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Posted by: John Brace | 26th April 2017

Will 9 councillors tonight recommend better scrutiny of Wirral Council?

Will 9 councillors tonight recommend better scrutiny of Wirral Council?

                                       

Tonight, it’s a special meeting of Wirral Council’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee (yes Wirral Council and standards in the same sentence does cause most people to smile). So what’s it about?

Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer (Wirral Council)) at the Coordinating Committee held on 15th June 2016

Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer (Wirral Council)) at the Coordinating Committee (which was one of the scrutiny committees abolished last year) held on 15th June 2016

Well last year, Wirral Council decided to save money by having less scrutiny (reducing the scrutiny committees by one). Considering the £millions extra that had to be spent to put a sticking plaster on matters as a result of poor scrutiny and the OFSTED report (which amplified some milder criticisms in the peer review), one wonders with hindsight whether it was both a false economy and a lost opportunity to move towards a better system of scrutiny.

As it states in Surjit Tour’s witness statement (I’ve altered it to the past tense), “the Council had four Policy and Performance Committees that discharge the Council’s overview and scrutiny function.” even though by the time I cross-examined him we both agreed that Wirral Council councillors (albeit bitterly opposed by opposition councillors) had by then recommended to scrap one and have three.

Interestingly the result of that First-tier Tribunal was that the judiciary decided there that Mr. Tour’s decision-making was flawed.

If you read that decision and the OFSTED report together, I wonder if the outcome of the First-tier Tribunal hearing would’ve been different had I had the benefit of that OFSTED report at the time.

Tonight’s meeting, the papers are on Wirral Council website tries to remedy a theme that runs through that First-tier Tribunal decision, the OFSTED report and that that was raised by opposition councillors last year when Labour proposed and then decided on less scrutiny.

I will also make an educated guess that the Improvement Board (which doesn’t appear to meet in public or publish its minutes as far as I can see) decided that the issues expensively identified by Anna Klonowski Associates have never been addressed in any sort of permanent way.

In fact it’s telling that the parting recommendation of the previous Improvement Board (a recommendation endorsed by many of Wirral Council’s committees) for more independent scrutiny, was then vetoed by Cllr Phil Davies. Interestingly his rationale was that Wirral Council would have a combined audit & auditor panel committee, then… yes you’ve guessed it for cost reasons councillors decided later not to!

If I remember correctly, the government are making it a legal requirement that the Combined Authority Scrutiny Committee is chaired by a councillor from a different party, yet Wirral Council has for a number of years considered that scrutiny of Labour councillors is best done by committees chaired by yes it doesn’t take much guessing Labour councillors.

So what is tonight really about?

Well the decision taken last year by Labour councillors is now seen as flawed in light of the OFSTED report.

Labour now propose doing a U-turn and splitting the People Overview and Scrutiny Committee into two new committees. The two new committees will be the Adult Care and Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee and the Children and Families Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

It looks likely that the Children Sub Committee and Health & Care Performance Panel will both be scrapped.

Whether the new scrutiny arrangements will work or whether I’ll be writing next year about a further change to Wirral Council’s scrutiny arrangements who knows?

In the great tradition of Wirral Council, councillors will meet and make no decision tonight, only a recommendation (effectively to all councillors) to then make a decision next month.

Which means nothing will change for at least a further 3-4 weeks.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!

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Responses

  1. G’day John

    As you say John nothing will change.

    They will get their allowances for nothing and walk around as though they aren’t impotent fools that just say yes boss with swollen heads and grotesque bodies in most cases.

    They wouldn’t see a fraud if it hit them in the face and if they did and their gutless leader said they didn’t they didn’t.

    What a way to earn £8,000.00 prostituting your principles.

    Ooroo

    James

  2. Oh Yeh

    I’d forgotten about the £45,000.00 going to a good cause?????

    By the way John you will need a wider lens soon for “The Shyster” the fat arsed wombat.

    Can you get a shot of his massive ‘clocker’ as my mate “Interested” calls it?

    Ooroo

    James

    Luv ya work John

  3. Dear John, regrettably I could not get the sound up enough to Mr Tour spouting off perhaps your great knowledge of the filming you could send me a louder copy.

    • Over the weekend I’ll try and look into providing a subtitle track which should help.

      • G’day John

        When you are fixing the filum for the wonderful Mr Hardaker, one of the ever growing posse, can you please turn down the glare on the ‘clocker’ so I can see it.

        The Holy Grail wouldn’t shine like that massive M***** F******.

        Ooroo

        James

        • Let’s see we’ve had.

          Raiders of the Lost £2 million
          Indiana James and the Temple of Adderley
          Highbrow and the Last Crusade
          Indiana James and the Kingdom of the Shiny Watch

          I thought one of points of expensive watches was to be shiny? I will see what can be done over the weekend.

          However, a bit like in the film, the sunlight coming through the window may have increased the shine!

  4. A Scrutiny Committe should have a panel of ratepayers overseeing the Council and make sure they are being fair and spending our money wisely!

    • It used to happen long ago that people were co-opted onto some of Wirral Council’s committees.

      Indeed I even remember a public meeting where the Chair asked the hundreds present to come up one by one if they had questions!

      But you see if you have genuine members of the public Wirral Council gets asked (they did at that meeting and couldn’t give a proper answer):

      Is it unlawful to close half of Wirral Council’s libraries?

      (Answer given by Wirral Council was along the lines don’t know).

      I mean seriously, you’d like ratepayers asking questions like that? That might hurt the ego of some councillors?

      I mean at one stage 92% thought the closure of Lyndale School was unlawful.

      So you would get scrutiny.

      As I think I’ve mentioned before the previous Improvement Board recommended it (at least on the Audit and Risk Management Committee).

      But if memory serves correct it was vetoed by Cllr Phil Davies.

      • G’day John

        Can you imagine “Highbrow” and you asking them questions.

        The place would soon smell like Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant wirral Waters they would mess themselves in no time.

        How pink would “Phil the Very Very Very very Slimy, Elusive, LYING Dill” go?

        The cops would have to be called after some answers.

        Ooroo

        James

        • I’ve just been dealing with the application to see the count of everyone’s votes next week (Mayoral election and Claughton byelection) and next month for the General Election.

          The process used to be, I ask Bill Norman, can I go to the count? He answers yes.

          Now under the streamlined decision-making process at Wirral Council, Wirral Council require:

          a) a 5A4 page form completed,
          b) signing up to their terms and conditions (including a ban it seems on cameras!*)
          c) proof we are “bona fide” journalists,
          d) details of circulation, readership and frequency

          and

          e) at least two signatures.

          and even after all that they make it clear they’ll choose which media are at the count!

          So wish me luck!

          *except for the use of cameras which Wirral Council approves when following the instructions of a press officer!


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