CEO on leave as minister launches probe into council

Liverpool City Council will face a ‘robust’ investigation to determine if there’s been a breakdown in operations amid ongoing reports of dysfunction and poor relationships between councillors and staff.

Ron Hoenig: concerns

Terms of reference will be finalised in coming days, local government minister Ron Hoenig said in a statement.

Mr Hoenig said he’s been concerned about the operations at Liverpool for some time.

“It’s clear there’s a fractured relationship between councillors and staff,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“I’ve asked the Office of Local Government to undertake an investigation into the Council because the local community needs reassurance that their council is operating properly.

“Elected officials have a responsibility to their communities to operate effectively and efficiently, and I’m concerned about the level of dysfunction within Liverpool Council that is playing out publicly.

“A robust investigation undertaken by the OLG will shore up public confidence and ensure council is focused on delivering for its community.”

Councillors rise up against mayor

Mr Hoenig announced the investigation after a group of Liverpool Councillors issued a press release on April 24 saying they had serious concerns about the capacity of Mayor Ned Mannoun to make decisions in the best interest of the community.

Cr Ned Mannoun

They said councillor Mannoun planned to push through “potentially disasterous” staff cuts including sacking CEO John Ajaka to fund a $50 million pool in an electorate currently held by the Mayor’s wife.

“Liverpool is a growing LGA, we need a Council that grows with it, to provide the services the community expects. The recruitment landscape is already difficult, Council needs to be attracting and retaining staff to suggest job cuts at this time is frankly bizarre” Councillor Dr Betty Green said. 

A statement from Liverpool City later on April 24 said a confidential session of Council had granted Mr Ajaka special leave without pay  and resolved to launch an independent inquiry into the Council’s workplace culture.

The meeting also resolved to notify the Office of Local Government of the matter.

A Liverpool City spokesman said Council would cooperate with the state government’s inquiry.

“Liverpool City Council acknowledges the announcement by the Minister for Local Government regarding a Local Government departmental inquiry into the operations of the Council,” he told Government News on Monday.

“Liverpool City Council will fully cooperate with any requirements of this inquiry.”

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