Dear Lord and Lady Wirral Leaks
Once again, I’d like to thank those employees who have responded to my
last weekly email with some helpful suggestions and ideas regarding
the savings we need to make and I will of course respond to these
individually. I would, however, like to take this opportunity to
answer some general questions I have been asked by staff based upon
some unfounded rumours which appear to be doing the rounds. I am
concerned that they are diverting attention from the key task of
addressing the £103 million budget gap.
Contrary to strong rumour – no shower has been installed. or will be,
in my office or anywhere else in the Town Hall.
The Council refurbished parts of the second floor of the Town Hall,
which includes decorating and standard furnishing of seven offices
(including my own) and a waiting room. One of my concerns when I
arrived at Wirral Council was that Directors have historically been
located in up to 6 different buildings; contributing to silo
management which has impacted on the way departments work together
strategically to deliver the Council’s objectives. The refurbishments
mean that Directors will be located along one corridor and we can
therefore work together to manage the organisation much more
effectively. Also, the Town Hall is an important meeting place for
visitors and potential investors in Wirral and the previously very
poor standards of the offices would have undermined the confidence of
key investors bringing jobs into Wirral.
Public Health is transferring into the Council and these
refurbishments were partly funded through transition funding to
accommodate those staff who are now located in Wallasey Town Hall.
These exaggerated rumours are either being spread innocently or with
an agenda to divert attention from the real issues we are facing, so I
thought it was important for me to give you the facts. I also wanted
to let you know that I have asked David Armstrong to lead on a wider
review of Council assets and office accommodation, with the aim of
making savings, improving standards and bring together as many staff
as possible into central locations.
As you will be aware, the first people to be put at risk of redundancy
were Chief Officers and Heads of Services. This week, I will begin
consultation on my proposals for the top two tiers of the management
restructure. Initial discussions will take place with those directly
affected; however I will be keen to share this with you at the
earliest opportunity. I will then bring forward proposals for
restructuring the management level who report directly to a Head of
Service for further consultation. These changes to management will be
reported to Cabinet on the 20th December.
Last week Elected Members appointed Clare Fish to the post of
Strategic Director: Families and Wellbeing and Kevin Adderley, to the
post of Interim Strategic Director: Regeneration and Environment.
These two appointments are vital to the change and improvement
programme the Council has embarked on and – along with the expected
appointment of a third strategic Director for Transformation and
Resources shortly after Christmas – will play a significant role in
ensuring the Council can safeguard its frontline services whilst
making the savings required.
It has been widely communicated that the Council must make savings
amounting to £103 million over the next three years – this is on top
of £44 million savings the Council has already had to make since 2010.
I have been asked questions about the national distribution of
Central Government cuts to Local Government and I have therefore
attached for your information a map which illustrates this
distribution and clearly demonstrates the disproportionate impact that
these cuts will have on the North of England.
The second stage of consultation on the proposed budget options began
last week and I’ve been enormously encouraged by the high volume of
responses received so far – a return rate in excess of 2,800 in less
than a week.
Again, I cannot stress the importance of getting involved and having
your say. The unprecedented financial challenges we are facing are
going to have a significant impact on a great number of people: it’s
vital your voice is heard. I will be continuing my visits with staff
over the coming weeks and would be happy to receive any invitations to
come and visit your teams and hear more about the work that you do.
As part of my induction to my new role, I have made it one of my
priorities to visit partner organisations and local businesses. This
morning I attended the first Mersey Waters Enterprise Zone board
meeting. This board will provide a useful forum for regular meetings
between Wirral Council, Liverpool City Council, Peel Holdings and the
Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership to ensure the
successful implementation and delivery of the Enterprise Zone.
I am delighted to inform you of a local success story for one of
Wirral’s most famous companies. John Syvret, Chief Executive of
Cammell Laird has won the business category at the recent Liverpool
Daily Post’s Leadership awards. John received recognition from the
judges for the great job he has done turning round the fortunes of
this historic company.
This week, I will also be meeting with colleagues from our partner
organisations to discuss the setting up of a Wirral Public Service
Board. This board will enable partners to proactively work together
to identify and deliver efficiencies and opportunities for joint
working – something that is very much on the agenda given the current
and foreseeable economic climate.
Finally, I wish to congratulate the Wirral Early Onset/Alcohol Related
Brain Injury Team, based at the Stein Centre at St Catherine’s
Hospital. The team is a small integrated team with staff from Wirral
Adult Social Services and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership Trust. From
a shortlist of 6, the Wirral team was awarded national prestigious
award in recognition of their excellent rehabilitation work with
people with alcohol related brain injury. The judging panel were
looking for examples of innovation, leadership, team work and
effective use of resources. The winning team certainly met all of
these criteria and their efforts towards excellence have been rightly