A TROUBLESHOOTER who has uncovered bullying and “macho” culture inside councils has been appointed in Wirral after a series of scandals.
The appointment of Michael Frater comes as the authority also prepares to hand over extra powers to an Improvement Board led by the Local Government Association.
Wirral Council has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent months and years and the board – which includes members from outside the area – is seen as being a step away from full intervention by the government.
The department of communities and local government is understood to be “monitoring” Wirral’s progress.
Mr Frater, former chief executive at Nottingham, has extensive experience leading local authorities and has been appointed for two months initially to provide “senior management support”.
He spent six months as interim chief executive at Surrey county council and before he left exposed “a blame culture and bullying” at the authority and “whole system failure”.
Tory council leader Jeff Green said he hoped Mr Frater’s appointment would “help change the culture in Wirral” as the council “currently faces significant challenges”.
He said the appointment had the full support of the other two group leaders. Lib Dem leader Cllr Tom Harney said Mr Frater’s first task will be to assess the council and report back. He added: “We have a need at a senior level for help at the moment because our chief executive is off ill and the director of technical services is suspended.”
Also under the plans the LGA-led Improvement Board will “endorse” major decisions affecting the council’s management.
Cllr Harney said: “There is not intervention at the moment. The LGA and ourselves are very keen that we do not need intervention.”
Cllr Harney said the council needs “a great deal more openness and much more rigorous performance management”.
He added: “People, councillors, senior managers and the public have not been aware of what has been going on.”