Frank Field MP
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Frank leads calls for changes in Wirral council management

08 February 2012
Frank used a Westminster Hall debate yesterday to accuse unnamed Wirral council officers of “crass inefficiency” which has cost the town £60 million in missed development projects.

In a Westminster debate he focused on three “appalling errors of administration.”

  • English Estates offered £5 million to kick start development in deprived areas of Rock Ferry, but the opportunity was missed. “One of the senior officers just could not be bothered, or was not efficient enough, to get the contract in on time,” Frank said.

  • An £11 million contract covering long-term rentals was squandered because it included a building which the council didn't own. “What happened was discovered only because a member of staff reported to councillors  that major work for which no authority had been given was being undertaken in the Cheshire Lines building,” Frank said.

  • A £40 million bid to build a new academy in South Birkenhead came to nothing  because for two years running officials failed to meet Department of Education deadlines. “It would have allowed us to get a totally rebuilt academy,” Frank said.
“Instead, one school is closed and children travel miles to a second school, which has now had to take on the role of the main academy site.”

Frank added: “By the crass inefficiency of the chief officers nothing happened. A little adding up brings a figure of almost £60 million of squandered opportunities.

“An extra 2p off the rates has been lost by the incompetence of a small group of chief officers.”

Frank decided not to invoke Parliamentary privilege to name the officers concerned, but said that local people know who they are.

Local government minister Bob Neill said: “The Government has set a clear agenda to improve transparency and encourage sector-led improvement.

“Steps are being taken in the case of Wirral to take that on board and I hope it continues.”


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