Wirral Council’s leadership has been forced out by a vote of confidence called in response to a damning report into adult social services, sparked by a social worker whistleblower.
Leader Steve Foulkes and his cabinet were ejected on Monday after the council’s Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups combined to outvote the ruling Labour group and install Tory chief Jeff Green as the leader of the authority.
The vote was called following last month’s damning report by consultant Anna Klonowski into historic failings in adult social services and corporate governance, including poor contract management and overcharging of service users.
Though these were brought to light by whistleblowing social worker Martin Morton in 2008 his concerns were ignored and he subsequently left the council.
Another independent investigation found last year that Morton quit after being bullied and that the council denied him due process when handling his allegations.
Highlighting the seriousness of the findings, Green has taken responsibility for the adult social care portfolio, alongside his leadership responsibilities.
Writing on his blog, he said: “From today, it’s my job to be held accountable for what happens in that department, and the wider council. I can give no clearer commitment at this time of my determination to change the way that department has operated.”
Green led a Tory-Lib Dem coalition at the council from 2010-11, during which he commissioned the Klonowski report and offered Morton his job back.
Following Monday’s meeting, Green repeated his offer to Morton. “I want Martin Morton back working for this council and that the offer I made to him a year ago now needs to be implemented,” he said.
The Local Government Association has already set up an improvement board with the council to monitor progress against the findings of the Klonowski report, which Foulkes’ administration had promised to implement in full. It is believed that the improvement board will not be affected by the change of leadership.
Green is looking to set up a cross-party cabinet, but Labour has indicated that it will go into opposition.