'Priorities are perverse': Storm as Wirral Council prepares to replace its 2,400 outdated computers

Wirral Globe: Wirral Council set to replace its 2,400 outdated computers Wirral Council set to replace its 2,400 outdated computers

Computer experts are to be drafted in to help Wirral Council decide how best to replace its obsolete PCs and laptops.

A report to next week’s cabinet meeting says that of the 3,500 devices currently used by staff, 2,400 are out of date.

A budget of £675,000 has been set aside to cover the cost of replacing obsolete equipment.

The move provoked fury from Tory oppostion leader Jeff Green who said the council's priorities are "perverse."

The cabinet report says “most organisations” refresh their devices every four or five years, but this has not happened at Wirral.

Many machines have been in use for seven years or more and need replacing and upgrading to Windows 7 operating system.

Conservative leader councillor Jeff Green stormed: "It strikes me as perverse to be spending this money on computers at a time when the administration has just told parents of children with a statement of Special Educational Needs that the council can no longer afford to automatically provide free school transport for their youngsters.

"It tells you everything you need to know about the priorities of this authority.

"The people who provide these funds are the taxpayers of Wirral, but this council remains so self-obsessed and inward-looking it believes it's okay to spend £670,000 on itself rather than on vital services for them.

"It's a scandal."

His colleague Cllr Chris Blakeley said: "It seems a bad time to be spending this amount of money with so many budget cuts going on, but in a technological age, this equipment is very outdated.

"However, cabinet should be asking councillors themselves to pay for any upgrades to equipment they are personally supplied with."

Labour council leader Cllr Phil Davies dismissed Cllr Green’s views and accused him of trying to score political points.

He said: “I completely reject the idea that we have our priorities wrong.

"The council has got a lot of outdated computers and investment is critical in providing high quality services for residents.

“In most progressive councils, investment in good quality IT is a fundamental requirement and why should Wirral be any different?

"Cllr Green is taking a negative view of the challenges facing local government and it seems to me that is an attempt to score cheap political points when we need serious debate to take Wirral forward.”

The report by the director of finance says outside IT professionals should be hired to help with the project: “It is proposed to engage a company with experience of doing this work, to lead the implementation with a combination of our staff and suppliers.

“The reason for this approach is that it is a process we have never done before, and one which is critical to the continued operation of the council.”

Cabinet councillors will be told the old devices are creating access problems for their users, are slow to respond, frequently fail and incur high maintenance costs to keep them going.

The out-of-date software allows security standards to be breached putting the town hall at risk of failing its security accreditation.

It also “locks the council into old ways of working, denying access to the advantage of mobile working.”

The decision to renew computers originally was taken in 2010, but the project was never started.

 

Comments (20)

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9:50am Thu 4 Jul 13

Growl Tiger says...

"Cabinet councillors will be told the old devices are creating access problems for their users, are slow to respond, frequently fail and incur high maintenance costs to keep them going."

Exactly what we have been saying about some of WBC's senior officers!
"Cabinet councillors will be told the old devices are creating access problems for their users, are slow to respond, frequently fail and incur high maintenance costs to keep them going." Exactly what we have been saying about some of WBC's senior officers! Growl Tiger
  • Score: 0

10:49am Thu 4 Jul 13

No.9 says...

Has to be done. XP doesn't cut it these days. Up-to-date equipment will aid service admin, and yes, security is an issue. Just need IT literates to operate it.
Has to be done. XP doesn't cut it these days. Up-to-date equipment will aid service admin, and yes, security is an issue. Just need IT literates to operate it. No.9
  • Score: 0

11:29am Thu 4 Jul 13

ballacrain says...

This is something that should have been done on a rolling basis, not one big hit.
It just shows the lack of thinking and planning this council has.
This is something that should have been done on a rolling basis, not one big hit. It just shows the lack of thinking and planning this council has. ballacrain
  • Score: 0

11:38am Thu 4 Jul 13

WirralAl says...

As always the council have failed to maintain the IT systems and as such now needs to spend a vast amount. They should of had a rolling replacement system to make sure that none of the computers get past 4 years old. Its hardly a surprise as this council would rather give buckets of money away to departing senior officers.

We also get a bit sick of both parties mud slinging when ALL of the political parties act like small children and resort to name calling. Quite frankly sick to death of all of them when they are all just as bad as each other and have ALL LET US DOWN.
As always the council have failed to maintain the IT systems and as such now needs to spend a vast amount. They should of had a rolling replacement system to make sure that none of the computers get past 4 years old. Its hardly a surprise as this council would rather give buckets of money away to departing senior officers. We also get a bit sick of both parties mud slinging when ALL of the political parties act like small children and resort to name calling. Quite frankly sick to death of all of them when they are all just as bad as each other and have ALL LET US DOWN. WirralAl
  • Score: 0

12:07pm Thu 4 Jul 13

No.9 says...

ballacrain wrote:
This is something that should have been done on a rolling basis, not one big hit.
It just shows the lack of thinking and planning this council has.
I would expect this to be implemented now that GB has created some very highly paid positions. At these prices I would expect cutting-egde management skills, not the pretenders we've had resulting from the "safe jobs for the boys, hang on in there for your pensions" culture that's been so obviously prevalent in previous years.
[quote][p][bold]ballacrain[/bold] wrote: This is something that should have been done on a rolling basis, not one big hit. It just shows the lack of thinking and planning this council has.[/p][/quote]I would expect this to be implemented now that GB has created some very highly paid positions. At these prices I would expect cutting-egde management skills, not the pretenders we've had resulting from the "safe jobs for the boys, hang on in there for your pensions" culture that's been so obviously prevalent in previous years. No.9
  • Score: 0

1:19pm Thu 4 Jul 13

bigfoot says...

Its the same with buildings and other capital items. They neglect to undertake a planned,preventative maintenance programme,and they react in horror when something breaks. Pennywise pound foolish,should be the new motto.
Its the same with buildings and other capital items. They neglect to undertake a planned,preventative maintenance programme,and they react in horror when something breaks. Pennywise pound foolish,should be the new motto. bigfoot
  • Score: 0

4:25pm Thu 4 Jul 13

johnhardaker says...

As Victor Meldrew would say "I don't believe it " £675,000.00 for new computers Oh we know how we will pay for it
A. cut the meals on wheels to vulnerable pensioners.
B, stop free transport for disabled children.
C, write off £500.000.00 of toxic debt for uncollected rents.
D,Write off £31.000.000.00 of Dass uncollected debts.
E, spend £2475.00 plus travel & hotel expenses to go to the LGA conference in Manchester.
F.Give £1,100.000.00 to disgraced officers.
G waste nearly £8.000.000.00 on the big fund .
H pay off Dave Green £100k for his "NO case to answer" in the HESPE debacle.
I, pay the fortunate 66 Over a million pounds in "Allowances",
J Make Steve Foulkes the mayor in 2014.
K have a Firemans games & invite 35 brigades to come up & play at our expense in the Albert Dock for three days.
Oh I seem to have strayed from the point 2 "Oh Dear". perhaps they should send me back for my ECT treatment & put the straight jacket back on after all the funny farm is that large building on Brighton Street know as the asylum sorry the town hall.
As Victor Meldrew would say "I don't believe it " £675,000.00 for new computers Oh we know how we will pay for it A. cut the meals on wheels to vulnerable pensioners. B, stop free transport for disabled children. C, write off £500.000.00 of toxic debt for uncollected rents. D,Write off £31.000.000.00 of Dass uncollected debts. E, spend £2475.00 plus travel & hotel expenses to go to the LGA conference in Manchester. F.Give £1,100.000.00 to disgraced officers. G waste nearly £8.000.000.00 on the big fund . H pay off Dave Green £100k for his "NO case to answer" in the HESPE debacle. I, pay the fortunate 66 Over a million pounds in "Allowances", J Make Steve Foulkes the mayor in 2014. K have a Firemans games & invite 35 brigades to come up & play at our expense in the Albert Dock for three days. Oh I seem to have strayed from the point 2 "Oh Dear". perhaps they should send me back for my ECT treatment & put the straight jacket back on after all the funny farm is that large building on Brighton Street know as the asylum sorry the town hall. johnhardaker
  • Score: 0

4:35pm Thu 4 Jul 13

hobroW says...

G waste nearly £8.000.000.00 on the big fund .

more accurately

discover Grant Thornton audit sample of five files out of circa 80 all have serious anomalies These account for 143K which if extrapolated as 100% error would be circa 1.6m pounds

the rest of waste probably 3-4m pounds re working neighbourhoods ,Asset transfer accounting advice ,ISUS et alia

Your outrage understandably runs ahead of itself
G waste nearly £8.000.000.00 on the big fund . more accurately discover Grant Thornton audit sample of five files out of circa 80 all have serious anomalies These account for 143K which if extrapolated as 100% error would be circa 1.6m pounds the rest of waste probably 3-4m pounds re working neighbourhoods ,Asset transfer accounting advice ,ISUS et alia Your outrage understandably runs ahead of itself hobroW
  • Score: 0

4:41pm Thu 4 Jul 13

hobroW says...

some of the expenditure half or more will inevitably have gone where it was intended.

Even the most incompetent cannot achieve 100% failure!

Had the money been directed to a good firm then the waste might have been the inevitable 5-15 rather than 30-50%
some of the expenditure half or more will inevitably have gone where it was intended. Even the most incompetent cannot achieve 100% failure! Had the money been directed to a good firm then the waste might have been the inevitable 5-15 rather than 30-50% hobroW
  • Score: 0

4:48pm Thu 4 Jul 13

JohnON says...

Hopefully, all the old gear will be recycled to good causes - AFTER the hard drives have been thoroughly wiped clean.

Pity it wasn't done on a rolling basis but it wasn't. Financially, I doubt I'll ever see again a "good time" to spend the money so may as well do it now.

Maybe all those £millions wouldn't have gone missing quite so readily if the staff had had decent kit instead of abacuses (abaci ?) to work with.
Hopefully, all the old gear will be recycled to good causes - AFTER the hard drives have been thoroughly wiped clean. Pity it wasn't done on a rolling basis but it wasn't. Financially, I doubt I'll ever see again a "good time" to spend the money so may as well do it now. Maybe all those £millions wouldn't have gone missing quite so readily if the staff had had decent kit instead of abacuses (abaci ?) to work with. JohnON
  • Score: 0

9:16pm Thu 4 Jul 13

Whitby says...

We certainly do need to equip the WBC with upto date computers because it must be the old ones that have been ignoring published guidelines and policy statements;forget to answer correspondence and fail to investigate complaints.I must appologise because I really thought it was the personnel in the various departments that were inefficient when all the time the reason was "the computer says no!" Perhaps a deal can be done with a supplier to give free "PCs for Dummies" books with each desktop and underline the chapter which says "The computer is only as good as the information you yourself put in.Before blaming the computer make sure you have done the basics".
I think they mean answering letters,dealing with issues and returning phone calls.....all things which came naturally to clerical staff (sorry Supermanagers) before computerisation but which seems to be a lost art.
We certainly do need to equip the WBC with upto date computers because it must be the old ones that have been ignoring published guidelines and policy statements;forget to answer correspondence and fail to investigate complaints.I must appologise because I really thought it was the personnel in the various departments that were inefficient when all the time the reason was "the computer says no!" Perhaps a deal can be done with a supplier to give free "PCs for Dummies" books with each desktop and underline the chapter which says "The computer is only as good as the information you yourself put in.Before blaming the computer make sure you have done the basics". I think they mean answering letters,dealing with issues and returning phone calls.....all things which came naturally to clerical staff (sorry Supermanagers) before computerisation but which seems to be a lost art. Whitby
  • Score: 0

1:48pm Fri 5 Jul 13

Joeblogg85 says...

The IT situation at Wirral has been in chaos for years! All the Councillors have been given new PC's even though half of them don't use them but the staff have to put up with any old tat. The rolling programme of investing in IT infrastructure is just plain old common sense. However, Wirral Council just don't do common sense do they? You couldn't write it could you? Shambles!!!
The IT situation at Wirral has been in chaos for years! All the Councillors have been given new PC's even though half of them don't use them but the staff have to put up with any old tat. The rolling programme of investing in IT infrastructure is just plain old common sense. However, Wirral Council just don't do common sense do they? You couldn't write it could you? Shambles!!! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 0

4:58pm Fri 5 Jul 13

merseymal says...

As of 8th April next year Windows XP's extended support ends which means no more patches for vulnerabilities.

Perhaps Cllr Green is happy to risk the PCs crashing and corrupting data?
As of 8th April next year Windows XP's extended support ends which means no more patches for vulnerabilities. Perhaps Cllr Green is happy to risk the PCs crashing and corrupting data? merseymal
  • Score: 0

12:42am Sat 6 Jul 13

JADEE1 says...

ive got £ 20 here for all the hard drives,or better still let the outside police force move in now!! before the evidence is contaminated ,or lost .!!!
ive got £ 20 here for all the hard drives,or better still let the outside police force move in now!! before the evidence is contaminated ,or lost .!!! JADEE1
  • Score: 0

8:18am Sat 6 Jul 13

hobroW says...

hmm I thought computers were super duper at retaining data but it seems investigations cannot continue because WBC has not access to the original files.

With paper people were naturally meticulous but digital seems to encourage laxity. I cannot imagine in a paper based system that files regarding grants of £20,000 would not be carefully photocopied and stored. However in BIG investigation proiceedings are halted for non-access to files!!
hmm I thought computers were super duper at retaining data but it seems investigations cannot continue because WBC has not access to the original files. With paper people were naturally meticulous but digital seems to encourage laxity. I cannot imagine in a paper based system that files regarding grants of £20,000 would not be carefully photocopied and stored. However in BIG investigation proiceedings are halted for non-access to files!! hobroW
  • Score: 0

9:49am Sat 6 Jul 13

Hugo1008 says...

Yet another example of just how inept the senior management have been for years in Wirral Council yet the present bunch of so called Councilors agreed and condoned to give a fair number of them huge lumps of money, to go away and keep quite.

Now they cannot trace or tell the public who has or where they are massive numbers of communication devices, mobile phones, blackberries, lap tops, smart phones, but they continue to pay the fantastic phone bill for all those issued to lord knows who.
Bright Thought, lets replace the entire stock of communication devices so then we can say we know who has them and why.
Another Bright Thought, lets replace all the Parks and gardens equipment and the vehicals running round the wirral, then we will know who has what and why.
More Bright Thoughts, lets ask the public to pay an extra charge for collecting the brown bins, that way we will know who has them and why, so far they claim to be able to locate 30,000 of them, but have no idea where the other 88,000 are or if they exist.
After all is was one of our past bright ideas to give out over 110,000 brown bins to people who did not ask for them in the first place.

Spare us any more bright ideas Wirral Borough Council, instead give us some Bright individuals who know how to run a local authority and some Bright Councilors who have an inkling on how it should be managed and governed. Preferably in a non political shambles as at the moment.
Yet another example of just how inept the senior management have been for years in Wirral Council yet the present bunch of so called Councilors agreed and condoned to give a fair number of them huge lumps of money, to go away and keep quite. Now they cannot trace or tell the public who has or where they are massive numbers of communication devices, mobile phones, blackberries, lap tops, smart phones, but they continue to pay the fantastic phone bill for all those issued to lord knows who. Bright Thought, lets replace the entire stock of communication devices so then we can say we know who has them and why. Another Bright Thought, lets replace all the Parks and gardens equipment and the vehicals running round the wirral, then we will know who has what and why. More Bright Thoughts, lets ask the public to pay an extra charge for collecting the brown bins, that way we will know who has them and why, so far they claim to be able to locate 30,000 of them, but have no idea where the other 88,000 are or if they exist. After all is was one of our past bright ideas to give out over 110,000 brown bins to people who did not ask for them in the first place. Spare us any more bright ideas Wirral Borough Council, instead give us some Bright individuals who know how to run a local authority and some Bright Councilors who have an inkling on how it should be managed and governed. Preferably in a non political shambles as at the moment. Hugo1008
  • Score: 0

11:10am Sat 6 Jul 13

RL 1952 says...

Another shining example of management failures at WBC it is a basic principle of good management to maintain your information technology, but yet again high paid senior officers have spectacularly failed in the basic tasks - whoever is responsible should be taken to task - NEVER - just another failure and more "outside specialists" to be paid high priced consultancy fees, such incompetence is now so common place at Wirral Council it makes it impossible to believe how any credible organisation can identify that management is improving - senior management is shamefully inept and well past their life-span. That includes the new super-directors whose arrival and sparkling input is quite lamentable
Another shining example of management failures at WBC it is a basic principle of good management to maintain your information technology, but yet again high paid senior officers have spectacularly failed in the basic tasks - whoever is responsible should be taken to task - NEVER - just another failure and more "outside specialists" to be paid high priced consultancy fees, such incompetence is now so common place at Wirral Council it makes it impossible to believe how any credible organisation can identify that management is improving - senior management is shamefully inept and well past their life-span. That includes the new super-directors whose arrival and sparkling input is quite lamentable RL 1952
  • Score: 0

10:08am Sun 7 Jul 13

NZBlue says...

Someone is stretching the facts. Of course the council have replaced large amounts of computers and completed upgrades to new operating systems before. And many times.
They have so many to deal with now as they have put aside the cash for savings.
Support from specialist vendors is good practice but they don't need to do it all.
Someone is stretching the facts. Of course the council have replaced large amounts of computers and completed upgrades to new operating systems before. And many times. They have so many to deal with now as they have put aside the cash for savings. Support from specialist vendors is good practice but they don't need to do it all. NZBlue
  • Score: 0

7:19am Mon 8 Jul 13

MDRyUK says...

Usually (at least in the old days) local authorities spent vast amounts of money, relatively speaking, maintaining computer systems to assist administration. Back office functions in the 1970’s for example required centralised capability from mainframe equipment made by IBM or ICL. Latterly functionality in larger organisations is usually provided by Unix based systems in terms of server management internally. There are capability and security issues to be considered here which fall outside the ordinary choices made by smaller organisations and individuals. Relying upon Microsoft Windows based operating systems and PCs isn’t necessarily the best route to follow in terms of computer kit provision and operation right across the board.

My guess is Wirral Council must be using Unix based servers in part to underpin their IT functionality. Payroll and finance systems (such as Council Tax and other bill payments) are typically best serviced from servers running Unix rather than MS Windows. So what is Wirral Council up to now? What sort of IT strategy are they running? I don’t know is the short answer but on the face of it based upon the Wirral Globe article about “replacing 2,400 outdated computers” all the signs point they could be running into significant problems in the future. That could be very expensive financially to correct.

Somebody has definitely taken their “eye off the ball” and not managed IT policy. I know we are basically talking about replacing PCs of the modern day vintage but Wirral Council is a large organisation and seriously this shouldn’t be such a consideration of global proportions right now if the job had been done properly. For example up until recently Wirral Council had a senior manager in charge of IT Services. Where is he now? Well I’m pretty sure the post has been restructured and that person has effectively been made redundant. Why? I don’t know. What were the considerations? Hard to tell.

I’m afraid once again this revelation about ageing and out-of-date PCs in operation at Wirral Council may mask something worthy of far more investigation; it could represent just the tip of the iceberg for problems that are need to be tackled right now due to bad management decisions and strategy of the past. Maybe the new CEO has spotted something wrong which he thinks must be corrected without further delay?

We need to know more about this and I hope Wirral Globe reporters will dig a bit deeper to find out what really is going on at the town hall. In my view although a budget of £675,000 sounds like a lot of money (well it is of course), in terms of a restructure, redressing hardware and software issues in an organisation the size of Wirral Council, I hate to say it but it is in many ways peanuts! Do the math: £675,000 divided by 2,400 outdated computers = £281.25. Say no more, except “there are more questions than answers” for everybody to contemplate especially members and officers at Wirral Council. Very worrying indeed going forward.
Usually (at least in the old days) local authorities spent vast amounts of money, relatively speaking, maintaining computer systems to assist administration. Back office functions in the 1970’s for example required centralised capability from mainframe equipment made by IBM or ICL. Latterly functionality in larger organisations is usually provided by Unix based systems in terms of server management internally. There are capability and security issues to be considered here which fall outside the ordinary choices made by smaller organisations and individuals. Relying upon Microsoft Windows based operating systems and PCs isn’t necessarily the best route to follow in terms of computer kit provision and operation right across the board. My guess is Wirral Council must be using Unix based servers in part to underpin their IT functionality. Payroll and finance systems (such as Council Tax and other bill payments) are typically best serviced from servers running Unix rather than MS Windows. So what is Wirral Council up to now? What sort of IT strategy are they running? I don’t know is the short answer but on the face of it based upon the Wirral Globe article about “replacing 2,400 outdated computers” all the signs point they could be running into significant problems in the future. That could be very expensive financially to correct. Somebody has definitely taken their “eye off the ball” and not managed IT policy. I know we are basically talking about replacing PCs of the modern day vintage but Wirral Council is a large organisation and seriously this shouldn’t be such a consideration of global proportions right now if the job had been done properly. For example up until recently Wirral Council had a senior manager in charge of IT Services. Where is he now? Well I’m pretty sure the post has been restructured and that person has effectively been made redundant. Why? I don’t know. What were the considerations? Hard to tell. I’m afraid once again this revelation about ageing and out-of-date PCs in operation at Wirral Council may mask something worthy of far more investigation; it could represent just the tip of the iceberg for problems that are need to be tackled right now due to bad management decisions and strategy of the past. Maybe the new CEO has spotted something wrong which he thinks must be corrected without further delay? We need to know more about this and I hope Wirral Globe reporters will dig a bit deeper to find out what really is going on at the town hall. In my view although a budget of £675,000 sounds like a lot of money (well it is of course), in terms of a restructure, redressing hardware and software issues in an organisation the size of Wirral Council, I hate to say it but it is in many ways peanuts! Do the math: £675,000 divided by 2,400 outdated computers = £281.25. Say no more, except “there are more questions than answers” for everybody to contemplate especially members and officers at Wirral Council. Very worrying indeed going forward. MDRyUK
  • Score: 0

10:15am Mon 8 Jul 13

hobroW says...

The reporters in Wirral Globe are few in number, under-resourced and are not Dick Tracey's or Marlowe's so we will remain in the dark
The reporters in Wirral Globe are few in number, under-resourced and are not Dick Tracey's or Marlowe's so we will remain in the dark hobroW
  • Score: 0

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