Accountability failures by local government highlighted in report by Research for Action and High Court Judge

Accountability failures by local government highlighted in report by Research for Action and High Court Judge

Accountability failures by local government highlighted in report by Research for Action and High Court Judge

                                 

By John Brace (Editor)
and
Leonora Brace (Co-Editor)

First publication date: 28th April 2021, 05:48 (BST).

The three boxes on the left comprise the PFI fire stations contract
The three boxes on the left comprise the PFI fire stations contract

A 40 A4 page report published today (28th April 2021) by Research for Action titled Democracy Denied: Audit and Accountability Failure in Local Government looked at the experience of those who have tried (during a 30 working day period each year) to inspect the financial records of councils, as well as the experience of those who have asked questions of auditors or made objections using rights in the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 (in England) or the Local Authority Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2014 (in Scotland). The report concentrates on requests to inspect, as well as related rights to ask questions to the auditor and/or object to the auditor. The report is mainly about requests in relation to PFI (Private Finance Initiative) schemes or LOBO (Lender Option Borrower Option) loans.
Continue reading “Accountability failures by local government highlighted in report by Research for Action and High Court Judge”

EXCLUSIVE: Wirral Council continues its multi year battle to keep the 320,000+ Wirral people and press completely in the dark on councillors’ expense claims but in an exclusive you can now read 44 pages of the taxi contract for councillors

EXCLUSIVE: Wirral Council continues its multi year battle to keep the 320,000+ Wirral people and press completely in the dark on councillors’ expense claims but in an exclusive you can now read 44 pages of the taxi contract for councillors

EXCLUSIVE: Wirral Council continues its multi year battle to keep the 320,000+ Wirral people and press completely in the dark on councillors’ expense claims but in an exclusive you can now read 44 pages of the taxi contract for councillors

                                           

Updated: 16:56 7th October 2015: 3 minutes after this blog post was published Wirral Council got in touch about my request under the The Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015. Wirral Council asked for more time to reach a decision (which seems to be on line one page one of their big book of responses. 😉

However I have written back (and carbon copied in Surjit Tour) explaining that Regulation 5(5) excludes such documents because in order to access them I had to prove a legal interest (in this case being a local government elector for the Wirral area) during the 2014/15 audit.

I have made a request for the information Wirral Council are required to provide because of regulation 16(7)(a) and 16(7)(b).

This does mean that as this matter has been resolved, I will be publishing more information unearthed during the audit in the future, such as the Bam Nuttall contract.

Those who pay close attention to this blog will realise I haven’t published anything on this blog for a week. Apologies for that and here is an explanation. For some of that time I wasn’t well and the combination of nights of disrupted sleep due to dogs barking outside/helicopters/extremely noisy weather*(*take your pick as that’s just one night) resulted in severe lack of sleep that made me feel so ill that the last thing I wanted to do is write (and believe me I have to feel very ill not to want to write).

The closest I can describe it to is like suffering from something like jet lag from sleep deprivation (which didn’t help me get better as quickly as I should and had the opposite effect). So apologies if I have either been slow (or not responding at all) to emails and comments. I just haven’t been particularly up to the art of stringing together words into real sentences as typing and actually using my joints to type just made the pain worse. So if I’ve written any emails to you over the past week or so where I seem unusually cranky or cheesed off hopefully this explains why.

However I was better yesterday but was busy doing writing of a different sort, which forms part of what I’m going to write about today.

This blog post is a new chapter in a long running saga about taxis, Wirral Council and secret expenses system. However the story has got far wider than that.

First, before I get into fourth gear of what is a story that seems to now have more interesting angles than the Watergate affair and as this blog is read in many countries around the world I need to explain.

For reasons far too complex to go into here, Wirral Council tends to go in for similar types of high political drama that surrounded the Watergate affair, except people very, very rarely resign (resigning being a once in a blue moon event at Wirral Council that tends to really take people by surprise). This was summed up by the attitude of the former Improvement Board at a public meeting who I will paraphrase here, no one is ever held personally accountable and you mustn’t name names (as if you name names that’s blaming people)! My own personal political philosophy is there are always matters people are personally accountable for, but organisational failings of checks and balances and abuses of power have more serious outcomes for society as a whole than people (or even groups of people) behaving badly. However I digress and I need to briefly summarise the story so far as this is starting to have echoes of the MP expenses scandal. In fact not just echoes but marked similarities.

Wirral Council (official long name the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral) has sixty-six councillors (for foreign readers unfamiliar with the word councillor it’s a form of politician). Nearly every year the people who get to vote on the Wirral (Wirral’s population was estimated at 320,295 in mid-2013 according to the Office for National Statistics) get to choose a candidate. The candidate with the most votes (and I’ll leave out a long argument as to why the First Past the Post system that is used for this is unfair and the merits of STV [single transferable vote] for another day) becomes a politician called a councillor. The person who is elected (unless it’s in a by-election) is then elected and called a councillor generally for a four-year term of office.

During their term of office they receive allowances, but there is also an expenses system too. Under our "democracy" (although technically the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy) politicians such as councillors are answerable to the people.

Many politicians stand for re-election (there are no term limits for being a councillor so for some people it can become a "job for life" (however as councillors on Wirral Council are not employees and not MPs (Members of Parliament) they don’t get a gold-plated pension)) so if you’ve been a bad sort of politician and stand for re election (or if you’re a good politician but are very bad at actually communicating this to the public