Posted by: John Brace | 4th June 2019

What are the 6 significant governance issues Wirral Council face and why is it cutting down trees?

What are the 6 significant governance issues Wirral Council face and why is it cutting down trees?

                                         

Returning Officer for Wirral Council Eric Robinson 25th March 2019

Wirral Council’s Chief Executive Eric Robinson 25th March 2019 who should be explicitly named in the Statement of Accounts as his salary is over £150,000

Well it’s that time of year again for my review of Wirral Council’s Statement of Accounts for 2018-19 which this year comes in at 216 pages (the accounts not this review).

I’d also like to point out that this year the Bureau of Investigative Journalism Bureau Local Network are running a pilot project on inspecting local authority accounts.

The references to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service on pages 128 and 168 need correcting to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority.

Page 117 should to comply with this legal requirement explicitly name Eric Robinson as the Chief Executive (as his salary of £175,874 is above the £150,000 threshold).

There appears to be an error on page 38, where it states that £1,125 million has been committed to tree inspection and maintenance (for comparison the total revenue income to the Council over that entire financial year is just under £768 million) so I am assuming this is meant to read £1.125 million.

However it does explain why a lot of trees are being chopped down by Wirral Council’s contractors as it appears to have arisen after a section of a tree fell on a vehicle on the highway at Arrowe Park in 2016.

On a more positive note though after criticising Wirral Council last year for not publishing the Annual Governance Statement with the draft accounts by the required deadline, which was then included in the auditor’s recommendations (see page 20) it’s good to see the Annual Governance Statement included this time (which is one of the legal requirements).

Wirral Council’s webcasting of some of its public meetings (which started during the last financial year) is mentioned three times in a section on transparency and accountability and a narrative about two different CIPFA principles.

There are six significant governance issues listed at pages 36-38 which are:

1) the actions taken to address issues in the Improvement Notice issued by the Secretary of State for Education on 30th September 2016 following the OFSTED report reported on this blog nearly 3 years ago,

2) financial challenges including uncertainty of future funding, including whether savings can be delivered and increased income achieved,

3) Wirral Growth Company issues (the partnership agreement for the joint venture with Muse Developments was signed in March 2019) but if the Wirral Growth Company failed it would undermine the Council’s budget, economic growth and public and investor confidence,

4) and 5) the direction issued by the Secretary of State over the delayed Local Plan and the possibility that if the Action Plan isn’t adhered to that the process will be taken out of Wirral Council’s hands and also threatened intervention by the Secretary of State for not deciding on planning applications quickly enough,

and

6) the tree inspection and maintenance programme referred to earlier.

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Responses

  1. A £175,000 wage for a Council employee is obscene, that’s £3.000 a week, £3.000 a week, they want to save money to fund projets etc cut the wages bill.
    I still want to know where my council tax money is going you never see anything getting done, street lights are still out, bollards missing from roads even when the repair work should have been carried out months ago, roads flooded when we have a bit of rain or is al the taxpayers money going to pay wages?

    • Councillors are meeting next week to start the recruitment process for a new Chief Executive – so presumably will discuss the salary range for the post.

      As to the rest, does a booklet still go out with the annual council tax demand explaining this or has that been scrapped too?

      The flooded roads can be a combination of blocked drains (which is Wirral Council’s responsibility) and the fact the drainage system isn’t designed for the amount of rain we get now (which is really the responsibility of United Utilities).

      I’ll see if I can find out easily what the total payroll is for the just over 3,000 employees Wirral Council has.

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