use their microphone, the councillor chairing the meeting will usually shout at them and tell them off because they see is as a threat to their authority.

                  Because bullying the disabled and shouting at people is the sort of thing councillors really like to do as they love pretending they have power, even when they’re potentially breaching the Code of Conduct in doing so.

                  However what I suggest is this as a compromise.

                  Write down what you’d say in an email and email it to the committee services officer (Patrick Sebastian patricksebastian@wirral.gov.uk ) for the meeting who can circulate it to the councillors on the Committee.

                  Send a copy of the email to the Chair (Councillor Michael Sullivan mikesullivan@wirral.gov.uk , Vice-Chair Cllr Jerry Williams jerrywilliams@wirral.gov.uk , Conservative spokesperson Cllr Steve Williams stevewilliams@wirral.gov.uk and Lib Dem spokesperson Cllr Dave Mitchell davemitchell@wirral.gov.uk ).

                  Request that you either get to read out the email or it is read out by a councillor during the meeting before a decision is made.

                  I hope that helps! Wirral Council is a bit backward compared to other local authorities that generally have a standing item for the public to speak at public meetings.

                  I’m typing the above email addresses from memory so if they bounce back the correct email addresses can be found on Wirral Council’s website.

                  P.S. Chris is not chairing the meeting, therefore decisions who speak or don’t speak aren’t up to him.

                  The meeting next week is to debate the notice of motion referred to by the last Council meeting.

                  I think you might be mixing this up with a Notice of Motion debated at Council last year about when Greasby was the preferred location as there was no debate at the last Council meeting on Chris’s notice of motion.

                  • Thank you for that John.

                    Ooh, how I’d love to be a bit more like MFRA/MFRS members and have the balls to not care about compromise: taking advantage of the rules and having a jolly good time at the expense of others.

                    Thank you Leonora for telling them to turn on their microphones or speak up. I’ve heard you say this a few times on the videos and it’s always appreciated. It’s difficult at the best of times, and without a hearing impairment to hear or decipher what they’re talking about. Shame be on them! The rats!!

                    John. the meeting I was referring to was 6th July 2015 (it’s part 2 on your Youtube channel.) The vote was on an amendment and then a substantive? I may be confused, but not to the extent that I don’t know 2014 from 2015 and Greasby from Saughall Massie : D

                    • Thanks for the comments.

                      To clarify it is the same Notice of Motion that was on the agenda of the 6th July 2015 meeting of Council. Yes there was a friendly amendment by the proposer and seconder adding a few lones about the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority meeting. The amendment seems to have been omitted from the papers for the meeting to debate it next week.

                      There was no vote on the motion or amendment on the 6th July 2015 as the Mayor chose to refer it to the Committee that meets next week.

  5. G’day John

    From the local rubbish propaganda sheet

    Wirral Council sickness levels continue to rise despite management crackdown

    Sick sick sick alright.

    Also

    Urging business leaders to vote yes, Paula Basnett, chief executive of Wirral Chamber of Commerce told the Globe: “Public spending is being diminished all the time, So we need the support of the private sector, and especially the retailers, in Birkenhead and businesses in Hamilton Square, to help.

    “If we all come together, in the next five years we could have £2m to spend in Birkenhead.”

    Council leader Phil Davies:” “It’s all about businesses coming together……

    It wouldn’t matter what these two clowns are talking about after Wirral “Funny” Bizz you couldn’t trust them with their own kids pocket money.

    No idea is a compliment.

    Ooroo

    James

  6. G’day John

    Does Ecca really exist?

    Ooroo

    James

    • As he is generally at Cabinet meetings and there is one tomorrow, we shall find out then!


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