A few years ago a number of whistleblowers came to see me to raise concerns about the Council’s Highways and Engineering Services contract that had been won by Colas in 2008, following a competitive tendering process. back
I raised their concerns with the former leadership at the Council, and following this asked the National Audit Office to investigate the matter. The NAO’s resulting report stated that “the Council should put in place proper arrangements to ensure stewardship and governance”.
That the Council did not have this in place before has been the subject of much debate, but Cllr Phil Davies and Cllr Ann McLachlan, the new Council Leader and Deputy Leader , have since shown impressive determination and resolve to put things right. It will be a long process, but already the Council is unrecognisable compared to its former self.
Earlier this week came the news that Colas are withdrawing from March next year. Given the contract has cost £1.5 million more than anticipated, this is perhaps good news for taxpayers. But Wirral Council are now set to appoint consultants to advise it on its next moves. On this point I wanted to share my advice to the Council publicly.
The whistleblowers are some of the smartest people I have ever come across. Their ability to master the detail and form conclusions and recommendations is second to none. These are just the sort of skills a good consultant should have.
The Council should consider appointing the whistleblowers to this consultancy role.