Posted by: John Brace | 8th March 2019

What is Wirral Council trying to cover up now?

What is Wirral Council trying to cover up now?

                                 

No documents are available for this meeting

No documents are available for this meeting

This is a story of another Wirral Council cover up that seems to be in slow motion falling apart.

It started first last month with this FOI request of mine last month for a report that was considered by councillors on Wirral Council’s Employment and Appointments Committee in private on Tuesday evening. That request was first turned down (by the Council that likes to say no) on the grounds of commercial interests (section 43), then when I requested an internal review the section 43 decision was overturned and replaced with a section 22 refusal (information intended for future publication) on the rationale that Wirral Council will publish the information on its website at some future unspecified date and supplying the 18 A4 pages I asked for would be according to them a “drain on public resources”.

Video footage that I took of the public meeting is below, although at the time of publishing this piece someone working for Wirral Council has whether deliberately or accidentally and somewhat unusually restricted public access to the documents for this meeting on its website and the agenda for all items (even the ones previously published and held in public) and this includes the 124 A4 pages of reports for the first seven items (these are all documents that are open to public inspection). Their website merely states, “No documents are available for this meeting”.

I might point out that this is in the roughly half of public meetings at Wirral Council that they don’t webcast themselves. This also means no microphones were used by Wirral Council too (although you will hear intermittent noise from the tea and coffee machine which was out of cups).

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Employment and Appointments Committee (Wirral Council) 5th March 2019 Part 1 of 2

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Employment and Appointments Committee (Wirral Council) 5th March 2019 Part 2 of 2

I can however tell you that the Employment and Appointments Committee went on for went on for about 46 minutes after I left discussing agenda item 8 (Chief Officer Report) and you can tell from the video who was in the room when I left to report on the Business and Overview Scrutiny Committee in an adjoining room.

I can also tell you that Wirral Council councillors agreed that the report for that item should be made available to the public.

My educated guess about it is therefore this, there is a public meeting of all Wirral Council councillors scheduled for the 18th March 2019 and the papers for that public meeting will be published later today (which I guess will include whatever was decided in private that councillors stated should be published).

Reading between the lines whatever was decided by the Employment and Appointments Committee (which presuming by the time it took to debate and decide is unlikely to be unanimously) includes a recommendation to Council (which means it must involve something that can only be decided by a meeting of all Wirral Council councillors such as involving the post of Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer, some other statutory post, creating a new post over £100,000, some type of early retirement or voluntary severance package over the threshold in the Pay Policy or something of that type).

However it is a shame that by restricting the documents on its website for this meeting that reports such as the Workforce Equality Report, Gender Pay Gap Report, proposed Pay Policy Statement for 2019-20 and Employment and Appointments Panel minutes for meetings that appointed 6 senior managers can’t be linked to easily from this piece.

For information these are what was in the Employment and Appointments Panel minutes (along with who decided and when):

22.5.18
Employment and Appointments Panel
Present: Cllrs A Brame, B Mooney, JE Green, L Rennie, AER Jones, J Stapleton and A Leech

Proposed by Cllr Adrian Jones and seconded by Cllr A Leech that Councillor Bernie Mooney be Chair.

Appointment of Assistant Director – Culture and Visitor Economy (Economic and Housing Growth) – Lucy Barrow (unanimous)

Appointment of Assistant Director – Modernisation and Support (Children’s) – Carly Brown (unanimous)

Appointment of Assistant Director – Early Help and Prevention (Children’s) – Elizabeth Hartley

22.5.18
Present: Cllrs C Blakeley, P Davies, C Carubia, AER Jones, G Davies, M Mclaughlin and L Rennie

Proposed by Cllr Adrian Jones and seconded by Cllr G Davies that Cllr Phil Davies take the Chair.

Resolved 5:2 that candidates 1, 2, 3 and 6 go through to the next stage of selection (Corporate Director for Economic and Housing Growth)

6.6.18
Present: Cllrs P Davies, C Blakeley, AER Jones, C Carubia, M Mclaughlin, G Davies and S Williams.

Resolved 6:1 that candidates 2 and 3 be invited for final interview on 7 June 2018.

7.6.18
Present: Cllrs P Davies, C Blakeley, AER Jones, C Carubia, M Mclaughlin, G Davies and S Williams.

Resolved (unanimously) that Brian Bailey, formerly Director Strategy and Funding at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council be appointed to the post of Corporate Director for Economic and Housing Growth.

26.7.18
Present: Cllrs A Brame, D Elderton, G Davies, AER Jones, P Davies and C Jones

On a motion by Cllr Adrian Jones, seconded by Cllr Groge Davies it was resolved that Cllr Phil Davies take the Chair.

Proposed by Cllr Phil Davies, seconded by Cllr George Davies that candidates 1 and 2 be put forward to the next stage of selection (Director of Change and Organisational Design). Resolved.

Proposed by Cllr Phil Davies, seconded by Cllr George Davies that candidates 1 and 2 be put forward for the next stage of selection (Director for Finance and Investment).

Change of interview date for Director for Change and Organisational Design Post to 15th August 2018.

8.8.18
Present: Cllrs A Brame, C Blakeley, G Davies, AER Jones, P Davies, A Hodson

Candidate 2 has withdrawn, therefore the Panel proceeded with interviewing only candidate 1 on the recommendation of Amanda Riley of Penna.

Nicola Boardman currently Head of Corporate Support and Development with Merseyside Police be appointed to the post of Director for Change and Organisational Design.

31.8.18
Present: Cllrs P Davies, A Brame, AER Jones, G Davies, C Jones, D Elderton, L Rennie.

After the two shortlisted candidates were interviewed, Cllr P Davies proposed and it was seconded that Daniel Kirwan be appointed to the post of Assistant Director: Finance and Investment.

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Responses

  1. Kirwan, eh John?

    • I wondered if it was possibly a relative of former Wirral Council Cllr David Kirwan, the well-known solicitor.

      But who knows?

  2. Fiona Johnstone’s going.

    • Yes, the recommendation to the Employment and Appointments Committee was to approve her leaving at a cost of £146,666.

      Curiously Wirral Council’s current Pay Policy appears to state that the policy is that severance or early retirement payments of over £100,000 have to be approved at a meeting of all Wirral Council councillors. I’ll have to look into it really.

  3. David Green, I believe, ex of Highways, who tried to sack me cheaply back in the day, was the first to buck that busybody trend for “openness and transparency” and leave with no “meeting of all Wirral Council Councillors” and a fat cheque for £103,000 protruding from his arse pocket.

    His wife similarly left WUHT for a top post at Fazakerley Hospital soon after with a fat cheque for £205,000 protruding from the pocket on her perfumed posterior, making a total of £308,000.

    Are we in the wrong game John…?!

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  5. The people of Wirral are a bunch of fools to allow this to carry on!


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