A WIDE-RANGING review of gifts and hospitality to council officers has been launched in Wirral after a damning report by a local government watchdog.
The move came as Wirral Council admitted a special “counter fraud hotline” set up for staff to report misuse of its resources had not received a single call.
Members of the council’s audit and risk management committee were told the “hotline” is monitored weekly but no one had used it.
A spokesman for Wirral Council said: “In practice we have found officers prefer to report suspected fraud or irregularities directly to internal audit or to senior officers, hence the negligible take-up of the hotline.”
The revelations came as the district auditor, who monitors the council, had found generous gifts such as football and rugby match tickets and even a holiday were accepted by a number of senior council officers but not properly accounted for.
Graham Burgess, the new chief executive of Wirral Council, said the authority was responding to the report about gifts and hospitality “by implementing a review which goes wider than was recommended”.
He said: “In addition, we will also review guidance and training for all officers and members and reinforce to all staff, line managers and chief officers their responsibilities for good governance, risk management and internal control in respect of gifts and hospitality and conflicts of interest.
“We are absolutely committed to ensuring that our processes are robust and transparent.”
During the audit committee meeting councillors were also told “an internal disciplinary investigation” is underway after evidence was found over “possible inappropriate use” of a council credit card and also that the system to oversee the use of council mobile phones was “open to significant error or abuse”.