A damning report has been jointly presented to Merseytravel by the Chief Executives of Liverpool and St Helens Councils, Ged Fitzgerald and Cath Hudson. The report was commissioned by the new Chair of Merseytravel, Cllr Liam Robinson, after the 20 year reign of Bootle Labour councillor Mark Dowd came to an end this summer. A further equally-damning report has been presented to the members of Merseytravel in draft form by the accountants Mazars.
The Hudson report highlights the almost medieval management practices of Merseytravel under the old regime, with decisions being taken by small cliques, decisions not being reported properly and a culture of fear pervading the organisation.
The Authority is blasted for having had no care at all over the effect of its precepting demands for millions of pounds every year from the council tax payers of the five Boroughs whose bus and train services were being provided. Most notable among these profligate decisions was the move of the HQ to plush new offices at Mann Island, which costs local people £4 million a year for a huge edifice vastly bigger than the needs of Merseytravel as a transport authority. The decision to move there was made by a small ‘urgency subcommittee’ of three councillors straight after a properly constituted meeting of the Authority had met without even being told about it.
Huge legal and public relations contracts had been let by the Merseytravel bosses without proper procedures or audit. The Chair and Chief Executive kept the Authority in the dark about these and the Statutory monitoring officer failed in his duty to tell members of the Authority what was going on. ‘Dormant companies’ were set up which Merseytravel chiefs were paid extra for running, even though they were doing nothing. There was a culture of fear within Merseytravel which prevented ‘whistleblowing’.
Meanwhile, the council tax payers of Merseyside continue to shell out £5 million per year in interest alone for the £70 million spent on the doomed Liverpool Tram project which never got off the ground.
For full details,see http://moderngov.merseytravel.uk.net/documents/b1337/Any%20other%20Urgent%20Business%2025th-Oct-2012%2014.30%20Merseyside%20Integrated%20Transport%20Authority.pdf?T=9
Southport Lib Dem chair, Councillorr Tony Dawson, whose motion condemning Merseytravel management was voted down at the last meeting of Sefton Council, said:
“There are still huge numbers of unanswered questions. How did the Auditors not notice these totally improper practices? The government clearly need to take a keen interest. But I congratulate Councillor Robinson for his commitment to put Merseytravel back on the rails.”