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Anger over 'shambolic' council phone farce
DO YOU have a Wirral Council mobile phone paid for by the taxpayer?
If so, would you mind texting a message to the town hall as they apparently have no idea how many of their phones are out there, or who uses them.
As part of efforts to find out exactly how many mobile phones the authority owns, officers have resorted to texting all known mobile numbers asking who the phone-user is and which department they work for.
However only 40% of phones texted have responded.
It’s not the first time the town hall has used texting to try to understand how many mobiles it pays for.
The chaotic situation dates back to 2010 when it was revealed that, despite having to foot an annual Vodafone bill of £250,000, the authority was completely in the dark over how many of its staff have been issued with mobiles.
An investigation found some staff had even been receiving an automatic monthly contribution for landline rentals - long after being given mobiles.
A text message was sent out to every mobile phone number the council picks up the bill for and a deadline given for the users to identify themselves and their place of work.
But it appears the tactic didn't produce the desired result.
Oxton Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly, who raised the issue of mobile phone-use at a recent meeting of the council’s audit committee, described the on-going confusion as “shambolic.”
Councillor Kelly said: “We now know the council has no idea who’s using their mobile phone numbers despite having been paying out for these mobile’s contracts.
“It seems that less than half of the phones being paid for are actually in use.
“That this has been allowed to develop is a disgrace - and council taxpayers would rightly regard the situation as farcical.”
Mobile phone users were given a deadline of October 31 to respond, after which it will be assumed the phone is not required.
A Wirral Council spokesperson said: "A number of recommendations regarding mobile phone use were made to the Audit and Risk Management Committee and the majority of these have been or are in the process of being implemented.
"We are replacing departmental contracts with one corporate account and creating one central, up to date register of mobile phones and users which will allow a better overview of who has them and how much is being spent.
"Staff currently using mobile phones for their job have been asked to provide a number of details and this process is still underway. All unused contracts will be terminated.
"Mobile phones and mobile technology are absolutely necessary for many Council officers in carrying out their work.
"We are absolutely committed to ensuring that staff only have a Council mobile phone if there is a strong business case to justify it and a revised mobile phone policy has been drafted to ensure that people using them are absolutely clear about their responsibilities.
"The improvements being made are estimated to achieve £20k of savings in 2014/15.”
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