Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Setting the record straight...

On Sunday morning I received an email from a journalist at The Herald asking me to respond to comments from Willie Rennie, Leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, and Ciano Rebecchi, an Inverclyde Lib Dem Councillor, on the issues with the Council's new operating model.

Articles appeared in the The Herald and Evening Times today based around these comments.

I thought it would be helpful to set out below the full responses that I gave to the comments attributed to Mr Rennie and Councillor Rebecchi. 

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said: 

"The loss from the Future Operating Model Project is a big chunk of Inverclyde Councils budget at a time when money is tight.

"There is a question of political accountability. When a project that is designed to save money ends up costing local taxpayers someone must take responsibility and I want to see a thorough investigation into this failed venture."

Council Leader Stephen McCabe said: "The failings identified in late 2010 in the Council's proposed new operating model were the subject of a thorough and lengthy internal investigation. The outcome of that investigation was considered by an independent person appointed by the Council. The Council's cross-party Human Resources Appeals Board is currently considering a serious of appeals by officers against disciplinary action.

"Since the start of the investigation the Council's independent external auditors, Audit Scotland, have been kept appraised of developments. Following the conclusion of the appeals process the Chief Executive will submit a detailed report to the Council, which will provide all members with the opportunity to hold the Chief Executive to account for the failings in the implementation of the new operating model. Members will also receive a report from the Council's external auditors as part of the Annual Report to Members."

Rebecchi. "We want a full investigation into the role of PWC and what justified the substantial sums paid to them. Members have to fully investigate the contribution by John Mundell to these very serious problems and the public is entitled to ask why nothing has been done to progress the scheme since January.

"There is also the issue of political accountability and there's no doubt the leader at the time, Stephen McCabe, had fallen asleep on his watch. Both now need to consider their  positions."

Council Leader Stephen McCabe said: "The role of PWC will be addressed in the Chief Executive's report to the full Council. This report will provide members with the opportunity to hold the Chief Executive to account."

"While I don't mind Councillor Rebecchi calling for my resignation - that's politics after all - it is wholly inappropriate for an elected member to call publicly for the resignation of any Council employee, no matter how senior. As a long-serving Councillor, Ciano Rebecchi he is only too aware of how such matters should be handled."

"With regard to my own position: there is absolutely no reason for me to resign. As soon as the short-fall in the operating model savings was brought to my attention I arranged for all members to be briefed and instructed officers to bring forward alternative savings proposals to balance the Council's budget.

Throughout the development and implementation the operating model there was an appropriate level of political oversight and scrutiny. There has been no failure of leadership on my part."

The comments attributed to me in both articles was "There is absolutely no reason for me to resign".

I will leave to you to judge the quality of the journalism.

The reports were also factually inaccurate in a number of respects but hey when did the facts ever get in the way of a good story.

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