WIGAN Council has defended its decision to be the focus of a controversial ITV documentary, claiming the show was heavily edited “in such a way to only focus on the negative aspects of the job we do”.
Lord Peter Smith has today released a statement following a hugely negative response towards Don’t Blame The Council, which aired on Tuesday night.
And while the council leader has voiced his anger at the way the show was put together, he has also accepted that certain members of staff were shown not working to the standard required and added that disciplinary action may follow,
He said: “Wigan Council has gained a well-deserved reputation nationally for working in new ways to deliver high standards of public services. Just last week the council was recognised as one of the best five councils in the country.
“We are also independently rated as the best ‘Big Council’ to work for and we had a 50 per cent increase in satisfaction with the council last year. Due to this reputation we regularly attract interest from documentary teams wanting to film our teams.
“’Don’t Blame the Council’ was presented to us as a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary focused on the challenges the council faces and how we are changing the way we work across environmental services to become more business-like and provide even better value for money. We agreed to do the programme because we feel it’s important to be upfront with our residents about the challenges we face and to highlight how through The Deal we are working more closely with our communities to help reduce the impact of the £100m of savings imposed on us by the government.
After viewing the programme it is fair to say it was deliberately provocative and edited in such a way to only focus on the negative aspects of the job we doWigan Council Leader Lord Peter Smith
“After viewing the programme it is fair to say it was deliberately provocative and edited in such a way to only focus on the negative aspects of the job we do. The team’s efforts to increase income by £5m which have offset cuts to frontline services and helped 77 new jobs hardly featured.
“We do accept though that there were parts of the show where some staff did not meet the high standards that we and the residents of the borough expect from them. They have let down their hardworking colleagues, so we will deal with these issues as swiftly and strongly as possible, including disciplinary action or other action where necessary.
“Residents have also contacted us to complain about the programme and tell us how angry they feel. I understand those feelings, but want to reassure them that we have a great team of dedicated employees who care passionately about this borough. I want to thank all residents who continue to believe in the borough and they have my assurance that our committed workforce will strive to provide the best possible service to all of our residents.
“Next week the Call the Council series will start running for three weeks every week day on BBC1 which again will feature Wigan Council staff on the frontline. We are confident that this documentary, filmed without a specific agenda, will show a much truer portrayal of the council’s work and the good work that we do every day of the year.”