Frank Field MP
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Calling for commissioners to review Wirral officers

THERE are real problems with our Local Authority. Much public attention has been focused on politicians, but I believe we are missing a bigger issue.

I have had the privilege of representing Birkenhead for well over three decades. Over this time I have been concerned about the quality and judgement of a number of our chief officers. It was on this very issue that I called a debate in Parliament yesterday.

Here I was able to detail a whole series of major failures. There was a failure by the present chief executive to submit on-time an application for a £5m grant to English Partnerships. The money was lost.

Then there was the appalling decision to use £14m to invest in the Cheshire Lines building even though Wirral had the building on a rental agreement, and the money could have been spent on Birkenhead Town Hall.

Then there is the failure to apply on time for a new Academy in Birkenhead. A £40m grant was lost.

We now have two major reports being discussed next week at Council which again question the abilities of some of our chief officers. The independent review of the Council's response to claims made by Martin Morton is exclusively centred on the quality and judgement of senior officers.

I also referred to the Audit Commission a major contract tendered by officers in the Technical Services Department.

That is why in Parliament this week I called for the Government to send in Commissioners to look carefully at which officers are up to standard and which should leave the authority forthwith.
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