A "post room mix-up" led to a crucial letter from a Government minister warning Wirral Council about its newspaper publishing activities remaining unread for NINE days.

Local Government minister Marcus Jones wrote to the leader of the council, Cllr Phil Davies, asking him to explain why he has decided to push ahead with the monthly "Wirral View" even though he knew it was breaking publicity code rules.

Wirral Globe:

The letter - above -is datelined December 5 and is signed-off in ominous terms: "This Government attaches great importance to councils complying with all provisions of the Publicity Code - and where councils do not, we will not be afraid to take action."

Responding to a councillor's request for a copy of the missive, the town hall's communications chief Kevin Macallum wrote: "I want to make it clear the leader received this letter yesterday, December 14, and not on the 5 December as the stamp suggests.

"The issue is as simple as a mix-up in our post room, where the letter was placed in the wrong pigeon hole and has therefore took a few days to make it back to Cllr Davies."

Conservative councillor Ian Lewis is more than a little sceptical.

He said: “Oh come off it!

"A letter from the Local Government Minister addressed to the leader of the council warning of action, potentially in the High Court, ends up in the wrong pigeon hole?

"Does the leader of the council seriously expect us to go along with this excuse?

"Are the leader and his advisers now so deep in their bunker that nobody dares to deliver the bad news?

“Councillor Davies now has it in black and white that if they don’t stop wasting money on this vanity project the Government will take action

"Is Cllr Davies prepared to spend thousands of pounds defending Wirral View in the High Court at a time when he’s telling us there’s no cash for vital services?”

But it looks as though that could be exactly the way the local authority is heading.

Mr MacCallum remained defiant and said: “Our position on keeping residents well informed has never wavered – Wirral residents need up to date, useful and important information about the services which are available to help support them.

“This need is even more acute in those areas of the borough which are more economically disadvantaged, where people are in greatest need and where council services are more valuable and where, unfortunately, the availability of local media and free newspapers is much less widespread.

“If people don’t know what services are available, then they can’t access them and can’t benefit from the support which they provide.

“It was clear from the research we have completed and the feedback we get on an ongoing basis, that the communications tools we were using were not getting this job done.

"It led us to redesign our entire approach to communications, which included the creation of the monthly Wirral View publication and the associated website for those with digital access.

“We set out this case to the Department for Communities and Local Government in July this year, and we were clear then that we would welcome the opportunity to discuss our proposals further.

"We are pleased we now have the chance to continue these discussions, and we will respond to this letter in due course.

“We are absolutely committed to ensuring our residents are kept well informed about the services the council and our partners provide to support them.”


Mr Jones's warning came as he prepares to take action against three London councils who continue to publish fortnightly newsletters in defiance of government guidelines.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has told the three boroughs they could face being ordered by the courts to cease publication of the newsletters, which are supposed to be printed no more than quarterly.

The boroughs of Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest have been given 14 days to make further representations to the Secretary of State before potentially being ordered to comply.

The three could face a court order if they fail to do so.

Wirral intends to publish its newspaper twelve times per year.

The letter and the future of Wirral View are due for further debate when the full council meets on Monday.