The City Solicitor at Liverpool City Council, Jeannette McLoughlin, is to retire from her post at the end of May, after 25 years at the local authority.
A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said: “Ms McLoughlin has previously postponed her retirement to assist the city council through some particular challenges over the past 12 months. The council thanks Jeanette for her commitment, dedication and professionalism. Her role together with that of the council’s other statutory officers was highlighted when the Secretary of State thanked them last week in Parliament for their work.”
Last week the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government decided to send in commissioners to run Liverpool’s planning, highways, regeneration and property management functions.
This followed an inspection report from a team of inspectors led by Max Caller that concluded Liverpool had failed to demonstrate compliance with the statutory requirements with respect to best value.
Amongst a wide range of findings, the report called on the council to build the prominence of its Legal Services department. It recommended that this should “include investment in senior staff, increasing oversight of outsourcing and reducing reliance on external firms for non-specialist matters”.
Caller found that there were “dedicated, enthusiastic and very able lawyers” working within the council, but also that the internal resources for the areas under inspection were stretched leading to the outsourcing of large volumes of work and a pressurised work environment.
The report also said: a failure to replace the Assistant City Solicitor who departed in 2018; there was evidence of external advice being secured to challenge the advice of Legal Services; the Regeneration team had hired its own solicitor; Legal Services were presented with reports for ‘sign off’ “seemingly at the last possible moment with emphasis on the political support behind any proposal; and at Liverpool the Monitoring Officer was also the City Solicitor but there was no specific designation of that role as the Solicitor to the Council in the Constitution.
The move also comes as the local authority looks set to be embroiled in a legal dispute with Joe Anderson, the former elected mayor, over the council’s refusal to meet his legal costs arising out of a police investigation.