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This is a transcript of the first question and answer at public question time (to Cllr Phil Davies).
Nigel Hobro: Err thank you for errm hearing me. Err You will have already heard me probably on a daily basis sending you information with regards to my question. Can I ask Cllr Davies errm what external bodies are preventing you from finally publishing the BIG Fund report by Grant Thornton?
Cllr Phil Davies: Indeed, can I err thank Mr. Hobro for err that question errm and the fact that he’s err raised this through the Council’s whistleblowing policy?
Errm I just wanted to err add a slight err concern, not solely, not solely about errm some of the err, some of the emails I’ve had indeed from Mr. Hobro, but I think it is unfortunate there have been errm emails from other errm people who have errm directed some fairly, some fairly sort of I think injudicious comments towards particularly err local government officers of Wirral Council’s .. certainly for me.
However errm that being said errm my approach to claims about both the BIG report, BIG which for those who don’t know stands for business investment grants and the err ISUS which was the errm other grant scheme I think that you were asking about, ISUS is intensive startup support.
Any complaints we’ve received about the err way those two grant machines have been handled have been looked at by errm independent errm consultants and where there has been any hint of illegality I have asked the police errm to err investigate.
Errm with regard to the BIG scheme which was the one you were specifically asking about Mr. Hobro. Errm we published the Grant Thornton report on the 1st July following an extensive fact checking between Grant Thornton who did the independent appraisal and the Council.
I do appreciate the frustration which you’d kind of had about that statement, but I felt it was important that a robust report should be produced following errm a robust investigation.
Errm as you may know if you’ve seen the report, the recommendations were that the Council needs to review the criteria used to consider the business investment grants, grants like that to avoid any ambiguity in criteria used to assess applications and where panels are used to review applications, panels are given written terms of reference and errm I accept those recommendations errm in full.
Errm as again you’ll know err you were informed with the exception of one errm of the companies that were brought to our attention, all as far as I’m aware are still trading.
Errm the consultants did raise concern about how one grant request which I referred to the police. Errm however if it turns out that err others have been affected similarly since the report came to us I’m happy to ensure they’re properly investigated and indeed if there are any further evidence of wrongdoing or the irregularities of accountancy methods brought to my attention, then errm I am errm willing and indeed I make a commitment to refer those to others.