Special meeting of full council called over whistle-blower investigations

First published in News Wirral Globe: Photograph of the Author by , Editor

THE FULL extent of allegations made by whistle-blowers of alleged malpractice by Wirral Council is to be revealed.

The authority has taken the unusual step of convening a special meeting of the full council to consider the implications of two major inquiries.

Council leader Steve Foulkes has called for all 66 members of the authority to be summoned to the town hall after February's cabinet meeting when the results of the two investigations will be made public for the first time.

The first concerns a report from independent consultant Anna Klonowski into claims made by former employee Martin Morton about adult social services.

Mr Morton first raised his concerns about a so-called “special charging policy” of vulnerable adults to the Wirral Globe in 2008.

A preliminary "Corporate Governance" review by Klonowski was revealed late last year and rocked the council.

The £250,000, six-month investigation found a "corrosive and insular" culture had all-but overwhelmed the authority, saying it puts its own bureaucratic machinations before the needs and rights of Wirral people.

The second is the Audit Commission report into the authority’s highways maintenance contract.

In October of last year, the Globe exclusively revealed that Birkenhead MP Frank Field had called on the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the handling of the contract.

The UK investigation agency was asked to step in following allegations made to Mr Field by a group of council whistle-blowers.

Local government watchdog the District Auditor has now produced a report into the £8m highways contract.

Councillor Foulkes said: “I believe it is very important for the council to be as open and transparent as possible.

"It is vitally important that the council recognises any past or present failings and takes action to prevent them happening again.

“These reports will look at claims made by whistle-blowers and make recommendations to the council.

"I believe it is essential that the reports are published in full, and that they are debated in full by the whole council.

“If they are critical, then we should view those criticisms constructively and use them to move forward and change things for the better”

Comments (28)

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9:42am Mon 9 Jan 12

Ben Beaconsfield says...

"I believe it is very important for the council to be as open and transparent as possible."

Commendable, Cllr Foulkes. Now without wishing to pour cold water on your efforts in this respect, can we have a cast-iron guarantee that at no time during this session of the Council will members of the public be asked to leave the meeting?
"I believe it is very important for the council to be as open and transparent as possible." Commendable, Cllr Foulkes. Now without wishing to pour cold water on your efforts in this respect, can we have a cast-iron guarantee that at no time during this session of the Council will members of the public be asked to leave the meeting? Ben Beaconsfield
  • Score: 0

10:33am Mon 9 Jan 12

ArdalMcFardle says...

And still no sackings ?
And still no sackings ? ArdalMcFardle
  • Score: 0

10:58am Mon 9 Jan 12

PaulCa says...

There's "move forward" rearing its ugly head again, hot on the heels of "Lessons will be learned" and "Draw a line under it".

The same rogues are still in situ, and we, the Wirral public and taxpayers won't be happy until we see proper accountability ie. abusers parted from their lucrative jobs or their positions as members on scrutiny committees.

This nightmayor has to END.
There's "move forward" rearing its ugly head again, hot on the heels of "Lessons will be learned" and "Draw a line under it". The same rogues are still in situ, and we, the Wirral public and taxpayers won't be happy until we see proper accountability ie. abusers parted from their lucrative jobs or their positions as members on scrutiny committees. This nightmayor has to END. PaulCa
  • Score: 0

12:00pm Mon 9 Jan 12

WirralAl says...

Amazing the leader of the council has summoned all the councillors. He was the leader of the council while all this was taking place.
They should publish the report on the web so that we can all see it.

How can the leader who let it happen be allowed to chair a meeting when he allowed it all to happen!

It is some progress but smells really badly of "bureaucratic machinations" and "corrosive and insular" culture being allowed to judge themselves. Bad smell ! Bull ****ters who we elected!
Amazing the leader of the council has summoned all the councillors. He was the leader of the council while all this was taking place. They should publish the report on the web so that we can all see it. How can the leader who let it happen be allowed to chair a meeting when he allowed it all to happen! It is some progress but smells really badly of "bureaucratic machinations" and "corrosive and insular" culture being allowed to judge themselves. Bad smell ! Bull ****ters who we elected! WirralAl
  • Score: 0

1:07pm Mon 9 Jan 12

Ben Beaconsfield says...

The meeting will not be chaired by Cllr Foulkes.

It will be chaired by the Mayor - Cllr Moria McLaughlin.
The meeting will not be chaired by Cllr Foulkes. It will be chaired by the Mayor - Cllr Moria McLaughlin. Ben Beaconsfield
  • Score: 0

1:17pm Mon 9 Jan 12

Spiffy says...

"The authority has taken the unusual step of convening a special meeting of the full council to consider the implications of two major inquiries. "
...
Unusual, you say ? Arrogant, I say. It should be for the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to decide.
"The authority has taken the unusual step of convening a special meeting of the full council to consider the implications of two major inquiries. " ... Unusual, you say ? Arrogant, I say. It should be for the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to decide. Spiffy
  • Score: 0

1:38pm Mon 9 Jan 12

Leigh Marles says...

Apologies - I've got the wrong date for this special meeting.

A communication from Labour said the date of the special council is to be set for "the Monday following the cabinet meeting which makes recommendations on action to be taken in response to these reports."

But I have since learned this refers not to this month's cabinet meeting, but the one scheduled for February.

Sorry for the confusion.

Leigh Marles.
Apologies - I've got the wrong date for this special meeting. A communication from Labour said the date of the special council is to be set for "the Monday following the cabinet meeting which makes recommendations on action to be taken in response to these reports." But I have since learned this refers not to this month's cabinet meeting, but the one scheduled for February. Sorry for the confusion. Leigh Marles. Leigh Marles
  • Score: 0

1:49pm Mon 9 Jan 12

Spiffy says...

Leigh Marles wrote:
Apologies - I've got the wrong date for this special meeting.

A communication from Labour said the date of the special council is to be set for "the Monday following the cabinet meeting which makes recommendations on action to be taken in response to these reports."

But I have since learned this refers not to this month's cabinet meeting, but the one scheduled for February.

Sorry for the confusion.

Leigh Marles.
A typically convoluted and ridiculously aversionary statement from labour...they couldn't just look at the calendar and specify the date then, Leigh...no wonder you're confused (and forgiven) !
[quote][p][bold]Leigh Marles[/bold] wrote: Apologies - I've got the wrong date for this special meeting. A communication from Labour said the date of the special council is to be set for "the Monday following the cabinet meeting which makes recommendations on action to be taken in response to these reports." But I have since learned this refers not to this month's cabinet meeting, but the one scheduled for February. Sorry for the confusion. Leigh Marles.[/p][/quote]A typically convoluted and ridiculously aversionary statement from labour...they couldn't just look at the calendar and specify the date then, Leigh...no wonder you're confused (and forgiven) ! Spiffy
  • Score: 0

1:57pm Mon 9 Jan 12

PaulCa says...

If the current mayor Councillor Moira McLaughlin is chairing the meeting, she was also chair of the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committees which repeatedly failed to spot many years of abuse and disability discrimination against 16 learning disabled tenants, four of whom are no longer with us.

Can such a situation be PERMITTED?

The financial element to this abuse amounted to £500,000 - a figure that has been refuted by the council, which has since imposed an unlawful retrospective charging policy. This amounted to a so-called "reimbursement" of only half the amount. This caused the DWP to treat any money paid back as 'windfalls' - clobbering surviving tenants' benefits, which in turn has added to the distress and compounded the abuse.

Abusers CAN'T investigate themselves or fellow abusers. Heads now need to roll. We expect nothing less.
If the current mayor Councillor Moira McLaughlin is chairing the meeting, she was also chair of the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committees which repeatedly failed to spot many years of abuse and disability discrimination against 16 learning disabled tenants, four of whom are no longer with us. Can such a situation be PERMITTED? The financial element to this abuse amounted to £500,000 - a figure that has been refuted by the council, which has since imposed an unlawful retrospective charging policy. This amounted to a so-called "reimbursement" of only half the amount. This caused the DWP to treat any money paid back as 'windfalls' - clobbering surviving tenants' benefits, which in turn has added to the distress and compounded the abuse. Abusers CAN'T investigate themselves or fellow abusers. Heads now need to roll. We expect nothing less. PaulCa
  • Score: 0

2:09pm Mon 9 Jan 12

johnbrace says...

@WirralAl

"They should publish the report on the web so that we can all see it. "

If it's part of the Cabinet meeting, it should get published on Wirral Council's website a week before the meeting, which would be the 26th January...
@WirralAl "They should publish the report on the web so that we can all see it. " If it's part of the Cabinet meeting, it should get published on Wirral Council's website a week before the meeting, which would be the 26th January... johnbrace
  • Score: 0

2:17pm Mon 9 Jan 12

Cheesy Peas says...

I'm waiting to read about the upcoming Court of Appeal hearing between WBC and Salisbury Independent Living.

It's listed for January 25/26 and involves SIL claiming its owed £3m by WBC.

SIL was looking after vulnerable adults on behalf of WBC - vulnerable people being, of course, in the charge of the Department for Adult Social Services.

Strange that we've heard nothing of this so far. Surely it can't be that the Wirral Council doesn't want us to know?

Not in this new world where they want to keep everything honest and open?

Oh, and you can't influence a High Court judge, so there is precisely nothing prejudicial in this comment.
I'm waiting to read about the upcoming Court of Appeal hearing between WBC and Salisbury Independent Living. It's listed for January 25/26 and involves SIL claiming its owed £3m by WBC. SIL was looking after vulnerable adults on behalf of WBC - vulnerable people being, of course, in the charge of the Department for Adult Social Services. Strange that we've heard nothing of this so far. Surely it can't be that the Wirral Council doesn't want us to know? Not in this new world where they want to keep everything honest and open? Oh, and you can't influence a High Court judge, so there is precisely nothing prejudicial in this comment. Cheesy Peas
  • Score: 0

3:00pm Mon 9 Jan 12

ArdalMcFardle says...

"It will be chaired by the Mayor - Cllr Moria McLaughlin."

This is the same Moria McLaughlin who happily chirped on twitter 08/12/11 "I'm off to the Adult Social Services staff awards this afternoon "

http://is.gd/cEz6Qq

Excuse me if this doesn't exactly fill me with confidence
"It will be chaired by the Mayor - Cllr Moria McLaughlin." This is the same Moria McLaughlin who happily chirped on twitter 08/12/11 "I'm off to the Adult Social Services staff awards this afternoon " http://is.gd/cEz6Qq Excuse me if this doesn't exactly fill me with confidence ArdalMcFardle
  • Score: 0

3:07pm Mon 9 Jan 12

johnbrace says...

Spiffy wrote:
"The authority has taken the unusual step of convening a special meeting of the full council to consider the implications of two major inquiries. "
...
Unusual, you say ? Arrogant, I say. It should be for the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to decide.
Sadly it's only up to the police and Crown Prosecution Service for criminal matters.

Disability discrimination is a civil matter generally for the County Courts. With most government agencies being able to afford thousands for barristers to get them off the hook, the scales of justice aren't exactly fairly balanced between the two sides as legal aid isn't usually offered for cases that although they may have merit in deciding matters in the public interest are hard to win.
[quote][p][bold]Spiffy[/bold] wrote: "The authority has taken the unusual step of convening a special meeting of the full council to consider the implications of two major inquiries. " ... Unusual, you say ? Arrogant, I say. It should be for the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to decide.[/p][/quote]Sadly it's only up to the police and Crown Prosecution Service for criminal matters. Disability discrimination is a civil matter generally for the County Courts. With most government agencies being able to afford thousands for barristers to get them off the hook, the scales of justice aren't exactly fairly balanced between the two sides as legal aid isn't usually offered for cases that although they may have merit in deciding matters in the public interest are hard to win. johnbrace
  • Score: 0

3:29pm Mon 9 Jan 12

Ben Beaconsfield says...

I hope the public will not be excluded from this Cabinet meeting.

I have a gut feeling we might have a new Mayor (as a result of resignation) before this comes up to full Council, in which case there will be no conflict of interest.
I hope the public will not be excluded from this Cabinet meeting. I have a gut feeling we might have a new Mayor (as a result of resignation) before this comes up to full Council, in which case there will be no conflict of interest. Ben Beaconsfield
  • Score: 0

3:37pm Mon 9 Jan 12

JADEE1 says...

get an out side police force to investigate all the wrong doing & illegal practices,& get all or , sum of this untouchable 66,put were they belong ,in prison ,they should be ashamed of themselves ,ripping off old & vunerable people, the very people who voted them in ,on false promises,,22 are up for re election very soon ,lets bin the lot,,once & for all ,psalm 146.3 DO NOT PUT YOUR TRUST IN NOBLES,NOR THE SON OF EARTHLING MAN,TO WHOM NO SALVATION BELONGS...enough said.
get an out side police force to investigate all the wrong doing & illegal practices,& get all or , sum of this untouchable 66,put were they belong ,in prison ,they should be ashamed of themselves ,ripping off old & vunerable people, the very people who voted them in ,on false promises,,22 are up for re election very soon ,lets bin the lot,,once & for all ,psalm 146.3 DO NOT PUT YOUR TRUST IN NOBLES,NOR THE SON OF EARTHLING MAN,TO WHOM NO SALVATION BELONGS...enough said. JADEE1
  • Score: 0

3:38pm Mon 9 Jan 12

unbeleivable says...

I still say this fairer charging policy is not right.
I still say this fairer charging policy is not right. unbeleivable
  • Score: 0

4:01pm Mon 9 Jan 12

JADEE1 says...

are all these meetings open to the press public,& police ? if not ,why not.& can we record the meetin ,? after all cllr foulks,wants every thing open & transparent,or is that just another nugget full of hot air again,??
are all these meetings open to the press public,& police ? if not ,why not.& can we record the meetin ,? after all cllr foulks,wants every thing open & transparent,or is that just another nugget full of hot air again,?? JADEE1
  • Score: 0

9:42pm Mon 9 Jan 12

Spiffy says...

johnbrace wrote:
Spiffy wrote:
"The authority has taken the unusual step of convening a special meeting of the full council to consider the implications of two major inquiries. "
...
Unusual, you say ? Arrogant, I say. It should be for the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to decide.
Sadly it's only up to the police and Crown Prosecution Service for criminal matters.

Disability discrimination is a civil matter generally for the County Courts. With most government agencies being able to afford thousands for barristers to get them off the hook, the scales of justice aren't exactly fairly balanced between the two sides as legal aid isn't usually offered for cases that although they may have merit in deciding matters in the public interest are hard to win.
I take your point and thank you for the information but Fraud is a Criminal Offence and applies to both matter under inquiry.
...
What is Frank Field waiting for ??
[quote][p][bold]johnbrace[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Spiffy[/bold] wrote: "The authority has taken the unusual step of convening a special meeting of the full council to consider the implications of two major inquiries. " ... Unusual, you say ? Arrogant, I say. It should be for the Police and Crown Prosecution Service to decide.[/p][/quote]Sadly it's only up to the police and Crown Prosecution Service for criminal matters. Disability discrimination is a civil matter generally for the County Courts. With most government agencies being able to afford thousands for barristers to get them off the hook, the scales of justice aren't exactly fairly balanced between the two sides as legal aid isn't usually offered for cases that although they may have merit in deciding matters in the public interest are hard to win.[/p][/quote]I take your point and thank you for the information but Fraud is a Criminal Offence and applies to both matter under inquiry. ... What is Frank Field waiting for ?? Spiffy
  • Score: 0

9:48pm Mon 9 Jan 12

Spiffy says...

If I recall correctly one of the reasons for the Special Charging Policy was that residents were simply not actually spending all the benefits they were entitled to and were accruing savings that would inevitably put them over the limit for benefit eligibility.
...
To overcharge them....even if only on that basis alone and never mind anything else...is Extortion and Theft.
...
I'm pretty sure Police and CPS could find a fair few criminal charges in there to conjure with ....given the chance. :/
If I recall correctly one of the reasons for the Special Charging Policy was that residents were simply not actually spending all the benefits they were entitled to and were accruing savings that would inevitably put them over the limit for benefit eligibility. ... To overcharge them....even if only on that basis alone and never mind anything else...is Extortion and Theft. ... I'm pretty sure Police and CPS could find a fair few criminal charges in there to conjure with ....given the chance. :/ Spiffy
  • Score: 0

6:58am Tue 10 Jan 12

Ben Beaconsfield says...

How many posters have actually complained to the police over this matter, as is their right as council tax payers?

I haven't because I don't know the detail, but it is obvious from the sophistication of some messages that others are in a position to do so, but don't?

Why wait for Frank?
How many posters have actually complained to the police over this matter, as is their right as council tax payers? I haven't because I don't know the detail, but it is obvious from the sophistication of some messages that others are in a position to do so, but don't? Why wait for Frank? Ben Beaconsfield
  • Score: 0

10:52am Tue 10 Jan 12

Spiffy says...

Ben Beaconsfield wrote:
How many posters have actually complained to the police over this matter, as is their right as council tax payers?

I haven't because I don't know the detail, but it is obvious from the sophistication of some messages that others are in a position to do so, but don't?

Why wait for Frank?
A fair point but...without getting too technical about it and just one consideration must be...it doesn't make any financial sense for taxpayers to pay twice over at this point for separate inquiries and investigations.
[quote][p][bold]Ben Beaconsfield[/bold] wrote: How many posters have actually complained to the police over this matter, as is their right as council tax payers? I haven't because I don't know the detail, but it is obvious from the sophistication of some messages that others are in a position to do so, but don't? Why wait for Frank?[/p][/quote]A fair point but...without getting too technical about it and just one consideration must be...it doesn't make any financial sense for taxpayers to pay twice over at this point for separate inquiries and investigations. Spiffy
  • Score: 0

10:57am Tue 10 Jan 12

hugo2008 says...

It is morally ethically and professionally beholding on the entire number of 66 Wirral Councillors to demand that a full frank open honest disclosure is made to the public.

It is we who have paid, not only for the reports to be carried out, but the costs and expenses of all the Councillors and Council officers, involved in the whole disgraceful mess.

Plus paying off a few expensive past employees who were also deeply involved, and that includes the original whistle blower himself, he at least is the only individual to emerge with clean hands, from this terrible disgraceful and tragic misuse of power and privilege.

It is the whole of the Wirral Borough Council and Councillors Plus our so called local Members of Parliament, who have brought the name of Wirral and Social Services into such deep abiding disgrace and distaste on a National Basis.
It is morally ethically and professionally beholding on the entire number of 66 Wirral Councillors to demand that a full frank open honest disclosure is made to the public. It is we who have paid, not only for the reports to be carried out, but the costs and expenses of all the Councillors and Council officers, involved in the whole disgraceful mess. Plus paying off a few expensive past employees who were also deeply involved, and that includes the original whistle blower himself, he at least is the only individual to emerge with clean hands, from this terrible disgraceful and tragic misuse of power and privilege. It is the whole of the Wirral Borough Council and Councillors Plus our so called local Members of Parliament, who have brought the name of Wirral and Social Services into such deep abiding disgrace and distaste on a National Basis. hugo2008
  • Score: 0

11:42am Tue 10 Jan 12

PaulCa says...

It's actually 65 councillors who need taking through the wringer.

Only ONE of the 66, Simon Mountney, has been instrumental in getting the public interest to where it stands today, in the teeth of some pretty foul, disgraceful and bordering on criminal conduct.

As for going to the police. They don't want to know. It's a kind of 'democratic deficit' that exists nationally. They see the local council as 'unassailable' - plus a lot more trouble than it's worth - hence the freedom for local politicians to do what the hell they like, which in the case of Wirral, involved 7 years and more of disabled abuse, theft from people's bank accounts and disability discrimination.

And it doesn't end there... there is a LOT more.
It's actually 65 councillors who need taking through the wringer. Only ONE of the 66, Simon Mountney, has been instrumental in getting the public interest to where it stands today, in the teeth of some pretty foul, disgraceful and bordering on criminal conduct. As for going to the police. They don't want to know. It's a kind of 'democratic deficit' that exists nationally. They see the local council as 'unassailable' - plus a lot more trouble than it's worth - hence the freedom for local politicians to do what the hell they like, which in the case of Wirral, involved 7 years and more of disabled abuse, theft from people's bank accounts and disability discrimination. And it doesn't end there... there is a LOT more. PaulCa
  • Score: 0

2:28pm Tue 10 Jan 12

red devil says...

The government take no notice of persistent whistle blowers, why should Wirral Council? Get real, get working, and do council business.
The government take no notice of persistent whistle blowers, why should Wirral Council? Get real, get working, and do council business. red devil
  • Score: 0

3:34pm Tue 10 Jan 12

Ben Beaconsfield says...

PaulaCa:

How do you know the police don't want to know? Are you speaking from personal experience or just second-guessing them?

You say "It doesn't end there - there is a LOT more".

OK. I take what you say at face value. But don't you feel you have a moral obligation to tell the police what you know, rather than just paint a broad-brush picture to readers of this forum?
PaulaCa: How do you know the police don't want to know? Are you speaking from personal experience or just second-guessing them? You say "It doesn't end there - there is a LOT more". OK. I take what you say at face value. But don't you feel you have a moral obligation to tell the police what you know, rather than just paint a broad-brush picture to readers of this forum? Ben Beaconsfield
  • Score: 0

3:38pm Tue 10 Jan 12

hugo2008 says...

Red Devil:

This is council business, dirty as it is with underhand deceitful council handling, cover up, and downright disregard for the wishes of the electorate.

Otherwise the report would have been out in the open where it rightfully belongs.

it is to detriment and sheer diabolical shame that only one elected Councillor had the guts and determination to try and be an honest fair citizen, with some respect and regard for his fellow disadvantaged and disabled mankind.

Please remember this at election time and do not under any circumstances re-elect any of the waste of space parasites who stood by and allowed this utterly disgraceful situation to happen and develop into a National Scandal
Red Devil: This is council business, dirty as it is with underhand deceitful council handling, cover up, and downright disregard for the wishes of the electorate. Otherwise the report would have been out in the open where it rightfully belongs. it is to detriment and sheer diabolical shame that only one elected Councillor had the guts and determination to try and be an honest fair citizen, with some respect and regard for his fellow disadvantaged and disabled mankind. Please remember this at election time and do not under any circumstances re-elect any of the waste of space parasites who stood by and allowed this utterly disgraceful situation to happen and develop into a National Scandal hugo2008
  • Score: 0

10:33am Wed 11 Jan 12

LocaLGovwatcher says...

The law and WBC grind exceedingly slow and I can imagine the mantra of those involved to be "and nair the twain shall meet!"

Roll on the meeting!
The law and WBC grind exceedingly slow and I can imagine the mantra of those involved to be "and nair the twain shall meet!" Roll on the meeting! LocaLGovwatcher
  • Score: 0

9:32pm Thu 12 Jan 12

hugo2008 says...

hugo2008 says...
9:22pm Thu 12 Jan 12

Hey fellow posters,

I call on you all to express your appreciation and respect for the Editor, and Staff at Wirral Globe, for sticking with this disgraceful issue through thick and thin, like Martin Morton they have been completely vindicated.

Thanks Leigh for standing firm for truth and honesty, together with fair play you have done Journalism proud.
hugo2008 says... 9:22pm Thu 12 Jan 12 Hey fellow posters, I call on you all to express your appreciation and respect for the Editor, and Staff at Wirral Globe, for sticking with this disgraceful issue through thick and thin, like Martin Morton they have been completely vindicated. Thanks Leigh for standing firm for truth and honesty, together with fair play you have done Journalism proud. hugo2008
  • Score: 0

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