Guest blog: Reporter Liam Murphy on the latest in the Wirral library saga, part 2
Another day, another twist and turn in the Wirral libraries saga - this time Conservative group leader Jeff Green has written back to Wirral Council solicitor Bill Norman demanding to know why certain people were shown the confidential report by libraries inspector Sue Charteris.
The letter to Mr Norman is shown in full, below, but does raise some interesting points...
As well as challenging why certain people were allowed to see the report, Cllr Green asks whether "the Council has had any direct communication with the DCMS regarding the Council's response to the draft report and when an announcement (prior to the Cabinet's change of policy) was due or would be made?"
Clearly a "yes" to this would raise some interesting points about the timing of the council's decision to revoke the library closures, although council leader Steve Foulkes has insisted the timing was due to the long drawn out process the inquiry turned into, preventing them being able to pursue the investment in neighbourhood centres.
Cllr Green also claims that some of those on the list had directly told him they had not seen Sue Charteris' report. When asked about this he said one of those involved had since called him to apologise (and he was due to meet others) - although he would not say who.
Wirral Council is expected to respond "sooner rather than later".
Anyway, read the email for yourself.
From: Green, Jeff E. (Councillor)
Sent: 15 October 2009 12:13
To: Norman, Bill D.; Councillors
Cc: Chief Officers; Lester, Jim L.; Degg, Emma J.; Lyon, Rosemary A.; MacLaverty, Paula K.; Pennington, Abigail; Watts, Margaret
Subject: RE: Extraordinary Council - 12 October 2009
I have raised with you and the Chief Executive on many occasions my concerns over how this matter is being handled. I have also asked you why Lesley and I were not deemed suitable to be included in the fact checking exercise and my sincere belief that our knowledge (charged as we are with representing the largest number of Wirral residents) was essential to checking any of the facts Sue Charteris wanted scrutinising in her report.
Now you have provided a list of those you did deem suitable to see this report, can I to begin with, ask you to provide me with your reasoning (based on the list you have provided) regarding:
What role you thought Emma Degg should play in the fact checking exercise? (Of course I understand that Emma develops and manages the Council's media strategy - but if she was given a copy of the report for that reason it would suggest that it was sent to her to provide expertise on a handling strategy rather than any direct expertise she could provide on the accuracy of any facts contained in Sue Charteris' report)
What role you thought the Cabinet Member for the Environment should play in the fact checking exercise? (Of course I understand Gill is the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group - but if she was given a copy of the report for that reason it would suggest that it was sent to her because of her 'political' position rather than any expertise she could provide on the facts contained in the report).
I would also welcome your guidance on what the current policy is regarding officers who have told me direct untruths in that a number of the people listed below have told me directly that they had not seen the report and one listed below told me they had seen it but it did not contain recommendations?
Whether external legal or professional services were used in developing the Council's response to the draft report?
Whether the Council has had any direct communication with the DCMS regarding the Council's response to the draft report and when an announcement (prior to the Cabinet's change of policy) was due or would be made?
I would also like to know from you whether you have checked with the people listed as having seen the report under the 'obligation of confidentiality' whether they have shared the content of the report or its recommendations with anyone and if they had what the consequences would be?
Leader Wirral Conservative Group