WIRRAL Council has today suspended from work its director of highways and technical services David Green.

The move, according to the council, is so a full investigation can be carried out into concerns raised by the District Auditor into the handling of a multi-million pound highways maintenance contract.

The council has been involved in a long-running investigation by watchdogs the Audit Commission over its handling of the contract.

Birkenhead MP Frank Field has been campaigning for the Audit Commission report to be published since it was received by the town hall in January.

It is expected to be made public within the next two to three days.

And senior officers are to be called to a special cabinet meeting on Thursday to "explain their actions."

Mr Field was alerted to allegations surrounding the highways contract last year by a group of council employees who "blew the whistle."

Mr Field said today: "It's been a long and drawn out process in which, to ensure the whistle-blowers were listened to, we had to engage the Serious Fraud Office and the Audit Commission.

"We must now ensure that, with key changes afoot, we establish a senior officer group who know that the top demmand from Wirral residents is for good governance of our borough as a whole."

Leader of the council Cllr Jeff Green said: "The council has today suspended the Director of Highways and Technical Services. This investigation by the Audit Commission has been dragging on to my knowledge since 2008.

"And so far it has involved the District Auditor twice as well as the council's own Head of Law, Director of Finance and the mystical 'Council Corporate Governance Group' whose minutes and agendas have remained unavailable to me although I have requested to see them.

"I am astounded by the level of incompetence shown by the council's investigating team.

"Some councillors have been fed a series of allegations, gossip and tittle-tattle throughout this time.

"As we have seen in the recent disgraceful treatment of vulnerable adults, the automatic response of senior officers appears to be denial followed by legal advice that clouds the whole issue in the hope it will go away.

"It is now time for these senior officers to cease their secretive briefings and quiet whispers and to answer for their actions, in public.

"We can start at the special cabinet meeting I have called for Thursday when the Director of Law and the Director of Finance can tell us what they know.

"My message to all senior council officers is to get with the programme - they are public servants and they are, like councillors, there to serve the public.

"Every single senior officer will be held accountable for their actions, no matter how senior they are."

A brief official statement from the council said: "In order that a full investigation can be conducted into matters raised by the District Auditor into concerns relating to the [highways] contract, the Director of Technical Services will not be in the office while this further investigation takes place.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

Comments on this article have been suspended. If you would like to leave a comment, email lmarles@wirral-globe.co.uk

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