Wirral Council leaders clash over computer system shutdown

Wirral Globe: Wirral Council leaders clash over computer system shutdown Wirral Council leaders clash over computer system shutdown

A political storm is raging over the enforced shut down of Wirral Council’s information technology systems today.

A software problem will create computer disruption for hundreds of council staff for around four hours later today.

Tory group leader Cllr Jeff Green called for an immediate investigation into the failure and seized on the situation to blast the Labour administration for “yet more incompetence.”

Council leader Cllr Phil Davies hit back by claiming that Cllr Green was indulging in “the worst kind of political opportunism.”

Cllr Green said today: “We believe that council chiefs are planning an enforced shutdown of council IT systems this afternoon which would result in hundreds of Council workers unable to carry out their jobs and the people of Wirral unable to access vital council services.

“Council workers have been suffering intermittent IT problems over the course of this week including being unable to log onto systems and incapable of accessing email.

“This is absolutely unacceptable.

"Let us not forget Wirral’s Council Taxpayers were paying £16,000 per month since 28 November 2012 when the Labour Administration agreed to engage an Interim Head of IT.

“Given this huge consultancy fee and the massive increase in spending on IT I have asked for an immediate report on how this gross failure happened and the impact on the public.”

Cllr Green continued: “This is yet more incompetence. This administration have made significant changes to the IT service and brought in, at top whack, an IT consultant; and now the Council’s IT systems are at breaking point.

“After all this money they have spent on just one consultant Labour are now proposing another council tax rise, a reduction in pensioners’ council tax discount and the closure of the Lyndale School. It truly beggars belief.”

Cllr Davies said: “We have got a software problem and we will have to close the system down for about four hours from 3pm.

“We have got alternative arrangements in place; we are trying to minimise inconvenience to the public. Important records are not affected.

He added: “I am absolutely outraged  Cllr Green can actually use Lyndale school to criticise me and make political points. It is the worst kind of political opportunism.”

Cllr Davies acknowledged that the council’s IT system was “pretty outdated” but investment had been precluded by massive government cuts.

Cllr Davies said: “We need to look at our capital finances and see if we can afford to do this. We are going to sort this out as quickly as possible – the request will be looked at sympathetically.

“It is clearly important that we have a high quality IT system that works.”

Strategic director for transformation and resources Joe Blott said: “On the advice of the council’s software provider, Microsoft, we are undertaking essential maintenance today to permanently resolve an IT problem, which has been preventing some staff from accessing some of our systems.

“This does not mean that council services will be closed.

"Services will continue to operate while this work is being done and we have effective contingency plans in place to minimise any potential inconvenience to members of the public.

“The maintenance is being undertaken from late afternoon today in order to reduce the impact on the next working week by making use of the weekend.”

 

  • A report to the council’s transformation and resources policy and performance committee next week strongly recommends that the council consider the installation of standby power arrangements at a cost of around £200,000.
  • Last September a computer technology disruption caused the loss of both the ICT systems and the council’s telephone system for a 48 hour period.
  • It followed an electrical fault on the national grid network causing a Wirral wide supply network voltage dip.
  • The disruption left many of the council’s critical services vulnerable as a result of the loss of both electronic data and phone lines.

 

Comments (24)

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2:42pm Fri 24 Jan 14

Cheesy Peas says...

Phil Davies comes across as the sort of individual who gets out of bed in the morning and stands on an upturned plug.

Then, while hopping around in agony, stands on a rake which flips up and knocks him out.

And then when he finally comes round, declares: "Doing nothing is not an option." For the zillionth time.

He'd be better off staying in bed.
Phil Davies comes across as the sort of individual who gets out of bed in the morning and stands on an upturned plug. Then, while hopping around in agony, stands on a rake which flips up and knocks him out. And then when he finally comes round, declares: "Doing nothing is not an option." For the zillionth time. He'd be better off staying in bed. Cheesy Peas

3:25pm Fri 24 Jan 14

benny07 says...

I FIND THIS VERY SINNISTER,!! WHAT ARE THEY HOPING TO CLEAN OFF THE SYSTEM,,?? LABOUR ARE TRYING TO COVER THERE TRACKS AGAIN,!! ??
I FIND THIS VERY SINNISTER,!! WHAT ARE THEY HOPING TO CLEAN OFF THE SYSTEM,,?? LABOUR ARE TRYING TO COVER THERE TRACKS AGAIN,!! ?? benny07

4:04pm Fri 24 Jan 14

WirralAl says...

Same old crap.

Crap council, crap excuses, Council of Crap!

Phil Davies bleets on about cuts again talk about opportunists. If the council had not wasted Millions and Millions of council tax on bungs and mistakes then they would have the money to spend.

Politicians. talks about squabbling children!
Same old crap. Crap council, crap excuses, Council of Crap! Phil Davies bleets on about cuts again talk about opportunists. If the council had not wasted Millions and Millions of council tax on bungs and mistakes then they would have the money to spend. Politicians. talks about squabbling children! WirralAl

4:08pm Fri 24 Jan 14

ballacrain says...

About time they bought new handbags to hit each other with. 5year olds behave better than these so called grown men.
Ballacrain
About time they bought new handbags to hit each other with. 5year olds behave better than these so called grown men. Ballacrain ballacrain

4:33pm Fri 24 Jan 14

PaulCa says...

Well they got rid of the top Street Lighting professional, making his position redundant and (apparently) against his wishes, the lights have been getting switched off.

Can we conclude that they've gotten rid of the Head of IT, making his position redundant, and this is the result?

It's not just the senior union people who are bailing out of this basket case.
Well they got rid of the top Street Lighting professional, making his position redundant and (apparently) against his wishes, the lights have been getting switched off. Can we conclude that they've gotten rid of the Head of IT, making his position redundant, and this is the result? It's not just the senior union people who are bailing out of this basket case. PaulCa

4:48pm Fri 24 Jan 14

MDRyUK says...

Well, oh well, oh well ..... its started, controversy and misinformation rages supreme in my opinion at Wallasey Town Hall whenever Council Members consider practicalities of IT computer infrastructure policy and implementation. Yes, occasionally all computer systems fail from time to time but planned shutdowns usually occur "out of hours" when the vast majority are at home, at night (in the middle of) safely tucked up in their beds fast asleep.
Basically, so it seems, Wirral Council are far behind the majority of larger organisations in their role out of sufficiently up-to-date computer systems.
Its no secret that the majority of WBC's personal computer PC systems are still running on a dated Microsoft Operating System - Windows XP or Windows XP Professional.
Anyone involved in the software side of the computer industry recognised a long time ago that with Microsoft formally withdrawing ALL support for their older XP o/s products (in April 2014 I think), it would be vital to ensure hardware and software be upgraded in plenty of time. I don't think this has happened or is going to happen anytime soon at Wirral Council site.
So Councillor Phil Davies I think you better check with the Interim Head of IT (outside contractor) what he thinks will happen post April 2014, don't you?
Councillor Green is aware of this I am pretty sure! Best of luck councillors!
Well, oh well, oh well ..... its started, controversy and misinformation rages supreme in my opinion at Wallasey Town Hall whenever Council Members consider practicalities of IT computer infrastructure policy and implementation. Yes, occasionally all computer systems fail from time to time but planned shutdowns usually occur "out of hours" when the vast majority are at home, at night (in the middle of) safely tucked up in their beds fast asleep. Basically, so it seems, Wirral Council are far behind the majority of larger organisations in their role out of sufficiently up-to-date computer systems. Its no secret that the majority of WBC's personal computer PC systems are still running on a dated Microsoft Operating System - Windows XP or Windows XP Professional. Anyone involved in the software side of the computer industry recognised a long time ago that with Microsoft formally withdrawing ALL support for their older XP o/s products (in April 2014 I think), it would be vital to ensure hardware and software be upgraded in plenty of time. I don't think this has happened or is going to happen anytime soon at Wirral Council site. So Councillor Phil Davies I think you better check with the Interim Head of IT (outside contractor) what he thinks will happen post April 2014, don't you? Councillor Green is aware of this I am pretty sure! Best of luck councillors! MDRyUK

5:57pm Fri 24 Jan 14

bigfoot says...

Balderdash and piffle Councillor Davies,the IT system has been lagging for the last 10 years or so,and entirely incompatible with partner agencies who send communications to Wirral. Buying the cheapest hardware and paying top dollar for them,an extravagant purchasing policy and clowns without a clue. They are now forced to renew due to software houses withdrawing support for the present programmes Wirral is using.
What a good excuse for wiping the evidence away,a sort of 'cyber shredding'.
Balderdash and piffle Councillor Davies,the IT system has been lagging for the last 10 years or so,and entirely incompatible with partner agencies who send communications to Wirral. Buying the cheapest hardware and paying top dollar for them,an extravagant purchasing policy and clowns without a clue. They are now forced to renew due to software houses withdrawing support for the present programmes Wirral is using. What a good excuse for wiping the evidence away,a sort of 'cyber shredding'. bigfoot

7:37pm Fri 24 Jan 14

wirr4leyes says...

It's funny. I deal with a number of departments within Wirral Council, and haven't experience the issues what's being told by the Councillor on Wirral's Globe website. I can phone, email and still fax. So before these people get their handbags out and wash their clothes in public they should at least get the information right instead of misleading the public again to gain a vote!
It's funny. I deal with a number of departments within Wirral Council, and haven't experience the issues what's being told by the Councillor on Wirral's Globe website. I can phone, email and still fax. So before these people get their handbags out and wash their clothes in public they should at least get the information right instead of misleading the public again to gain a vote! wirr4leyes

9:58pm Fri 24 Jan 14

Llamedos 1 says...

Bigfoot is correct, never mind problems over the past week, he says 10 years but I have noticed problems over the past 6 months in particular. I am not even sure their OS is up to date but at one time they couldn`t even open popular stuff that everyone else uses.
Bigfoot is correct, never mind problems over the past week, he says 10 years but I have noticed problems over the past 6 months in particular. I am not even sure their OS is up to date but at one time they couldn`t even open popular stuff that everyone else uses. Llamedos 1

2:24pm Sat 25 Jan 14

Hugo1008 says...

What's the betting that a huge number of vital information memos and e-mails will now disappear into the oblivion, once again we will have a whole series of "I was Not Aware of that" or "I never received such information" and loads of "It is not clear who gave what permission to whom"

The sheer stench of abject corruption wafts right across the Mersey from that bastion of Greed, Deceit, Theft, Misinformation, Mismanagement, Lack of Accountability, and total lack of any semblance to proper Governance from a bunch of parasites so called representatives of the Wirral Population.

Ordinary Joe Public you will do well to remember come voting time just who it is that has let you down again and again and again.
What's the betting that a huge number of vital information memos and e-mails will now disappear into the oblivion, once again we will have a whole series of "I was Not Aware of that" or "I never received such information" and loads of "It is not clear who gave what permission to whom" The sheer stench of abject corruption wafts right across the Mersey from that bastion of Greed, Deceit, Theft, Misinformation, Mismanagement, Lack of Accountability, and total lack of any semblance to proper Governance from a bunch of parasites so called representatives of the Wirral Population. Ordinary Joe Public you will do well to remember come voting time just who it is that has let you down again and again and again. Hugo1008

4:50pm Sat 25 Jan 14

naughtykitties says...

*Yawn*

All of you seem to be expecting 100% uptime for their computer system. Such a thing is impossible; software and IT equipment is just like any other manufactured item, sometimes it just breaks (google the effect of gamma rays on computer memory)or you've got to turn off something critical to replace it with something better. Anyone who says differently is a liar just like any salesman who tells you that a car will never break down is. Why any of you think differently astounds me.
*Yawn* All of you seem to be expecting 100% uptime for their computer system. Such a thing is impossible; software and IT equipment is just like any other manufactured item, sometimes it just breaks (google the effect of gamma rays on computer memory)or you've got to turn off something critical to replace it with something better. Anyone who says differently is a liar just like any salesman who tells you that a car will never break down is. Why any of you think differently astounds me. naughtykitties

9:24pm Sat 25 Jan 14

Mr moderate says...

Can t believe that councillor green is using a it glitch to score points and possibly devalue the campaign to keep lyndale school open it's a discrace to use a closer of a school in this way
Can t believe that councillor green is using a it glitch to score points and possibly devalue the campaign to keep lyndale school open it's a discrace to use a closer of a school in this way Mr moderate

10:00am Sun 26 Jan 14

ballacrain says...

The time to shut down any computer system,such as the Town Hall is at night when no body is using it. This allows maintaince work to be done.
Ballacrain
The time to shut down any computer system,such as the Town Hall is at night when no body is using it. This allows maintaince work to be done. Ballacrain ballacrain

1:10pm Sun 26 Jan 14

hobroW says...

Why should not Cllr Green as leader of the main opposition party point out errors in bold?

When an administration promises openness and then compels leading councillors to sign gagging agreements ere they can view an independent report, paid for with our money, then the opposition MUST perforce smell a rat whatever the issue. There is only one way to enforce secrecy without open dissent and that is with the rubber truncheon and wet hose. Expect disbelief and cynicism when you operate in the dark within a democratic society.

Not cheap political points but an inevitable reaction to the cheapening of political discourse by enforced silence and secrecy.
Why should not Cllr Green as leader of the main opposition party point out errors in bold? When an administration promises openness and then compels leading councillors to sign gagging agreements ere they can view an independent report, paid for with our money, then the opposition MUST perforce smell a rat whatever the issue. There is only one way to enforce secrecy without open dissent and that is with the rubber truncheon and wet hose. Expect disbelief and cynicism when you operate in the dark within a democratic society. Not cheap political points but an inevitable reaction to the cheapening of political discourse by enforced silence and secrecy. hobroW

3:45pm Sun 26 Jan 14

bigfoot says...

Is it back on line yet or is the Spin Department still using a crayon? I wouldn't trust them with anything sharper!
Is it back on line yet or is the Spin Department still using a crayon? I wouldn't trust them with anything sharper! bigfoot

6:56pm Sun 26 Jan 14

naughtykitties says...

ballacrain wrote:
The time to shut down any computer system,such as the Town Hall is at night when no body is using it. This allows maintaince work to be done.
Ballacrain
For all we know, they've tried that.

"We have got a software problem and we will have to close the system down for about four hours from 3pm."

Now, I'm implying here but that would look like close of business is at 7pm. Thus the overnight window is extended by four hours. At a guess, I suspect they'll need the extra time because they've got an overnight backup process running on that machine and loss of government data would, quite rightly, have you lot up in arms. I'm guessing that takes a good three hours if the database is a fair size. If they're replacing a server, they need to take the data off and restore if, so double that.

Starting to see why IT might need a bit of extra time on this job?
[quote][p][bold]ballacrain[/bold] wrote: The time to shut down any computer system,such as the Town Hall is at night when no body is using it. This allows maintaince work to be done. Ballacrain[/p][/quote]For all we know, they've tried that. "We have got a software problem and we will have to close the system down for about four hours from 3pm." Now, I'm implying here but that would look like close of business is at 7pm. Thus the overnight window is extended by four hours. At a guess, I suspect they'll need the extra time because they've got an overnight backup process running on that machine and loss of government data would, quite rightly, have you lot up in arms. I'm guessing that takes a good three hours if the database is a fair size. If they're replacing a server, they need to take the data off and restore if, so double that. Starting to see why IT might need a bit of extra time on this job? naughtykitties

9:18am Mon 27 Jan 14

hildebrand says...

kind of cheapens the whole Lindale thing
kind of cheapens the whole Lindale thing hildebrand

10:17am Mon 27 Jan 14

JohnON says...

"On the advice of the council’s software provider, Microsoft, we are undertaking essential maintenance today to permanently resolve an IT problem..."

I would have thought that the only advice Microsoft are likely to give would be to ditch Win XP. Hopefully, the antiquated hardware will handle a newer O/S or the problems could go on for a while.

Granted not everyone is interested in the technicalities of these shutdowns but I suspect there are enough people who ARE interested for the press release to at least contain a link to a WBC website page giving more details.

It would all add to the open and transparent image the council is keen to foster.
"On the advice of the council’s software provider, Microsoft, we are undertaking essential maintenance today to permanently resolve an IT problem..." I would have thought that the only advice Microsoft are likely to give would be to ditch Win XP. Hopefully, the antiquated hardware will handle a newer O/S or the problems could go on for a while. Granted not everyone is interested in the technicalities of these shutdowns but I suspect there are enough people who ARE interested for the press release to at least contain a link to a WBC website page giving more details. It would all add to the open and transparent image the council is keen to foster. JohnON

1:39pm Mon 27 Jan 14

Mary Adair says...

This is what happens when the computers used are powered by a hamster in a wheel and the OS is still Windows 1972. Judging by WBC policies and Cllr Davies incongruous attire I cant help but suspect that the 70's is his favourite era.
This is what happens when the computers used are powered by a hamster in a wheel and the OS is still Windows 1972. Judging by WBC policies and Cllr Davies incongruous attire I cant help but suspect that the 70's is his favourite era. Mary Adair

2:32pm Mon 27 Jan 14

artemis81 says...

Mary Adair wrote:
This is what happens when the computers used are powered by a hamster in a wheel and the OS is still Windows 1972. Judging by WBC policies and Cllr Davies incongruous attire I cant help but suspect that the 70's is his favourite era.
Ooof... get you, sister!
[quote][p][bold]Mary Adair[/bold] wrote: This is what happens when the computers used are powered by a hamster in a wheel and the OS is still Windows 1972. Judging by WBC policies and Cllr Davies incongruous attire I cant help but suspect that the 70's is his favourite era.[/p][/quote]Ooof... get you, sister! artemis81

5:04pm Mon 27 Jan 14

Llamedos 1 says...

After the weekend shutdown inside information tells me the system is still not working correctly......how much are the idiots paying for their IT consultants?
After the weekend shutdown inside information tells me the system is still not working correctly......how much are the idiots paying for their IT consultants? Llamedos 1

7:14pm Mon 27 Jan 14

Thepleb says...

Hurts to say it but got to agree with daffy Davies on this one it is a tech fault it does happen in large corporations I.e TSB, cllr green needs to focus on more pressing issues like Lyndale and the yet to be agreed highways contract which ends with Colas in March. It's a common theme for cllr Davies to harp on about central government cuts but they waste thousands out of their ever decreasing budgets I.e New reporting system for council control room and New digital recording system for control room all costing thousands then they close the place who is accountable for this waste of tax payers cash
Hurts to say it but got to agree with daffy Davies on this one it is a tech fault it does happen in large corporations I.e TSB, cllr green needs to focus on more pressing issues like Lyndale and the yet to be agreed highways contract which ends with Colas in March. It's a common theme for cllr Davies to harp on about central government cuts but they waste thousands out of their ever decreasing budgets I.e New reporting system for council control room and New digital recording system for control room all costing thousands then they close the place who is accountable for this waste of tax payers cash Thepleb

11:53am Tue 28 Jan 14

RL 1952 says...

Yet another demonstration of the stark incompetence that seems to manifest itself on a regular basis under the current labour administration - Nothing improves, top salaries get larger, management gets poorer and they just keep patting themselves on the back for their achievements that in reality just do not exist - factual evidence as regularly reported in the Globe are hard and indisputable evidence of this, lets get rid of Davies, Burgess and the so called super directors who have not in anyway proved to be super and get back to grass roots.
Yet another demonstration of the stark incompetence that seems to manifest itself on a regular basis under the current labour administration - Nothing improves, top salaries get larger, management gets poorer and they just keep patting themselves on the back for their achievements that in reality just do not exist - factual evidence as regularly reported in the Globe are hard and indisputable evidence of this, lets get rid of Davies, Burgess and the so called super directors who have not in anyway proved to be super and get back to grass roots. RL 1952

2:31pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Mojo68 says...

I'm quite sure that if we had a Tory run council and they were trying to close a school serving severely disabled and vulnerable children and were wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds and having IT problems the Labour councillors would be jumping all over them too and pointing out all of their failures, isn't that what we've come to expect from politicians?? As a parent of a child currently at Lyndale any waste of funds angers me as that money could be used to keep our precious school open for many years to come.
I'm quite sure that if we had a Tory run council and they were trying to close a school serving severely disabled and vulnerable children and were wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds and having IT problems the Labour councillors would be jumping all over them too and pointing out all of their failures, isn't that what we've come to expect from politicians?? As a parent of a child currently at Lyndale any waste of funds angers me as that money could be used to keep our precious school open for many years to come. Mojo68

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