South Ribble Scandal Has Old Links To West Lancashire

The Chief Executive of South Ribble Borough Council who resigned just over a year after being put on special leave was the West Lancashire Borough Council Economic Development, Estates and Regeneration Manager in 2002-03. In 2005-06 her title was Executive Manager Regeneration and Property.

Details of Heather McManus’ departure has emerged as the authority received a damning internal audit report that details how rules and procedures at the district council have been “consistently breached” – often by its most senior staff.

There was a culture in which officials “disregarded the systems of checks and balances put in place to protect the [council] and its officers”.

McManus left her job after three years but continues to be employed for the duration of her notice period until late August, remaining on leave. Although she has not been in charge at the council since May 2019 McManus has been on full pay on a wage scale of between £103,000 and £122,000, according to council documents since then.

Singled out for criticism was governance of the project to create a new leisure campus in Leyland. As costs increased by, at one point, almost £10m on the proposed £15m scheme, no update on the escalating price tag was brought to cabinet for formal consideration. The awarding of the contract to form the design team on the project went to a bidder whose services were twice the price of the only other company involved. Auditors were unable to find written evidence of a detailed evaluation of the two proposals.

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