‘Clowns have taken over town hall’ as council’s latest contract mistake comes under fire
A senior opposition official said he increasingly felt ‘clowns have taken over the town hall’ following the latest contract woes that have plagued Liverpool council.
It was revealed last week that the local authority was just hours away from another costly contract mix-up as it was dangerously close to letting its vital HR and payroll deal run out. A cabinet meeting last week was told members were only told of the impending end of lifesaving conditions just days before it expired.
Cllr Jane Corbett, Deputy Mayor, said she was only told of the need for a new deal nine days before the contract with Oracle Corporation UK expired, with the firm having signed a new deal on the eleventh time Friday morning. If this had not been achieved, a 3% increase would have been applied by Oracle, costing the council an additional £15,000.
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Commissioners appointed to oversee the board said the situation “illustrates systemic issues that need to be addressed across the organization” and called the delay in agreeing a new contract “unacceptable”. Mike Cunningham’s team added that “this cannot continue to be a feature of the board and the way it operates. Procurement was an issue flagged in the caller’s report and urgent progress is now needed to ensure that all responsible officers in the branches, as well as at the center of the business, understand and carry out their obligations to define their commissioning/procurement requirements, manage their contracts and plan for competitive bidding.
The move has now faced criticism from a senior opposition adviser. Cllr Andrew Makinson, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said he felt no lessons had been learned from previous failures.
He said: “It beggars belief that this labor council could find itself 24 hours away from another major contract disaster. Paying your staff and paying your bills are the two most basic things in any organization.
“If the Liverpool board fails to get it right, how can it be trusted to provide services to half a million people? Clearly, no lesson was learned from last year’s failure to notice that the city’s gas contract automatically renewed, and their seven-month hesitation to sign a gas contract. electricity.
“There is more and more the impression that the clowns have invaded the town hall.” Council chief executive Tony Reeves, who is facing increased pressure over the authority’s energy contract mess, apologized to cabinet members last week and said he would provide a report to members when of their next meeting in June to assure them that this situation would not happen again.
He added that every contract was checked to make sure there were “no more issues blowing up”. In a statement, a spokesman for Liverpool Council said: “We fully support the Commissioners’ comments and are taking action to address the issues highlighted.
“This is a key part of our improvement journey with all contracts being reviewed to ensure there is a clear process to ensure decisions are made in a planned and timely manner. .”