Trees & Seats

We had a strong public response to all of last week’s stories. So here’s an update from us and a follow-up from elsewhere :

Trees of The Week 

Following on from our tree plea

Wirral Chainsaw Massacre

we’d like to thank our reader J who sent us some scary pictures of trees in Broadway ,Wallasey which we have to say reminded us of the tree monster from 1950’s schlock horror movie “It Came From Hell”……

img_9206-2It Came from hell

Bums on Seats

We recognised the picture from the article in today’s Wirral Globe feature from somewhere!.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14261331.Blast_for_council_bosses_over___66_000_desk_delivery/

Well-Furnished

Apparently Lib Dem Cllr Persistent Phil Gilchrist has got Wirral Council CEO Eric Feeble to cough up that the new furniture which we reported last week had cost the not inconsiderable sum of £66K.

As the chairs arrived to match the desks and obscuring much of the Town Hall annexes Persistent Phil asked : “Was it really necessary to purchase this lot? .

Stressed Eric did a bit of mild bamboozling by claiming that  : “The funding is capital not revenue and therefore cannot be used for day to day running of the council”  in the hope that the mention of complex financial terms “capital ” and “revenue” would be enough to make any enquirer glaze over.

However Eric does advise to Persistent Gilchrist that new office furniture is one thing but the big money needed to be spent on the Town Hall annexes themselves :

” The North Annexe is in a generally poor condition, below is a list of some of the issues

1)  The electric underfloor heating has failed in areas it is costly to both run and repair and is an inefficient method of heating

2)  The lift needs replacing and or major overhaul

3)  The roof needs repairs and current insulation levels are poor

4)  The toilet welfare facilities are poor and inadequate

The South Annexe is generally in a fair condition, has a new efficient, gas wet heating system, the lift has recently been the subject of a major overhaul, and the roof was recently re-roofed using insulation that meets current building regulations. The scheme currently on site is improving toilet and welfare facilities, together with some general redecoration. “

Makes you wonder what Wirral Council were doing with the “capital” in previous years –  other than removing the asbestos.

It all seems very symbolic to us – sick building syndrome for a sick organisation. All surface and no structure whilst the council staff that are still left sit at their brand new desks waiting for the roof to cave in……..

Retirement Home

Trees 012

One of our eagle – eyed readers spotted this charming local house sign and jokingly asked us whether Wirral Council had opened a retirement home for the corruptible and the clapped out cronies that crawl the corridors of power.

Whilst highly unlikely as Wirral Council only close services it’s certainly a thought to treasure – it would be some kind of natural justice if Wirral Council’s bullies and backstabbers were housed together somewhere in perpetual duplicity – although unfortunately there would be no money in the petty cash tin because obviously this being Wirral Council it had all been stolen!.

EXCLUSIVE: Thick As Thieves

This imaginary retirement home would preferably be managed by one of the abusers redacted out of the increasingly looking pointless Independent Review published four years ago , and which allowed some seriously bad people to carry on plying their evil trade.

A Grave Injustice

Is it any surprise that since then the obligatory cries of “lessons have been learned” it’s been a case of another week , another case of abuse and neglect?.

This is a just a small selection of the cases of abuse and neglect of vulnerable people from the local press that we got to hear about  :

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/9586254.EXCLUSIVE__Four_week_delay_whistle_blower_tells_the_Globe_why_he_did_it/

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mother-redcaps-manager-facing-jail-6088534

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/care-homes-shame-nursing-homes-10234500

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/former-wirral-care-home-boss-8112617

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14181936.Wirral_carer_stole___2_500_from_bank_account_of__vulnerable_young_man/

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14208676.Wirral_care_worker_betrayed_trust_of_84_year_old_woman_and_stole___1_400_from_her/

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/trip-hazards-no-hot-water-10638042

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mersey-999-call-handler-threatens-6914931

Meanwhile we anticipate that in it’s long – awaited and much delayed report Wirral Council’s self – congratulatory Safeguarding Board will kiss its own arse and claims it is doing a good job protecting vulnerable people.

 

The Wirralgate Files

The W Files

We’ve had numerous enquiries asking us were the Wirralgate saga is up to because it’s been oh so quiet. So we’ve contacted some trusted and well placed sources to find out where things are at as clearly Wirral Council have absolutely no intention of telling us.

Apparently there are two Wirralgate files held in complete secrecy under lock and key. Firstly and figuratively in the red corner we have the Nick Warren review and in the blue corner we have the Patricia Thynne re-review.

Apparently the latter was to be discussed (behind closed doors) at a meeting of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee on Monday , 8th February – no laughing at the back ,yes Wirral Council do have such a committee. Not that they meet very often as you can see from the number of postponements and cancellations which tells us much about how local councillors are concerned about standards and oversight of their own conduct.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CId=684&Year=0

However in a typical Wirral Council move the meeting has been reconvened nearly  2 months later to 31st MARCH !.

Why so ? I hear you all cry.

There can only be one explanation and that is that it has been moved to ensure that the meeting takes place during purdah. The purdah period typically begins six weeks before the scheduled local elections in May. The time period prevents the councillors using their knowledge of Council business that would be advantageous or disadvantageous to any candidates or parties in the forthcoming election. Where actual advantage to candidates is proven in law this amounts to a breach of Section 2 of the Local Government Act 1986.Ironically its breach carries with it the possibility of actions for abuse of power and misconduct in public office which is what the Wirralgate files are all about!!!!.

So what better way to ensure that councillors keep their gobs shut about what they know!.

Fortunately there are no councillors who work at Leaky Towers so Wirral Council need not rely on us keeping our gobs shut. And please Wirral Council spokesperson don’t piously give us that crap about interfering with due process – you wouldn’t know due process if it bit you on your expensively upholstered backside.The fact is that the most senior politicians and officers have been keeping a lid on this scandal since July 2013 simply because they have the money and power to do so.

What they seem to forget is that it is OUR money and the power WE have invested in them to act in accordance with their professional codes of conduct and The Seven Principles of Public Life (aka The Nolan Principles).

  1. Selflessness
  2. Integrity
  3. Objectivity
  4. Accountability
  5. Openness
  6. Honesty
  7. Leadership

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life–2

So far Wirral Council we score you zero out of seven. Although let’s face it they probably think the Nolan Principles mean they need to be in the mood for dancing!.

As for the bogus Nick Warren review – Lord knows where that is up to (or more accurately he doesn’t know because if he did he would tell you!).

Time and Trouble

For all we know “The Complainers” could have been boxed off by now and the golden opportunity to finally rid Wirral Council of the poison that has made it into such a sick organisation has been exchanged for 30 pieces of silver (or however much Frankenfield has negotiated on their behalf) .

As far as we’re concerned somebody needs to send for Jessica Fletcher as it looks like it’s going to be murder this purdah!.

AngelaLansbury

 

Well-Furnished

Furniture 2

We mentioned in a previous post the office furniture that we were told was being ordered from Jenkinson’s for Wallasey Town Hall. Now as you can see from our picture it would seem that this time it isn’t just the power elite getting an office makeover. No sirree! , it appears that Wirral Council is having an Oprah Winfrey moment.

Oprah Desk

Now don’t get us wrong we have no objections to Wallasey Town Hall desk jockeys having comfortable surroundings to distract them from the daily grind of watching their back . After the money spent on new carpet ,glass lifts and the stairway to heaven it’s the least they deserve.

However what we do object to is Wirral Council’s constant bleating about cuts and closures and redundancies in the face of this ostentatious display of spending power.

We would also question that with the Council’s love of redundancies and outsourcing that it is highly unlikely that the current staff will ever become part of the furniture!.

Anyway whatever happened to “agile working” and “hot -desking” or did that die a death on the departure of Wirral Council’s previous Chief Executive(s) who we understand brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “hot desk” !.

Anyway not to worry I’m sure Wirral Council can always offload any empty desks on the Wirral Chamber of Commerce at a discount price. When it comes to empire building it always pays to follow the money …………………..

Wirral Chainsaw Massacre – Update

 

Just to clarify the picture taken Prenton Road East in yesterday’s article caused a bit of controversy as it was taken part way through the job but Roger Merry’s comments also apply to the “finished” tree. This was to illustrate the need for a proper tree survey and planned maintenance programme on Wirral.

Moreover  we’ve received further support on the matter of street tree maintenance from Wirral Tree Wardens (see below). If anyone would like to get involved with their work we’ll happily pass your details on.

 

Thanks for publishing this article:
We are a voluntary group, part of the Wirral Environmental Network, linked to the Tree Wardens groups nationally. We haven’t had much success in holding the street trees people to account, and this has spurred us on again.
Please pass on our contact to anyone interested
 
Dave
Wirral Tree Wardens

 

Wirral Chainsaw Massacre

Shame on those people who clicked on the link with murder in mind ! . After last week’s streetlights story we present more Wirral Council Highways hell only this time we’re talking trees. Our Arboreal Correspondent Roger Merry has written to Wirral Leaks and several Wirral Councillors to tells us :

“As a member of the Mountwood Conservation Area Committee I spend a considerable amount of time, as a volunteer, working with Wirral’s Tree Officer, protecting and advising on best practice for tree work within the conservation area. In spite of our efforts Wirral’s trees are being destroyed not by ill advised residents or cowboy tree surgeons but by the Council.

I had the misfortune to find the latest example of the Councils handiwork in Prenton Road East today. 

Tree damage 2

It would be hard to find a better example of how not to prune a tree. This mutilation is permanent. It will cause the trees to produce a mass of dense growth that requires re-pruning every 3 years. The trees have now been rendered dangerous without regular maintenance. All aesthetic benefit has been permanently lost as a result of this butchery. If work was required this is exactly how not to do it.

I should make clear that this is not the fault of the contractors. They are not to blame. Responsibility firmly rests on Highways for awarding the contract, it would appear, without a proper management plan and oversight of all work.

Wirral’s own tree officer would not allow work like this on residents’ own trees but I understand that the Council haven’t even consulted their own expert. It increases maintenance workload, produces potentially dangerous trees from healthy ones and requires increased monitoring of tree stock safety, with full, regular, climbing inspections required, rather than a simple visual inspection in a walk past.

Other Councils are systematically removing even properly pollarded trees as they cost so much to maintain. Wirral Council is artificially creating appallingly badly pollarded trees from healthy mature and semi mature trees across the borough.

An important part of Wirral’s heritage is being deliberately destroyed. We have inherited a limited stock of good street trees but those we do have are now being systematically damaged beyond rescue. The whole feel and character of Wirral is being permanently damaged by the Council.

It is a priority that all future work is halted with immediate effect until a proper tree survey is conducted and a planned maintenance programme produced, with input from the Tree Officer, relevant community groups and Conservation Areas. I would suggest liaising and making use of the Conservation Areas Wirral (C.A.W.) Committee’s expertise.”

Coincidentally we had another tree fella who got in touch with the same concerns about trees not far away in Storeton Road, Prenton. As we look at pictures of what looks like trees in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust we ask ourselves is this the work of the same lumber-hacks?.

Trees 009

We’d appreciate further evidence from our readers of similar environmental vandalism. This may be a  way of assisting  Mr. Merry and others in securing  a proper tree survey and planned maintenance programme and ensure that Wirral’s once green and pleasant land does not become increasingly grey and unpleasant.

Until such time it does seem as though Wirral Council really do hate the trees……

From Welfare to Fairway

Golf cart

An indication of how far Labour -controlled Wirral Council have fallen from the moral high ground and into the golf bunker is that their Welfare Rights Unit employing 3 people is having to make a business case to ensure its survival. Yes – you read that right – applying a business model to welfare rights . Frank Field must be so proud of his amoral protégés.

“..This Officer Option would involve the Council stopping it’s current ‘Welfare Rights’ service , due to similar services being provided by other organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau , which are also funded by the Council.”

BUSINESSCASE

Oh how we long for the day when the Wirral Council’s Chief Executive and his Super Duper Directors have to justify their existence and their massive salaries or are they too busy racking up massive bills buying office furniture from Jenkinson’s ?.

How does this Council reconcile the outraged soundbites and screaming headlines about “Tory cuts”  whilst they desperately woo private industry and zealously dismantle public services?. Where are we living- Wirral or Tunbridge Wells?.

Let’s look beyond the rhetoric and look at the Council’s actions :-

  • Closure of Lyndale School for disabled children
  • Threatened closure of Girtrell Court respite service for disabled adults
  • Threatened closure of Welfare Rights Unit
  • Punitive implementation of the Bedroom Tax and ;
  • Hiking up Council Tax contributions for unemployed which were both local decisions

Then compare the above with the following :

  • Pay hike for the Chief Executive Eric “Feeble” Robinson
  • Appointment of PR kingpin Martin Liptrot (was there a business plan for this grace and favour appointment?)
  • Peppercorn rent and refurbishment grants for their friends in the Wirral Chamber of Commerce (aka the Nepotism Depot – we understand that Basnett’s bro’ has joined Basnett’s sis’ as part of the crew.It’s a family affair y’all.)
  • Failing to attract investors and pouring money down the Wirral Waters plughole
  • Relentless pursuit of establishing a golf resort in Hoylake in the face of increasing local scepticism  http://www.hoylakegolfresort.uk/

This private enterprise and personal enrichment taking priority over social justice and the welfare safety net approach is reflected in Eric Feeble’s latest less than riveting ExecView newsletter which plugs the following local press coverage that spin king Liptrot(sky) has managed to secure. We were disappointed to see no mention of any stories from Wirral Leaks – as we know Liptrot is particularly keen to know more about us. Don’t be shy Marty – we’d love to hear from you directly ! :

 

cleardothttps://gallery.mailchimp.com/28dc8b56d191c90e7216a3f5b/images/cd58e6e1-24ba-4a3f-8c03-f36f6cb3e9d0.jpg

‘Green Light for Wirral Growth Plan’ Insider Media
‘Plans for Birkenhead Kick Start Economic Regeneration’ Wirral Globe
‘Time To Wake Sleeping Giant’ Echo
‘£250m Plans To Turn Birkenhead Into ‘Major Business Capital’ Radio City
‘Council unveils plans for Downtown Birkenhead investment scheme’ BBC

ExecView- Jan 2016

We can imagine the Council licking their lips at the prospect of getting rid of the Welfare Rights Unit so they can employ Liptrot(sky) full time to spin this BS!.

No wonder the compliant Unison spokesperson Paddy Cleary safely ensconced on the Council payroll saw fit to bite the hand that feeds him recently when he said “You really don’t expect this sort of thing from a Labour Council.”

Oh we do Paddy and might we advise you read the Business Case prepared by the Welfare Rights Unit as the extracts quoted below are  very reminiscent of the dodgy rationale for the proposed closure of Girtell Court. No cost benefit analysis ,no coherent financial modelling and no details of exactly how services would be re-provided.

“There are three full time welfare rights advisors who have accumulated a vast range of experience, knowledge and skills in this field though working in the community sector, local authority and Department for Work and Pensions. The annual cost of running this “in house” service is stated to be £108,606 (Summary Business Case). No detail has been given as to how the Welfare Rights Service will be “re-provided”, or how much that service will cost the local authority, although it is acknowledged in the Summary Business Case that residents would have to be directed to agreed alternative providers, and that “this may involve additional costs which would reduce the savings proposed…….

We understand the scale of the financial challenges facing Wirral Council, but we consider that the proposal does not accurately identify actual cost savings; does not acknowledge the direct impact that our service can have on generating council income; and does not address the effect of losing the current service on other departments of the local authority, as well as our external partners……..

We do not have the resources to check all gains, but recorded gains for the period January 2015 to December 2015 were £782,029.99. The great majority of gains relate to awards of benefits that are paid by central government funds. The gains achieved can directly benefit the Local authority in terms of meeting the pledge in the Wirral Plan to reduce family and child poverty.”

But who needs needs reasoned ,cogent arguments to justify the closure of services when the Council abandoned welfare for the fairway a long time ago?.

Seems like we could all be going to hell in a golf cart.

 

Shine A Light

 

Lightbulb 4

One of the main issues which has concerned our readers this week has been Wirral streetlights. Or rather the lack of them or lack of someone to turn them off when they’re on 24/7! .

The streetlights situation  brings into focus once again that  Wirral Council need to concentrate on getting the basics right before they start channelling resources into speculative schemes such as golf resorts or international business centres.

Having vision (20/20 or otherwise) is one thing but short-sightedness or wilful blindness is another!

Firstly we must bring to your attention a disconcerting blog post by former Wirral Council street lighting design engineer turned inveterate blogger Paul Cardin which is absolutely essential reading on the matter.

What’s wrong with Wirral Council Street Lighting?

Mr. Cardin records his concerns about information provided or not provided by Wirral Council about the location of street lights that have been turned off or were not working properly. The insightful post highlights(!) how some parts of the local media work and how some parts of Wirral Council don’t work with information appearing on and off websites like, well ,Wirral’s streetlights.

Another person who has resorted to social media to spotlight (!) their concerns is Wirral Leaks reader Nick Lauro  who tells us :

“Well after 3 months of waiting after reporting, including Tweets to WMBC, a letter in the Wirral Globe, a piece on the John Brace website and FINALLY, writing to my MP, they sent someone out.

The best bit is the three-way procedure between BAM Nuttall, WMBC and Scottish Power for reporting, assessing and fixing street lamps. It really does become like one of those “how many men does it take to change a light bulb?” jokes. Of course, nothing gets done – apart from the cash-cow street-furniture contract.

In this case, some £30,000,000 on a 6 year contract seems to be riding on whether we get street lamps fixed. I wonder how many honking snouts are in the money trough on that one!!!!

The more voices shouting against the bureaucracy and professional obfuscation that WMBC seem to excel in, the more chance we have of exposing their mismanagement of our public services and general poor practice. I know two people who will have to remain anonymous, who both work for the council as two of the many long suffering employees working under what they describe as a joke management team that have lost any respect from the workforce, mainly due to the pay-freezes they have to endure whilst golden handshakes are given out to the most ineffectual executives, along with obscene daily rates for outsourced consultants.”

We’d like to reassure Mr.Lauro and the growing number of people who have been contacting us that we’ll continue to shine a light on Wirral Council especially when they don’t do the same for us!

SK Tweet

 

Don’t Stand By – Stand Up!

 Don't Stand by
As a postscript to yesterday’s “Hasbeen Meets Queen” post there were further developments which we were oblivious to when we penned the story.
A member of the public who was willing to be named (but we’ve kept anonymous for their own protection – we know how things work round here) has told us about an incident which occurred at the Holocaust Memorial at New Brighton’s Floral Pavilion.
Our source who was in attendance at the solemn event with a friend of hers tells us that Jim “Crabby” Crabtree and a lady friend spotted them. Crabby then charmingly stated that he didn’t want to be anywhere near them and he and his companion walked past . Whilst passing Crabby’s companion apparently used an obscene phrase which suggests to us that if this is his plus one at the palace that either she learns some lessons in decorum or he takes some duct tape.
Our source claims that Crabby continued to direct hostility towards her friend : “angrily scowling at her all in front of a large group of school kids who watched as we went inside to hear him make rude angry comments about us both.Then the speeches began.The day was named : Don’t Stand By. Don’t ignore or allow bullying , or the persecution of others and there he was as a serving councillor doing it again . “
Clearly the message was lost on Crabby as apparently the continued verbal abuse was too bad to repeat. We are reassured that other people have stood up to report the incident although to whom it is unknown. All we will say it will be interesting to see whether that nice boy from West Kirby  Council leader “Power Boy Pip” Davies  is finally up to challenging another out of control member of NEBB (North End Bully Boys).
No wonder our source writes : ” Thanks for all you do without it no one would know what they get up to…”
Accordingly not only did we write this follow up as a means of exposing what the Wirral Council power elite really “get up to” but also to provide a forum for people who would otherwise not be heard and most pertinently  circumvent the sickening notion of victimhood that these abusers of power try to project.

Hasbeen Meets Queen

Jumbo
Buck House has sent out its usual invitations to Wirral Council for this year’s garden parties.There are three to be held between May, June and July apparently and the current Mayor Les Rowlands gets first choice. This leaves three x 2 invites per main political party.Tradition is that the longest serving councillors get to go, and so Labour have chosen…………………………….
Jim “Crabby” Crabtree, of suspension and deselection fame.

This seems rather odd as Crabby should by this time no longer be performing civic duties.Are we to deduce that he will renege on his promise to the North West Labour Party that he would not stand as an Independent councillor in the Bidston & St.James ward come May or that Labour plan to parachute the prodigal into an unsuspecting ward?.

We anticipate the Buck House beano will be a sequel to our fondly remembered satire “When Foulkesy Met Her Majesty” which imagined that fateful day when a former Wirral Mayor of ill repute graced The Queen’s immaculate lawn.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/when-foulksey-met-her-majesty/

Hasbeen Meets Queen

Her Majesty : How do you do .What is your name and have you come far?

Lord Jim :  Hiya Queen – me mate Foulkesy calls me Jumbo. I’ve come all the way down in a mini-bus from Wirral  – but I managed to dump the schoolkids I was supposed to be lookin’ after down The Mall deliverin’ copies of the “Wirral Plan : 20/20 Vision” to confused foreigners. Spreadin’ the word like.In fact here you go -here’s a copy specially signed by Martin Liptrot just for you.He’s dead clever – he went to Wolverhampton Polytechnic and writes plans and things for us.

Her Majesty :  Er thank you (hands copy to courtier) .And tell me what do you do in Wirral ?.

Lord Jim: As little as possible!.No,I was havin’a laff  Ma’am – I used to be the Chair of Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee.I was dead convincin’ – I used to wear a whistle and flute , as you’d say being a cockney , and I’d read out the agenda and sign the minutes off and everythin’.But then I got suspended from the Labour party because of a bit of a misunderstandin’.It was a big stitch up and stuff and then they all had it in for me at the selection meetin’. I wuz robbed.I could have been the next leader of the Council because Our Frank likes me.He even wrote a letter to the selection committee sayin’ I was dead sound.You’ll know Our Frank – everyone’s heard of Our Frank.He’s on the telly all the time.And not just on Christmas Day like you.

Her Majesty : It’s reassuring to hear that irony has finally reached the provinces.From what my advisors tell me about Wirral  – it sounds as though local business practices are very similar to certain parts of the Commonwealth. I must introduce you to the Nigerian High Commissioner .I’m sure you’ll have plenty to talk about.

Lord Jim: So this Nigerian bloke.Is he dead tall like?

Her Majesty : (sighs and whispers to courtier  )…..remind me to ask my ministers whether they could change their plans forthwith from Northern Powerhouse to Northern Devolution!.