A Fair Cop

 

Fair Cop

Don’t know about you guys but we’re lovin’ the run up to the local elections and now the Merseyside Police Commissioner election also to be held on May 5th  just got a whole lot more interesting.

The news arrives out of the blue (or should that be the boys in blue) that Wirral Councillor David Burgess -Joyce was allegedly sacked from his job with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) for gross misconduct in 2013.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/revealed-tory-who-wants-85k-11270594

Proving once again you really couldn’t make this shit up Cllr B-J is needless to say the Tory candidate for the Merseyside Police Commissioner election!.

Now whenever we’ve had an idle moment we try to catch up on Wirral Council proceedings from Wallasey Town Hall via John Brace’s video recordings and whenever we’ve watched them Her Ladyship and I have always asked each other who on earth was that preening, self -regarding pompous windbag  who with faux sincerity talked ever -so – slowly – and – in – a -way – that – made – you – think – that -what -he-was -saying – was – ever – so- important – and – profound – when -really – it -was – the – usual – mix -of -blather – and – BS.

And now we know – Mr B-J !!!

For us there are other interesting aspects to this story printed on Labour Day in the Liptrot Echo – not least that if  Cllr B-J was sacked in 2013 ( there’s a bit of difference between the National Crime Agency and B-J’s version of events) why is it being reported in the “public interest”  a few days before the 2016 Merseyside Police Commissioner election?.

Even more interestingly we have Liverpool Council’s Mayor Joe Anderson calling for B-J’s  resignation as a Wirral Councillor and surprisingly not Wirral Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies.

But then as we know Power Boy Pip is in no position to call for anyone’s resignation at the moment as he has more than a few skeletons of his own rattling round in the cupboard !.

 

 

 

 

Campaign Fail

 

Labour leaflet 009

The Wirral Labour local election campaign team were out in force in New Brighton yesterday delivering the above leaflet…

As you can see the campaign leaflet is for prospective New Brighton Labour candidate Tony Jones.

Now I know we’re often told we should judge people by the company that they keep but we’ll put that consideration to one side as Tony seems a nice smiley chappy and was apparently former Head of Lifeguard Service.

So what’s the problem you might ask ?

There’s only one problem and that there’s no legal imprint showing name of agent, candidate or printer on the leaflet .

Again you might ask what’s the big deal?

Well for a start the Electoral Commission takes these things very seriously. Section 143 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 introduced a new requirement for all election material to bear the name and address of the printer, promoter and the name and address of any person on behalf of whom material is being published (and who is not the promoter). A candidate or election agent contravening this provision is guilty of an illegal practice.

The Electoral Commission explains the purpose of the imprint requirements in Section 4.33 of its guidance for candidates and agents :

The intention of imprint requirements is to enable anyone to trace the person responsible for the material , for example in case of any complaint or query about its content .There is no requirement for an imprint address to be a home address , as long as it is somewhere the person can be contacted . It could for example, be an office address.

The Wallasey Labour Party email address on the leaflet will not suffice for this purpose as Section 4.34 states:

An email address is not acceptable as an imprint address because it is not a physical address, and it is possible to create one using false or fictitious details 

The Commission stresses in its guidance that the consequences of a breach of the requirements are serious and advises that if it is believed that an offence relating to imprints has been committed this should be brought to the attention of the police. If the promoter of the material or any other person by whom the material is so published or the printer of the document commits an offence, they are liable to a fine of up to £5,000.

As a prospective councillor we’re not trying not to be too critical of Tony Jones himself here but we do question the experienced politicians who are supposed to be supporting him. Unfortunately some of these amateurs currently run and want to continue to run the council.

 

Mr. Jones – clearly already familiar with Wirral Council lingo- offered up in his leaflet  “My 6 Pledges for New Brighton ” which includes at Number 1 :

1. I will run a positive election campaign

Perhaps he should have started with  ” I will run a legal campaign”.

We understand that the matter has been reported to Wirral Council’s Returning Officer Eric Robinson . We should now expect him to report the matter to Merseyside Police or as our source writes  : “Or maybe not……..”

However we ‘d advise our readers to stay tuned to Wirral Leaks for further progress on this matter and particularly about the roles and responsibilities of the Returning Officer which we think will be of particular interest !.

 

Big Hitters

Companies house 011

What was that phrase that Wirral Council bandied about to absolve themselves of any responsibility when the much heralded Stella Shiu/ Peel Group  Wirral Waters International Trade Centre  sank without trace ?  – Ah! yes , they’d undertaken “due diligence” .

“That’s a first” trilled Her Ladyship.

Based on subsequent events we can only presume “due diligence” didn’t include Googling Shiu to get some useful background information!.

Consequently we’ve been asked whether we have any info about Wirral Council’s “preferred development partner” for the proposed Hoylake Golf Resort – Nicklaus Joint Venture Group Limited  – and exactly what is Jack Nicklaus’ role in the scheme.

From what we’ve discovered so far it seems to us that Nicklaus has licensed his name and Skyped a message over from the States praising  Hoylake’s famous micro-climate . Hoylake has a micro-climate – who knew? . Judging by this week’s weather we can only presume he means golf ball size hailstones in late April.

 

So we thought we’d  find out about the big hitters who Wirral Council are investing so much hope in and check out the Nicklaus Joint Venture Group Limited  (NJVG) at Companies House.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxrkIjRDgrB-TnhlLTVWZjJqOWc/view?ts=57191ab1

It was less than reassuring to see that the big hitters behind the venture have invested an underwhelming  £1,000 in the company. Of the 1000 shares -a mere 50 quids worth are owned by  Nicklaus Design LLC.

However this is an entirely sensible approach as potential investors obviously need reassuring that the not inconsiderable obstacles of planning and conservation regulations in general and those relating to the Green Belt in particular can be overcome.

At least the people behind NJVG seem to have a track record of undertaking such a project  when they set up the Pentre Nicklaus Village over a decade ago.

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/business/business-news/nicklaus-village-homes-demand-2476840

What is also apparent is that the Hoylake Golf Resort proposals seem to very much follow the pattern of  Pentre Nicklaus Village  project which incorporated a housing development alongside a golf course.

Indeed it seems that the only way of making the  Hoylake Golf Resort project viable is by building 150+ luxury homes on Green Belt land. With Wirral Council having already spent an estimated £275,000 on consultants trying to make this scheme stack up it would seem that they think this is a sacrifice worth making. This all begs the question as to whether the real aim (and moneyspinner) here is the housing development and whether the golf resort is the means of achieving that aim.

Passport Renewal

 

Passport Renewal

A – Award  B – Budget Cuts  C – Campaign

Press release:

GIVE US BACK OUR STOLEN PASSPORTS!

Over the last 17 years, staff leaving Wirral Council with over 25 years’ service have been given long service awards. 412 of these retiring employees opted for a Passport for Life, giving them free or discounted access to Wirral’s Leisure Centres.

On the 1st April, the Council withdrew these passes, as part of its Budget savings, without seeking the consent of the passport holders.

Unsurprisingly, this met with an angry response from former staff, who were firmly of the view that an award for life should mean just that, and only expire on the death of the holder.

A campaign group has been established, consisting of about 30 people affected by the Council’s decision. We are determined to fight this injustice until the passports are re-instated.

The group is looking at all avenues to challenge and expose this mean-spirited withdrawal of our long-service awards. We see this as a massive insult to the 412 Passport holders who have given well over 10,000 years of combined service to the Council. This was an Award, freely given, within the terms of our service conditions, presented by the Mayor in an award ceremony, in accordance with a policy which states that “the Council recognises and values the contributions of all its employees and acknowledges the importance of rewarding its long serving employees.” As such the awards were ours to keep for life. We want them back!

Anyone interested in joining the campaign should contact norman.meddle@btopenworld.com

Vote for X

Vote X

 

The 103 candidates up for 23 council seats in Wirral’s 22 wards have been announced:

https://www.wirral.gov.uk/sites/default/files/all/Elections%20and%20voting/2016-05-05election/sopn-local-election-20160505.pdf

For us one name in particular stood out on the ballot sheet .

Let’s call them Councillor X  (although there are quite a few other things we’d like to call them including  ex-councillor).

Unlike Wirral Council we wouldn’t want to interfere or influence the democratic process by naming Councillor X .However we have grave concerns that Wirral Council officials have colluded with the likely election of someone who should have been suspended from public duties a long time ago.

Labour Councillors  Jim Crabtree and Louise Reecejones must feel particularly aggrieved at their suspensions as judged on what we know about the allegations made against them they don’t come anywhere near the seriousness of the malpractice that has been alleged against Councillor X.

Although these allegations have been duly investigated you’d think if it was the usual “no case to answer” that the matter could be forgotten about and we could get off our ballot box.

The report into the conduct of Councillor X (and others) was completed long ago. However the Standards Panel where it was to be discussed has shamefully been subject to delay after delay after delay thus enabling Councillor X to stand at the forthcoming local elections with an unblemished record when it comes to upholding the seven principles of public life. Nice to know that Wirral Council are enabling voters to make an informed choice about who they’re voting for isn’t it?.

The apparent reason for these delays was the unavailability of a representative from one particular political party and yet , making no comment on the the emotive issue that they were discussing , the members of that same political party all managed to attend a Cabinet meeting held today at Wallasey Town Hall. We also know that councillors who are not members of the Cabinet will be leafleting , electioneering and generally gladhanding the general public and reassuring them that they models of personal and public probity…..and yet not one of them could find time to attend a meeting to consider the most shameful episode in Wirral Council history before the local elections – funny that isn’t it?. ….and the joke is most certainly on Wirral’s voters.

Eulogy for Jimbo

 

Jimbo

Jimbo gets a cuddly companion to help him through those sleepless nights.

 

Readers will recall a story we published last month which concerned outgoing Wirral Councillor Jim “Crabby” Crabtree where we reported that in the wee small hours the clearly troubled former Chair of Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee implored Dr Robert Smith – an intrepid local champion of public accountability –  to make some enquiries about recent refurbishment costs at Wallasey Town Hall.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/03/02/dark-night-of-the-soul/

After being cast to the wilderness by his Labour Party colleagues and cast aside for a newer and posher interloper in the shape of PR upstart Martin Liptrot(sky)  , Crabtree seemingly saw fit to (belatedly) dish the dirt and describe the refurbishment costs as “absolutely disgusting”.

The postscript to this sorry story is that Dr. Robert did indeed make the enquiries requested by Crabtree .This enables us to learn that the refurbishment costs for Liptrotsky’s office amount to £5,666. Not a princely sum in the scheme of things but the significance for us lies in what it symbolises – that despite pleading poverty the powers that be will always find money for their cronies.

Dr.Robert extends the courtesy of replying to Jimbo (and indeed all Wirral Councillors) with his findings – something that Wirral Council often fail to reciprocate. We think his response printed below serves as a fitting farewell to Crabtree as he slinks off to well deserved political obscurity. We can only hope that he spends some time reflecting on some of the things he was happy to go along with when he was part of a poisonous political cabal and whether it’s hypocritical that he should only start complaining about questionable practices when he’s no longer in a privileged , protected position of power now occupied by the likes of Liptrotsky.       

 

Dear Councillor Crabtree

Further to your 2.35am early-morning enquiry of 2nd March, I am now able to answer your question. 
 
I paste in your original email here as a little time has passed in the interim.
 
“You need to ask how much it cost the council tax payer for the building work on the Members Room not just labour party members but tory and liberal members room for lip trots room refurbishing? absolutely disgusting”
 
I understand that the original estimate for the work was around £3,000, but I have been advised that the final cost for the building work was £5666.00 (roughly 89% over estimate). 
 
I do share your concern for this (and other) expenditure of Council Taxpayers’ money for an individual still functioning as an ‘activist’ with a number of potential conflicts of interest, whilst employed in a politically-restricted post. In my opinion, if a political party wishes to benefit directly from a very specific individual’s employment, as opposed to the public of the borough benefitting, spending public money on this scheme, and his remuneration (now apparently for 5 years) is entirely inappropriate.
 
I am sure that you will agree, given your obvious concerns.
 
It is a worry and obviously troubling enough to keep you awake at night hence the time of your original email; but I have to say I do understand and that this kind of issue, related to Wirral Council, has also caused me some sleepless nights.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Dr Robert B Smith

The Eagle Has Landed In Hot Water

Angela eagle

OOPS!

Oh dear ! – pardon the mixed metaphor but Wallasey MP Angela Eagle seems to have dipped her toes in the local political waters and had her fingers burnt.

Apparently taking to Facebook to announce to the world that that she had succeeded in getting one of her constituent’s ‘Passport for Life” concessionary leisure pass reinstated and including a photo of a letter sent from Wirral Council to her stating that they would be in touch with her constituent them to tell them the good news !…..

When this fact was brought to Super Duper Director Clare “Wet” Fish  she was adamant that this was not the case and there has not been a restoration of a ‘Passport for Life’ for any former member of Wirral council staff . Therefore in what seems to be yet another case of right hand meet left hand  Fish was forced into making the embarrassing  confession that :

” inaccurate information was provided in error to Angela Eagle MP for which the Council has apologised ” – Oops!

Obviously Ange’s post on Facebook has now been removed as this apparently was the original link :

https://www.facebook.com/angela4labour/photos/a.10153154066400316.1073741827.219217080315/10156731583340316/?type=3&theater

Meanwhile our advice to Ange would be to leave meddling in Wirral Council matters to the monster , sorry , master – Birkenhead MP Frankenfield. For example he provides a masterclass in dissembling in an article published earlier this week in the Liverpool Echo. Wading into the row over the future of Byrne Avenue baths site Frankie says Wirral Council must  “be careful with every pound of taxpayers’ money………..I am not prepared to speculate on the possibility of a group coming up trumps on Byrne Avenue when the risk of failure would mean that £400,000 was taken away from care that is being delivered to elderly people, or the council’s attempts to save the lives of vulnerable children.”

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/birkenhead-mp-steps-row-over-11216111

You’ve got to admire the sheer chutzpah of  Frankenfield as he somehow reconciles Wirral Council having to be careful with taxpayers’ money so they can care for the elderly infirm and the “starving mites” with asking them to pay for work from his mates Nick and Tony or as he tries to box off the Wirralgate scandal using council taxpayers cash!.

Clearly Ange has a lot to learn from Frankenfield when it comes to the carefully constructed public representation as a champion of the people.

 

The Gift That Doesn’t Keep On Giving

 

Wirral Council  sinking

Wirral Council – A fish out of water when it comes to fairness. Consequently also out of the water is everyone who had a ‘Passport for Life’ leisure centre concession !.

 

The transcript below is a letter from Wirral Council Super Duper Director Clare Fish received by one of the retirees who has had their ‘Passport for Life’ leisure centre concession rescinded. An anonymised copy of the letter can be accessed here :

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxrkIjRDgrB-cTFmV0RXNUh2WXhjRkdKUUw1S3hVYTkxcUpV/view?ts=57177f29

As we predicted when we wrote on Monday that we looked forward to receiving a copy of the letter and commenting on the tortuous explanation for this latest debacle it wasn’t long before a copy winged its way over to Leaky Towers.

And indeed there is a tortuous explanation – constrained financial circumstances blah blah blah , financial challenges blah blah  blah, balanced legal budget blah blah blah . However Ms.Fish doesn’t put this in context of Chief Executive  Stressed Eric Robinson’s massive pay rise or fellow ex-Super-Duper Director Kevin Adderley’s golden pension pot or indeed her own six figure salary. Oh no this explanation doesn’t apply to the likes of them it only applies to the “little people” .

The crucial line of the explanation is that  It is the Council’s view that the provision of a long service award did not give rise to a contractual arrangement. It was a gift awarded in recognition of service. 

Here Fish seems to want to have her fishcake and eat it too . Firstly by establishing that there was no contractual obligation to maintain ‘Passport for Life’ although some of the retirees who have contacted us maintain that it is referenced in Wirral Council’s Staff Handbook and therefore reasonable to assume as part of an employment contract. There is also the matter of consideration (essential for a valid contract) – a gift awarded in recognition of service ( 25 bloody years of it!) – would seem to fit the bill . Then if there was no contract and the ‘Passport for Life’ was a gift shouldn’t a gift be irrecoverable?. Isn’t the taking back of a gift simply an act of theft?

What worries us more generally is that Fish is claiming that the matter was consulted on . However this was part of one of those bogus consultation exercises where the entire population of Wirral are encouraged to chip in on – mostly on matters they know absolutely nothing about  ( “ I don’t know what a respite care centre is Derek but shall we say yes to closing that one ?” –  ” I suppose so Mavis as we said no to the last consultation question   and what’s more the socio-economic , political and ideological considerations involved in making a decision which has no impact on my everyday life is giving me a migraine “).

This so called “formal” consultation exercise is being used as a get out for unilaterally withdrawing the ‘Passport for Life’ without  consulting and agreeing with the 414 people who were directly affected by the move.

We’re left wondering whether if a consultation was organised to reduce the pay of Wirral Council senior managers  by 50%  I’m sure we all could all predict the outcome. And we’re doubly sure this would lead Robinson, Blott , Fish et al crying foul and waving their contracts of employment in our face !. But they’re different. These highly paid fly by nights matter .The long -serving and/or long suffering people who keep them in a well paid job seemingly don’t.

Thank you for your email correspondence to Sports and Recreation dated 28 Mach (sic) 2016.

I acknowledge and appreciate that the decision to remove the concessionary access to Leisure Centres is a disappointing one for you.

Unfortunately, given the current and future constrained financial circumstances affecting the Council, it was necessary to consider a number of savings options in order to meet that financial challenge. This included a decision to remove the concessionary access to Leisure Centres which was taken following formal consultation. The effect of this decision removes many of the discounts and free access to the Council’s leisure facilities which we previously offered.  This includes ending free access to the facilities for former council staff, to foster carers and their families, and free swimming for under 18s during school holidays and over 65s between 9am and 12pm.  

The Council has carefully considered its legal positon (sic) in relation to the removal of the concessionary access to Leisure Centres.    It was a gift awarded in recognition of service.

The Council has had to make increasingly difficult decisions to meet its financial challenges.  The Council has had to make savings of more than £150m over the past five years and is required to make further savings of £130m by 2020.  The Council is under a legal obligation to pass a balanced legal budget each year.

The Council’s leisure centre operations currently require financial support of over £4 million every year over and above any income generated in order to meet the operating costs. The Council needed to take steps to help redress this financial position, hence the removal of the concessionary access to Leisure Centres and other discounts and free access.

A number of former employees have asked if it is possible to select one of the alternative Long Service Award options that were available at the time of leaving. Unfortunately, as you had selected the leisure pass and had the benefit of using it for a period of time, the Council is not in a position to retrospectively offer another option.

Should you require any more information regarding leisure passes, please visit our website at www.wirral.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely

Clare Fish

Strategic Director – Families & Wellbeing

The Shame Game

IMG_0268

 

It is after our post on Friday in which we visited some local eyesores

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/host-town/

that once again we find that coverage on this blog is the means by which some action is finally taken to clear up the mess. A local resident has been in touch to thank us and provide the picture above taken today on Borough Road, Birkenhead. As you can see the above picture paints an altogether different scene than that which they had previously taken and which we published on Friday :

Host 010

 

After complaining to Wirral Council to no avail about fly-tipping and general dereliction in their neighbourhood it only takes a few shaming pictures to us and lo and behold the situation is sorted first thing the following week  , as clearly someone with the power to do so has picked up the phone and told someone to sort it pronto!.

We are expecting  a photo-op with a local councillor taking the credit in an election leaflet any time soon. This shamelessly happened after the clean up of the waste ground on Oxton Rd/Balls Rd East just up the road from the scenes above when Council “leader” Power Boy Pip Davies posed with a hapless local shopkeeper despite the site being left in a mess for many months before we were contacted by a despairing and long -suffering local resident who’d had enough of the biblical-like plague of bluebottles putting the fly into flytipping.

We’ve commented before that Wirral Council seem to be operating a system of governance by blog  – as it seems that be it street lights, potholes , thieves , unlawful parking charges ,the hiring of consultants, cover ups ,the sexual imbroglios of senior managers  or the corruption of councillors it seems the only way to get Wirral Council to do anything about “cleaning up the mess” is to shame them into it!.

 

Return the Gift

 

Love 2 Shop

Please can I buy evenings and weekends ?….

There certainly seems to be more life in the ‘Passport for Life’ saga than there is in the now defunct ‘Passport for Life’ long service award itself which has been withdrawn from ex-Wirral Council employees who had more than 25 years service.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/no-concessions/

Apparently the original offer to former Council employees involved three choices…

•       Love2Shop Gift Card (vouchers)
•       A cheque to the full value of the award (less statutory deductions)
•       A ‘Passport for Life’

Whilst we would have thought a lifetime’s worth  of counselling would be more appropriate for those who’d spent a quarter of a century working for Wirral Council it is not clear how  ‘A Passport for Life’  is able to become ‘A Passport for as Long as Wirral Council Feels Like It” . We  would suggest that unless there was something in the terms and conditions when the ‘Passport for Life’ was magnanimously “gifted”  that Wirral Council could be on dodgy legal ground . So no change there then!.

We’re just wondering whether those who chose the vouchers are being asked to traipse back to some of the dreariest shops on the high street to return their gifts?. Or those who trousered the cheque will be asked to empty their pockets and look down the back of the sofa to help out the cash-strapped Council?.

We think it is a salutary lesson for all those Wirral Council staff past and present who ever thought they were valued as public servants. It seems to use that they’re rather like their “free” gifts  – an economic unit and a disposable commodity.

Once again the back of a fagpacket financial planning which also characterised the Girtrell Court closure proposal seems to be at work during the making of this decision.

The faulty logic behind the projected £100,000 “saving” seems to be concomitant on 400+ former employees turning round and saying :

We hear our loyal and generous former employer is having financial problems . So we don’t mind chipping in £15 a month out of our pensions to make sure Wirral Council can make up the shortfall caused by the Wallasey Town Hall petty cash thief or to enable them to pay-off another failure of a senior manager or to enable council officials to fly off to some far flung destination on a wing and a prayer. 

What also hasn’t been factored into the projected “saving” is the administration costs, officer time and reputational damage.  We understand that a letter is due from one of the Super-Duper Directors clarifying the long service award situation now that they’ve returned from their holidays!. They just don’t get it do they?.

We look forward to receiving a copy and commenting on the tortuous explanation for this latest debacle.

 

Arse & elbow 007