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 !!!………

Protection Racket

80574135

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

pie-in-the-sky-4

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”