Incredible first 5 minutes of Wirral Council councillors’ public meeting to discuss BIG & ISUS investigations

Incredible first 5 minutes of Wirral Council councillors’ public meeting to discuss BIG & ISUS investigations

Incredible first 5 minutes of Wirral Council councillors’ public meeting to discuss BIG & ISUS investigations


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Above is video of the entire special meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee (Wirral Council) on the 22nd July 2014

Below is a partial transcript of the first five minutes of a special meeting of Audit and Risk Management Committee on 22nd July 2014 to discuss the investigations into the BIG and ISUS programs.

Good evening everyone, welcome to the Audit and Risk Management Committee. Errm

[Agenda item 1]Members’ Code of Conduct – Declarations of Interest.

Have we got any? No.

[Agenda] Item 2, minutes of the last meeting, are they agreed?


Thank you.

[Agenda] Item 3, Business Investment Grant (BIG) and the Intensive Startup Scheme (ISUS) Investigation.

There’s been concerns from Members about the lateness and thickness of this item and, if I can given the size of the document and the concern that Members have about the lateness of receiving this, and that along with the written address from Mr Hobro, I’d like to recommend an adjournment of a week and we convene back here next Tuesday. Problem?

I’ve got a problem with that Chair.

You’re on holiday?

I won’t be back …..


I’m on holiday as well Chair.

Sweet, (can’t be heard). Pardon?

Chair is it alright if I cut in? Chair I was just saying that obviously, we’re entering the holiday season. It’s inevitable that there will be people on holiday throughout the holiday season so obviously I’m concerned both for the Members and Council to get this matter resolved as speedily but as comprehensively as possible.

So clearly, we’d urge you to consider the meeting adjournment, because clearly we feel that this matter for everybody’s interest needs to be considered as quickly as possible to the satisfaction of all the Members though.

Thanks for that, so I’m going to move that as a recommendation and…

(murmuring by councillors)

… point of order, … should … we’re doing…before we do… (turns on microphone) sorry Chair, could I suggest we make it in a fortnight? Normally you would liaise with the spokes of each party and obviously you haven’t spoken to Councillor Hale and it would help. I think he should be here at the next meeting. Thank you.

Fifth of August then Chair.

Fifth of August.

No, I won’t be back.

Well the problem is you’re going to need to prolong it then and,

Yeah and there’s certain of the officers that won’t be here on the 5th,

people will not be their deputies?

(multiple councillors talking at once)

….. Council.. stepped on…

I’ll be back around the 7th.


Chair, am I correct in thinking that err if any party has one of their members away so then they can be substituted by a deputy and if indeed if one of those deputies then can’t make it then they can’t be substituted?

We do have deputies, even though we’re charged with finding a substitute spokesperson.

It remains the case you’ve got deputies you can call on.

I think the reality is, I think that that would normally be the case but the reality is that from the time that we’ve had it, I dare say amongst the lead Members, the spokespeople, would have made an ??? effort to digest as much of it as we possibly can without any slight meant to any other Members who clearly they will have done that, but certainly the spokespeople would have attempted that.

I mean I think what we probably do need to settle on a date, at which I, John and yourself could be there. Certainly if we push it to the 12th of August then I’m in Butlins (laughing)..err..

Who’s the Chair?

I mean I’m available up to that date. In moving your recommendation Chair is it your intention that we have a real discussion on what we have in front of us so far?

No, it’s not really worth breaking up the meeting when we’re halfway through, so it’s not worth having a new discussion tonight. Errm and we could go round all night and come to different dates couldn’t we? Just her and me and then the Monitoring Officer would be away.

We’re relying on deputies. We’re relying on deputies because for all Members …all Members have problems if they’re not involved at all … basis that… would first, it’s the first time .. Chair… I’m looking for a way forward.

What time do you leave next Monday John?


We can’t be arranging times just to suit John Hale.

No, no we can’t.

It’s a service, I can easily update John Hale he comes back.

Now we’re moving into the peak holiday period errm middle of August.

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The politics of jealousy: why Wirral’s 66 politicians need to be careful what they say about disability

The politics of jealousy: why Wirral’s 66 politicians need to be careful what they say about disability

Liverpool Carnival 12th July 2014

Liverpool Carnival Parade 2014: A number of wheelchair users taking part in the parade

The politics of jealousy: why Wirral’s 66 politicians need to be careful what they say about disability


Above is a photo of a carnival you will probably never get to see in a newspaper as it shows two disabled people in wheelchairs participating in the parade. So why am I showing you this and what relevance does it have?

For years, Wirral Council has got itself into trouble on disability issues. I’ll briefly recap, Martin Morton and the way Adult Social Services treated disabled adults, the proposed closure of Moreton Day Centre and now the proposed closure of Lyndale School.

The thread running through all of those is an extremely dangerous one to tell society. It’s one of withdrawing services for those with a disability or in the case of Martin Morton’s whistleblowing shamefully taking advantage of adults with disabilities as some of them due to the nature of their disability can’t stand up to organisations like Wirral Council without outside help.

So what sort of message does this give out? It’s one of jealousy of the vital services people require because of their disability. It’s one that fuels an increase in disability hate crime (much of which goes unreported). It’s one (that in the case of Lyndale School) thousands signed a petition against it going any further.

Disabled people are a part of society. I was brought up in the 80s and we were taught to be accepting and tolerant. When I was a teenager I went to school with a lad who had epilepsy, he used to routinely have fits and the school called an ambulance due to him knocking himself out. We didn’t treat him any differently though because of his epilepsy! We treated him as a friend.

In adult life I sat on a university committee of staff and students (I was there to represent the views of ~17,000 students). In what to some will seem an extremely ironic twist, the law library wasn’t accessible to wheelchair users as it was on the first floor. Despite our pleas, despite this being unlawful, the Chair of the committee was told that the university wanted to spend the small amount of money for adapting the building on other things. Disabled students weren’t a priority you see, not to senior management who came from a bygone age when people with disabilities didn’t go to university.

However, politicians have to be extremely careful when dealing with sensitive issues involving minorities. There’s a sensational over reporting of benefit fraud cases in the media. Officially more is lost to administrative errors than benefit fraud and the rates of benefit fraud are extremely low. Due to the press coverage this isn’t what some of the public think. Telling the public such boring facts sadly doesn’t tie in with the political line of some irresponsible tabloid sensational journalism.

So going back to Lyndale School. My views on it are well known and on public record. I don’t have any personal connection to the place other than having known its Chair of Governors Tom Harney for many years. The problem for Wirral Council is this though, it has a very chequered history involving disability issues that the public know about through the press. Such issues weren’t caused by one or two people being prejudiced but a culture at Wirral Council that allowed this to operate.

Now I know there are plenty of politicians at Wirral Council that know what happened in the past was wrong and despite what some people may think about politicians I know that many have a highly developed sense of right and wrong and know in their hearts when they’re asked to vote for something they don’t believe in. Yes, I’m being reasonable to politicians for a change.*

*A rare occasion I know.

The change has to start with them though, the rhetoric has got to change, the demonising of the disabled and minorities in society that they know can’t speak back has got to stop. For that they’ve got to look into their hearts. They’ve got to realise the damage their actions, that their words are doing to society at large, they’ve got to have some understanding of the consequences.

The people involved in the Lyndale School campaign are wonderful, pleasant people. Just because I wrote about what was happening I got sent a thank you card! I’ve never received a thank you card for a story I’ve written on this blog before (or since).

No, don’t be silly I’m never expecting a thank you card for writing about politicians but I’m trying to get across that the people involved with Lyndale School are very different to the political class. Unlike how certain politicians are being portrayed I don’t think many of the people involved in Lyndale School have even one ruthless bone in their entire body.

Yet this has been a struggle for them, they have families to care for and children with very complex and life limiting conditions. Many of them should be rewarded, applauded for the unsung work they do every day, unthanked by some politicians who now propose pulling the rug out from under their feet. The work of unpaid carers doing hard work in difficult circumstances saves the taxpayer billions each year.

The issues involving disability, culture, prejudice and stereotyping are extremely complex. They won’t be solved overnight. The law has changed, such legal battles have been won but society itself needs to catch up. My plea to politicians is to show leadership, to realise the sensitivities of these issues and to realise there are times when the politically right thing is to show compassion, humility and be flexible enough to have an open mind on such issues. The days of prejudice and stereotyping by politicians should be confined to the history books as they no longer have a part to play in 21st century society.

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Councillors hear how 13 consignments of fizzy drinks, spearmint, crab and rice all failed port checks

Councillors hear how 13 consignments of fizzy drinks, spearmint, crab and rice all failed port checks

Councillors hear how 13 consignments of fizzy drinks, spearmint, crab and rice all failed port checks


The Isle of Man Ferry was late coming in to dock as in front was the Viking longboat Draken Harald Hårfagre with a broken mast. As the same gate was used to get to the meeting on the dock we had to wait for the Isle of Man foot passengers to collect their luggage and leave first.

As the councillors and ourselves strode across the dock to the meeting room, the Viking longboat pulled up alongside the meeting room on a sight-seeing tour of the Liverpool docks which almost seemed to give out the message to the politicians of behave otherwise we’ll add you to our list of countries to conquer next.

So, what was the meeting, bobbing along on a floating dock over the beautiful River Mersey about? Well just as the beer ad used to be about “refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach” we were reporting on the public meetings other parts of the media don’t reach. In fact I doubt there had been any public along to this public body’s public meetings for a very, very long time. In fact anyone curious enough to read the agenda would’ve been sent to the wrong place as the agenda had “Gate 2” whereas those going to meeting entered through “Gate 3” of the Liverpool Cruise Liner Terminal.

Who were this (and pardon the nautical cliché) motley crew of characters?

Mersey Port Health Committee

Mersey Port Health Committee meeting of the 17th July 2014 Councillor Ron Abbey (Chair) points in the direction of the River Mersey. At the far right are Councillor Dave Mitchell and Councillor Gerry Ellis

Well on the Mersey Port Health Committee was my local councillor, who won our award for scowling before the meeting started Councillor Harry Smith. Also were two former Mayors of Wirral, Councillor Gerry Ellis and Councillor Dave Mitchell who were both friendly. As well as these three there was Councillor Ron Abbey (looking rather stylish in sunglasses).

Apologies were first given for councillors missing from the meeting which included various councillors including Cllr John Salter (Wirral Council’s Cllr John Hale was also absent).

The first decision the crew had to make was to chose a captain (sorry Chair) for the next year. The previous Chair Councillor Ron Abbey was nominated, seconded and elected. Another Labour councillor called Jeremy Wolfson was elected as Vice-Chair.

Councillor Ron Abbey decided to give his speech about his time as captain (sorry Chair) over the last twelve months. He said they had had a “varied and very successful year”, that it was a “very friendly committee” but that it was a “Cinderella organisation”.

Cllr Ron Abbey had a new officer to introduce to the assembled throng. Was it a new deck hand? Was it a comedian with the task of making Cllr Harry Smith smile? Sadly the new guy (called Chris) had the rather duller title of team leader for Information Technology.

The Chair continued by saying about the “quality of staff and the work they do on behalf of us”, asked the Committee to endorse his comments and said that these were “most exciting times”.

Due to no microphones and a room the size of a cavern in which sound gets lost, one of the councillors sitting further away (Cllr Gerry Ellis) asked Cllr Ron Abbey to speak up. Cllr Ron Abbey explained that he hadn’t shouted at him as he felt that upset people. Once again this was an error on the agenda which stated “audio equipment provided as standard”.

No declarations of interest were made and the minutes were agreed. So the meeting rolled on to agenda item 5 (Chief Port Health Officer Report on Activities 2013/14).

The Chief Port Health Officer went through the main points of her report, to do with importing foods. They had lost a post which was now vacant but it had been a “very busy year”. There had also been major changes and a redesign of their website.

Chris (the IT guy) talked at length about the changes, so that students could book training courses and so everything could be done a bit quicker as well as updating policies. There had been some teething issues with some applications in the move from Windows XP to Windows 7. He hoped that they’d have a full set of key performance indicators by the September.

The Chief Port Health Officer explained that there had been a 77p reduction in their charges due to EU legislation which was “out of our hands”. Weights of cargo coming through Liverpool docks varied based on consumer demand. They also had a surveillance role at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, as it was not a port approved for the import of food. However the main responsibility at the airport lay with the UK Border Force.

Thirteen consignments of soda (soft drinks) from America had been sampled and found to have excessive levels of benzoic acid. This had been done due to a grant from the Food Standards Agency. In addition to the fizzy drinks failing tests, so had spearmint (pesticide levels), a food supplement (poly aromatic hydrocarbon levels), crab meat (as additional crab species had been found) and basmati rice (that was only 3% basmati rice and 97% other rice).

In addition to this a consignment of chilli powder had been destroyed due to excessive alfatoxin. During the year, 154 consignments had been subject to official checks. There had also been checks done on ship sanitation, water supplies had been sampled and there had been an increase in routine boardings.

Moving to the Wirral, two cockle beds had been declassified and commercial cockling there was now illegal. There had been a report of illegal gathering of mussels, but after investigation and enforcement patrols the activity had ceased.

In order to qualify as an environmental health officers, people needed to do a length BSc (Hons) or a MSc and then do a practical year of training in port health. However they had incorporated the port health side into student’s degrees so that when they qualified they were qualified as both an environmental health officer and port health officer which opened up extra career opportunities.

A port health awareness day had been held in February to promote the work of port health as some external agencies weren’t aware of the work. One hundred and twenty people had turned up to it. It had been a busy year and would be a challenging year ahead, she was happy to answer questions.

Councillor Dave Mitchell referred to it as a “comprehensive report, brilliantly done as always”. He had two questions. In relation to sampling he asked if they had talked with the relevant government department to make it a national rather than local cost?

She explained that it was very difficult but there were provisions. If a sample failed again they could request the importer pays for the cost. Taking the fizzy drinks as an example, if they continued to fail checks then the Food Safety Agency issued guidance and reimbursed their costs.

Councillor Mitchell asked his second question about fish. The answer given was that the importer would have to pay.

The Chair Cllr Ron Abbey referred to the lobbying government so that the activities of the port were funded by central government. Local authorities’ contribution to port health was only small. Another councillor asked about the enforcement of infectious diseases and how this could be effective on short duration flights as the probabilities of symptoms being displayed were small as opposed to a ship?

The officer said that the air regulations were different to shipping in that they placed a responsibility on the airline. A scoping exercise had been done on the countries they say as high risks. For example it was the responsibility of the airline to disinfect its places coming from a country with malaria. This would hopefully minimise the risk.

Another councillor asked if they could increase their charges? Cllr Ron Abbey (Chair) said that they were looking to decrease to make them more competitive but it would be eighteen months before they’d see an impact. Goods consumed locally were still being shipped through Southampton rather than Liverpool. He said it was a “balancing act” which they were monitoring to reduce the burden on local councils to a minimum via the precept. An officer said there was an increase in products coming through the port and the variety.

Councillor Richard Wenstone asked if they would be setting their own key performance indicators or this would be done nationally? The officer answered that they would set their own as there were no national standards key performance indicators. For example the time it took them to process documentation. Other big ports had key performance indicators.

An officer said that theirs were published on their website and in conversations with ship agents certain importers wanted key performance indicators. A logistical benefit of Liverpool was the Liverpool Ship Canal whereas there was more congestion in the ports in the southern part of the country.

Councillor Harry Smith asked about the significant consignments? The officer answered lamb and pork. Another councillor asked about how far ahead the training had been taken up to which the answer was December 2014. The report was noted.

Agenda item 6 was the quarterly report from January to March of 2014. Cllr Gerry Ellis asked about cockling and what was the story? The officer relied that the complaint was of illegal gathering, an officer had conducted surveillance following the complaint but the complainant was unwilling to make a witness statement. As the surveillance hadn’t caught any illegal activity the complaint couldn’t progress.

Councillor Gerry Ellis asked a further question. Cllr Ron Abbey said they couldn’t take further action as the complainant was unwilling and didn’t want to make a witness statement. The officer said that on the surveillance visits they didn’t see illegal gathering of cockles and in the absence of a witness statement they can’t take further action.

Councillor Ron Abbey pointed out they were closed bays and that commercial activity was therefore illegal. Cockling collection however could still go on as long as it was not commercial. They had responsibility for the tidal side and the police had responsibility for further inland. Cllr Gerry Ellis asked if declassified meant closed?

Cllr Ron Abbey said they were closed to commercial cockling as the cockles were too young or there were not enough for commercial cockling. This gave them time to grow again, the cockling beds were worth millions of pounds as commercial cocklers had gathered £90 million of cockles. Cllr Ellis asked another question to which Cllr Ron Abbey replied “closed”.

In response to a further question of Cllr Ellis Cllr Abbey said that there were different categories, but it was a trade thing so they knew if it was declassified it didn’t have a classification. To take (for commercial reasons) from a declassified bed was illegal.

A councillor asked why there was no mention of Peel Holdings in the report? The Chair said that without them Peel couldn’t operate inspection facilities but they had often had to meet with senior management of Peel to sort out issues. He referred to issues raised at the last meeting with Peel about the docks. The officer said that Peel Holdings were the port operator, but that they (port health) had statutory controls over imported food, enforcement of the regulations and health regulations. The port health authority worked together with Peel Holdings in partnership.

A councillor asked about the financial impact. Cllr Ron Abbey said that without the board doing its job and inspection the port would be greatly diminished. So they worked hand in hand with Peel. They wanted to support Peel to bring more goods through the port as it was more money. Bringing more through meant diversifying but as well as delivering they were putting something back through their training. He gave credit to the staff. The report was noted.

The next meeting was agreed to be held at 11.00am on Thursday 16th October 2014 with the venue announced nearer the time.

The Chair announced one item of any other business (referred to earlier involving the vacancy) for which the public (all two of us) were excluded from the rest of the meeting.

We left and found the way out of through gate 3 was locked. I returned and complained but the way out was not unlocked until the councillors had finished their meeting.

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How did 62 Wirral Council councillors vote on Lyndale School?

How did 62 Wirral Council councillors vote on Lyndale School?

How did 62 Wirral Council councillors vote on Lyndale School?


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This continues from yesterday’s Councillors ask Labour to keep Lyndale School open; Labour defers decision on Lyndale to September Cabinet meeting.

Councillor Jeff Green said that the children attending Lyndale School had complex and profound medical conditions with a significant number being life limiting. In his opinion they had a moral obligation to meet the wishes of the parents to continue their child’s education at Lyndale. He said that the direct schools grant was ring-fenced for education so no savings would be made by closing Lyndale.

He continued by referring to the over ten thousand people that had signed a petition against closure. If Lyndale closed, the children would transfer to other schools which catered for children with very different needs. Cllr Green referred to the review of primary places and the reasons given by officers for closing Kingsway Primary School in Seacombe. The Conservative councillors had voted to keep it open and it had thrived since receiving an outstanding OFSTED inspection. He asked the [Labour] administration to have a change of heart and keep the school open as it was a facility doing an “outstanding job”.

The Mayor (Cllr Steve Foulkes) said it had been remiss of his not to congratulate Cllr Pat Cleary on his maiden speech. He asked Cllr Hayes to give his right to reply.

Cllr Hayes also took the opportunity to congratulate Cllr Cleary on his maiden speech and referred to what Cllr Cleary had said earlier about a previous consultation where the Leader of the Council had expedited a proposal based on an early evaluation of consultation responses. He asked why is it they have to wait till 4th September when the consultation ended on the 25th June? In debating the notice of motion Council was taking a view and making a recommendation which it had done many times on different issues.

He referred to the consultation process and the glowing terms and how it was held out as an example of good practice by both Cllr Phil Davies and Cllr Tony Smith. However questions put by parents to Wirral Council had been answered on the final day of the consultation, so where was the “equality of arms”. He said it was time to end the “misery and pain” and time that the Cabinet made a resolution that Lyndale was to remain open.

A card vote was called for. The first vote was on Labour’s amendment (to defer any decision on the future of Lyndale School to a special meeting of Cabinet in September).

Cllr Ron Abbey (Labour) FOR
Cllr Tom Anderson (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Bruce Berry (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Chris Blakeley (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Eddie Boult (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Alan Brighouse (Liberal Democrat) AGAINST
Cllr Philip Brightmore (Labour) FOR
Cllr Chris Carubia (Liberal Democrat) AGAINST
Cllr Pat Cleary (Green) AGAINST
Cllr Jim Crabtree (Labour) FOR
Cllr Matt Daniel (Labour) FOR
Cllr George Davies (Labour) FOR
Cllr Phil Davies (Labour) FOR
Cllr Bill Davies (Labour) FOR
Cllr Paul Doughty (Labour) FOR
Cllr David Elderton (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Gerry Ellis (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Steve Foulkes (Labour) ABSTAIN
Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Liberal Democrat) AGAINST
Cllr Jeff Green (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Robert Gregson (Labour) FOR
Cllr Pat Hackett (Labour) FOR
Cllr Paul Hayes (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Andrew Hodson (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Kathy Hodson (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Mike Hornby (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Treena Johnson (Labour) FOR
Cllr Adrian Jones (Labour) FOR
Cllr Chris Jones (Labour) FOR
Cllr Stuart Kelly (Liberal Democrat) AGAINST
Cllr Anita Leech (Labour) FOR
Cllr Ann McLachlan (Labour) FOR
Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Labour) FOR
Cllr Dave Mitchell (Liberal Democrat) AGAINST
Cllr Bernie Mooney (Labour) FOR
Cllr Christina Muspratt (Labour) FOR
Cllr Steve Niblock (Labour) FOR
Cllr Tony Norbury (Labour) FOR
Cllr Matthew Patrick (Labour) FOR
Cllr Denise Realey (Labour) FOR
Cllr Louise Reecejones (Labour) FOR
Cllr Lesley Rennie (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Les Rowlands (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr John Salter (Labour) FOR
Cllr Harry Smith (Labour) FOR
Cllr Tony Smith (Labour) FOR
Cllr Tracey Smith (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Walter Smith (Labour) FOR
Cllr Chris Spriggs (Labour) FOR
Cllr Jean Stapleton (Labour) FOR
Cllr Mike Sullivan (Labour) FOR
Cllr Adam Sykes (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Joe Walsh (Labour) FOR
Cllr Geoffrey Watt (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Stuart Whittingham (Labour) FOR
Cllr Irene Williams (Labour) FOR
Cllr Jerry Williams (Labour) FOR
Cllr Pat Williams (Liberal Democrat) AGAINST
Cllr Steve Williams (Conservative) AGAINST
Cllr Janette Williamson (Labour) FOR

The vote was announced as 35 in favour, 26 against with one abstention. There was then a card vote on the motion (as amended by Labour’s amendment).

So the decision made was to defer a decision on Lyndale School to a special meeting of the Cabinet on September 4th.

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REVEALED: Grant Thornton’s previously secret £50,0000 report into how Wirral Council played the regeneration game

REVEALED: Grant Thornton’s previously secret £50,0000 report into how Wirral Council played the regeneration game

REVEALED: Grant Thornton’s previously secret £50,0000 report into how Wirral Council played the regeneration game


If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood
Who ya gonna call (Grant Thornton)
If it’s somethin’ weird and it won’t look good
Who ya gonna call (Grant Thornton)

Yes, my challenge for today is “making accountants sound interesting” (wish me luck)!

So where to start this tale that has about as much twists, turns and complexity as a Dan Brown thriller? Well in order to keep your attention and not send you to sleep I’ll be comparing what happened to far more exciting things (as this blog isn’t called “101 fascinating tales of bean counting”).

Wirral Council paid a company called Enterprise Solutions (NW) Limited approximately a million pounds for work done on a program called ISUS (a program to support businesses). It also paid them for work on another scheme called BIG (a business grants program). However something had gone wrong so Wirral Council sent in a crack team of accountants from Grant Thornton to investigate.

Grant Thornton as Ghostbusters
This blog has no file photo of Grant Thornton’s crack team of accountants, so using perhaps more artistic licence than is necessary this is the blogger’s impression of them (from the film Ghostbusters) (although being accountants they were probably wearing suits instead).

This intrepid team (who were paid ~£50,000 for all this) went to interview the whistleblowers who worked for Enterprise Solutions (NW) Limited to find out what had happened. As Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd is an absurdly long name that takes forever to type I will from now on instead be calling them the USS Enterprise instead.

There was trouble on the USS Enterprise and the whistleblowers said (this is a summary of hundreds of page of a report) that the “the engines cannae’ take it anymore”. Money was being fed into the USS Enterprise’s engines from Wirral Council. Its mission was to seek out new businesses and boldly help them (in the form of grants and other assistance). However the whistleblowers knew that thing were going very wrong and detailed the who, what, where, why and when.

The crack team from Grant Thornton heard what the whistleblowers had to say and then tried to investigate what had happened. They even went to the USS Enterprise to investigate further and spent three days there.

However, someone senior on the USS Enterprise heard about this and perhaps frightened that they might find something that would lead to a court-martial prevented Grant Thornton from setting foot on the ship ever again. This was despite the contract between Wirral Council and the USS Enterprise stating that Wirral Council could have access to their “accounts and records” (although there’s a long running controversy as to whether this contract was ever signed). This didn’t however deter (much) the crack team of accountants who then wrote (as best they could) reports on both the BIG and ISUS programs.

These reports went to Wirral Council, who then refused to publish them, giving the reason that they had referred some of the matters in it to the Merseyside Police. They felt that publishing it would prejudice any potential future criminal prosecutions (but there are also others that felt this was an extremely convenient excuse to prevent Wirral Council being embarrassed by what Grant Thornton had discovered).

A long, long time later the Merseyside Police got back in touch with Wirral Council with a letter that can be summed up by we can’t charge or ask the CPS to prosecute people in this matter as the police had been denied access to key evidence they’d need.

So then Wirral Council convened a special meeting of its Audit and Risk Management Committee to discuss the whole matter.

That is it in a nutshell (leaving an awful lot out too). The detailed nature of what the whistleblowers alleged is far beyond a few hundred words I have here to do justice to and I’m sure will be discussed next Tuesday evening at a special meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee.

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