Agenda item

Delivering Corporate Governance


A report by the Acting Chief Executive/Director of Finance outlined investment proposals to enhance the delivery of corporate governance in the Council.  £300,000 had been identified in the Council’s 2012/13 Budget “to improve standards and practice across the Council” following the critical report of its corporate governance arrangements.


Work on ten Key Lines of Enquiry would achieve outcomes by the end of March 2012 which would be the essential building block upon which a wider programme could be based.  Also, the Council had established an Improvement Board in partnership with the Local Government Association (LGA).  Its role was to:


·  Provide support, guidance and challenge;

·  Identify and signpost appropriate good practice;

·  Ensure there is a single, integrated and holistic improvement plan that can be clearly understood and communicated internally and externally;

·  Ensure the contributions from different external agencies/bodies to Wirral’s improvement journey are coordinated.


At its meeting on 2 March 2012 the Improvement Board had considered a report on the Council’s key priorities for an overarching improvement plan and requested a further report on how it intended to deliver the agreed priorities for improvement.  It welcomed the further additional sum agreed as part of the budget and wanted the Council to identify sufficient corporate capacity to drive forward the overall improvement programme with momentum.


The Acting Chief Executive/Director of Finance proposed in his report that the £300,000 be invested as follows:


(a) Director of Law, HR and Asset Management (£50,000)

To support an additional solicitor to deal with governance issues which would include constitutional advice and issues of a complex legal nature?


(b) Finance (£250,000).

Corporate Performance – The responsibility for Corporate Performance was transferred to the Director of Finance; however only one post from four established was transferred. It was proposed that the Team be enhanced to its previous complement of four.


(c)  Compliance – Clearly the effectiveness of, and adherence to, the Council’s policies and procedures had been questioned. It was proposed to establish a team which would support the review and effective implementation of Council policies and procedures. Clearly this function could be managed from within the Internal Audit Service or from within the Corporate Performance Group. There were advantages and disadvantages to either proposal; however, it was believed that it was more appropriate to determine this in the light of an Independent Review of Internal Audit which would be reporting to the Cabinet in due course.


Councillor J Green informed that he was disappointed with the report and the proposal for the Finance Department to receive £250,000 for a compliant unit.  A key issue was that the Council had so many policies and versions of policies and that they were not kept all in one place.  The Acting Chief Executive/Director of Finance told the Cabinet that there would be a compendium of policies and that he should have made this clear in his report.


Councillor T Harney raised issues over the Council’s Whistle Blowing Policy.  He considered that there should be a method to test outcomes by both Internal and External Audit.  They should look at what was happening in the Council, how complaints and comments were used, if there was a system to bring this all together and was there a record kept.  This would encourage Members to report matters that were brought to their attention, as it would help build up a picture.


Councillor I Lewis informed that at the round table discussion Members had attended Freedom of Information requests had been discussed, some relating to issues in the Council, and these matters had not been included in the report.


Councillor J Green agreed with Councillor I Lewis and informed that the report did not address the wider issues.  He told the Cabinet that if the £250,000 was put into the Compliance Unit everyone would think that it was the Unit’s job to ensure people complied.  Instead the Council should be making it easier for staff to comply and a knowledge store was required.  Corporate governance was important because if that was right it helped people to comply.


Councillor J Green felt that the report needed to more closely reflect the round table discussion.  He wanted to see a broader vision of how corporate governance could work.  A whole Council approach to corporate governance was needed.




(1)  the Cabinet agrees, in principle, to allocate £50,000 to Director of Law, HR & Asset Management for the appointment of a solicitor;


(2)  the proposal to allocate £250,000 to the Director of Finance to establish a compliance teams and enhance corporate performance be not approved; and

(3)  (1) above be referred to the Improvement Board for its comments.

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