Issue - meetings
Meeting: 22/09/2011 - Cabinet (Item 116)
The Leader has agreed to consideration of this item as a matter of urgent business.
The Leader of the Council had agreed to consideration of this matter as an item of urgent business.
The Chief Executive presented a report which advised Cabinet of the progress of an Independent Review of Wirral Council’s Response to Claims made by Mr Martin Morton (and others). The Independent Review was commissioned by the former Leader of the Council from AKA (the trading name of Anna Klonowski Associates Ltd.). AKA had prepared a comprehensive draft report, together with a draft Executive Summary report, in relation to those matters. However, AKA’s lawyers had advised that this Report and Executive Summary must not be published until those named in the report had had the opportunity for a right of reply. This right to reply process was underway and the Council’s Monitoring Officer had agreed with this legal advice.
AKA had also produced a Supplemental Report entitled ‘Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council’s Corporate Governance Arrangements: Refresh and Renew’ (‘The Corporate Governance Report’). Therefore the Chief Executive’s paper addressed The Corporate Governance Report which summarised the organisational weaknesses that had allowed the issues raised by Mr Morton to occur; and which the Council had failed to address.
The Chief Executive stated that he regarded the issues highlighted in The Corporate Governance Report as the most significant challenge facing the Council and he would personally lead and drive the corporate changes that were urgently required. Failure to address the issues detailed in The Corporate Governance Report had led to:
(A) A Public Interest Report,
(B) Two reports under the Public Interest Disclosure Act,
(C) A “red flag” raised by the Audit Commission in relation to Adult Social Services Data,
(D) A Care Quality Commission (CQC) Report relating to issues raised by the “red flag”,
(E) Concerns raised by the Council’s external auditors, and
(F) A number of issues raised by the Director of Finance in the Council’s own corporate governance statements.
Consequently, AKA had concluded that “the Council has not yet learned the necessary lessons to enable its corporate governance arrangements to become more robust and fit for purpose.” In the opinion of AKA, the Council remained at risk of some form of external intervention. Despite the Government’s intention to move to a system of self-regulation from April 2012, until the existing legislation was repealed, the Council could be subject to an external corporate governance inspection under Section 10 of the Local Government Act 1999.
AKA had recommended a number of actions. Specifically, AKA recommended that a Cabinet Committee be established to oversee the assessment, design and delivery of improvements in the Council’s corporate governance arrangements. AKA recommended that the Cabinet Committee be supported by the Council’s statutory officers – The Chief Executive, Monitoring Officer (Director of Law, HR and Asset Management) and S151 Officer (Director of Finance) – together with one or more working groups.
The Chief Executive sincerely apologised to anyone who had been affected by the Council’s shortcomings and assured the Cabinet that he would take personal responsibility to ensure that dramatic changes ... view the full minutes text for item 116