Wirral Council accused of 'over the top' secrecy

Wirral Council accused of 'over the top' secrecy

Wirral Council accused of 'over the top' secrecy

First published in News
Last updated
by , Geoff Barnes

THE leader of Wirral Liberal Democrats has accused the authority of imposing a veil of secrecy over the identity of a senior councillor facing serious allegations of using "unacceptable language" against a chief officer.

Councillor Phil Gilchrist was asked to sign a form pledging his silence before being allowed to read a report into the claims.

He refused - and said that in 34 years of local government, he had never come across such “over the top” restrictions on an issue.

It is believed a recording had been covertly made of the alleged verbal attack, and the issue was raised at a meeting of the full council last month.

Council leader Phil Davies later wrote to all members disclosing that “no evidence was made available to the investigation to substantiate a serious allegation regarding inappropriate language.”

He indicated, however, that the independent investigator had twice written to the the people who had brought the matter forward and they had "refused to co-operate."

It also revealed the matter had been dealt with in a confidential manner at the request of the senior officer.

Councillor Gilchrist demanded to know what legal basis existed for keeping the accused member’s identity secret.

He said: “I was advised that all would be explained when I came to read the report (of the investigation).”

He was invited to a meeting with chief executive Graham Burgess when, he said, it was made clear he would have to accept certain conditions before he could read the report, which was placed on a desk three feet away from him.

He said: “I read the conditions and the agreement, which I refused to sign.

“This is the first time in 34 years that I have come across such over-the-top restrictions.”

The conditions would have compelled him to: 

• Not take the report or any copies away from the meeting.

• Not make any copies of the report.

• Not disclose the report or any information contained in the report to any person.

• Not discuss the report with any person other than Joe Blott (strategic director transformation and resources) or Mr Burgess without express permission.

Councillor Gilchrist added : “I fully recognise the duty of care to staff so I can understand the need for an officer to seek some protection.

"However, in this case, the accusation is said to be about the conduct of a member towards an officer.

“Members are expected to abide by a Code of Conduct. All this does is fuel speculation about who might be being ‘protected’ and why.”

Councillor Davies said today: “I asked for an independent investigation to take place and found the allegations could not be substantiated.

“The member concerned accepted that an adverse comment was made and an independent investigation concluded that the appropriate action was a conciliation process with the member apologising to the officer.

“This took place and this was the end of the matter.”

He added: “There was no question of a cover up. At the request of the senior officer it was dealt with in a confidential manner

“We have a duty of care to officers  which was why the report must remain confidential.

"I offered to share the report with the other two party leaders on the basis that it must remain strictly confidential and they could not reveal any details out of respect to the senior officer involved.”

*** *** *** ***

"SECRET TAPE"

Claims a secret tape on which a councillor verbally abused a senior officer to a third party surfaced when Tory leader Jeff Green used the question time session at December's meeting of the full council to ask about a recording of the alleged wrongdoing.

Councillor Green asked: “Is the leader of the council aware of a tape recording produced as recently as August this year in which it is alleged that a senior member of his administration can be heard using language about a senior officer that is totally unacceptable, and encouraging former council employees to smear me to take the pressure off his own colleagues and gain political advantage?”

A firm of solicitors was hired to carry out the investigation.

Comments (25)

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12:44pm Mon 13 Jan 14

WirralAl says...

Sounds like not much has changed in the chamber of secrets where they protect the guilty and punish the innocent and hide the truth from those that elect them. Deception as always!
Sounds like not much has changed in the chamber of secrets where they protect the guilty and punish the innocent and hide the truth from those that elect them. Deception as always! WirralAl
  • Score: 15

1:12pm Mon 13 Jan 14

bigfoot says...

Spy on staff,but dont let the electorate know what we councillors are doing!
Spy on staff,but dont let the electorate know what we councillors are doing! bigfoot
  • Score: 10

1:59pm Mon 13 Jan 14

PaulCa says...

A former communist, turned Torylite, who claims he is no longer gagging whistleblowers, is now muzzling OUR democratically elected representatives.

BUT WHO CAN STOP HIM? WHO CAN SACK HIM?

I live in Seacombe and the stench is appalling.
A former communist, turned Torylite, who claims he is no longer gagging whistleblowers, is now muzzling OUR democratically elected representatives. BUT WHO CAN STOP HIM? WHO CAN SACK HIM? I live in Seacombe and the stench is appalling. PaulCa
  • Score: 18

2:52pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Willow Sherbet says...

Prevaricators.
Prevaricators. Willow Sherbet
  • Score: 12

3:22pm Mon 13 Jan 14

ballacrain says...

Normal secret service being maintained, no openness about this council
Ballacrain
Normal secret service being maintained, no openness about this council Ballacrain ballacrain
  • Score: 15

3:37pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Thepleb says...

Cllr Davies says no evidence so why does another cllr have to sign a confidentiality agreement, transparency, openness and truth is part of the new corporate plan normal load of **** from these fraudsters.
Cllr Davies says no evidence so why does another cllr have to sign a confidentiality agreement, transparency, openness and truth is part of the new corporate plan normal load of **** from these fraudsters. Thepleb
  • Score: 18

3:41pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Growl Tiger says...

So in an attempt to sweep more secrecy under the Town Hall rug yet more of our council tax gets paid out to a private firm of lawyers.

If so much advice has to be taken from private companies just what does the legal team at WBC do all day apart from obfuscating our Freedom of Information Requests?

Hmm - THATS EXACTLY WHAT IT DOES ALL DAY FOLKS!
So in an attempt to sweep more secrecy under the Town Hall rug yet more of our council tax gets paid out to a private firm of lawyers. If so much advice has to be taken from private companies just what does the legal team at WBC do all day apart from obfuscating our Freedom of Information Requests? Hmm - THATS EXACTLY WHAT IT DOES ALL DAY FOLKS! Growl Tiger
  • Score: 14

3:47pm Mon 13 Jan 14

PaulCa says...

I live in Seacombe. We're dong our best to brighten up our community, but the stench from Brighton Street is so bad it's wilting everyone's flowers.
I live in Seacombe. We're dong our best to brighten up our community, but the stench from Brighton Street is so bad it's wilting everyone's flowers. PaulCa
  • Score: 13

5:14pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

It's Ŵirral Council where the abnormal is normal. Everyone who's anyone in Wirral knows who it is so why the intrigue? It must have been some mouthful to warrant £48k!
It's Ŵirral Council where the abnormal is normal. Everyone who's anyone in Wirral knows who it is so why the intrigue? It must have been some mouthful to warrant £48k! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 10

6:41pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Thepleb says...

It's totally different at the bottom rung of the ladder in the council if allegations are made against you depending on severity you would be suspended upon investigation, this allegation would be classed as gross misconduct in council land, I know staff who have been suspended and accusations made and at no point in the process was a confidentiality form signed by anybody and names were known of accusers and accused within the department before time was given to put their coat on, different rules apply when the accused are clown hall despots.
It's totally different at the bottom rung of the ladder in the council if allegations are made against you depending on severity you would be suspended upon investigation, this allegation would be classed as gross misconduct in council land, I know staff who have been suspended and accusations made and at no point in the process was a confidentiality form signed by anybody and names were known of accusers and accused within the department before time was given to put their coat on, different rules apply when the accused are clown hall despots. Thepleb
  • Score: 20

10:31pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Thepleb wrote:
It's totally different at the bottom rung of the ladder in the council if allegations are made against you depending on severity you would be suspended upon investigation, this allegation would be classed as gross misconduct in council land, I know staff who have been suspended and accusations made and at no point in the process was a confidentiality form signed by anybody and names were known of accusers and accused within the department before time was given to put their coat on, different rules apply when the accused are clown hall despots.
Ha ha ha, you are so right Pleb. The charge is always Gross Misconduct. I know someone who got a telephone call from a person in another building 10 minutes after bring sent home! So much for confidentiality! This is what happens when you trust one person to deal with all the dead bodies.
[quote][p][bold]Thepleb[/bold] wrote: It's totally different at the bottom rung of the ladder in the council if allegations are made against you depending on severity you would be suspended upon investigation, this allegation would be classed as gross misconduct in council land, I know staff who have been suspended and accusations made and at no point in the process was a confidentiality form signed by anybody and names were known of accusers and accused within the department before time was given to put their coat on, different rules apply when the accused are clown hall despots.[/p][/quote]Ha ha ha, you are so right Pleb. The charge is always Gross Misconduct. I know someone who got a telephone call from a person in another building 10 minutes after bring sent home! So much for confidentiality! This is what happens when you trust one person to deal with all the dead bodies. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 8

7:50pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Roadie says...

Let me get this straight, Burgess who has been bought in by the members to oversee some of the most drastic cuts in the authorities history has decided that a report on one member abusing a chief officer is far to sensitive to be seen without signing a D notice PLEEEEASE has the tail starting wagging the dog, are we heading back into Klonowski territory.
Let us know who has let off steam , which chief officer has been slurred, maligned etc. It was taxpayers money that paid for the report.
We all like to blow off steam, but surly Councillors should be above that sort of thing, walls have ears
Let me get this straight, Burgess who has been bought in by the members to oversee some of the most drastic cuts in the authorities history has decided that a report on one member abusing a chief officer is far to sensitive to be seen without signing a D notice PLEEEEASE has the tail starting wagging the dog, are we heading back into Klonowski territory. Let us know who has let off steam , which chief officer has been slurred, maligned etc. It was taxpayers money that paid for the report. We all like to blow off steam, but surly Councillors should be above that sort of thing, walls have ears Roadie
  • Score: 7

8:19pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Roadie wrote:
Let me get this straight, Burgess who has been bought in by the members to oversee some of the most drastic cuts in the authorities history has decided that a report on one member abusing a chief officer is far to sensitive to be seen without signing a D notice PLEEEEASE has the tail starting wagging the dog, are we heading back into Klonowski territory.
Let us know who has let off steam , which chief officer has been slurred, maligned etc. It was taxpayers money that paid for the report.
We all like to blow off steam, but surly Councillors should be above that sort of thing, walls have ears
Hey Roadie,

A D notice? The tail has been wagging the dog in Wirral since Maddox left. For some reason the most senior officers at Wirral appear obsessed with the advice they receive. This has now come back to bite them big time and it leaves them vulnerable, hence the recent pay off.

By a process of elimination Roadie, you will come to unveil the culprits.
[quote][p][bold]Roadie[/bold] wrote: Let me get this straight, Burgess who has been bought in by the members to oversee some of the most drastic cuts in the authorities history has decided that a report on one member abusing a chief officer is far to sensitive to be seen without signing a D notice PLEEEEASE has the tail starting wagging the dog, are we heading back into Klonowski territory. Let us know who has let off steam , which chief officer has been slurred, maligned etc. It was taxpayers money that paid for the report. We all like to blow off steam, but surly Councillors should be above that sort of thing, walls have ears[/p][/quote]Hey Roadie, A D notice? The tail has been wagging the dog in Wirral since Maddox left. For some reason the most senior officers at Wirral appear obsessed with the advice they receive. This has now come back to bite them big time and it leaves them vulnerable, hence the recent pay off. By a process of elimination Roadie, you will come to unveil the culprits. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 4

8:53pm Tue 14 Jan 14

PaulCa says...

There's certainly a morbid fascination in watching these deadbeats carve out their destinies, and with every deceitful press release invite their own destruction. I firmly believe this scandal could unseat some of the prize big time losers once and for all.

They know no other way..... off they go like headless chickens, proceeding once again down THE ROAD MOST TRAVELLED i.e. the same old dead end street of shameless deceit, lie upon lie, smoke and mirrors, minimisation and COVER UP.

With the election looming, and purdah on the way, if the timing is right on this, and the hand is played properly, there'll be knives out and heads rolling down into the Brighton Street gutters....

The puppet master will give up the ghost. Sunlight will shine. Disinfectant will flow into every corner, and the cloying stench will begin to subside at last.
There's certainly a morbid fascination in watching these deadbeats carve out their destinies, and with every deceitful press release invite their own destruction. I firmly believe this scandal could unseat some of the prize big time losers once and for all. They know no other way..... off they go like headless chickens, proceeding once again down THE ROAD MOST TRAVELLED i.e. the same old dead end street of shameless deceit, lie upon lie, smoke and mirrors, minimisation and COVER UP. With the election looming, and purdah on the way, if the timing is right on this, and the hand is played properly, there'll be knives out and heads rolling down into the Brighton Street gutters.... The puppet master will give up the ghost. Sunlight will shine. Disinfectant will flow into every corner, and the cloying stench will begin to subside at last. PaulCa
  • Score: 3

9:51pm Tue 14 Jan 14

benny07 says...

THE ONLY TIME ANY ONE OF THEM STARTS HAVING A GO AT EACH OTHER IS, ? WHEN THEY GET SMALLER BUNGS ,THAN EVERY ONE ELSE,,THERE ALL AS CORRUPT AS A MIDSUMMERS DAY IS LONG,ROLL ON THIS POLICE INVESTIGATION.!!.
THE ONLY TIME ANY ONE OF THEM STARTS HAVING A GO AT EACH OTHER IS, ? WHEN THEY GET SMALLER BUNGS ,THAN EVERY ONE ELSE,,THERE ALL AS CORRUPT AS A MIDSUMMERS DAY IS LONG,ROLL ON THIS POLICE INVESTIGATION.!!. benny07
  • Score: 1

10:02pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

PaulCa wrote:
There's certainly a morbid fascination in watching these deadbeats carve out their destinies, and with every deceitful press release invite their own destruction. I firmly believe this scandal could unseat some of the prize big time losers once and for all.

They know no other way..... off they go like headless chickens, proceeding once again down THE ROAD MOST TRAVELLED i.e. the same old dead end street of shameless deceit, lie upon lie, smoke and mirrors, minimisation and COVER UP.

With the election looming, and purdah on the way, if the timing is right on this, and the hand is played properly, there'll be knives out and heads rolling down into the Brighton Street gutters....

The puppet master will give up the ghost. Sunlight will shine. Disinfectant will flow into every corner, and the cloying stench will begin to subside at last.
Anyone who works in Wallasey Town Hall knows where the problem lies. Until the Chief Officer and the Leader summon up the gumption to rid the Council of this problem then the strategy of lies and cover up etc will continue. It suits them as it keeps them in a job. Then after everything that has gone on over the years, they have the audacity to feign hurt feelings and cop a whopping payout. Only in Wirral, where the abnormal is normal.
[quote][p][bold]PaulCa[/bold] wrote: There's certainly a morbid fascination in watching these deadbeats carve out their destinies, and with every deceitful press release invite their own destruction. I firmly believe this scandal could unseat some of the prize big time losers once and for all. They know no other way..... off they go like headless chickens, proceeding once again down THE ROAD MOST TRAVELLED i.e. the same old dead end street of shameless deceit, lie upon lie, smoke and mirrors, minimisation and COVER UP. With the election looming, and purdah on the way, if the timing is right on this, and the hand is played properly, there'll be knives out and heads rolling down into the Brighton Street gutters.... The puppet master will give up the ghost. Sunlight will shine. Disinfectant will flow into every corner, and the cloying stench will begin to subside at last.[/p][/quote]Anyone who works in Wallasey Town Hall knows where the problem lies. Until the Chief Officer and the Leader summon up the gumption to rid the Council of this problem then the strategy of lies and cover up etc will continue. It suits them as it keeps them in a job. Then after everything that has gone on over the years, they have the audacity to feign hurt feelings and cop a whopping payout. Only in Wirral, where the abnormal is normal. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 3

11:17pm Tue 14 Jan 14

Thepleb says...

Whoever has a copy of this tape put it on YouTube or send to wirral leaks let the public hear it and we can decide if it's worth the cloak and daggers, if the person,s responsible are named and shamed they will fall on their own sword and make a show of the bluster from Davies and burgeski.
Whoever has a copy of this tape put it on YouTube or send to wirral leaks let the public hear it and we can decide if it's worth the cloak and daggers, if the person,s responsible are named and shamed they will fall on their own sword and make a show of the bluster from Davies and burgeski. Thepleb
  • Score: 4

10:41am Wed 15 Jan 14

Growl Tiger says...

Private Eye has Wirral Council listed as a Rotten Borough, the Information Commissioner’s Office has it frequently under scrutiny, not sure about the Local Government Ombudsman as they seem to believe whatever lies the Officers tell them, but why don’t the MPs and David Cameron get a hold on what is going on in this Council?

The vision the Council imparts is one where senior officers and councillors are squabbling like children, arranging secret payouts, organising “thorough investigations” that never see the light of day and planning their next career move. All carried out under a cloak of evasiveness and blurriness using our money whilst vital services are being cut.

When is someone going to be held accountable?
Private Eye has Wirral Council listed as a Rotten Borough, the Information Commissioner’s Office has it frequently under scrutiny, not sure about the Local Government Ombudsman as they seem to believe whatever lies the Officers tell them, but why don’t the MPs and David Cameron get a hold on what is going on in this Council? The vision the Council imparts is one where senior officers and councillors are squabbling like children, arranging secret payouts, organising “thorough investigations” that never see the light of day and planning their next career move. All carried out under a cloak of evasiveness and blurriness using our money whilst vital services are being cut. When is someone going to be held accountable? Growl Tiger
  • Score: 9

1:40pm Wed 15 Jan 14

BillyBradford says...

Roadie, Walls also have sausage fingers! ;-) And empty crisp packets!
Roadie, Walls also have sausage fingers! ;-) And empty crisp packets! BillyBradford
  • Score: 1

8:20am Thu 16 Jan 14

reliant22 says...

Growl Tiger wrote:
Private Eye has Wirral Council listed as a Rotten Borough, the Information Commissioner’s Office has it frequently under scrutiny, not sure about the Local Government Ombudsman as they seem to believe whatever lies the Officers tell them, but why don’t the MPs and David Cameron get a hold on what is going on in this Council?

The vision the Council imparts is one where senior officers and councillors are squabbling like children, arranging secret payouts, organising “thorough investigations” that never see the light of day and planning their next career move. All carried out under a cloak of evasiveness and blurriness using our money whilst vital services are being cut.

When is someone going to be held accountable?
Growl Tiger:
Local Government Ombudsman? This `lot` is made up of ex Council Ceo `s
Never shall the `appointed` find any of their Town Hall cronies guilty even when they appear to be.
Another `no case to answer`brigade.
Time to change the system so no previous Council employee are appointed to these `bodies`.
[quote][p][bold]Growl Tiger[/bold] wrote: Private Eye has Wirral Council listed as a Rotten Borough, the Information Commissioner’s Office has it frequently under scrutiny, not sure about the Local Government Ombudsman as they seem to believe whatever lies the Officers tell them, but why don’t the MPs and David Cameron get a hold on what is going on in this Council? The vision the Council imparts is one where senior officers and councillors are squabbling like children, arranging secret payouts, organising “thorough investigations” that never see the light of day and planning their next career move. All carried out under a cloak of evasiveness and blurriness using our money whilst vital services are being cut. When is someone going to be held accountable?[/p][/quote]Growl Tiger: Local Government Ombudsman? This `lot` is made up of ex Council Ceo `s Never shall the `appointed` find any of their Town Hall cronies guilty even when they appear to be. Another `no case to answer`brigade. Time to change the system so no previous Council employee are appointed to these `bodies`. reliant22
  • Score: 4

9:24pm Thu 16 Jan 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Has it ever been known for anyone at Wallasey Town Hall to actually tell the truth?
Has it ever been known for anyone at Wallasey Town Hall to actually tell the truth? Joeblogg85
  • Score: 3

9:27pm Thu 16 Jan 14

PaulCa says...

Joeblogg85 wrote:
Has it ever been known for anyone at Wallasey Town Hall to actually tell the truth?
Martin Morton. But look what happened...
[quote][p][bold]Joeblogg85[/bold] wrote: Has it ever been known for anyone at Wallasey Town Hall to actually tell the truth?[/p][/quote]Martin Morton. But look what happened... PaulCa
  • Score: 4

7:48pm Sat 18 Jan 14

naughtykitties says...

Meh, the words "Teacup" and "Storm" spring to mind. So one clowncil participant doesn't like another and gets mouthy about it. Big deal, not everyone gets along, such is the nature of being human and anyone expecting our politicians to be any less fallible then the rest of us is being unrealistic.

NO-ONE should be sacked simply for being human. The very fact that we have clowncilors in hysterics over this matter is an indicator of just how dysfunctional local government here is. I'd also feel fairly sure it's quite a convenient distraction from things which are important, such as Lyndale school and it's imminent closure.

If you all want to focus on their pathetic and childish bickering , so be it. I suspect this circus is a distraction, myself. Most of them put on a show while someone sneaks off and stuffs a few more skeletons into the cupboard.
Meh, the words "Teacup" and "Storm" spring to mind. So one clowncil participant doesn't like another and gets mouthy about it. Big deal, not everyone gets along, such is the nature of being human and anyone expecting our politicians to be any less fallible then the rest of us is being unrealistic. NO-ONE should be sacked simply for being human. The very fact that we have clowncilors in hysterics over this matter is an indicator of just how dysfunctional local government here is. I'd also feel fairly sure it's quite a convenient distraction from things which are important, such as Lyndale school and it's imminent closure. If you all want to focus on their pathetic and childish bickering , so be it. I suspect this circus is a distraction, myself. Most of them put on a show while someone sneaks off and stuffs a few more skeletons into the cupboard. naughtykitties
  • Score: 2

10:32pm Sun 19 Jan 14

Positive thinker says...

Paulaca,

Seacombe stinks,you all need to get out of bed get showered and get a job,
and stop moaning
Paulaca, Seacombe stinks,you all need to get out of bed get showered and get a job, and stop moaning Positive thinker
  • Score: -1

10:36am Mon 20 Jan 14

reliant22 says...

Positive thinker wrote:
Paulaca,

Seacombe stinks,you all need to get out of bed get showered and get a job,
and stop moaning
I see `Christina`is riled again!
Jealousy is aroused by Paulca`s telling it as it is.
Must hit the spot PaulCa....keep it up! The message might be there just in time for the local elections......and so, of course, as the saying goes, `scum always rises to the top`...............
[quote][p][bold]Positive thinker[/bold] wrote: Paulaca, Seacombe stinks,you all need to get out of bed get showered and get a job, and stop moaning[/p][/quote]I see `Christina`is riled again! Jealousy is aroused by Paulca`s telling it as it is. Must hit the spot PaulCa....keep it up! The message might be there just in time for the local elections......and so, of course, as the saying goes, `scum always rises to the top`............... reliant22
  • Score: 3

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