Council staff warned over TV show antics

Council staff who appeared on Don't Blame the Council, with environmental services manager Terry Dunn
Council staff who appeared on Don't Blame the Council, with environmental services manager Terry Dunn

WORKERS at Wigan Council’s super-depot have been warned about their behaviour after it was put in the spotlight by a TV documentary.

In a letter addressed to members of staff, local authority chief executive Donna Hall said an “operational review” has started within the Environmental Services.

Ms Hall has pledged to keep staff up to date with the review and advised them not to speak to the media.

An ongoing investigation into the circumstances leading up to Don’t Blame the Council being aired has already seen two department heads temporarily relieved of their duties.

In the letter, Ms Hall writes: “Although there were some misinterpretations in the TV programme, some of what was shown was unacceptable.

“This must stop now. You represent the council and I am sure you will do all you can to change the public perception that has been created and show the borough, and our critics, how good we really are.”

Ms Hall also urges staff to be “ambassadors” for the local authority, adding “as a team, we will get though this together and recover our reputation with local residents.”

The ITV documentary, which aired last month, prompted a backlash from viewers after workers were seen displaying a poor work ethic and making disparaging comments about council schemes.

Environmental services head Terry Dunn and public relations (PR) director Chris Dunbar have been moved aside as the internal investigation takes place.

The letter adds: “An operational review will start which will focus on processes and practices within Environmental Services that were highlighted as a concern in the programme.”

A frequently asked questions section is also included although a number of main topics are included in a “questions we can’t answer until the comprehensive review has concluded”.

These include “why did the programme go out in the first place?”, “How and who has this been allowed to happen?” and “Why did the PR team not accompany the teams featured?”.

Under the question: “How long will the media storm last?” staff are informed: “The programme remains a big news story with the media eager to find out more details about our council and what is happening as a result.

“We ask that you speak to your manager with any issues or concerns you have, rather than speaking to the media.”

And workers have been advised not to “rise to any verbal abuse you may be getting and report it to your manager. If you are being threatened physically, walk or drive away calmly - do not react back. We take your safety very seriously and will not tolerate you being abused in any way.”