BOSSES at Wrexham Council stopped staff accessing live internet coverage of yesterday’s crucial World Cup encounter between England and Slovenia, but other authorities took a different approach.

Well before the kick-off the authority’s IT staff took steps to ensure computers in all council buildings were blocked from logging on to the BBC site providing instant pictures of the match.

And a clear message was sent out to workers that anyone wishing to see the game, which started at 3pm, had to arrange to do so in their own time.

Council chiefs in Wrexham told workers they either had to catch up on the action in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth after work or take yesterday afternoon off as part of their annual holiday entitlement.

Council leader Cllr Aled Roberts said: “Our human resources department sent out a message to all our staff to say they would not be allowed to watch the match in works time. We told them that if people wanted to see it live they would have to take the afternoon off.”

And a union backed the council’s tough stance.

Steve Hibbert, branch secretary of Unison which represents about 2,000 staff at Wrexham Council’s Guildhall headquarters, said: “Bearing in mind the pillorying we would get from the media for this if it happened, I would be absolutely horrified if anyone was found watching football in in work time without the necessary permission.

“There are far bigger things of more importance than football to be getting on with.
Public services are too important to be ‘skiving off’ watching football and getting paid for it.”

However, another local council took a different approach.

Ian Callister, spokesman for Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “If anyone wished to watch the match they were at liberty to do so providing they were not doing so at the expense of work which was vital and affected by a timescale and that they were prepared to make up the time later.”

A spokesman for Denbighshire Council said there was no block on any part of the BBC website, but there would be monitoring of its usage during the match yesterday.

A Flintshire Council spokesman said: “No special arrangements were in place.

“We already have a range of policies for staff to take planned time off for whatever reason.”