Council finance chief resigns over £16m energy contract disaster

Liverpool Council finance director and deputy chief executive Mel Creighton has resigned following a £16m energy contract disaster that engulfed the local authority.

Mayor Joanne Anderson confirmed today that Mel Creighton has resigned and will leave office at the end of August. She has been on the board for three and a half years.

It is understood that prior to her resignation Ms Creighton was fired following revelations of a series of disastrous board mistakes over the renewal of an energy contract.

READ MORE:‘Clowns have taken over town hall’ as council’s latest contract mistake comes under fire

ECHO first revealed how officers failed to inform political leaders that Scottish Power, with whom the council had a major power contract, had withdrawn from the commercial market before a decision to renew with the business is approved at a cabinet meeting. This meant the council was automatically placed on a much more expensive tariff, costing the city millions.

The council’s own bill could be increased by £5million, while the overall impact on the town – including local schools and firefighters – could be as high as £16million due to the mistakes made. A full and independent investigation is being carried out by a team of accountants, the results of which should be known by the end of June.

As the council’s senior finance officer, some councilors had decided to blame Ms Creighton for mistakes, while others said the buck stopped with her boss, chief executive Tony Reeves. Deputy Mayor Jane Corbett has already lost her finance portfolio as a result of the scandal.

Prior to recent events, Ms Creighton had been seen as an important figure – alongside Mr Reeves – in the local authority’s turnaround amid the damning revelations of last year’s government inspection report.

Confirming Ms Creighton’s resignation, Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson said today: “Mel Creighton has informed the board that she wishes to pursue new opportunities elsewhere, and we respect her decision.” Liverpool City Council chief executive Tony Reeves said: “I have today accepted the resignation of Mel Creighton. We are currently discussing with the Commissioners the arrangements to be put in place to recruit a successor.

The mess surrounding the council’s energy disaster was first picked up on by government commissioners, who are currently sitting at the troubled authority following last year’s inspection report. The commissioners are due to report shortly after a year at Liverpool and there are fears the latest scandal could lead to further government interventions.