THE MUSHROOM TREATMENT FOR ELECTED MEMBERS CONTINUES UNABATED?

Some of FCC’s senior officers supervision and monitoring of risk leaves much to be desired & SECRECY REIGNS SUPREME. The Flintshire Leader’s recent FOI request on staff suspensions revealed suspended staff cost the Authority 2000 lost days of work”. This came as no surprise to me. The original complaint went back to May 2012 when I was contacted by an FCC employee who blew the whistle on 4 AD Waste staff, one holding a senior position. The top man owned his own waste removal business & he & three other staff were operating scams including contracts & invoices, the proceeds then allegedly shared amongst themselves. Much council waste materials were also being illegally siphoned off too according to the caller. Although AD Waste had a councillor board member, plus a prestigious firm of Auditors, it happily did its own thing. As long as freebies for mostly Labour handouts and trips kept on coming, no one rocked the AD Waste charity boat. Whistle blower had seen the removal of valuable metals, batteries, etc all nicked from the Council depot under the noses of the top boss. He wanted justice & he came to me.

Total inertia from the Governance manager when I told him of my whistle blower’s allegations. He berated me for not telling the caller about the Authority’s “whistle blowing” policy. I was appalled & slunk out of his office in disgust. I then sent an email to the Environment Director. This did the trick. An investigation commenced at once & the whistle blower rang to say he was pleased something was being done.

As the then Chair of Audit, having raised my concerns & the enquiry commenced, I pushed for regular updates. The investigation became massive with serious ramifications as all the offences were not easy to prove as no proper rules or training had ever been given. Even when the top man was dismissed summarily, he was totally protected & nothing appeared in the papers!

The Audit Committees was told little about the AD Waste scam & we were kept mostly in the dark by officers but we were told AD Waste accountants were unable to sign off the firm’s accounts. (No officer seemed to care a toss). When we asked what was going on, the then most senior legal office, (since retired); arrogantly decreed that the ADW saga was nothing to do with the Audit Committee. A total porky! Anti- fraud and corruption strategy & risk managements are a major part of Audit Committee’s responsibility.

At the January’s 2015 Audit Committee I blew my top, I’d been fobbed off too long. Although no longer the Audit Committee Chair, I wanted to know why the delay continued and what was the cost of paying salaries to both suspended staff & those now doing their work? A report updating me arrived. Yet again, more worrying dissembling with the CE being praised for demanding an investigation in the first place!

Another sneaky untruth! The weasly report mostly blamed another department for the delay. Nothing to do with Head of Paid Service then?

Even after three years of investigation, the case against one employee has still not been finalised. More days lost? Surely not? How can it be that a FOI request from the local paper can get some information on costs and the seriousness of the AD Waste suspensions issue and yet my determined attempts to be kept fully informed is like drawing hens’ teeth?

Officers alone are responsible for these eye watering financial amounts equating to 2000 days of lost staff work. I suspect we have not heard the full amount! Chief Executive, as you have allegedly been so involved in this 3 year investigation, perhaps you’d l care to tell us the true cost of the AD Waste discipline and winding up debacle?

We really need to know. Thousands of lost hours of work won’t reduce the £18million deficit? Why should councillors be treated with such contempt by being told so little. To read what is actually happening in County Hall in the newspapers is a serious indictment on this Council & its top team.

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