York Paving The Way

 

 

With news filtering through that Wirral Council may have gotten themselves in yet another procurement pickle we thought it would be timely to catch up with our friends in the north – and it would seem that the procurement scandal that highly remunerated Wirral Council officer Stewart Halliday left behind at his former local authority, City of York Council (CYC), refuses to go away!  It would seem that Halliday whilst long gone from York Council is most certainly not forgotten!
Last week saw yet another attempt by CYC councillors to see a report into the scandal which has been withheld and then censored. Although as we know council officials all over the land like to use the term ‘redacted’ to make the act of censorship sound bureaucratically palatable. The report concerns the conduct of officers and members at the infamous 22 February 2017 Audit and Governance Committee meeting which we reported here
As we commented at the time : “That’s decided – we’re moving to York”.  OK it must be said we subsequently moved in the complete opposite direction but in spirit we are at one with the Yorkists. Not necessarily CYC  – but the eloquent, knowledgeable,challenging , citizens of York who are concerned about the not insignificant matters of openness, transparency, integrity, accountability, honesty and democracy. We do recommend Wirralians watch the highly instructive video of the Audit & Governance Committee held on 30 April 2018 and ponder on how they too can at least attempt to hold public servants to account.
Firstly note how CYC film their own meetings. Unfortunately they preface comments from the public with a reminder about making defamatory comments , which to us looks like nothing more than bureaucratic bullying.  As we’ve long maintained – those who want to control the public discourse want to control everything .
Note particularly the robust challenge of a CYC councillor and 4 ( count’em) members of the public and  note also it is the independent member of the Audit & Governance Committee who picks up the mistakes in the minutes . There’s also incidental pleasure to be had from the CYC councillor sporting a A Flock of Seagulls hair don’t!
From what we can gather from the video the latest twist in that scandal involves the continuing refusal of senior CYC staff to release a report into the conduct of a meeting on the 22 February 2017 in which a report into Halliday’s actions in handing over £000s of public money to a ‘communications consultant’ without following correct procurement procedures was, following an attempted cover up made public and discussed at that meeting, leading to ‘conduct issues’ when officers clashed with members. So a report into the conduct at a meeting that degenerated into little more than an unseemly slanging match between CYC officers and elected members over an attempted cover up is now the subject of a cover up attempt by senior CYC officers!
This cover up over a cover up scenario  ( #Wirralgate) is very familiar to Wirral Leaks readers if not to the Wirral public at large mainly due to the power of local politicians and a complicit local press.
We think it’s time for the people of Wirral to start channelling our friends from York who have paved the way when it comes to demanding public accountability!

Secret Chamber

york-council-chamber-guildhall-updated

Above is a picture of the rather splendid council chamber at York Guildhall.  The admirable  York Mix website tells us that it will be here next week that a group of senior councillors are challenging City of York Council (CYC) leader Cllr David Carr to publish  a ‘secret report’.

Secret Report

Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our interest is piqued by the fact that we understand the report follows a Local Government Association (LGA) investigation into  what Stewart Halliday got up to before he landed a £200K +  ‘transformer’ gig at Wirral Council.

What also interests us is the sheer persistence of CYC councillors in pursuing this matter in the public interest. Can you imagine Wirral Council’s equivalent to CYC’s Audit & Governance Committee writing a cross- party letter to the leader of the Council asking for a report to published in the name of openness and transparency?

Indeed if they were doing their jobs properly there’s a particular ‘secret report’ that Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee should be asking to be published. The sad fact is that half of this committee don’t even know what report we’re referring to and the other half know exactly what report we are referring to and are choosing to sweep the matter under the Wallasey Town Hall carpet !

 

 

 

Comfortably Dumb

This Bitch be Trippin'

Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our trans -pennine correspondent Charles Nunn is most definitely on the Stewart Halliday case ( even if our local public servants haven’t been -or more accurately- don’t want to be).

Charlie Boy tells us :

As you probably know Mark Warters submitted a F.of I. request to York to try and establish whether, or not there was a conversation between Robinson and their C.E.O. about Halliday`s contract extension.

You may recall my request to Wirral told me that Robinson was “comfortable” with it.
This is what Cllr Warters sent to City of Council York’s FOI bod Cath Murray:

Dear Cath,

I understand that former CYC employee Mr S. Halliday currently employed by Wirral Council has had his contract/placement recently extended to the end of the year there and a conversation took place between the Wirral Chief Executive and the CYC Chief Executive that led to Wirral Council concluding that “there is no impediment to Stewart Halliday’s continued appointment with Wirral Council”

I would like to submit a FOI act request for the following;

(i) Confirmation that the conversation (s) took place and if emails were exchanged copies of the correspondence.

(ii) Copies of all correspondence between CYC and Wirral Council in relation to Mr Halliday’s employment.

Thank you for your assistance.

Regards,

Cllr. Mark Warters

As you can see from our pic below Cllr Warters perfectly reasonable request met with institutional obstruction and inevitably foundered on the grounds of  ‘ personal data’.
CYC 020
Charles tells us :
As I suspected. Refused on the grounds of “confidentiality” although it may well have cost the Wirral Council Tax payers over £200,000 in total for taking on a shyster.
How frequently we get that response from Councils.
How indeed – but then when we get ‘public servants’  who appear to be prepared to sacrifice their professional integrity for the price of the opportunity to peruse the Boden catalogue at their leisure what are we to expect?
Time to wake up and realise that this is how it works folks – private phone calls between CEOs on the public purse. Massive public expenditure all done on a nod and a wink.
Know your place serfs – you’re just there to pay for the executive lifestyles. Leave our betters to get through Monday to Friday with the least possible effort. Please allow them to have comfortable lives at our expense. It’s the least they deserve.
Although it should be said we all deserve somewhat better.

Local Government Association – Hand In Glove With The Glove Puppets

Glove Puppet
Today we have decided take the Trans-Pennine Express and visit our friends in York. Not only to update you all on Stewart Halliday affair but to enable us to vent about local government in general and the Local  Government Association (LGA) in particular.
Firstly we’d like to thank the excellent website York Mix for providing comprehensive coverage of the bounteous beneficence bestowed from Stewart to Stuart aka  ‘ The Goulden Showers’.
For those who can’t decipher this code might we suggest you read an introduction here : Transparency v Secrecy
Here you will find independent City of York (CYC) councillor Mark Warters showing up our supine Wirral councillors for the waste of space that they are and daring to ask pertnent questions in a CYC Audit & Governance meeting about a draft LGA report into the Halliday affair that has been with the council for some time :

 

“And according to the people who really run the council – the senior officers – this report, even after it has been sanitised between the council’s HR department and the LGA, is to remain secret. Are you as a committee willing to condone this state of affairs? He said the committee should insist on seeing the “full, unsanitised draft report”. Otherwise it would confirm the scenario “that elected members are merely the glove puppets of the senior officers riding the local authority gravy train”.

Further understanding on how things work in York, in local government and indeed closer to home can be found in the following report on the Supply Management website:

The Local Government Association (LGA) was called in to review procurement at the council in the wake of controversy over how consultancy services were acquired in the past.

The LGA said procurement was held in high regard internally, with “many solid achievements” and delivering “good quality services”, but it was “subject to heightened scrutiny in York due to past internal control issues”.

“There remains a negative external perception of council procurement, including among members of the public,” said the report. “This negative perception needs to be addressed if the council is to secure public confidence in its procurement processes and the wider corporate governance arrangements.”

A previous audit report by Veritau in November 2016 focused on the appointment of a communications consultant and their associated company between 2013 and 2016. One particular chief officer, who no longer works for the council, was found to be mainly responsible for employing and making payments to the consultant and the company. These totalled more than £174,000.

The audit could find no material to back up claims contract procedures were followed. “At best this represents a failure to be transparent and to retain all relevant procurement documentation,” said the report. “However, it seems likely that there was a failure to follow proper procurement processes, including obtaining written quotations, ensuring sufficient potential suppliers were approached and agreeing a formal contract.”

The LGA review, carried out in June 2017, said it was “reassured to find that the council has a good corporate procurement function and that the compliance issues are being addressed”.

“However, as the council itself recognises, there is more to do in regard to procurement’s enabling role within the council’s developing commissioning framework and to address the residual negative perceptions of historical procurement issues.”

Full article can be read here : Negative Public Image
Doesn’t the excruciating, bureaucratic language of the LGA make ya wanna puke? Unfortunately this wretched organisation is stuffed to the gills with highly paid nonentities who think that what goes on in local government can be anonymised, rationalised and sanitised as long as it involves one of their own.
Fortunately for the truth -seekers out there we understand that after the meeting Cllr Warters collared the LGA representative giving the public report into procurement at City of York Council (CYC) as he left the meeting and left him in no doubt that the Halliday/Goulden business will end up with the police.
Now this is the kind of local representation we are crying out for and reinforces our long held view that INDEPENDENT candidates are the way to go and that DIVISIVE PARTY POLITICS HAS NO PLACE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT and that the LGA ARE HAND IN GLOVE WITH THE GLOVE PUPPETS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT .
Even closer to home we are grateful that local resident Charles Nunn understands the issues at stake and comprehends that someone with apparently no understanding of even the most basic concepts of public procurement can wangle a near cool £200K + gig from long suffering Wirral Council tax payers :
I find it somewhat ironic that the major political upheaval in York is over dodgy contracts worth £175,000. Halliday, courtesy of the ever benevolent Wirral Council Tax payer, will be bunged about £50k more than that as a result of his contract extension.
Read it and weep.