Protection Racket

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We warned you in this post – HERE  written before the Open golf championships to keep a look-out for this FOI request : HERE

We anticipated it would be the usual obfuscation and delay and sure enough true to form the requester had to wrestle some of the information out of Wirral Council before they started invoking the usual legal KO and invoke exemptions to deny full access to the information requested.

The exemptions mean that although we find out exactly who were the 43 Councillors who availed themselves of Wirral Council’s generous hospitality we do not get a “definitive” list of guests enjoying a pleasant day out on the public purse.

However there are some interesting revelations – the first of course being the fact that 43 Councillors had their entry to the Open paid for by the Council and not the 2 that Comrade Burgesski originally claimed (no wonder there’s  financial problems at Wirral Council when the Chief Executive seems to have trouble with figures).

Secondly we note the presence of “Weightmans Lawyers” on the Thursday and Friday sessions – would that be ex- Wirral Council employees Morris Hill and Simon Goacher perchance?

Although this information is somehow allowed to leak out we don’t get a full list of business associates who were the beneficiaries of Council freebies “due to on-going commercial negotiations between the Council and the organisations in question”
Which begs the question that if there are “ongoing commercial negotiations” with certain organisations should Wirral Council be offering what might be seen as inducements or favours?

However the exemption which had us blowing our turret off Leaky Towers was the non-disclosure of the Wirral Council staff who were on the golf course rather than sitting behind a desk.

The Council refused this request “due to the seniority of the officers in question and the fact that they do not hold public facing jobs. There is therefore an expectation that their privacy would be upheld.”

“Public facing jobs?” – that’s a new one on us. How about ” Public serving jobs?” Wirral Council – have you ever heard of them? No,thought not!  Especially in the light of the harrowing news coming out of Rotherham  this week we simply cannot fathom the motive behind the obsessive zeal with which PUBLIC bodies consistently seek to protect their staff at the expense of vulnerable people and the public purse.

It’s the same modus operandi which is demonstrated time and time again here on Wirral where readacted reports afford anonymity to abusers and those guilty of malpractice.

It’s a protection racket for the powerful – and it is the public who have to pay.

Pie In The Sky

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Miraculously Private Eye magazine recently covered a story about Wirral Council that did not feature in Rotten Boroughs!

This story was instead in “Nooks and Corners” which records the magazine’s concerns about Britain’s architectural heritage.The case in point here being a pair of  semi-detached Victorian mansions ,54-56 Park Road South,Birkenhead.

Private Eye reports :

” This had been used as the ESWA Sports & Social Club …until it closed in 2012. The following year the houses were bought by a developer .Soon after they were burgled,and 24 hours later they went on fire,the fire services suspecting arson. The shell of the two houses now stands open to the sky and surrounded by hoardings. The plan,apparently is to convert the structure into apartments,but so often in the Wirral a fire is followed by demolition….In London, the house would be graced with a blue plaque and cherished. But poor Birkenhead is different”

Poor Birkenhead is indeed different – not only is the continuing drive to turn the surrounding area into “Flatland”  with a high density of apartments housing a transient population (see also planning applications in the close vicinity for more apartments on the plot of the now closed Cole Street School and part conversion of the Queens Hotel) but the dereliction and decay elsewhere in Birkenhead continues unabated.

Following our “Talking Crap” story

http://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/talking-crap/

a concerned Birkenhead resident has been in touch with more crap for Birkenhead Constituency Committee to consider. The resident has long had concerns about the continuing deterioration of wasteland at the corner of Oxton Road and the appropriately named Balls Road (East) and have sent us the following pictures (although they advise that the pictures do not do justice to the swarms of flies and bluebottles):

wasteland%20008 wasteland%20010 wasteland%20012 wasteland%20014 wasteland%20020

Our source asks us how do we think the Birkenhead Constituency Committee and Wirral Council would respond to this appalling site/sight?

Unfortunately we suspect it would go something like this:

“We are proud to announce an exciting new development with our partners Steal Holdups International and mysterious foreign investor Pho Ni. We have carried out extensive consultation with the local population – ignored their concerns and decided that what’s best for them is to convert the site to 21st century state of the art “community hub” including all the up-to-date amenities that the local populace needs – a nail bar/tanning salon, a bookies, bingo, a chippy and a needle exchange.

We welcome that the futuristic artist’s impression have drawn interest from the local community and in the modern tradition of giving such iconic buildings a nickname such as “The Shard” or  “The Gherkin”  we understand the scheme has been named  by local people as ” Pie In The Sky”

We spoke to local resident who told us : ” It was quite handy for dumping stuff and taking the dog for a quick dump.Yeah you could say it was a dumping ground.But lets face it love , it’s all me arse isn’it?….there’s about as much chance of this happening as Wirral Council being an open,transparent ,fully functioning ,ethical and efficient organisation”

Tax, Cuts & Fat Cats

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As a follow up to our “That’s A Bit Rich…” story we thought we’d like to report on how on how the other half live – the little people who fund the lavish lifestyles and inflated wages of the so-called public servants in Wallasey Town Hall. The people who are hounded for their Council Tax and Bedroom Tax so that this golden shower can indulge in Mayor-making jamborees and golf beanos and far east junkets and lavish refurbishments.

Their creative funding of such indulgences includes the curious tale that Wirral Council has received what is known as a discretionary housing payment of over £900 from a ridiculously named housing association with whom “associations” with the Council go back a long way . The amount paid to the housing association on behalf of a tenant allegedly paid in error has been compliantly handed over to the Council although it is believed that the latter have no legal right to the money as it rightfully belongs to the tenant.

We suspect that this payment has something to do with the dreaded Bedroom Tax – upon which Wirral Council’s stance is simply reprehensible. They may like to blame central government for introducing the tax ( no we won’t call it a spare room subsidy) but fail to emphasise that it is a local government decision on how – or even if – it’s implemented.

Could it be that Wirral’s Labour Council want to play the blame game for political ends and are using vulnerable people as a means to do that?

Thankfully we hail Joe Halewood and his highly informative blog SPeye Joe for keeping us informed on Wirral’s shameful implementation of this Robin Hood in Reverse tax – robbing the poor to pay the rich.

His recent post titled “Wirral’s Labour Council and bedroom tax sophistry” tells you everything you need to know about the Town Hall bedroom tax spin and which strangely doesn’t appear in certain sections of the local press  – SEE HERE

That’s A Bit Rich …

 

Goofy-B-_-LiberaceWhen the Taxpayers Alliance published the top earners at local councils we were very proud  that 11 of Wirral Council’s most esteemed officers made the list. We were happy in the knowledge that they deserve it as they are your betters and they continue to wisely spend your money on really really important things, like erm.. well,… themselves.

 

SEE HERE

 

 As a celebration of such amazing value for money we couldn’t be arsed to ask the Council’s press office what was the justification for such inflated salaries would be – as clearly they’re not performance related!

 

But if we were genuinely going for transparency we’d imagine it would read : “ The salaries are keep us in the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed – from top of the range BMWs to replica football kits to personalised number-plates to an endless supply of snug Ugg boots and packets of fags – we are the L’Oreal of Local Government – because we’re worth it – now please go away with your tiresome Freedom of Information requests and calls for accountability…we’re far too busy spending Council Tax payers money on important stuff. Things such as the Mayor making ceremony , a snip at just £5,000 of YOUR money and the well invested £50,000 on corporate hospitality at the Golf….”
See HERE
Trebles all round ?

 

The Curious Incident of The Dogging in The Night -time

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Now we like normally try to avoid the more lurid and distasteful aspects of modern life at Leaky Towers which we consider to be an enclave of civilisation in an increasingly vulgar world (lets leave Eldritch out of it for the moment). However our critical gaze was drawn to a recent article where a “tired and emotional” couple brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ” street entertainment”

SEE HERE

The article coyly referred to lewd acts performed on the prom in New Brighton and quoted that : “Magistrates heard that the CCTV operator phoned Merseyside Police and provided them with a link to the live feed of the incident…..”

This sordid incident happened in June 2014…..three months after 11 people were made redundant and the CCTV control room was to be closed and overall control passed to Merseyside Police.

However we are led to believe that police controllers neither have the time nor the inclination to monitor all of Wirral’s 110 cameras even after reassuring senior council officers that they could. So who is this lone ranger CCTV operator in the council’s control room?

We are eagerly anticipating that we will be able to find out following a curious Freedom Of Information requesting minutes of a meeting with the discarded CCTV staff and Wirral Council Senior Officers

SEE HERE

A source  states: “This request has obviously hit a nerve as they know what was discussed at this meeting and what grievances the staff put forward including public safety issues and their idea of forward planning which absolutely none of it was implemented apart from the disgusting way they forced us out of our positions…….”

Which sounds to us rather like the hurried uncoupling of the sex romp pair on New Brighton prom !

UPDATE!!!!!

A source writes

“This incident was common viewing amongst the Community Patrol and almost all members of staff have been shown the footage. Some have watched it several times. This is a clear breach of the DPA 1998.

At one point there where five members of staff and a manager all around the viewing console enjoying the movie of the day.
Council staff have also allowed the current agency staff to view this evidential footage.

This alleged breach of data protection really needs full investigation and further opportunities removed immediately.But it will probably be covered up as usual after being investigated by the very ex-plods who have allowed it to happen.

http://ico.org.uk/what_we_cover/taking_action/dp_pecr
The ICO can fine organisations severely depending on the seriousness of the breach.”

The Non Return of Martin – Grrrr!

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And so the ultimate PR prize slips from grasp of Wirral Council as veteran whistle-blower Martin Morton turns down the tempting offer of a return to the house of fun and chooses to take the money and run.

Of course this would of been the ultimate endorsement of the “new” regime if Morton had crawled back with his tail between his legs. A trophy to be cynically displayed at every opportunity like an endangered species bagged by a big game hunter.

So this leaves us with the question of who to believe when it comes to the supposed miraculous transformation of Wirral Council – Morton  (who clearly doesn’t believe a word of it) or Comrade Burgesski/Power Boy Pip and their Local Government  Association lapdogs.

Based on the stories on this blog we know where we’d put our money…….

We must say we find the press reports a tad confusing – for example if there’s a secrecy clause what’s Morton doing blabbing all over the local papers again like someone with a bladder problem?

SEE HERE

AND HERE

Once again we get an unnerving sense that there’s something decidedly unsavoury and unresolved we don’t know about – with Morton mentioning about writing a book and saying : “I know what is going on behind the scenes. It’s not a changed organisation….”

We can only wonder whether he’s heard the Wirralgate tape!

Bizarrely Burgesski  states : “But we are pleased Martin feels the matter has been finalised.”

Really? – it doesn’t sound like it to us!

The King of Wishful Thinking v The Man Who Knew Too Much

Once again we know where our money is going……..

Talking Crap

WIRRALGATE-VOTEFrom this week we all now have a new legal right to tweet, film & blog from council meetings in England.This is known as Right To Report :

http://bit.ly/1mlqjcI

This will mean that belligerent, camera shy Councillors ( that’ll be you Councillor Steve ” No Strike ” Nibbers O’Niblock and Councillor Harry “Crisp Packet” Smith ) will need to have a makeover and be ready for their close-ups courtesy of keen cinematographer John Brace – who has now firmly established himself as Wirral’s answer to Cecil B.De Mille.

In what must have been the last meeting he filmed before it became a legal right Mr.Brace treats us to a recording of a meeting of Birkenhead Constituency Committee held on July 24th 2014 (and from which we have taken the rather delightful still above)

There are 5 parts to this cinematic magnum opus on Youtube but to be perfectly honest we soon got bored of what seemed to be The Frankenfield  Drone Show and found ourselves fast forwarding through the recordings.

 

However it seemed to us that at whatever random point you watched the recordings the Committee was talking crap.

No change there then you might say.

However this time we mean dog crap, fly tipping and dumping.The Committee seemingly confirming  “The Maddox Maxim” ( former Chief Executive Stevie once declaring at a public meeting that all that the people of Wirral were interested in was dog crap).

Not to decry the people of Birkenhead and these may be genuine concerns but we must say that if the level of debate is confined to crap it says something about the limit of the Committee’s ambition.

We also glimpsed Power Boy Pip having a petulant pop at Local Government Minister Eric Pickles’ edict concerning the legitimacy of spending public money on town hall “Pravda” publications.Pip couldn’t understand why they couldn’t go straight to press with all the news about the fabulous work that the Birkenhead Constituency Committee is doing.

 

However could it be that, as yet , there’s actually nothing to put in the newsletter other than decidedly un -alluring pictures of what was described as “dog fouling hot spots” (no,seriously).

 

 Legal spoilsport Two-bit Bore then chipped in that it would be best to check as to whether their Pravda publication proposal was actually legal.

 

They all laughed when Frankenfield suggested that yes that it might be an idea to check on the legal aspects (no doubt the hilarity was ironic as we all know that legalities have not always been a prime concern of Wirral Council)

 

 Other glimpses include a Council Officer genuflecting in the general direction of Frankenfield with the mantra:  “Through you Chair ……through you Chair…..through you Chair”

 

 At this point an exasperated Ladyship groaned : “I know what I’d like to put through the chair ….” and went back to watching her more usual type of  Youtube “Epic Fail” videos.

 

Lift Shafted?

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We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but who exactly is responsible for Wirral Council’s absolutely woeful PR? For illustrative purposes we’d like to juxtapose two stories.

The first story is concerned with the news that the supposedly hard up Council has spent £100,000 on a new lift in Wallasey Town Hall. This just adds to the impression that the only thing that’s changed at Wirral Council is the surface decor which covers a rotten culture.

SEE HERE

The second story is concerned with a disabled man “left prisoner in his own home” due to the fact the council used to pay for lifts and maintenance for those that needed them but new rules meant that maintenance costs have fallen on families. However the costs are so prohibitive that this particular family in this story where unable to cover them.

SEE HERE

Wirral Council have since stepped in and “made an exception” and got the lift fixed. Although we suspect this was only a result of the threat of bad publicity – which frankly is the only thing they seem to respond to.

To add insult to injury we understand that the lift in Wallasey Town Hall is encased in a gleaming glass shaft – but really what is the point when the lift is indoors?.Is this to give visitors a panoramic view of the palatial staircase? Or could it be that it is the only example we know of of the Council’s commitment to ” transparency?”

Wirralgate ! – A History Lesson

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So there we were yesterday enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning in the Leaky Towers boudoir flicking through the  newspapers when Her Ladyship suddenly shrieked  :” Oh my word “Wirralgate” is in The Sunday Times!…..”

I snatched the article from her trembling hands and quickly scanned an article written by journalist Lynn Barber.  I then handed Her Ladyship her bifocals and pointed to the title of the book that was being reviewed and which read : “Watergate: The Hidden History”.

However as I read on I fully understand as to how Her Ladyship might have been mistaken :

Watergate was more then 40 years ago,but it remains journalism’s finest hour – the moment when tireless digging by two investigative reporters brought down a president……..Watergate was by far the most enjoyable political scandal ……because it went on so long and,as in all the best soap operas ,built remorselessly week after week from one jaw-dropping revelation to another……..Thus the great unravelling began……It turned out that all Nixon’s conversations in the Oval Office and in his private office had been recorded…and after a long legal battle,Nixon was forced to release them.This was when “expletive deleted” became part of the language because it cropped up so many times in the transcripts….”  

All we need to add is that we can certainly think of 1 “expletive deleted” that will need to made when the transcript of the Wirralgate tape finally emerges from “the hidden history”.

Having said that we’re not sure as to whether “bloody” counts as an expletive these days.However we are sure that the rest of the sentence containing this word will fully warrant both censoring and censuring. 

Tomorrows Headlines Today !

BY-GEORGE

In time honoured Wirral Council tradition the following headline has been redacted….
CH_HEADLINE

We invite our readers to indulge in some summer time fun and fill in the redactions!

Please mark your entries : Restorative Justice