THE leader of Wirral Council has been selected to join the Local Government Association’s (LGA) national Improvement and Innovation Board.
Councillor Phil Davies – who is also chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority – was selected in recognition of the work he has led to make Wirral the “fastest improving council” in the country.
He will be part of overseeing LGA support to local authorities aimed at raising standards of performance and enhancing relationships with key central bodies.
Objectives of the board include challenging poor performance in councils and supporting them to improve as well as maximising opportunities from new governance and funding proposals such as local area agreements and local public service boards.
Board members also play a key role in influencing the performance framework within which local government operates to achieve greater self-regulation.
Cllr Davies said: “Wirral Council has made significant progress in the past couple of years with the support of the LGA. The pace of improvements here has been the fastest in the country when compared to other local authorities in similar situations so I believe I have a lot to contribute to the work of the Board.
“It is vital that local government is represented at a national level and this is a great platform to raise the profile of Wirral and the wider City Region and support other Councils by sharing our experiences. Importantly, it also provides an opportunity to learn from what other local authorities are doing and use that knowledge to benefit our area.”
Wirral Council came under fire earlier this month for its spending habits after it was revealed council bosses – including Cllr Davies – jetted off to the LGA conference in Bournemouth at a cost of £5,000.
The cash-strapped authority, which has been criticised recently for spending £17,000 on refurbishing members toilets in Wallasey town hall, spent £5,258.72 on flying four of the five bosses to the south coast.
Visiting the conference with Cllr Davies was chief executive Graham Burgess, deputy council leader George Davies, Liberal Democrat Alan Brighouse and the council’s strategic director Joe Blott.
The council said the flights cost £139.18 for three of them and £124.18 for the fourth – cheaper than the standard train rate of £169 return.
The fifth member of the delegation travelled to Bournemouth by train using a pensioner’s discount.
At the time, Graham Burgess said the trip allowed them to “showcase Wirral’s achievements and good practice” on a national platform.
He said: Mr Burgess said: “The LGA Conference brings together people involved in local government from all over the country and from all political parties. The vast majority of local authorities – including those from all of the other Councils that make up the Liverpool City Region – are represented here.
“The conference programme is always of direct relevance to what is happening in local government, gives us an opportunity to hear and respond to latest government policy and also gives us an opportunity to showcase Wirral’s achievements and good practice on this national platform. We have kept both our attendance and resulting costs to a minimum.”