A SPECIAL review of payments made to a firm of consultants hired by Wirral Council has found officers broke the rules governing contract procurement.

The firm was hired to help transform the borough’s leisure facilities and advise adult social services with its “business planning” process.

A report to next week’s audit and risk management committee says an internal review of the way the contract has been handled found mistakes have been made.

The audit examined what work was commissioned by officers, what was actually spent, and whether managers followed the relevant rules.

The reports states: “The overall conclusion of this work was that elements of the council’s contract procedure rules were not complied with in the awarding of professional consultancy services work to this company. 

“It was incorrectly believed a continuation of previously procured services...could be applied.

“While there is not any inference of impropriety on behalf of any council officer, it is crucial the council’s rules are fully complied with to ensure legality, demonstrate transparency, and protect reputation.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Stuart Kelly, who sits on the audit committee, said: “This is very concerning.

“I want to know how many more contracts we currently have on extension rather than re-tendered by the originally agreed end date.”

The report says 11 improvement recommendations have been made to ensure the mistakes are not repeated, and managers are to receive extra training and guidance.

The investigation was sparked by concerns raised by the chief executive.

The issue will be discussed by the committee when it meets on Tuesday.