Give A Little Whistle …….

FRANKY-KNOWS

These are strange times indeed when Frankenfield follows in the footsteps of Tory Tyro Jefferson Green and shows the latter that he is a rank amateur when it comes to politicking by making a very belated reference to a £48,000 under the counter payment to a senior council officer.   SEE HERE

We have to say that we find Frankenfield’s stance on the matter to be most curious and indeed why he suddenly feels the urge to go public on the matter at all.This is seemingly all in aid of securing a similar pay-off for a group of whistleblowers who (for some obscure reason) he particularly likes to court and fete.

Frankie Says: ‘The debt Wirral owes to those who blew the whistle is considerable’

The nature of this “debt”  is just one of many questions we’d like to raise and hope that the only Wirral MP who ever sees fit to comment on, interfere with or, so it seems to us, actually run Wirral Council can clarify once and for all.

What exactly does Wirral “owe” to these particular whistleblowers? From what we’ve read it would appear that they exposed that Wirral Council MAY have flouted EU regulations when it came to a highways contract tender ( which may not be right – but in the steady stream of scandals emanating from Wallasey Town Hall it hardly seems to warrant screaming front page headlines ) ….now we must make it clear that we are NOT decrying whistle-blowers here – everyone knows they are our meat and potatoes and we have followed this intriguing case for some time.All we are saying is that we don’t seem to be getting the full story……in fact we know we aren’t!

For example is Frankenfield now saying that this case is about so much more than exposing a bureaucratic oversight and the Richard Penn “No Case To Answer” report relating to the Colas highways whistleblowing case is BOGUS (we’ve long stated at Leaky Towers that this report was a stitch up).If so can he make a public statement to that fact?

Can he also clarify as to why he is asking Wirral Council to put their hand in the till once again when we understand that this group of whistle blowers didn’t actually work for Wirral Council? Is Frankenfield going to show his new found commitment to whistle blowers and back Nigel ” Highbrow” Hobro who similarly exposed malpractice about which Wirral Council have serious questions to answer , although he too didn’t actually work for the Council?. Furthermore did he support the Wirral Council whistle blower who we know about who was left to rot at home for SEVEN YEARS before being paid off and silenced last year?(yes it would appear that Wirral Council are still gagging people even after Burgesski publicly stated they weren’t)

As with the £48,000 pay off we are asking Frankenfield to identify the heinous treatment that was dished out these whistleblowers that he think warrants such  a pay off.It is our belief that the contentious £48K payment was more “hush money” than for hurt feelings .Is this the case here?.All we can see is that one of the whistleblowers was named in a council report distributed to councillors. Again we need to state that we don’t doubt for a second that these whistleblowers have suffered ( it seems to the fate of all whistle-blowers) but once again we don’t appear to be getting the full story……..

As we stated above , the timing of  Frankenfield’s public pronouncement is most curious and leads us to ask as to what made him want to focus on the senior council officer who suddenly and spectacularly seems to have fallen from favour? Have they served their purpose and – like so many before – are now to be cast aside in the name of political opportunism?  Will there be a flurry of further damaging revelations that will follow in the wake of this opening salvo?

We’d be most grateful that in the PUBLIC INTEREST if Frankenfield  could answer the above questions and particularly in the hope that he’s been listening to his inner Jiminy Cricket………  Let’s see exactly what Frank erm, nose ;) ?

Keeping It Classy

ECHOFAT

Somehow it seems inevitable that considering this year’s incumbent ( think Jim Royle meets Frank Gallagher sans the class)  that the glittering Mayors Ball held at Thornton Hall Hotel was marred by an incident involving a young woman being assaulted. The alleged assailant was an 18 year old man and the matter is now subject to a police investigation.

The incident initially lead us to ask as to what kind of riff raff Foulkesy had invited to the annual fund-raising event.  And then we found out the alleged assailant was his future stepson…………..

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/exclusive-mayor-wirrals-future-stepson-7968885

Also we’d like to ask whether the event is related (no pun intended) to an earlier incident we reported on Wirral Leaks involving two slap happy civic dignitaries?
I think we should be told!….but as Foulkesy and Lainey are keeping tight-lipped we thought we’d just let “justice” take it’s course and hope we don’t get a repeat of what happened with the Tranmere Rovers function suite incident.

Possibly not the first time the Mayors Balls have led to ‘trouble at mill’

Brain Drain

brain

We’ve been reflecting here at Leaky Towers on the departure of Wirral Council Chief Executive Comrade Burgesski. We understand that ” sparks flew” prior to him announcing this departure (the title of the song below says it all ) .And it would seem that even the pleasant times to be had in an exclusive hostelry in Wirral  – which served as the local equivalent to The Clog and Billycock in his previous haunt in Blackburn  – have suddenly lost their appeal.

We were willing to give Burgesski a chance at Wirral Leaks somewhat as you would with the new kid who joins the school that has been put in special measures by Ofsted. However halfway through his first term he threw his old school cap in with the playground bullies ,secured his “permanent” contract and did nothing to address the heart of darkness that still dominates the culture of Wirral Council.

And what a shameful legacy he leaves in his wake – his commentary on the wickedness of central government policy is sickening hypocrisy when compared with Wirral Council’s adherence to these self same policies – the Council’s stance on the Bedroom Tax and Council Tax for the unemployed is absolutely shameful.

In this context it is completely legitimate to compare and contrast the Council’s callous policies impacting on the poor and disabled with the lavish refurbishment of Burgesski’s stately pleasure-dome. His tenure as Chief Executive is characterised as : “Austerity as a means to an end” – in this case the dismantling of public services and punishing the poor and the powerless. Remind us again – is this really a Labour led Council ?

The consensus seems to be that Burgesski won’t be missed. Indeed even Frankenfield made the terse remark about the appointment of a new Chief Executive that  Wirral Council should : ” seize the opportunity and appoint a candidate that would be the “envy of other authorities” As her Ladyship said (brandishing her beautifully manicured talons) : “Meow!!….”

However don’t flatter yourself that the title of this blog refers to you Burgesski. It’s a reference to the fact that Wirral’s brightest and best don’t end up in Brighton Street. Instead we have the zombie-like ” Scouse Contingent” and ” Cheshire Set” who gorge themselves on the cadaver of Wirral Council before driving off in their top of the range cars to the bright lights of Liverpool or the bucolic delights of the Cheshire countryside.
Why should those who have been running/ruining Wirral Council care if Wirral is covered in dog crap and feral gangs roam the streets and special schools are closed and if Wirral Council has an appalling record when it comes to the vulnerable and disabled ?.They simply don’t live here and their decisions don’t impact on their well padded existences “out of borough”

Talking of well padded – remember Foulksey’s infamous quote that Wirral having a declining population was a good thing? ( there’s plenty more memorable quotes from Foulksey coming up very soon in a Wirral Leaks Special Report ……). Somebody needs to tell him that any young Wirralian with any foresight or potential or integrity will get themselves as far away from Wallasey Town Hall as they can.

Memo to the Mayor: This is NOT a good thing.

By the way before you go Burgesski – any news on the Golf Resort or Wirral Waters ? (no thought not). Which reminds us will Burgesski be taking the picture of Stella Shiu that adorns his ante-room and other useless items with him ? – no sorry Comrade , you can’t take the Super-Duper Directors with you!…..

RPT : Redacted ,Protracted & Traduced

 AREPEAT
“We wanted justice but you wouldn’t give it to us” – Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro
Now we’ve made no secret of the fact that at times we have found the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods whistleblowing case hard to fathom (and 600 + page Committee reports don’t help) However we do know that when we hear Wirral Council using the dreaded phrase “lessons have been learned” we know that something has gone badly awry.
Therefore when Her Ladyship told me that history was repeating itself and tied me to the wingback chair in the library I first thought we were re-enacting our wedding night. However she was just ensuring that I sat through a recording of the finale of the long drawn out saga fronted by indomitable whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro and his Aussie mate James Griffiths by showing me a recording of Wednesday’s Audit and Risk Mendacity Committee (we’re not saying that ARMC are mendacious but we are claiming that this committee has experienced enough “misleading statements” in it’s time).
We’re grateful for the fact that the recording and incisive commentary by John Brace on his blog saved us the trouble of looking at the back of  Burgesski’s head ( fashion tip from Her Ladyship: Comrade needs a haircut)……..
 So from his usual observation point on the front row the ever perceptive Mr.Brace drew parallels with the infamous Morton whistleblowing case which still casts a long,dark shadow over council proceedings. This suggests that once again that the “lessons learned” by Wirral Council warrant an F for Fail.
Certainly the redacted reports and protracted investigations reminded us of past misdemeanours although such was the welter of evidence produced by Hobro that the “No Case To Answer” stamp failed to materialise for once.The meeting itself seemed to be a bit of a fractious affair overseen by a charming new council officer/councillor double act : Tetchy Tour and Crabby Crabtree
Indicative of  the opposing viewpoints on display was the matter of a particularly contentious Internal Audit report which according to Burgesski “needed further work” whilst Hobro described it as a “pathetic piece of work” ( although we’re not sure whether he meant the report or the author !)………However we must refrain from such honestly held opinions as Burgesski doesn’t take kindly to council staff (past or present) being “traduced on social media” (!)  – funny how Burgesski doesn’t seem quite so animated on council officers being “traduced” by councillors ( but let’s not go there for the time being)  or council officers traducing whistleblowers.Perhaps he was concerned he’d have to whip out the cheque book again if someone’s feelings were hurt.” If only that cheque book could talk ! ….” sniped Her Ladyship , to which I retorted ” If that cheque book could talk it would be bound to be gagged”.
The general conclusion was that , yes ,mistakes were made ,nobody’s perfect,we’re moving forward etc;etc;etc when it came to dubious business practices and lax accounting and auditing processes which were supposed to be overseen by Wirral Council.
The people who ended up in hospital,losing their business and getting County Court judgements made against them – were forgotten about in a buck-passing masterclass – from Wirral Council to auditors Grant Thornton to Merseyside Police to North West Development Agency (with whom there are some interesting past associations) and back again.” It was before my time….” was a familiar refrain heard during the meeting.
The £46,000 payment to the former Chief Internal Auditor wasn’t before your time though was it Comrade?
As we’ve already reported the day after this meeting Burgesski announced his retirement so it seems that having once declared  : “We’ve won the war now it’s time to win the peace” it would appear that he no longer has the stomach for the fight.
And who can blame him?………there’s a H-bomb on the horizon.
H is for Hubris.

 

Bye Bye Burgesski !

GOOFY-ESCAPES

 

And so with tedious inevitably comes the announcement that another Wirral Council Chief Executive bites the dust.

SEE HERE

Of course knowing what we know it comes as no surprise to us here at Leaky Towers that Comrade Burgesski will be heading for the beautifully appointed fire escape just before the great political conflagration engulfs Wallasey Town Hall once and for all.

Somehow we suspect that despite the praise emanating from Power Boy Pip and co that Burgesski will not be eulogised in quite the same way that former Chief Executive Steve “Mad Dog” Maddox was on the announcement of his sudden departure to spend more time with his long suffering golf clubs.

Will it be an OBE and Freedom of the Borough of Wirral for the man who allegedly turned Wirral Council around into the model of efficiency it now so clearly is ( honest guv) after a series of scandals?………..

We humbly suggest that a fitting tribute in honour of Burgesski’s tenure would be a revolving door fitted to the Chief Executive’s office !

Futile and Redundant

FUTILESo Wirral Council , how’s that “Future Council”  thingy going for you?.
Or as Wirral Leaks fan “Santa” says in our comments section  : “More like Futile Council ……”
SEE HERE

Well from our metaphorical bulging postbag it would appear that any dreams of a future utopia are turning into the usual Wirral Council nightmare.

Firstly we’ve had many concerns raised about the “Future Council” consultation (aka stitch up) itself – mainly about how on earth are members of the public meant to decide on “options” (aka cuts)  when it’s clear that  proposals are far from an “informed choice”.
It seems to many people that council officials still haven’t completed their jobs when it comes to consultations,reviews,costings and alternative services or indeed whether there should be services at all. Surely there’s a basic understanding and degree of knowledge about services required before anyone could decide where the axe should fall?

Whilst idly flicking through the Future Council consultation document Her Ladyship commented : ” Can somebody tell me what “Youth Zone” is ?…..it sounds like an advertisement for Clearasil.” Similarly we all thought “Girtrell Court” was a stately home until we read that it was a  ‘short break’ respite service for adults with disability with 20 beds. Yes, it sounds like a valuable service but otherwise we’re none the wiser.

If Wirral Council was truly committed to “consulting”  Council Tax payers shouldn’t it be consulting on fundamental principles and leaving the policy decisions to politicians and the implementation of these policies to council officers? Surely that’s what they’re there for?

For example only last week Cllr Chris ” Meany” Meaden decreed that former British Army personnel who had previously had concessionary passes to Wirral’s leisure facilities were to be withdrawn unless the former servicemen and woman could prove they had a disability or condition that had arisen out of their army service. Meaden said that ex-armed forces personnel were to be “punished” (her words) because the scheme had been exploited by scam merchants who had joined the Territorial Army and then received a dishonourable discharge after a week  – supposedly so they could get a free pass to gyms and swimming pools. The question of who was responsible for drawing up such a pathetic eligibility criteria in the first place wasn’t discussed.

Why wasn’t this matter consulted on?

Similarly were the people of Wirral consulted on £35 million worth of loans  at “mates rates” made by Wirral Council to other Labour  Councils.

A keen local eagle-eyed inquisitor has discovered  that “investments” current at 31 March 2014 were :

Doncaster £2m @ 0.8%

Lancashire £6m @ 0.75%

Northumberland £6m @ 0.75%

Newcastle on Tyne £2m @ 1.8%

OR

Current investments at 31 July 2014 i.e. ignoring those that have matured since 31/03/14

Lancashire £6m @ 0.75%

Newcastle on Tyne £2m @ 1.8%

However further investigation by our eagle -eyed investigator discovered that  :

“Lancashire and Newcastle on Tyne lend out money as part of enterprise schemes I have confirmed that Lancashire (borrow from Wirral at 0.75%) lend at 6.2%.I have confirmed that Newcastle on Tyne (borrow from Wirral at 1.8%) lend at 9.9%.
These figures show what Wirral gets in interest from the other authorities, (very low).
I asked ‘what rate of interest did they charge their borrowers’?
Those I mentioned, Lancashire and Newcastle charge their borrowers more than five times the rate they pay back to Wirral. Doesn’t seem a very fair deal for Wirral taxpayers”

Do the people of Wirral know they are seemingly “subbing” other Councils, effectively at a loss – as they would surely get higher interest rates elsewhere – whilst locally services are being cut and jobs are being lost?

Talking of which we’re getting a lot of concerns being raised by Council staff facing redundancy. Seems like it’s the usual horrorshow – incompetent managers making up the redundancy “consultation”process as they go along. Which reminds us haven’t consultancy firm Ernst & Young been paid over £400,000 since April 2014 to assist with the culling, sorry redundancy, process?

Meanwhile the corporate game players are in their element with nepotism and self preservation being , quite literally, the order of the day.
Council staff are telling us the redundancy process is “unfair”,”shocking”,”flawed”,”callous”,”discriminatory”
(and these are the good points!)
All Wirral Leaks can think to say to council staff is that you can’t say you haven’t been warned! And anyway you’ve always got your unions to support you! ……..ha!ha!

Seems to us your choice is known by the Eldritch-like acronym FIFO – ” Fit In or Fuck Off”!!

Consultant Insults

CONSUL

Wirral Leaks has been for some time highlighting the worrying situation of Wirral Council hiring highly paid consultants at exorbitant rates whilst at the same time explaining how services must be cut and staff need to be made redundant and anyway it’s all the governments fault.

Wirral Council’s use of consultants seems to be for 3 reasons :

1) For when they’re in a hole of their own making – “Here’s a shed-load of money if you write any old flannel as long as the conclusion is – “No case to answer” !

2) Absolve the Council of responsibility for decision-making  – ” It was the independent,external consultant who recommended that we cull half of our workforce and lay waste to public services.We didn’t want to really ,honestly…..”

3) Compensate for the sheer ineptitude and negligence of  council officers on megabuck salaries who seem to have absolutely no idea what they’re bloody doing!  – As her Ladyship said ” If I was on a life raft and reliant on a full set of chief officers for survival I think I’d throw myself overboard and take my chances with the sharks”

The latest beneficiaries of the Wirral Council runaway gravy train are a consultancy firm by the name of V4 who have given Wirral Council the V-sign and been paid £260,000 for what was initially a £50,000 job – SEE HERE

Nice work if you can get it and you can get it when Wirral Council officers and councillors are simply not up to the job and where it’s always amateur hour!.

Despite this work being authorised by Labour cabinet member Cllr.Chris Meaden , Power Boy Pip displays  his renowned leadership skills and plays pass the parcel by claiming  that the issue “concerns officers”. We were also interested to read about this case that “delegated powers” to  Wirral Councillors allow payment of monies up to the value of £50,000. That’ll explain the £48,000 for “hurt feelings” then!  – ” Let’s keep it just under £50,000 and we’ll throw in a couple of packets of Benson & Hedges”.

Finally Wirral Leaks would like to offer some advice to Wirral Council staff currently facing redundancy who fancy a piece of the action.

A guide on how to become a Wirral Council consultant is helpfully set out on the ever illuminating Wirral In it Together blog:

SEE HERE
The steps are:

1. Prove yourself “useful” to Wirral Council
2. Nab a 12 month contract
3. Set up a consultancy company
4. Think of a number – treble it and there you have your daily rate (£515 in this case)
5. Get your contract extended (with or without councillor scrutiny).
6. Trebles all round!

No Future Council

Vicious and Rotten ? It’s ‘No Fun’

FUTURE COUNCILWhich I’m sure you’ll all agree is a mightily impressive logo!

We don’t know who came up with this masterpiece of graphic design but we’re guessing it was a Friday afternoon job. However whoever is responsible for it we’re sure they had fun putting out the subliminal message that the Future of Council/Wirral is Green. Now we don’t know whether they mean the Green Party or the golf resort or even Jefferson himself but everything’s gone green.

Of course we brought you news some time ago that Future Council was coming our way – so we’ve endeavored to do some further research on your behalf.

After we were treated to a video of Comrade Burgesski on the Wirral Globe website looking about as comfortable as soggy undercrackers and explaining how the budget is as tight as Cllr Tony Norbury’s suits we thought we’d check out the consultation pack where Burgesski helpfully explains  :

“The Council has conducted a comprehensive review into all of its services. Every part of the Council has been scrutinised to ensure every pound is spent effectively and every service is as efficient as it can possibly be.
This project is called ‘Future Council……”

My how we laughed here at Leaky Towers at reading claims of  scrutiny ,effectiveness and efficiency at Wirral Council –  and the portentous tone that goes with it.
” This project is called Future Council …” sounds like something a Dr.Who alien would say just before they pressed a button to blow up a distant planet.

In the consultation document Burgesski front-loads the big scary numbers in his introduction like some kind of megalomaniac bingo caller – £100 million!, £ 70 million!, £57 million ! – but basically he’s asking the people of Wirral to decide upon where the axe should fall in achieving  £2.5 million cuts to public services (out of a total of £18 million worth of budget reductions.)

Although the consultation document explains that 300 Council jobs are going to have to go it doesn’t explain as to why – so we did a bit of number – crunching of our own and came up with this suggestion:

£10 million : “We have also agreed to restructure every Council department to reduce our employee costs by almost £10 million, which is part of a decision (and a saving) agreed last year. While the impact upon residents from these changes will be reduced, saving £10 million in employee costs means, in effect, around 300 Wirral Council jobs will be lost – hopefully mostly on a voluntary redundancy basis…”

£10 million : The amount of toxic debt which Wirral Council had to write off last year as a result of  incompetence and dishonesty of council managers and the negligence and lack of scrutiny by councillors.  We advice council employees to remember this comparison when they receive their redundancy notices   –  SEE HERE

However it’s not all doom and gloom – there’s low comedy to be had throughout the consultation document. For example it’s as if there’s someone digging Burgesski in the ribs and telling him to intermittently include something about how much the Council cares for the vulnerable (despite all evidence to the contrary)

Bullshit Bingo fans will enjoy the use of the words  “outsource” “robustly” and “hub” .

Whilst lovers of Spot the Gobbledygook will cherish this particular example : “Assets  – Delivering the consolidated asset requirements of the services, enabling key service changes through the rationalisation and future proofing of the asset base”

However praise be to the comic genius who came up with this :” The workforce and elected members of Wirral Council are public servants. We are here to serve the people of Wirral and that will not change. What must change is how we serve you. Meeting our duty as public servants means finding the best, most cost effective way of improving residents’ quality of life…..”

Satire at it’s finest!

“Cold & Bureaucratic” – The Closure of Lyndale School

beuaracy

And so with heartbreaking and crushing inevitability comes the news that Wirral Council’s Labour Cabinet has voted unanimously to close Lyndale School.
A special school which taught and supported some of Wirral’s most vulnerable children who have a multitude of complex needs.

Remember the Council’s pledge to protect the most vulnerable in the wake of damning reports criticising how they treated disabled people? Remember the “What Really Matters?” consultation where the people of Wirral said they wanted the Council to protect our most vulnerable citizens?  Remember how Director of Childrens Services Julia “No” Hassall said she was “minded” to close Lyndale School last November?

The same Julia Hassall who claimed at the Cabinet meeting that compared to the desperate pleas of the parents and staff speaking on behalf of the children they loved and cared for she sounded “cold and bureaucratic”.

“Cold and bureaucratic” doesn’t come close to describing the sham of a consultation, the dragging on the usual highly paid “independent consultant” Lynn “Wrong &” Wright ,the shameless going through the motion of listening to parents and staff and petitions and the “we know best” decisions made behind closed doors.

In other words the usual “bureaucratic machinations” which have plagued Wirral Council for years and continue to do so – and all to the detriment of Wirral’s citizens and particularly when it’s concerned with the treatment of disabled children.

Finally  we implore you to remember the names of the Cabinet members making the decision to close Lyndale School and particularly the one Councillor who we feel is simply not fit to hold public office , let alone make a decision significantly affecting the lives of people who he clearly regards merely as a means to pay his Council expenses.

Green Smear Campaign

SMEARY

Congratulations once again to Tranmere/Birkenhead Green Councillor Pat Cleary – you really know when you’ve arrived on the local political scene when the local “Labour “party “big hitters” start a smear campaign.

So having taken out one of “Labour’s” Inner Ring ( Bri “Nylon” Kenny) at the last local elections it was only a matter of time before the “Labour” group demonstrated that they’re green with envy at Cleary’s success at engaging with local communities and articulating what his party stands for…… something which , in their complacency , the “Labour” group seem to have given up on.

A “Labour Party” flyer sent out by a clear(l)y rattled Power Boy Pip and Frankenfield  screams “Vote Green – Get Blue” like a petulant,spoilt child who hasn’t grown up in 25 years and is used to getting it’s own way.

Our sage advice to Cllr Cleary is not to worry – believe us this isn’t the first smear campaign the “Labour” power elite have organised against a Green !!!………