Posted by: John Brace | 18th December 2013

Response from Cllr Jeff Green on the Anna Klonowski Associates report redactions

Response from Cllr Jeff Green on Improvement Board issues


Following the Improvement Board meeting held in public last month, exactly a month ago I emailed Graham Burgess (Chief Executive), Cllr Phil Davies (Leader of the Labour Group), Cllr Jeff Green (Leader of the Conservative Group) and Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Leader of the Lib Dem Group) about the progress on the commitments made at that meeting.

I indicated in that email that I would publish replies (unless the author stated otherwise) so that the public know what’s happening.

Nearly two weeks ago I received a reply from Cllr Jeff Green (which is below). It made sense to wait a little longer for replies from the others so that they could all be published together. As a month has gone by and I haven’t received a reply from another of the other three, below Cllr Jeff Green’s reply I include my original email. I haven’t changed the colour used for text in Cllr Green’s email, as Leader of the Conservative Group I think it would come as no surprise to people that he writes in blue!

from: Green, Jeff E. (Councillor)
date: 6 December 2013 14:47
subject: RE: follow up to question and answer session at Friday’s Improvement Board meeting

Dear John

Thanks for your email. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

I think my record is pretty clear on this matter: I have always pushed for an un-redacted copy of the AKA report to be published and have been obstructed at every turn.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant and the sooner the light is shed on the actions of those responsible, the better.

I trust that sets my position out clearly for you.

Best wishes

Jeff Green signature

Cllr. Jeff Green
Leader of the Conservative Group
Ward Councillor for West Kirby & Thurstaston

Phone: 07766725125
You can also find me on Facebook

From: John Brace []
Sent: 18 November 2013 11:15
To: Burgess, Graham
Cc: Davies, Phil L. (Councillor); Green, Jeff E. (Councillor); Gilchrist, Phil N. (Councillor)
Subject: follow up to question and answer session at Friday’s Improvement Board meeting

Dear Graham Burgess, Cllr Phil Davies, Cllr Jeff Green and Cllr Phil Gilchrist,

In order that the public know the progress of the commitments made on Friday’s Improvement Board meeting I am publishing this email and will happily also publish any replies unless you indicate that you do not wish your reply to be put in the public domain.

A brief update on some progress I have made on the appendices to the Anna Klonowski Associates Limited report. Appendix B (the Equality and Human Rights Commission Letter dated 29th December 2010) has been helpfully supplied by Paul Cardin.

Appendices C (the first improvement plan) and D (the Care Quality Commission Inspection Report) I discovered at the weekend had already been published by Wirral Council as part of a Cabinet agenda from over three years ago.

Appendix G (the Standards for England decision notices) have already been published too and I am not asking for appendix L (medical information relating to Martin Morton). This just leaves appendices E, F, H, I, J, K, M, N, O, P and Q.

With regards to my supplementary question about appendix P (minutes of the DASS Monitoring and Development Sub Group Meeting), as this was the only meeting minutes referred to in the appendices list I made an error. My question should’ve referred to notes in a different appendix, which contained the notes of the Charging Policy Working Group held on the 22nd August 2005, my apologies for any confusion caused.

I would be interested in receiving an unredacted copy of the notes and accompanying table (unredacted in respect of the three councillors who were there if deleting the redaction of officer names is an insurmountable problem) of the Charging Policy Working Group. The only councillor I am able to ascertain was there so far was Cllr Pat Williams.

With regards to appendix E (charging policy for supported living services) as this was a policy I presume it was agreed by councillors. It therefore can’t be claimed that a policy falls into one of the reasons you gave on Friday for not publishing the appendices. Publishing it would help the public understand the series of events that happened and whether it was an unlawful policy implemented by officers or whether officers acted outside of an agreed policy.

I am sure you (apart from Cllr Gilchrist who couldn’t be there) remember the mood of the public at Friday’s meeting and how although Wirral Council has changed in some ways that convincing the public of that change will be a difficult challenge.

I asked the questions I did on Friday because if the public were informed fully about what actually happened, then knowing what happened and the chain of events that led to it would allow the public to decide for themselves whether the changes made since then would prevent a reoccurence in the future.

Until there is more disclosure of what went happened, despite Wirral Council’s desire to “move on” some members of the public will still want to know and the details of who, what, why, where and when which at the moment are answers that are only filled with speculation.

I hope this sets out my position and I look forward to a more detailed response about the future publication (or the reasons against publication) of the remaining appendices to the Anna Klonowski Associated Limited report and the question about removing the redactions of councillor and officer names (at Head of Service level and above) in the Martin Smith report.

Yours sincerely,
John Brace

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  1. So one answer only despite glib assurances in camera “I will get back to you”. Ex camera without a hostile crowd it is a different story- no getting back to you.

    Similarly I asked Mike Thomas . Grant Thornton , whether it was true he had been holding back the whole of governance certificate due to unresolved BIG/ISUS/Workjing Neighbourhoods questions. His answer was that it was on his desk and would be signed. In camera a hesitant response to avoid any backlash. However he had already signed and delivered it on 3rd October over a month beforehand as per the minutes of the audit and risk committee in november!! When he closed the audit I do not know exactly, certainty by the second November Audit and risk Committee that followed the 15th November public meeting. But my question was on the whole of Governance and the response received suggested stage management rather like the responses you received.

  2. Much as this is a blog read by around a hundred people a day last month, I’m not a councillor or an employee of Wirral Council so I can be ignored in the hope that I’ll won’t persist in the matter and move onto other things.

    There was a Wirral Globe story earlier this year about all sixty-six councillors getting media training.

    Essentially the way it seems to work now, is that Labour Cabinet Members are happy to take credit when there’s something they think will be popular with the public, but they rarely give quotes when there’s something that if they were associated with in the public’s eye would tarnish their reputation.

    This leads to senior officers being wheeled out almost as a human shield to take the flak and give a quote to the press or answer questions from opposition councillors. The senior officers must see being criticised as part of the territory they work in and of course these people don’t have to ask for the public’s support in an election every four years.

    Wirral Council have got a lot better at spin and reputation management and in the art of giving a quote that doesn’t really give away any new information or say anything that isn’t already known.

    I was at the Audit and Risk Management Committee you refer to, you can watch the footage of that meeting if you like.

    I think the correct term is Whole of Government Accounts certificate as Wirral Council spend money given to them by other government departments, Grant Thornton have to certify it’s been done properly (I think it used to also be called the certification of grant claims or is that something else?)

    This would be a different thing to closing Wirral Council’s accounts for 2012/13 (although in the case of BIG/ISUS the two issues are interrelated).

    Certainly if you want the detail as to when, I suggest you either email Mike Thomas or watch the videos again to see what was said. It’s always possible that there is an error in the minutes of the Audit and Risk Management Committee as it would be easy for the person writing the minutes to confuse Mike Thomas’ comments about the Whole of Government Accounts certificate with closing the audit on Wirral Council’s accounts for the 2012/13 financial year.

    • John your exactitude is commendable. following your examples I did both listen to Mike Thomas at the Committee and also read the Audit Letter presented in minutes of the 25th November 2013 Audit and risk committeee.

      The Whole of Government opinion ( effectively a certificate if positive) is verbally referred to by Mike Thomas as being granted at end of October 2013 but in the Auditt Letter it is dated as being granted on 3rd October 2013.

      The two are related, the opinion and the certificate of closure of audit as both were concurrently held up as Grant Thornton considered whether any ISUS reclaim by erdf would be material to the consolidation of WBC accounts into the whole of the public sectors’ accounts. The refund being a maximum of circa £1 million , and that only possible not certain, rightly they concluded no impediment to the positive opinion on the whole of government accounts. Presumably they considered whether any other parties such as Department of Work and Pensions would attempt to recover lost working Neighbourhoods monies, or whether private aggrieved parties would sue WBC successfully.

      The problem at the PIB public meeting of 15th November is that Mike Thomas mishears? my question and where I refer to “Whole of governance” he seeks not to correct my language and to differentiate clearly between the two, closure of audit and opinion on whole of Government. I was nervous addressing a large gathering and perhaps so too was this professional being MORE USED TO A QUIESCENT AUDIENCE of Councillors. They dont like it up ’em Captain Mannering!

      Finishing the story at the 25th November Audit and Risk committee Mike Thomas announces that that very day he has signed the certificate to close the audit. He does add that it has been done on the basis that BIG has been addressed, and that ISUS has been resigned to third party hands , the DCLG.

      I believe the revelations recently that WBC officers always had critical data which 10 months ago they told Grant Thornton that they did not have, should have stayed their hand in granting this certificate. I believe that the audit should continue to incorporate a conclusion of how this has happened for after all WBC cannot trumpet far and wide its honesty in apopointing independent investigators , and then proceed to MISLEAD the same investigators.

      • If I remember correct