Lessons Have Been Adjourned

JULIANADJOURNED

In what is turning out to be a longer and more complicated story than “War & Peace” the anticipated conclusion of the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods whistleblow came to a shuddering halt at Tuesdays Audit & Risk Management Committee with the (surprise! surprise!) adjournment of another stage managed  meeting.

Consequently we had a pull a story containing a statement from whistle-blower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro as we didn’t want to steal his thunder for the reconvened meeting next week.

However we thank him for letting us know about the adjournment and the behind the scenes discussions which clearly indicate that certain factions ( Council Officers and certain Councillors of the “nothing to see here/let’s move on” variety) wanted the meeting to go ahead and another faction didn’t (Councillors who complained they hadn’t read the doorstep of a reports pack containing 525 pages – for whom we can only ask if the golf and the sunshine distracted them from their civic duties)

Of course the latter Councillors can rightly claim that receiving such a hefty tome late in the day compromised their ability to ask any pertinent questions whilst Council Officers counter-claimed they complied with Committee requirements because they had previously published a Chief Executive’s report ghost-written for Comrade Burgesski so that should suffice and can we just move on to the bit where we get the trusty “No Case To Answer” stamp out now please and we can all trot off on our summer holidays.Thank you and goodnight.

The point that such short-cuts in scrutiny and lack of attention to detail is exactly what has led to all the whistleblowing cases that have beset Wirral Council in recent years was seemingly lost on everyone.

Meanwhile our faithful factotum Verity Snoop is wading through the reports pack now and judging by the sighs and gasps and snorts of derision it’s a case of yet more damning reports leading to catastrophic results…………..but only for the whistle-blowers !!!!

You’re Twisting My Melon (Nor)man

BILL NORMAN FIGHT CLUBAs you know from time to time we like to take a trip down memory lane (or more accurately nightmare alley) and keep up with ex-Wirral Council alumni.
Today’s subject is serial cheque-trouserer Bill “Spiny” Norman – who left behind a trail of devastation at Torbay and Wirral Councils and now finds himself suitably ensconced in cider country.

Clearly from reading the reports in the press and blogs in Hereford Mr.Norman is proving to be as popular with the local populace as he was with Foulkesy.
However we’d like to draw our readers attention to what must be one of the finest commentaries ever committed to a local blog (other than our own).

The writer clearly models his writing style on Monty Python characters Doug and Dinsdale Piranha and employed a combination of “violence and sarcasm” but somehow it sums up the frustration and anger felt by many people fed up to the back teeth of town hall tyrants plundering the public purse and imposing their will on local people by means of abusing their power.

http://www.herefordvoice.co.uk/topic/1383-when-is-a-director-of-law-not-a-director-of-law/

Bobby 47 (whoever you are) – we salute you!

“It’s bloody desperate isn’t it! How the bloody hell do ‘we’ ever deflate this ballon of wealth and rid ourselves of these bottom feeding tics who feast upon our public funds. There’s no bloody end to it. One pile of rubbish falls and another springs up in its place. It’s bloody relentless.

Why can’t the Council elected leaders say, ‘No’. Why? I’d have no problem in telling them all to clear off, be gone, on your way and you’ll get no gagging money from me because I couldn’t care less who you tell. Go tell the world for all I care. I couldn’t care bloody less.

Why has it got to be this way? Bloody hell! I bloody hate them. I do. Bloody intensely. I hate them more than any of you. Oh, you might think you hate them but compared to me, you simply dislike them. I bloody hate them.

I’d love to fix up a fight with Bill bloody Norman. Just him and me. I’d tip up outside Plough bloody Lane, park me handcart and its load of rancid melons and I’d fight him. I would. And he could arm himself with any offensive weapon of his choice, it would be of no concern to me and of little use to him.

I’d bloody hurtle toward him screaming and gibbering in biblical tongues and frighten the life out of him howling, ‘Bill. I bloody hate you and today I’m going to punch you once for every pound you’ve managed to take from the public purse’. That’d make him think, ‘Good Lord that’s a lot of punching’.

If Bill bloody Norman is reading this, and lets face it, its highly unlikely I want him to agree to fight me so that I can deliver Hereford from his controlling grip that sees him and his colleagues getting wealthier and us getting bloody poorer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, not that its worth repeating, Council staff have got to start leaving their work stations, knocking on the doors of the high and the bloody mighty and asking them out for a fight. That’d sort them all out. Imagine going to work everyday knowing that you had to fight the staff. They’d soon get tired of that. I know I would!

If I had to fight the staff daily I’d be looking to work elsewhere at some place where I didn’t have to fight the staff. Before I agreed to take up the position of Head of Legal Services on a salary of an eye watering sum of money I’d ask, ‘do I have to fight the staff’.

Mind, I’ve fought them all in my dreams you know. The theme of the dream is pretty much the same every time. I tip up, women scream, ‘we can’t keep our hands off him. Lets clap our hands, stamp our feet and jump up and down bra less all over his fat face’ and then I fight them. It doesn’t last long. Basically I dance about avoiding the punches, bobbing and weaving until the opponent gets exasperated and then I belt them over the head with a large wooden mallet and the crowd cry, ‘that’s a bit out of order. Hitting someone over the head with a mallet’. Then I wake up, have a cigarette, another can of ale and hope I can get back to sleep to continue beating these Council Leaders to a pulp and be cheered on by women who faint with pleasure because I am the most desirable man they’ve ever seen with a handcart selling rancid melons.”

MEAT AND GREET

The right honourable Lord & Lady left strict instructions that in their absence I pay tribute to Wirral’s First Citizen on the opening day of the Open golf championships , where no doubt  “Mayor” Foulkesy and his consort the Lovely Elaine will be courted and feted in the corporate hospitality tents.

Therefore I have to thank Wirral Leakers for sending in a delightful picture of Mayor Foulksey at a previous public engagement. I’d also like to thank them for their suggested captions which somehow encapsulate the reverence and respect that this great man seems to engender wherever he goes.

These are the winners :

Third Place

3-PIES

Runner Up

2PIES

And The WINNER !

1_PIES

Oops! DASS Did It Again!

OOOOOPS

With the Lord and Ladyship away on their summer sojourn, it is I,Verity who has been left to hold the fort or more accurately the Towers! And no sooner had I bid a fond farewell to our esteemed entourage than another exclusive lands in the Wirral Leaks inbox.

Remember when Wirral Leaks exclusively revealed that unfortunate incident when a gullible Wirral Council employee was duped into parting with £45,000 to a fraudster claiming to be a care home owner?

Well in time honoured Wirral Council fashion lessons have been learned when it comes to security and data protection as it would appear that like a dodgy curry history repeats causing a bit of a stink…

I say this as it would appear the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) are not unlike Britney Spears with OCD.
“Oops! I Did it Again …..and again and again and again”

A “Doctor” writes:

“Imagine if someone from WBC had accidentally emailed a breakdown of every care home and vacancy.  Imagine if this spreadsheet was disclosing sensitive commercial information including confidential information about homes which there are issues with and not placing with etc.

Imagine if this information was accidentally emailed to EVERY care home.

Imagine that WBC had previously refused to part with this information due to its commercially sensitive nature and providing a market statement.

Imagine if providers look at their own information – its not even accurate.

Imagine if the officer had just tried to recall the email.. “

Well  at Leaky Towers I don’t have to imagine as I have the evidence of the malpractice right here before me.

(By the way can somebody tell me what is meant by “top ups” and why this applies to some care homes and not others – it’s all very confusing! )

Meanwhile all I am left to do is paraphrase a famous quote:

“To lose £45,000 may be regarded as a misfortune; to email a spreadsheet containing confidential information looks like carelessness…..”

Open Season

GOLF-JOKERS

At last! the event that Wirral has been holding it’s breath for……no,not the release of the Wirralgate tapes!

It’s The Open golf thingy starting in Hoylake this week.

Needless to say to avoid the hordes the Wirral Leaks entourage will be heading down to our villa in the South of France for the duration of the tournament. We’ve hired out Leaky Towers for an obscene amount of money , which is entirely in keeping with our champagne socialist principles and also means we can pay for the roof repairs in the west wing.

In our absence we are asking you lovely people to keep us updated on local events and request that you enter the Wirral Leaks Photo Competition!
Our man in the fedora and the dirty raincoat will be there with his trusty telephoto lens but we’d like to see some of those jolly informal snaps so beloved of this blog which show local dignitaries enjoying the privileges of high office.

GOLF SET

We’d particularly welcome any sightings of former Wirral Council Chief Executive Steve “Freedom of the Borough” Maddox (see above) and any information relating to this particular Freedom of Information request.

SEE HERE

GOLFERS

Meanwhile as examples of the kind of fun pics we’re after here’s an example of the lovely snapshots we’ve been sent which enable us to add our wacky captions for your amusement :

Rat... leaving a sinking ship

***… leaving a sinking ship?

Flying Down To Rio

Flying_Down_to_Rio05

It came as no surprise to us at Leaky Towers to hear that a small delegation of Wirral Council bigwigs had taken flight (especially when we heard it involved The Deadly Davies Duo, Pip & George)

What did surprise us is that the airborne jaunt landed in the pensioners paradise that is Bournemouth for a Local Government Association conference. Why one can almost hear the ‘chink’ of bone china tea cups as Pip and Gorgeous take centre stage

SEE HERE   

Comrade Burgesski provided unequivocal evidence that his recent irony by-pass operation had been such a success when he declared that their attendance was an “opportunity to showcase Wirral’s achievements and good practice on this national platform.”

Subsequently Wirral Council spokesperson Dee Niall has refuted rumours that the expedition will next be flying down to Rio to advise FIFA’s World Cup officials on hospitality beanos, pay-offs and sweetheart deals……

As our new Brazilian maid Dolores Del Rio said : “Fala sério!…………….”

The Drink’s On Us

“If you drink,don’t drive.
Don’t even putt…….” – Dean Martin

BALLSToday we raise a glass and send our fraternal felicitations to fellow feather -rufflers and local bloggers Paul Cardin and John Brace.

Writing recently about his dealings with local Council Law Lord Surjit Tour and his team Mr.Cardin reports that :

“Over the last two years, in response to probing, but otherwise innocuous freedom of information requests, the “team” has combined the awesome power of their collective legal minds, and has clubbed together to issue a total of three rebuttals, in which they’ve claimed that my requests are ‘vexatious’ …..And three times, I’ve whacked the Wirral Council mole over the head and sent their hideously deluded collection of lawyers, misfits, deniers and data geeks scurrying back into the town hall to lick their wounds.”

SEE HERE

Subsequently Mr.Brace was sent an email titled “Fraudulent Email” by Tour following the publication on his blog of correspondence sent by Comrade Burgesski providing details of the upcoming Open golf beano.

Tour blusters as follows:

“This is clearly a serious matter and I formally request that you immediately remove the email and the associated commentary concerning this subject matter from your blog.The Council would prefer to avoid taking action in respect of this entry; however, I must put you on notice that the Council will have little alternative but to consider alternative action should you refuse or fail to remove this entry from your blog forthwith…..”

Now can we offer Mr.Tour some advice (pro bono , of course) and humbly suggest that when it comes to vexatiousness and the leaking of confidential correspondence that he looks much, MUCH closer to home.

There’s more fun to be had on the Brace blog

SEE HERE

as he provides a transcript of a recent Roger Phillips Radio Merseyside programme where local caller (Paul from New Brighton) raises the issue of the grace and favour hospitality to be enjoyed by the local political and business elite at the Open golf championships.

Then up pops Councillor Walter “Wally” Smith to deny such claims before disclosing he has indeed enjoyed “lavish hospitality” not because he is a Councillor  – oh,no,no,no  – but because he’s run up a few pair of kecks for a local hotelier.

Well that’s alright then!

He then goes on to whine ( no pun intended) : “We don’t even have a drink with the Mayor every sort of four or five months like we used to because we’ve cut out all the frills because we’re in an extremely difficult period for local government funding…..”

Forgive us for being underwhelmed by such principled self-sacrifice!. Whatever possessed Smith to think that a piss up on the public purse was ever appropriate in the first place !

Talking of the Mayor and ,ahem, drinks – we note that the Council are being particularly coy about releasing the costs of Foulkesy’s Mayor-making ceremony and ,we presume the bar bill in particular, which we suspect will be eye-watering.

SEE HERE

Not to fear – as we know all too well Wirral Council has more leaks than a rusty colander , so we can expect to see the details on a local blog very soon – not this one obviously.We at Leaky Towers are always the soul of discretion and the epitome of decorum……

Chin! Chin!

Deviation Wirral

WIRRAL-GOLF

Despite protestations to the contrary “Destination Wirral” appears to be a bid by Wirral Council to turn the peninsula into one great big golf course.

Of course “Destination Wirral” is not to be confused with “Destination Excellence” (stop sniggering) the monumental Foulkesy fail that followed the publication of Klonowski’s Independent Review.

Remember how we laughed as Foulkesy  promised to adhere to the recommendations of the Independent Review and the Corporate Governance Report that preceded it, with “bible-like” devotion?

However this latest feeble branding exercise at least has the benefit of a “Destination Manager” (which sounds like a Council rebranding of Foulkesy’s mayoral chauffeur).

But then again this person seems to have a loose grasp of geography when it comes to Wirral’s boundaries themselves. Witness the recent Wirral Folk Festival (Anyone heard about it? – No thought not!)

http://www.visitwirral.com/whats-on/wirral-folk-festival-p72541

Now please forgive us but when were Ellesmere Port or Whitby annexed by Wirral? and why would Wirral Council give money to venues to hold a Wirral Folk Festival there?

It has been suggested to us that this enables Wirral Council managers to tick a box in the pursuit of European Union funny money (European Regional Development Fund to be specific) We can only ask ourselves whether chasing the Euro will herald the return of “Eurowirral” ? – anyone remember that risible branding exercise undertaken by the Council ?

However it strikes us that if the Council were really serious about Wirral being a “destination” rather than a “deviation” that it would help if there was a Tourist Information Centre rather than relying on the likes Royal & Ancient website plugging hotel accommodation for the upcoming Open golf championships mainly out Chester way because nobody knows where “Wirral” actually is!……….

Meanwhile the Council’s obsession with golf continues unabated with news of them “consulting” about the flogging off of municipal golf courses. Except Hoylake of course !  – could this have anything to do with the postponed announcement mooted for the opening day of the Open when the Council planned to unveil the Last of the International Playboys funding partner they had lined up to thrill us all with news of a luxury golf resort coming to Wirral?

Needless to say the momentous event went the way of all Wirral Council drives down the fairway – in the rough and unplayable. Therefore we can’t help wondering whether this golf resort proposal doesn’t end up being Stella Shiu 2 and like the Wirral Waters project permanently lodged in a sandtrap.

Therefore can we humbly suggest to the Council’s Destination Manager that they may need to adjust their branding   -

“Wirral – Not so much crazy golf as golf crazy!”

The Others & The Extras

Ana

Now if there’s one thing that get’s under Foulksey’s skin even worse than a bad dose of scabies it’s the mention of the AKA report, Anna Klonowski,Independent Review ,Martin Morton etc;.

Which explains why he had to ,ahem,take matters into his own hands and put them into someone else’s.
However less of the cryptic comments and onto the latest development in the slowly unfolding story which gives us an opportunity to repeat all of Foulksey’s favourite phrases.

It would appear that an old friend (and not a pretend friend ) of Wirral Leaks  – Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro  – has been keeping his hand in, so to speak , and by applying his forensic accountancy skills has finally battered the Council into submission about the full costs of the  Independent Review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council’s Response to Claims Made by Mr Martin Morton (and Others) -  to give it it’s full title.

This investigation was undertaken by Anna Klonowski Associates and was famously referred to by Foulksey during a Council meeting, after he’d been deposed as Leader of the Council , as a “£250,000 ambush” by the Tory group. Thus proving once and for all that his suitability for the role as Leader of the Council and Mayor may be called into question but it can never be doubted that this man sure knows how to play the snivelling victim.

Up until now it has always been the received wisdom that this investigation cost Wirral Council an eye-watering £250,000 whereas the true figure is a truly mind-blowing £410,000.

According to this weeks response from Wirral Council on the What Do They Know website the extra costs are “for professional services and related travel /accommodation expenses”
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/anna_klonowski#comment-51417

We can now exclusively reveal how at least some of these extra costs were accrued. After reading the What Do They Know response one of the people interviewed by Anna Klonowski during the investigation let it be known that during the investigation they were asked whether they felt safe to give a statement in Wirral Council offices or at an Apart-hotel in Liverpool. This is a kind of accommodation with the facilities of an apartment (own cooking facilities etc; ) but with benefits of a hotel (servicing of rooms etc.)

We understand it was from here that Mrs Klonowski held court and would meet witnesses if they felt uncomfortable being observed giving statements in Wirral (hence we presume reference to “The Others” in the report’s title – making witnesses sound appropriately enough like the mysterious, ghostly figures from the Nicole Kidman movie of the same name).

If this is the case this alone is surely conclusive proof that there was ( and many still believe still is) a culture of fear within Wirral Council.  Furthermore it also reinforces former Director of Law Bill Norman’s comment to local political commentator John Brace that the anonymity in the report was about protecting junior staff from reprisals from senior staff.

The revelation of massive extra costs comes as no surprise to our source but what does surprise them is that their statement and supporting evidence and the evidence of others appears nowhere within the final report.

Instead Klonowski states : “Despite the time taken to deliver the review it has not been possible to conclude on all matters….”.
This comes as a surprise to our source as they claimed they were interviewed months before the report was published – though they never received a copy of their statement nor was their documentary evidence ever returned!

However as Klonowski concluded in her review this doesn’t mean there was a cover up or conspiracy of any kind whatsoever ! – ultimately only time will tell whether this theory holds up and whether £410,000 of public money was well spent.

Indeed Wirral Leaks invites our readers to identify 1 lasting* positive outcome of the Independent Review.

* The vote of no confidence in Foulkesy doesn’t count as his recent appointment as Mayor proves this was short lived.

Dear readers , a cash prize of £4.10 found down the back of a chaise longue at Leaky Towers could be yours !!!!

Mark your entries : Rep Mgmnt and send to wirralleaks@gmail.com

Lessons Learned

Wirral-Leaks-LessonsLearned

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”

As Wirral Council merrily continues to dismantle public services we note ruefully at Leaky Towers how quickly the “organisation” has returned to it’s bad old ways.

Firstly the libraries closure volte-face debacle of 2010 is seemingly making a comeback with Burgesski taking his turn to face the flak and issue a statement claiming there’s nothing untoward going on by reviewing the library service once again.
Of course such is the lack of trust and confidence in Wirral Council  that anything emanating from Wallasey Town Hall is instantly met with hostility and suspicion.

It seems to us that Super -Duper Director meetings must mainly consist of them drawing straws to see who is going to front the latest controversial Council press release. Funny we never seem to hear from bullet-dodger Clare Fish whose surname seems most appropriate , as considering her prominent role ,she seems to be about as elusive and vocal as Stringray’s Aqua Marina.

So having been spared the indignity of being overtaken by commissioners (thanks to Frankenfield’s intervention) and having hoodwinked the blinkered Improvement Board it would seem Wirral Council feels secure in returning to the familiar power bases and personalities. There’s Foulkesy ensconced as Wirral’s first citizen with sidekick George Davies still acting as his middle man and Matron McLaughlin back chairing a Council Committee. It’s like the Independent Review never happened – but then this is what happens when an investigator like Anna Klonowski only does half a job and there is no accountability ,no consequences and a politically apathetic public (witness the shockingly low turnout in McLaughlin’s Rock Ferry ward).

Inevitably we now have the return of all the issues which brought Wirral Council into such disrepute – the corrosive culture,the obsessive secrecy,the abuse of power.

There are only so many times the Department of Spin can rely on golf tournaments and Stella Shiu and artists impressions of Wirral Waters and pictures of the Mayor and Mayoress before the spin spirals out of control into sheer delirium

However the Department of Spin does contain at least one person who has learned the lessons of the past. They can certainly show those naive whistleblowers how it should be done. They have learned that knowledge is power – so use it to your advantage.

Keep your job and get a nice big cheque.Win-Win.

That now makes 2 people in the Wirral Council “Job for Life” Club.