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.
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What’s in the nomination papers for the Labour and Conservative candidates in Bebington?

What’s in the nomination papers for the Labour and Conservative candidates in Bebington?

What’s in the nomination papers for the Labour and Conservative candidates in Bebington?

                                            

Returning Officer for Wirral Council Eric Robinson 25th March 2019
Returning Officer for Wirral Council Eric Robinson 25th March 2019

Pictured above is Wirral Council’s Returning Officer Eric Robinson. The Returning Officer does have the legal power to determine a nomination paper is invalid (which has the effect of disqualifying a candidate) if either:

(a) the particulars of the candidate or the persons subscribing the paper are not as required by law; or
(b) that the paper is not subscribed as so required.
Continue reading “What’s in the nomination papers for the Labour and Conservative candidates in Bebington?”

What’s in the nomination papers of the 4 candidates in the Upton byelection of a councillor? (Wirral Council)

What’s in the nomination papers of the 4 candidates in the Upton byelection of a councillor? (Wirral Council)

What’s in the nomination papers of the 4 candidates in the Upton byelection of a councillor? (Wirral Council)

                                            

I’ll start by declaring a relative of mine is the proposer of candidate Alan Davies’, his name and other details appear on Alan Davies’ nomination paper below. I’m also an election observer.

Below are copies of nomination papers and candidates’ consent to nomination for the 4 candidates in the Upton byelection of a councillor to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council following the resignation of Matthew Patrick. Polling day is on the 22nd November 2018.
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What was the answer to my question to Cllr Steve Foulkes about openness at Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority?

What was the answer to my question to Cllr Steve Foulkes about openness at Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority?

What was the answer to my question to Cllr Steve Foulkes about openness at Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority?

                                           

Cllr Steve Foulkes (Lead Member for Finance and Organisational Development) front (right) answering a question at a public meeting of the Transport Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) 9th August 2018
Cllr Steve Foulkes (Lead Member for Finance and Organisational Development) front (right) answering a question at a public meeting of the Transport Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) 9th August 2018

Yesterday I asked a question to Cllr Foulkes (pictured above), who is the Lead Member for Finance and Organisational Development on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Transport Committee. You can also watch video of the question asked and Cllr Foulkes’ answer below.

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Transport Committee (Liverpool City Region Combined Authority) 9th August 2018 Public Question Time – Question to Cllr Steve Foulkes
Continue reading “What was the answer to my question to Cllr Steve Foulkes about openness at Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority?”

Wirral Council’s Children’s Services branded “inadequate” by OFSTED

Wirral Council’s Children’s Services branded “inadequate” by OFSTED

Wirral Council’s Children’s Services branded “inadequate” by OFSTED

                              

Cabinet 17th December 2014 voting to close Lyndale School L to R Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Education), Cllr George Davies, Cllr Ann McLachlan
Cabinet 17th December 2014 vote on Lyndale School closure L to R Cllr Tony Smith (Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services), Cllr George Davies, Cllr Ann McLachlan

I’ll declare at the outset that I was the Appellant in the First-Tier Tribunal case referred to later.

I’ve just read the 44 page inspection report by OFSTED into services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers which you can read on OFSTED’s website.

The inspection was carried out in July 2016 and the headlines (these are quoted from the report) are:

“1. Children who need help and protection
Inadequate

2. Children looked after and achieving permanence
Requires improvement

2.1 Adoption Performance
Requires improvement

2.2 Experiences and progress of care leavers
Inadequate

1. Leadership, management and governance
Inadequate

The report then goes on to explain the many reasons why and starts with the sentence, “There are widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection in Wirral.” and perhaps even more telling makes this point about senior management and councillors, “Almost all of the deficits identified in this inspection were known by senior leaders.

And in response to a certain senior manager at Wirral Council who repeatedly states the Council acts in the best interests of children, “Plans to restructure services to respond better to children’s needs were delayed for a year due to competing council priorities.

However I don’t want you to think I’m cherry-picking negative criticism from the report. If you read the report you’ll find it has very little to state that is positive.

After all this sentence, “Performance management data is widely scrutinised by managers and elected members, but is not yet leading to improvement and is not always focused on the right things.” sums it up. People (whether that be councillors or managers) know about the problems, but seemingly don’t know (or if I’m being more charitable are thwarted from) fixing them.

The infamous report into Wirral Council by Anna Klonowski Associates explained how in years gone by Wirral Council received independent reports similar to these but just carried on (whereas in other councils it would’ve raised red flags and led to major alarm bells ringing).

Of course it remains to be seen what Wirral Council’s response to this is. An Improvement Board has been mentioned (but if it meets in private as the one before did) the public won’t know about the changes Wirral Council is making in response and to be able to hold their political leaders to account.

And let’s face it, a Council that is prepared to go to a Tribunal to make sure some of the views of senior councillors, union representatives and senior managers at a meeting held in secret about education are kept out of the public domain in response to a FOI request, is that a Council acting in an “open and transparent” way or one that knows about its problems but wants to keep them out of the public domain?

The OFSTED inspection report is due to be discussed by councillors on Wirral Council’s Children Sub-Committee at a public meeting this Thursday evening (22nd September 2016) in Committee Room 2 in Wallasey Town Hall starting at 6.00pm.

Oh and just to quell any rumours, no I don’t have any children but Wirral Council’s external auditor Grant Thornton are reviewing the impact of the OFSTED report on their Value for Money conclusion which goes to be considered at a public meeting of Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee on Monday 26th September starting at 6.00pm in Committee Room 1 at Wallasey Town Hall.

As I wish to end on a positive note Committee Rooms 1, 2 (and I’m told also Committee Room 3) on the ground floor at Wallasey Town Hall are now able to be better accessed by those in wheelchairs or those with reduced mobility due to changes recently made to the doors to these rooms at this listed building.

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