Wirral Council is among local authorities which will feature in a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation to be broadcast next week.

Titled How Councils Waste Your Money the programme says it "reveals the millions spent on gagging council workers so they don't spill the beans."

Wirral whistleblowers who alleged wrong-doing in the way the authority handled its multi-million pound outsourced highways maintenance contract have been interviewed by the show’s reporters.

Their claims last year led to the suspension of four senior officers while the town hall brought in the now-disbanded local government watchdog, the Audit Commission, to conduct a probe.

The auditor’s findings were later themselves investigated by an independent consultant whose own inquiry ruled the officers had “no case to answer” and should be allowed to return to work as soon as possible.

Two of the officers left last year; one received a redundancy pay-off of £146,000 while the other was allowed early access to his pension at a cost to the authority of £86,000.

The other two officers were made redundant in the recent restructuring, which brought the total number of senior managers losing their positions to eleven.

The purge is believed to have saved around £800,000 from council spending and Wirral chief executive Graham Burgess said no gagging clauses of any kind have been applied to outgoing staff.

He said: "From September of last year we have instructed our solicitors Eversheds not to apply these clauses.

"This was not the case before September, but I believe we have been reasonably tight with our procedures since."

Birkenhead MP Frank Field was also interviewed for the show.

He led the campaign on behalf of the whistleblowers – at one point asking the Serious Fraud Office to become involved.

He told the Globe: “The main point I wanted to get across to the programme-makers was that when I took up the whistleblowers’ case, we all know what the old regime at the town hall was like.

“Now so many of the old guard have gone and the new regime is responding in a totally different way.”

A flyer on Channel 4 Disptaches website says: “Councils across the UK have annual budgets in the tens of billions of pounds.

“But do you know what they really spend it on?

“About 60 per cent of council budgets come from central government, with the remainder raised by business rates and council tax payers.

“Much of this is spent on vital and valuable services such as social care and education.

“But an investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches reveals some spending that local authorities across the UK wished you didn't know about, from expensive cars to foreign trips and from five-star hotels to golf lessons.”

It says the programme's findings are based on hundreds of Freedom of Information requests, "which offer a glimpse into how councils spend our money."

The programme reveals the councillor who lives 70 miles from his constituents but whose party still claims an allowance, and also discloses the millions spent on gagging council workers so they don't spill the beans.

The show will be broadcast on Channel 4, next Monday, June 17, at 8pm.


Senior officers made redundant:

Wirral Council has this afternoon confirmed six officers left its employment last month on redundancy terms.

A press release says: "A total of 11 senior management posts have been deleted from the authority, following a reorganisation of the management structure which started in 2012."

The final managers to leave the authority are (leaving date):
• David Green, Director of Technical Service (12 May 2013)
• Ian Brand, Head of Asset Management (14 May 2013)
• Geoff Paterson, Head of IT Services (14 May 2013)
• Jim Lester, Head of Cultural Services (14 May 2013)
• David Taylor-Smith, Deputy Director of Finance (21 May 2013)
• Rob Beresford, Head of Regulation (21 May 2013)

"Wirral Council has £109m to save over the current and next two financial years. In 2013/14, overall budget savings of around £40m have been made."

Other deleted management posts from December 2012 were:
Deputy Director of Adult Social Services
• Director of Finance
• Director of Law, HR and Asset Management
• Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning
• Deputy Head of Service, Adult Social Services