Liverpool Council where openness and transparency is a thing of the past
So last night we had confirmation from the Council that they are treating one member of staff one way and all the other members of staff another. The irony is that they didn’t even know they were doing it. Let me explain!
The Audit & Governance Committee were supposed to be debating the following resolution which had been passed to them by the City Council at its July meeting:
Equal Treatment of all Employees of the Council by Councillors Richard Kemp, CBE, Andrew Makinson, Mirna Juarez, Malcolm Kelly, Steve Radford and Kevin Morrison
Council believes that not only is it a fundamental tenet of British Law that all people are treated equally in the legal and judicial systems but it also believes that all staff must be treated equally in the council’s disciplinary systems.
Council notes that since 2009, 58 employees in PO and SO grades have been suspended without prejudice of which three were suspended because of legal matters outside their immediate work on the Council. It notes that 36 of these subsequently returned to work within the Council.
Council notes that 1 employee has been allowed to step aside on full pay for a period.
Council requests the Head of the Paid Service to immediately conduct a review of all staffing procedures to ensure that all staff are treated equally in potential and actual disciplinary matters in order to ensure true fairness in the council’s procedures.
This is a fairly clear statement of intent that we do not think it good enough for the Council to single out one member of staff to be treated one way and all other members of staff to be treated another. We did not want to go into details of what the circumstances were that led to this situation but simply to ascertain why the difference in treatment. However, although we voted on this (more later!) I wasn’t allowed to speak on it.
The reason that I was given for not being allowed to speak was that by doing so I would identify an individual and that was not allowed. But that, of course, was the whole point of the motion. The only reason that one person could be identified by the motion is because he is the only one being treated differently.
Labour voted against the Lib Dem motion; the one Green abstained (as the Greens in Liverpool often do) and mine was the sole vote in favour.
So perhaps I could discover more about this in private as I cannot raise it in public? I’m afraid not. Ever since the Mayor came up with the daft proposition in the Annual Meeting of the Council that you could not suspend someone without prejudice because that was prejudicial I have been traying to find out more. In particular what information as given to the external legal eagle who gave that opinion and the full text of that opinion. For the last three months, advised by senior experts from outside the Council I have battled away to try and get this information but have not been given access to either it or the reasons why we are paying a solicitor to advise the Council (not Mr Fitzgerald) about the events in Rotheram at the start of the last decade.
Let’s be clear that Liverpool is on its own in dealing with staffing issues in this way. All the other councils in the LCR ‘suspend without prejudice.’ As far as I know all employers do where necessary to protect both the employer and employee. In fact Liverpool is now ignoring the legal advice which it claims to have because since it said in the case of the Chief Executive that he cannot be suspended on legal advice they have ignored that advice by suspending another member of staff!
This is important stuff. By the time the Chief Executive’s bail is further considered in November we will have paid him in terms of his total cost £120,000 to do nothing! Its important because we should have in place a system where every member of staff is treated equally and properly.
So, let’s just recap all this:
- A Labour Councillor made sure that I could not speak in the committee
- Labour voted against a review of why ordinary workers are treated one way and the Boss is treated another
- I haven’t been allowed access to the legal opinion about the difference in treatment
- I have not been told why we need to seek legal advice as a Council about what happened in another Council 15 years ago
- I haven’t a clue, as an elected representative of the people, how much this is all costing.
This is a council led by people who claim to be socialist but feel more comfortable defending those at the top. They operate in a system which is supposed to be open and transparent but is about as open and transparent as North Korea.
If I was writing a work of fiction about life in a dysfunctional council I couldn’t invest a plot line as dreadful as this and other things that are happening in Liverpool at the moment. People just wouldn’t believe but increasingly the people of Liverpool know that this is all, regrettably true!
This is an absolutely shameful state of affairs and Joe Anderson’s Liverpool Tory Party should hang its collective head in shame.