How open are Wirral Council about payments above £500 ? Are they OpenlyLocal?

openly local banner

According to the  above website, Openly Local, set up in the interests of helping local authorities to “throw the books open” to their paymasters the general public, Wirral Council is a “UK Council with opened up data”.

Back in 2010, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Local Government, called for all councils to publish details of all spending over £500 in full and online.

Let’s check the claim of this website, that Wirral Council is a “UK Council with opened up data”.  This implies that some sort of a process has been set up for the council to release information to the website (on a regular basis?) in order to keep the local and wider public informed.  After all, openlylocal.com claim to be “making local government more transparent” on the landing page of the website.

I imagine that if Wirral is a “UK Council with opened up data”, there will be a contact point at the council who gets everything together for release and maybe even corresponds with openlylocal.com in order to release the latest figures for public consumption.

So let’s check the Wirral page.  This link appears to be the ‘hub’ for all things Wirral –

http://openlylocal.com/councils/108-Wirral-Metropolitan-Borough

I typed a supplier name in off the top of my head – “Anna Klonowski Associates”.  Aha, there they are:

AKA search

There’s a bit of a problem here…  the figure quoted alongside Wirral Council looks woefully wrong… maybe things will become clearer if I click on the supplier name itself…  the one next to Wirral Metropolitan Borough in the bottom row.

I did, but this just repeats the same figure of £969.  There’s also an annotation at the bottom… “Last updated 07 Oct […] (over 3 years ago)”

last updated 3 years ago

Right, it’s starting to become clearer now.  The thing hasn’t been updated since October 2011.  Hmmm, hardly “Making local government more transparent” is it?  Unless waiting for longer than three years to find out what’s going on is acceptable?

Back in 2012, Wirral Council were putting it about that Anna Klonowski Associates were paid £250,000 to carry out an intensive “independent” review into high level failures in governance at the council.

On the Wirral Council website, in accordance with Pickles’ 2010 request, they publish all payments above £500.

From the information provided on the council website, here is the true total figure that Wirral Council have paid to Anna Klonowski Associates, who incidentally were repeatedly described as “independent” but never separately and publicly declared a prior association they had with the council:

£369,101.30

So Wirral Council do seem to be a “council with opened up data” but…  it ain’t that obvious…

  • you’ll have to go looking for the true totals yourself
  • you shouldn’t trust the figures quoted in the council’s  press releases
  • no thanks whatsoever are due to openlylocal.com which only serves to understate the true costs

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About Wirral In It Together

Campaigner for open government. Wants senior public servants to be honest and courageous. It IS possible!
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