Choirboys

Sing-sing

We really wish that the saintly Frankenfield and the sanctified Power Boy Pip would start singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to the Wirralgate whistleblowing scandal! :

Power Boy Pip  -

” Cllr Davies believes that the Group were trying to use the content of the phone conversation to pressurise him into settling their claim….” ( Page 9 – The Thynne Report (in more ways than one) 20th June 2014)

Frank Field -

‘The debt Wirral owes to those who blew the whistle is considerable’ (Wirral Globe 21st October 2014).

So tell us who are the opportunists here – is it you guys or is it the whistle-blowers?…..

You really need to be working in harmony or it’s all going to end up sounding like a dreadful racket – in every sense.

Shark Attack

Boofuckinghoo

We have long held that working for Wirral Council must be like swimming with sharks

SEE HERE

This is never more so than at the minute – it must be a pretty grim swim in this sub-aquatic food chain trying to avoid the sharks and the shoals of bottom feeders and the pond life.

What’s more the waters appear to be very choppy at the moment  – with the Burgesski “retirement” and two further senior manager resignations ( Head of Paid Services and Director of Resources) and possibly more on the way…….

Is Burgesski finally realising that he may have been a big fish in a small pond ( a mere babbling brook so to speak ) – but he wasn’t the biggest fish swimming in the Wirral Council aquarium……and what’s more it looks like the Fisher of Men sitting outside on the edge has him hook,line and sinker ……..

It seems to us that Burgesski’s retirement is strangely redolent of the demise of former Wirral Council Chief Executive Wee Jimmy Winkle – where once again the sharks got narked over management restructure proposals….and a particular proposal which has resurfaced like the siren’s song echoing across the bay ………….. and has caused more than a few ripples.

We suggest that this could prove to be the longest two months of Burgesski’s life  – but then those who want to make the earth move should eventually expect a tsunami……..

A V- sign 4 V4

eV4-VICTORY

Following on from our latest story about Wirral Council’s profligate spending on consultants darling Verity has been undertaking further research into the consultancy firm V4……….

SEE HERE

Readers will remember that  Cllr Chris “Cross” Meaden authorised  that V4 undertake a 50 grand job that eventually ended up costing Wirral council tax payers a whopping £260,000.

We can only ask ourselves whether you can get an internet connection in Meaden’s Rock Ferry ward as even the most basic search  would have set the alarm bells ringing like Quasimodo on Christmas Day.

Perhaps  “Cross” Chris just relied on the tried and tested “word of mouth” method which as we know is always a winner when it comes to public accountability! . Did she put her faith in elusive Super-Duper Director  Clare “Wet” Fish who we’ve been told used V4 when she was at Oldham Council or did she ask Comrade Burgesski’s fandango dancing wife at  as to whether V4 helped to put Warrington’s leisure services into a trust whilst slashing wages and staff?

However we have asked to focus our attention on a V4 consultant by the name of Peter Kilkenny who we understand was linked to the bumper pay-day consultancy work in Wirral.

SEE HERE

And it would appear from Verity’s research that Kilkenny has a bit of previous ……

Apparently he left his job with Rochdale Link4Life , the arms length organisation that runs council services last year , after allegations of credit card misuse.This included his boss Craig McAteer spending fourteen and a half grand in 12 months on his card including a holiday to Florida (all of the money was apparently paid back). Between the 2 of them they made 65 staff redundant whilst giving themselves massive pay rises.

SEE HERE

It is particularly noteworthy that Rochdale’s Labour MP Simon Danczuk has been extremely scathing of their work in his constituency :

“I am very much of the view that the bosses of this outfit, Craig McAteer and Peter Kilkenny, have been taking the taxpayer for a ride, and I publicly challenged their huge, unjustifiable salaries over a year ago.

So the story that appeared on the front page of the Observer last week, detailing how they had been inappropriately using company credit cards to buy, among other things, a holiday, came as no surprise to me.

This company seems happy to spend taxpayers’ money, yet does not want its spending scrutinised and deliberately avoids transparency. At a time when public spending is being seriously reined in, this culture cannot continue. Quite simply, McAteer and Kilkenny are making a mockery of public services. ..”

SEE HERE

Good call Cllr Meaden!…..a match made in Local Government Hell. Cash strapped and scandal ridden councils are clearly proving to be happy hunting grounds for some.

Coincidentally it should be noted that poor beleaguered Rochdale also deployed the services of Anna Klonowski of Independent Review infamy after North West Employers Organisation recommended her to undertake investigative work in relation to sexual exploitation in the borough – after they in turn had also undertaken work for Wirral Council!

Are people beginning to realise how this self-perpetuating money -making merry go round works yet ?!!

However although Rock Ferry may seem to be an internet dead zone other parts of Wirral have been able to access the above information. Particularly interested have been Wirral Council staff facing redundancy, some of whom, after decades of loyal service, now find their entire futures in the hands of cash-crazed consultants !

Way to go Wirral Council !…..

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!