Decision details

Corporate Governance

Decision Maker: Corporate Governance Committee

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes


A report by the Chief Executive set out the reasons for establishing the Committee i.e. to drive forward changes in the way the Council operates, its Terms of Reference and a proposed agenda for its inaugural meeting.


Members were aware that AKA had been engaged by the former Leader of the Council.  Their remit had been to undertake an independent review of the Council’s response to claims made by Mr Martin Morton.  AKA had produced a Supplemental Report entitled ‘Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council’s Corporate Governance Arrangements: Refresh and Renew’ (The Corporate Governance Report) which summarised organisational weaknesses which the Council had failed to address.


The Cabinet had considered this report at its meeting on 22 September 2011 and resolved to accept the criticisms unreservedly and the recommendations designed to help the Council move forward.  It had also resolved to establish this, time limited, Cabinet Committee tasked with driving forward the changes which needed to be made in the way the Council was managed and in respect of its organisational culture. It was anticipated that the work of this Committee would be concluded by 31 March 2012.  The Cabinet had also noted that the Leader of the Council was keen for all three parties to work together to help resolve the issues that had been raised.


Members noted that the Corporate Governance Report had proposed a number of work streams to address the issues:


(1)  A Councillor Working Group supported by Officers

(2)  Taking the Lead Delivery Team

(3)  Review and Improve Corporate Governance Development and

Training across the Council

(4)  System Stress Tests across the Council

(5)  Corporate Governance Amnesty


The Cabinet had also asked this Committee to:


(a)  consider an initial report (from the Deputy Chief Executive/Director of Finance) on ways to strengthen the Council’s Internal Audit Team.

(b)  consider an initial report (from the Director of Law, HR and Asset Management) on ways to strengthen Legal and Member Services.


The Cabinet had additionally referred proposals in respect of Performance Management to this Committee as follows:


“In the light of the recent receipt of the independent report on Corporate Governance, Cabinet believes this report [Performance Management] should first be referred to the newly set up Cabinet Committee [The Corporate Governance Committee] in order to ensure that it meets all the necessary requirements to help the Council tackle the major problems ahead. 


Members were also informed that at its meeting on 29 September 2011, the Employment and Appointments Committee had agreed that this Committee should consider the creation of a dedicated Policy Unit working directly to the Chief Executive, and the creation of a new post of Head of Policy Unit.


Members noted that failure to respond appropriately to this report would mean that the Council and its residents remained at risk of:


  (a)  service failure

  (b)  external inspection under the Local Government Act 1999

  (c)  failure to respond appropriately to the self improvement regime anticipated from April 2012


Members noted, in particular, that there were ten areas of Corporate Governance that had been identified in the Governance Report as follows:


Area of Corporate Governance

AKA Assessment

(X= issues to be addressed)

Financial Issues


Member Capacity


Officer Structures


Service Quality


Corporate Planning


Partnership Working




Community Engagement


Risk Management





The Chief Executive’s report suggested that Members may also wish to review specific service areas to ensure best practice from a governance perspective.  The Governance Report had clearly identified Internal Audit and Committee Services as areas, which if strengthened, would enhance corporate governance.


It was apparent to Members that the Committee had a lot of work to do in a limited period of time and that it needed a whole-systems approach towards it.  The report set out a proposed comprehensive work plan of activities, and detailed how it could be supported internally to prioritise and go about its work.  It was noted that this may be supplemented with some external support and some back filling




That the Committee:


(1)  notes the Terms of Reference for the time-limited Committee (to 31 March



(2)  notes its Membership;


(3)  agrees to a schedule of meetings which ties in to the existing three-weekly Cabinet cycle to 31 March 2012 when it is anticipated that its role in relation to Corporate Governance will come to an end;


(4)  agrees the proposed whole-systems approach, including the establishment of a turnaround team together with the proposed comprehensive programme of activities;


(5)  notes that proposals for the review of Internal Audit are presented elsewhere on the Agenda as part of the comprehensive programme;


(6)  notes that proposals for the review of Legal and Committee Service Team are presented elsewhere on the Agenda as part of the comprehensive programme;


(7)  notes that proposals for the review of Performance Management are presented elsewhere on the Agenda as part of the comprehensive programme;


(8)  notes that proposals for the establishment of a dedicated Policy Unit are

presented elsewhere on the Agenda as part of the comprehensive programme; and


(9)  agrees a review of all reports submitted by the Officers to any Committee of the Council within the last 3 months, from a Corporate Governance perspective, by the turnaround team to identify opportunities for improvement, this will be included as part of the comprehensive programme.

Report author: Chief Executive

Publication date: 01/11/2011

Date of decision: 26/10/2011

Decided at meeting: 26/10/2011 - Corporate Governance Committee

Effective from: 09/11/2011

Accompanying Documents: