Incredible: Cllr Foulkes “we seem to have some whistleblowers who are courted, almost feted”
The above quote is from Cllr Foulkes at Wednesday’s Audit and Risk Management Committee in a long comment on Wirral Council and whistleblowing which starts here.
His extremely honest comments call for a further report on the BIG & ISUS business grants program, partly because the Council’s auditors won’t sign off on Wirral Council’s accounts until it’s resolved. Surely after spending an estimated £50,000 on reports by Grant Thornton’s forensic department an officer at Wirral Council must have some answers for Cllr Foulkes? He accuses whistleblowers of raising issues that "drag the Council back into the past" and hopes (rather optimistically) that all the outstanding whistleblowing issues will be resolved "simultaneously".
He then went on to say that some whistleblowers were "courted almost feted" whereas others were forgotten, such as the group over the Highways and Engineering Service Procurement Exercise contract. The whistleblowing over the Highways and Engineering Service Procurement Exercise contract hasn’t been forgotten. In that case the name of one of the whistleblowers, who wanted to remain anonymous was published on Wirral Council’s website. The matters raised by that group were written about at length by the independent person, Richard Penn (whose report was published) and although not everyone agrees with Penn’s opinion and interpretation of events, in most people’s minds the matters regarding the senior officer suspensions has been resolved. Colas’s contract ends next year and will be put out to tender with Colas stating that they won’t bid for it.
Cllr Foulkes also believes that "whoever blows the whistle or complains should be taken seriously and dealt with as efficiently and quick but in all senses fairly". He also said he finds the whistleblowing issue "quite worrying". Would whistleblowers be offered and be paid large amounts of money if they had been treated fairly? He also said that they "have to be fair to those in the firing line of a complaint". The whistleblowing concerns of late haven’t been because of one anonymous and unknown Inspector Clouseau type employee that sadly Wirral Council can’t sack, but have been brought about by systemic failings in Wirral Council’s corporate governance systems and its culture. These two areas are the responsibility of many different individuals including its politicians. Cllr Foulkes said that "words I’ve said tonight may be misconstrued".
He said that many councillors found themselves being contacted by people with complaints, complaints that he found the resolution of "almost impossible". He said he "did not believe whistleblowers should ever be used in a political fashion" and that councillors "don’t seem to have an up to date picture" as to how whistleblowers concerns were being resolved.
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