A COUNCIL has been slammed for failing to follow protocol in 90% of complaints made against its members since 2012 – one of which took four years to process.

Complaints against elected councillors in Wirral have only been completed in the set time scale in 10% of cases during the last six years, with the figure discussed at an extraordinary meeting of the authority’s standards and constitutional oversight committee on Wednesday.

It was called by the Conservative group who said the methods used by the council “need to improve”.

Cllr Chris Blakeley, who was the subject of a complaint on file for four years, called the 90% figure “absolutely appalling”, adding: “We have a responsibility on this committee to look out for members of the public. To allow these things to drift is unacceptable.

“People who have legitimate complaints must be supported in a way that does not drag on for months, or in lots of cases years, with one recently identified case not being resolved after four years, while spurious, politically-motivated complaints need to be kicked out pronto.”

Cllr Tony Cox said: “90% is embarrassing to be honest. When something is raised against internal members of staff, I would hope our performance is better than that against elected members.”

Philip McCourt, director of governance and assurance at the council, said he “couldn’t possibly disagree”, adding: “We over six years have failed to comply with current protocols and standards 90% of the time. We hold our hands up to that absolutely. We will deal with it and put it right.”

The current system was described at the Wallasey Town Hall meeting as “ancient”, and the committee heard it is often slowed down by reasons such as people being reluctant to give evidence, legal advice taking a long time to process, and general unavailability.

Cllr Chris Jones said the current system was introduced in August 2014, so is “not ancient”, adding: “I am generally happy with the protocol we have got. It just needs small changes.”

Members were told council officials would come up with a new “tightened” system before reporting back to the committee in two months’ time.

It will take influence from other councils including North Lincolnshire and Manchester City, and set a standard six-month time limit on the entire complaint process from start to finish, except in unusual circumstances.

It will also contain “some sort of progress tracker”, also including members of the committee to a “greater extent” than it does now.