What does the LGA Peer Review of Wirral Council state on overspending, agency staff, morale, consultation and leadership?

What does the LGA Peer Review of Wirral Council state on overspending, agency staff, morale, consultation and leadership?

What does the LGA Peer Review of Wirral Council state on overspending, agency staff, morale, consultation and leadership?


Cllr Ann McLachlan Cabinet Member for Transformation and Improvement at a Cabinet meeting on the 7th March 2016
Cllr Ann McLachlan (Cabinet Member for Transformation and Improvement) at a Cabinet meeting on the 7th March 2016

To very little fanfare, Wirral Council have published the 12 page peer review conducted by the Local Government Association last year. This was accompanied by a press release which glosses over some of the criticism in the peer review.

Here are some quotes from the peer review (followed by my comments in italics):

Financial Strategies

In past years the council has been overspending in some directorate revenue budgets and using its reserves to balance the revenue budget. This issue was reflected in the previous peer challenge in 2012 and the council needs to develop the 2016/17 budget and not divert from it. It is currently anticipating a £9.2m slippage on this year’s savings target of £38m.

Political leadership

The Leader’s role as Chair of the Merseyside City Region is seen as recognition of the important role that the Wirral is playing in the development of the city region.”


Well shortly after this peer review, Cllr Phil Davies resigned as Chair and Mayor Anderson is now Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

“However, the Senior Leadership Team is not currently giving adequate corporate leadership and this needs to be much stronger if the Plan is to be delivered effectively. More connected leadership is needed from the top to the bottom of the organisation. The council must have the senior officer leadership resource to create capacity to deliver change. The peer team also had a concern at the current high use of consultants and interims who are providing temporary specialist support. This is not a concern about consultants/interims per se, but an observation about their number and duration. The council should continue to ‘invest to save’ – efficiently and effectively – using the right external help for specific time-limited purposes, but look to reduce the overall number of longer-term interims in key roles. The council needs to move quickly to a new organisational shape to support the Chief Executive, including providing the right kind of strategic level capacity.”

If I hadn’t written Why has Wirral Council spent £6,003,273.07 on temporary staff over the past 10 months? around a year ago, would this have even been mentioned in the peer review?

Relationship with residents

The council and its partner agencies recognise that they want to form a different relationship with residents in the future. There is general recognition that relationships with local communities has been negatively impacted by the past challenges the council has had to deal with. The new relationship will be based on a clearer Wirral narrative, a greater ability to listen to resident’s issues, making better use of the data and intelligence the council gathers across the Wirral and greater use of channels use as digital and social media.”


Ahh, listening to residents’ issues such as over 6,000 signing a petition against closure of Girtrell Court but you go ahead and decide to delegate closure to the Cabinet Member anyway? Or is this all part of listening to residents then doing the opposite of what they want?

The Council’s approach to partnership working

There is evidence of community involvement in the council’s budget processes, although more limited evidence that this has influenced decision-making.”


So, this seems to imply that when Wirral Council have a budget consultation, the consultation has a limited effect on the decision after the consultation?

“There is also an opportunity for a more coordinated and cost-effective approach to community engagement amongst the Wirral Partnership members. This might extend to a more joined up approach to communications and campaign activities.”

Despite reading this a few times, I’m a little unsure what this means? Anyone care to hazard a guess? I thought the constituency committees were supposed to do community engagement?

New Models for Service Delivery

Delivering significant change must take account of some instances of low staff morale generated by the perception of indiscriminate universal cuts in service provision in recent years.”

In other words Labour councillors constantly going on about government cuts nearly every public meeting is damaging staff morale at Wirral Council.

“The move to new ways of working will need to be driven by a much more powerful Senior Leadership Team to collectively own and drive transformation.”

In other words, there’s going to be a senior management restructure and some managers are going to be leaving.

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