A request for Wirral Council staff to highlight possible areas where money is being wasted has generated more than 200 responses. The request, by the Council leader, Cllr Jeff Green, has led to suggestions which
staff believe should be tackled, as the Council wrestles with a gap between income and spending of £108 million over the next four years.
Several staff suggested stricter controls over mobile phones. Following those suggestions and an investigation by Cllr. Green, it has been revealed that Wirral Council had no idea which staff have been issued with mobile phones. In addition, the Council has also been paying some staff an automatic monthly contribution for landline rental, long after the staff were given mobile phones instead.
Now Cllr Green has ordered a crackdown. He says:
"This is a ridiculous situation. The taxpayers who are footing the Council's quarter of a million Pounds annual Vodafone bill will, I imagine, be as horrified as I was, to discover this.
"I have said this Council needs to be more open and this is one of the outcomes of that. I am really pleased that so many staff are responding to this new open way of doing business.
"A text message will be sent to every mobile phone number that the Council pays a bill for. That text will give the person who uses the phone a deadline to tell us who they are and where they work.
"We will then assess their need for a phone against a tough new policy on who should be given a mobile phone for Council use. If they don't reply to the text by the deadline or if they do not meet the new criteria, the number will be cut off and we will recover the handset. Then, for those staff who meet the new criteria, they will have to meet a rigorous new claims system for the cost of Council calls.
"I have said from day one that every Pound matters to this Administration. Working with staff and publishing our spending every month is having the desired effect of increasing public scrutiny and increasing pressure to drive down costs."