Message to the electorate of Wirral – LOTS of your councillors have gone missing

5th December 2013

Don’t panic.

When I say ‘missing’, I don’t mean literally gone.  The councillors I mean have chosen to  cover their tracks.  Or, to put this in more delicate, PR friendly terms, they’ve exercised an option to protect their privacy – which they believe is their right…  as data subjects.   The list of refuseniks includes the Council Leader, the former Council Leader, and many more.

The problem I’ve got with this is these are not your average, run of the mill “data subject” are they?  They are elected officials, performing public duties.  One of them keeps bleating on about “openness & transparency” but runs away or freezes stock still when questioned, like a rabbit caught in the headlights, as though threatened by imminent exposure. 

I’ve asked for the names and attendance numbers of elected officials taking up training courses.  I think the paying public need to know how willing they are to serve us and to be trained (if required) to carry out the task of serving us to the best of their ability.  It’s straightforward public oversight.

I don’t think it’s in their interest, or much more importantly, in the public interest, for Wirral’s councillors to keep slamming the shutters down in our face.  At the foot of this post, I will be listing the dissenting councillors’ names, with links to accompanying photographs, so you’ll recognise them if they have the damned gall to knock on your door seeking your vote in the run up to the next council elections.

I lodged this request on the www.whatdotheyknow.com website back in March 2013…  a whole 9 months ago:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/councillors_attending_not_attend

Upon receiving an initial negative response, I explained the “public interest” in these terms:

CLICK ON THE IMAGE, THEN ZOOM…

05 12 13 - names of members attending training

This didn’t seem to assist, and the door stayed firmly shut, so I was forced to take it to the Information Commissioner’s Office.  I’m not sure what they did, but I assume they contacted the council and asked them to reconsider.

The issues at stake here are really quite clear:

  • We voted you in
  • We want to gain some idea of how committed you are to your public role
  • If you show us you’re not committed enough, or you’re incompetent, you risk losing our vote and your mandate
  • If you run for cover, don’t comment, or protest about public ‘interference’, you risk losing our vote and your mandate
  • If you’re not hiding anything, and it’s clear your performance is good, we’re more likely to vote for you

And now *EAR SPLITTING FANFARE* here is the list of councillors who DID agree to making their training information available.  Following the release of this information we can now see how many training sessions some of them attended during the period under question, which was July 2012 to March 2013.  Two councillors have placed helpful explanatory statements alongside their declared number of training sessions:

CLICK ON THE IMAGE, THEN ZOOM…

member training member training

COUNCILLORS GRANTING PUBLIC ACCESS:

LABOUR:                     17

CONSERVATIVE:     14

LIB DEM:                     6

INDEPENDENT:        1

Note 1 Councillor Ian Lewis contacted me on WhatDoTheyKnow.com to tell me the reasoning behind his non attendance of any training sessions.

Note 2  Councillor Adam Sykes, likewise contacted me on WhatDoTheyKnow.com to explain the reasoning behind his non attendance of all training sessions during this period.  Both councillors’ comments can be seen here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/councillors_attending_not_attend

I’ve gleaned from comments made elsewhere that councillors were approached, probably by Legal Services around October 2013 and asked whether they were willing to share the above information.  If any councillors were not approached, please contact me and I’ll remove you from the “list of shame” below.

By process of deduction, here is the list of councillors who appear to feel secure enough in their positions not to worry about members of the public either reading this, or making searching enquiries about their performance in their role.  Already I can see a prominent few who’ve never come up to scratch in the past:

1.  Councillor Phil Davies (Council Leader) LABOUR

2.  Councillor Steve Foulkes (Former Council Leader) LABOUR

3.  Councillor Harry Smith (Cabinet Member for Highways & Transportation) LABOUR

4.  Councillor Ron Abbey (Vice Chair Audit & Risk Management Committee) LABOUR

5.  Councillor Chris Blakeley  CONSERVATIVE

6.  Councillor Eddie Boult  CONSERVATIVE

7.  Councillor Phillip Brightmore  LABOUR

8.  Councillor Jim Crabtree  LABOUR

9.  Councillor Bill Davies  LABOUR

10.  Councillor Darren Dodd  LABOUR

11.  Councillor Paul Doughty  LABOUR

12.  Councillor Leah Fraser  CONSERVATIVE

13.  Councillor Robert Gregson  LABOUR

14.  Councillor John Hale  CONSERVATIVE

15.  Councillor Kathy Hodson  CONSERVATIVE

16.  Councillor Denise Realey  LABOUR

17.  Councillor Peter Kearney  CONSERVATIVE

18.  Councillor Chris Meaden  LABOUR

19.  Councillor Simon Mountney  CONSERVATIVE

20.  Councillor Christina Muspratt  LABOUR

21.  Councillor Steve Niblock  LABOUR

22.  Councillor Denise Roberts  LABOUR

23.  Councillor Les Rowlands  CONSERVATIVE

24.  Councillor Walter Smith  LABOUR

25.  Councillor Jean Stapleton  LABOUR

26.  Councillor Michael Sullivan  LABOUR

27.  Councillor Joe Walsh  LABOUR

SCORES ON THE DOORS:

LABOUR refusals:                     19

CONSERVATIVE refusals:      8  

LIB DEM refusals:                      0

INDEPENDENT refusals:        0

Note: recent arrival Matthew Patrick is not included in any of the above figures.

About Wirral In It Together

Campaigner for open government. Wants senior public servants to be honest and courageous. It IS possible!
This entry was posted in FoI Requests, General. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Message to the electorate of Wirral – LOTS of your councillors have gone missing

  1. Jonathan Hardaker says:

    As usual Paul really well done, I think you should apply for the replacement to Mr Poirot no sure about the spelling but as a detective you have my vote. Your next task is to find out how much was spent on these training exercise’s & it is obvious that the non attenders “Know it all already”.
    As you know I am a keen follower of your exploits & I wonder if you request for information on the street lighting consultation prompted the council “U” turn?.
    Look forward to your updates.

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