We’ve just clocked that on the day that we reported on Birkenhead MP Frank Field’s toerag tirade against Anti-Social Behaviour All That Glitters
that Wirral Council announced the creation (inevitably) of the The Safer Wirral Hub
So can we all now rest easily in our beds ? Facts ,conveniently omitted from the business case for Frankenfield’s monster would suggest not – and although his agent , Cllr George Davies fronts it , it is undoubtedly Field’s creation.
But as the saying goes, never let facts get in the way of a long running story about the appalling behaviour of ‘toe -rags’ . Indeed we were dismayed to discover that a letter written by one of our Wirral Leaks regulars , who we know affectionately as ‘The Prof’, was deemed to be not fit for publication in response .
Whilst we publish the response below it appears there is an alarming and increasing tendency to control the ‘narrative’ , which admittedly is a hateful word but it seems most apt.
With the continuing publication of Wirral View , the prospect of Wirral Council filming their own meetings and sidelining our beloved Mr Brace , councillors receiving media training to support them with party political broadcasts to a captive audience on social media , it seems to us it is becoming more and more difficult to counter the dominant local political narrative with either facts or opinions.
Frank Field has called for an explanation of why why the Wirral Council Antisocial Behaviour Unit has not clamped down on the ‘toe rags’ turning Birkenhead into ‘Beirut’. He seems to have forgotten that the ASBO Crusade, invented by Tony Blair, was totally discredited several years ago after the courts and senior police accepted its ineffectiveness and governments abandoned it nationally. It missed the ‘toe rags’ but targeted and punished people with mental health and disability problems ncluding attempted suicides, homeless alcoholics and autistic teenagers. Frank seems to be having several memory problems.
Apologies for the delay in publishing this but it landed in our spam. This is feedback from the Defend Our NHS (DONHS) Wirral meeting that we previously plugged.
In the mean time it seems that local politicians have been belatedly gegging in on the action , most particularly in relation to the now ‘temporary’ closure of Eastham NHS Walk-in centre. This week’s Adult Care Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee was a humdinger with NHS head honchoes – Simon Banks ( NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group) and Karen Howell ( Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust) getting a good mauling.
Acting chair Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin took the opportunity to say that it was “important that the decision-makers are held to account.” Yes, those words actually came out of her mouth. My, how we laughed. And then we cried such bitter tears.
She also took the opportunity to plug a prospective Labour councillor who had organised (yet another) petition. We note that campaigning for next year’s local elections has already started then !
However more concerning for us was an issue that received zero press coverage and caused considerably less outrage among councillors and that was the closure of Thorn Heys, an NHS respite service for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs. Somebody remind us what was that Wirral Plan ‘pledge’ about ‘protecting the most vulnerable’ again?
What is most apparent is that ‘partnership’ working between Wirral Council and its NHS counterparts is not what it should be – the power struggles and the safeguarding of ever diminishing budgets was there for all to see – although of course some highly paid public servants and consultants still seem to be doing okay out of it ! As ever the only people to suffer are those who pay for what appears the deliberate (?) and ongoing (mis)managed decline of a once great institution !
Dear friends of the NHS
Are you angry? The packed audience at our public meeting on Thursday were angry. But they were also full of ideas for the fight back to defend our NHS. There was a spirited and constructive discussion after superb inputs from national campaigner Steve Carne and from a number of local campaigns on our own patch.
Why are people angry? Read the list below* and then come back here.
Are you angry yet? You should be. And if you are you can do something! This is what Thursday’s meeting decided. You can do some or all the following now.
- Let us have email addresses of others who might want to join the fight.
- Read AND act upon AND share the ‘to do’ list (in the ‘Files’ section on our Facebook page and attached to this message):https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/files/
- Come along to the many NHS meetings and protests (some on the ‘to do’ list but starting with the Eastham event on Monday detailed below). Some important events are shown. PLEASE COME!
- Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth will be in Eastham to meet with members and people affected by the closure.
If you are available, and if you know anyone who is concerned about the closure, please bring them along.
When? Monday September 11, 2017 at 11am – 1pm. Where? St David’s united reform church Eastham Wirral ch62 9dg
- STOP THE STP! Wirral Council has the power – and has already said it opposes the STP. Why doesn’t it do it? Wednesday 13th September 6.00pm at Wallasey Town Hall. Let’s make this the biggest lobby ever! Arrive early! http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=819&MId=6118&Ver=4
- Attend the Wirral CCG AGM @Tranmere Rovers 28th September from 1.00pmhttps://www.wirralccg.nhs.uk/news/wirral-ccgs-annual-general-meeting-2017/ It’s the CCG which has the local purse strings and makes the cuts.
- Share your experiences on Facebook or by email.
Thanks and best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS
* That list:
- The closure at short notice last week of the Eastham NHS walk-in centre.
- The simultaneously announced end of the Eastham-Arrowe Park bus service.
- The ‘pilot’ closure of the Clatterbridge dermatology ward.
- A further near ONE BILLION POUNDS of cuts in the pipeline for Cheshire & Merseyside.
- The payment of £300,000 to Price Waterhouse Cooper to compile the list of cuts to be made locally.
- The payment across England of £21 MILLION POUNDS to firms like PwC for similar ‘work’.
- The news that PwC and other ‘tax management’ outfits are being given the job of organising NHS service commissioning.
- All this part of the 44 awful ‘sustainability and transformation partnerships’ (STP) including one here in Cheshire & Merseyside.
- The STPs and everything else above comes from the brain of the head of NHS England Simon Stevens who now effectively controls the whole of our NHS. (Jeremy Hunt has washed his hands, Pontius Pilate-style.)
- The revelation that Simon Stevens came to the NHS from US health ‘corporation’ United Healthcare.
- The revelations of the anti-patient and anti-doctor business behaviour of United while Stevens was a boss.
- EVERY local council has rejected the STP. Wirral Council has the power to stop the STP in its tracks and voiced its opposition last December – BUT it took the leader of the Council, Phil Davies, EIGHT MONTHS to write the letter to Jeremy Hunt.
- Meanwhile the cuts have got worse, the waiting lists longer, the appointments harder to get, the adverts for American-style health services appear on GP notice boards – yet wonderful NHS staff continue to offer a fantastic service despite all this and despite years of effective pay cuts.
“Wow! – just wow” gasped Her Ladyship as she picked up a copy of Wirral Life from a better class of supermarket “….all that advertising space for the Wirral Chamber of Commerce seems to have paid off as Princess Paula is this month’s cover star! “
Bleached , bobbed and Botoxed(?) to the max the CEO of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce must feel thoroughly at home – glossy, bright and shiny against a stormy background . The interview can be found here:
As you can read all the key words are there – transformation, vision, partnership, empowering, small business ecosystem (eh?) , passionate (obvs!) and nepotism (oh sorry – our bad she didn’t mention that did she Sharon?)
Minus points for no mention of ‘ Hub’ though ! – oh and btw why are you still banging on about ‘Wirral Waters’ ?
Unfortunately what isn’t asked in the article is the question that was put to us about the Wirral Chamber of Commerce earlier this week :
It was 4 years ago that Wirral Leaks first broke the Wirralgate story. Read how the story began with the first 3 chapters from September 2013 :
However little did we think that 4 years later we would still be waiting for the biggest scandal ever in Wirral politics to be fully exposed. Call it our spectacular naivety in underestimating the power that 4 politicians hold locally but it is astonishing to us that this particular 4 x 4 is still on the road. So , for those of you unfamiliar with the Wirralgate story , which for a start off means you’re not a regular reader of Wirral Leaks , we’ll break it down for you. It goes a little something like this :
4 Wirral Council complainants have a recorded telephone conversation involving the Deputy Leader of Wirral Council where he uses a racist slur to describe a senior council officer and offers the complainants what they themselves call a ‘ sweetheart deal’ . They are asked to hand over a document smearing Tory leader Jeff Green and their suspect claim for compensation will be sorted without the necessity of all those bothersome legal processes. They hand over the document which was written by one of the complainants (and just for clarity was NEVER in the files of the former head of law Bill Norman, as was claimed by former leader of Wirral Council , Cllr Steve Foulkes.) Foulkesy subsequently hands over the document to Liam Murphy – the political editor of the Liverpool Echo. Murphy later makes a covert recording of the covert recording (!) and when later outed by Emma Degg the former Wirral Council head of communications to whom he played it, suddenly Murphy is no longer the political editor of the Liverpool Echo ! Go figure!
Council Leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies later claims that the 4 complainants were using the recorded conversation to settle their compensation claim . The complainants record a meeting they had with Pip listening to the Cllr George Davies telephone conversation. Pip asks of one of the complainants whether he is recording the meeting. He wasn’t – but another of the complainants was. So now they have a recording of Cllr Phil Davies, the leader of Wirral Council listening to a highly incriminating recording his deputy! BINGO! Pip is heard to say on the recording :
” I can’t defend this”
But of course he has to – George Davies is not only his deputy but Frank Field’s electoral agent and confidante. No wonder Pip agrees to a bogus ‘inquiry’ by long time Field associate Nick Warren which was nothing more than a means of securing the complainants more than the £3,000 they’d been offered for their ‘time and trouble’ and a sum of public money much more in line with what the incriminating recordings are worth to the big 4 – if not to Wirral council taxpayers.
Of course Frankenfield, Power Boy Pip, Foulkesy and Gorgeous George wouldn’t have got away with the cover up for so quite long without the passive local political ‘opposition’, the complicity of the local press , Merseyside Police and senior council officers past and present, the compromising of other investigations where Cllr George Davies and Cllr Foulkes were allowed to get away with persistently lying and where the complainants refused to take part ( hey, wasn’t there a cheque in it for you guys or something?) and, most pertinently, the failure of the complainants themselves to ‘go public’ with the recordings despite the fact they’ve played fast and loose with local media for 4 years – and it must be said , even us , but you may have noticed we gave up on them doing the right thing a long time ago. Wirral Leaks is NOT and never will be a bargaining tool. The irony being that whilst the complainants were more than willing to go public with allegations that they could never properly evidence they have withheld incontrovertible evidence proving that the big 4 are utterly corrupt. Draw your own conclusions ££££££££.
Ultimately to us this is just an example of Frankenfield’s feudalism – getting his own way and doing exactly what he wants and knowing he’ll never be challenged. Another example was his backing of last night’s EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Commons , thereby defying Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who asked Labour MPs to vote it down. Could this be the same Frank Field who voted for EU enlargement and the accession of Eastern European countries in 2003?
Frank also seems to be labouring (!) under the misconception that people in his Birkenhead constituency voted to leave. We’ve got news for you Frank – 51.7% voted to remain. But then Frank’s not one to let facts or truth get in the way of his one man mission which is the greater glory of HIMSELF – and it seems Wirralgate musn’t be allowed to get in the way of that amoral juggernaut.
One of the arduous tasks we all have to endure when returning from a break is to catch up on correspondence. So imagine our delight when wading through the bills and flyers that had landed on our doormat during our absence that we found a copy of Wirral View.
As this is only the second copy we have received of this elusive publication since its launch we decided to wait a week , give the publication the attention it deserves and review the latest edition of Wirral View whilst we were perusing the Sunday papers in the Leaky Towers morning room or what we are now calling in the modern vernacular , the ‘Information Hub’ .
Needless to say we weren’t impressed. But then we never were. We had high hopes that Wirral View would provide us with ‘endless opportunities for satire ‘ . But the man behind the hapless project – Wirral Council’s head of communications Kevin ‘Lost Boy’ MacCallum is absolutely right when he says we haven’t ‘delivered’ on this pledge mainly because it’s the dreariest thing we’ve ever read and we can’t even work up enough enthusiasm to mock it.
However we do note that the latest edition is already now down to 24 pages (from the original 32) and we note that it consists of more pictures than words. Not including the Wirral councillors mugshots we lost count at 80 pictures . The front page (see above) is indicative of the content within. It reminds us of the song lyric – “let’s go through the book of life , you can just look at the pictures if you like” . Her Ladyship quips that it would appear that Wirral View now has more fillers than Katie Price !
It seems to us that Wirral Council think the collective readership of Wirral View has an ‘Attention Deficit Disorder’ and need to be distracted at regular intervals by pretty pictures (or in some cases – not so pretty).
For example on page 8 there is a FULL PAGE encouraging us to, er, take a walk in the park and yet another half a page on 16 telling us to do the same – it’s just such a shame there is nearly another full page on page 23 which gives notices of parking charges in Wirral’s parks , thereby discouraging ‘one of the easiest ways to get active, lose weight and be healthier’. As ever with Wirral Council , it’s a case of left hand meet right hand.
We are left wondering just how the business case to set up Wirral View is stacking up. With just one (half page) advertisement from Goodwin’s restaurant in Greasby it’s no wonder another half page is used to flog advertising space with the questionable claim that “Wirral View is a monthly publication distributed FREE to every home and business in Wirral”
Two things – firstly ,Wirral View ain’t free , it costs Wirral council taxpayers at least £270K per annum and it needs to be asked as to whether those council taxpayers should be promoting private businesses and secondly somebody needs to report Wirral Council to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) if they cannot provide evidence that Wirral View is indeed distributed to every home and business in Wirral.
As far as we’re concerned this claim is all my arse and talking of which His Lordship must apologise but he has to be off to the Leaky Towers ‘Slash & Dump Hub’.
You may or may not be aware of a story emerging from Liverpool Crown Court which appeared in the local press earlier today.
As you can read above the story concerns the theft of petty cash money by a former Wirral Council employee. But when you consider that Wirral Leaks first revealed the story HERE in January 2016, following leaks from aggrieved Wirral Council whistleblowers, it becomes clear that there is much more to this story than has been reported in today’s press.
You will see from our original story that the person we coyly referred to as Mr T (and now revealed to be Carl Thompson) has indeed now been convicted for stealing £7,000+. However we don’t wish to focus here on Mr T especially as he has now faced justice and has been held accountable (which as we know is unusual for someone involved either in the past or the present with Wirral Council). Equally unusual is a rare example of openness and honesty from a Wirral Council senior manager . As a certain Simon Cuerden is quoted as saying this particular case ” had adversely affected the staff morale and the reputation of the authority and rebuilding trust and transparency is still ongoing”
If you look at our original story (re-published in full below) you can see why Mr Cuerden saw fit to make this comment. Consequently, and as was the case with former Labour councillor Jim Crabtree, we have to ask ourselves if whistleblowers hadn’t contacted us as to whether various crimes and misdemeanours would just have been buried by the council:
Now from what we’ve observed of an increasingly desperate Wirral Council leadership is that they’ve been told to do two things : a) praise council staff publicly even when treating them like crap and b) mention the utterly vacuous and meaningless window dressing that is their 20/20 Vision Wirral Plan at every opportunity ( “We have a plan ,we know what we’re doing – honestly”).
Well can we tell Wirral Council that judging by the increasing amount of correspondence we’re getting from the crime scene that is Wallasey Town Hall that council staff are getting increasingly pissed off with the fakery – seriously pissed off.
Nothing is pushing their badly-done-to button more than a case which in some ways is a microcosm of how Wirral Council operates. It’s a case which has been knocking about our inbox for some time and when one of our sources writes : ” I would appreciate anonymity as we all know what happens to WMBC whistleblowers…” This tells us everything we need to know about the poisonous culture which still seemingly infects the alleged “Most Improved Council in Britain” than any number of feelgood press releases.
Council staff are not so much singing like a canary but singing like Shirley Bassey and their song goes something like this:
“Lightfingered – he’s the man, the man with the petty cash , Council-tax payers cash……”
This doleful refrain concerns a certain Mr.T – T in this case stands for thief
We understand that Mr.T was suspended under that polite euphemism “misappropriation of funds” (something that Wirral Council have been quite adept at themselves) and although apparently Mr.T owned up the act, he was suspended on full pay during a lengthy investigation before he was recently dismissed.
However what is vexing Council staff is that it is alleged that this matter “was not reported to the police, central government, the audit commission or Wirral council tax payers and has been swept under the carpet in true WMBC style”.
No change there then you might say (no pun intended) – especially as this was someone caught with their hands in the petty cash till – as Wirral Council have an inglorious record of lurching towards the twin perils of “reputation management” and “cover up” when it comes to situations such as this.
We understand that the figure that has been filched is approximately £30,000 but common opinion among council staff is that as there was no thorough investigation that the actual figure could be much more than this.We understand that Mr.T could have been stealing money over a number of years and nobody knows the exact amount as Wirral Council only investigated what was stolen within a particular financial year.
Of course Wirral Council are welcome to deny any of these allegations…..
Questions and comments that have been put to us – although perhaps they should be put to Wirral Council leaders or even more pertinently to Merseyside Police are :
- Why was it so easy for Mr.T to steal thousands of pounds?
- Who countersigned any monies/petty cash? If not why not?
- I suspect this is due to the fact that said colleague had access to thousands of pounds in petty cash and was able to spend from the council budget until his heart was content as he was not managed for a minimum of 3 years
- Staff reviews should take place every year! but his line Manager left and he was then left to his own devices!! You have to ask why internal audit were not doing an annual audit? If they had this would have been picked up very early.
- It is now believed that he is working elsewhere and had faced no consequences for his actions besides dismissal
- This person has taken the Wirral taxpayers money and needs to be held to account.Where is the deterrent? Where is the accountability? Where is the public interest? Where’s our bloody money?
I think the only question we can actually answer is the one about Internal Audit.They were doing their usual job of obeying their political paymasters and/or being inept .However for the rest it would seem it is the usual tale of Wirral Council failing to take any responsibility for their own negligence in allowing this situation to arise in the first place.
We’re left wondering as to whether someone with £30,000 + of Council Tax arrears would avoid legal action quite so readily?. Indeed Wirral Council seem to be labouring (no pun intended again) under the misconception that the money they lose through their negligence/incompetence is THEIR money – so it can just be written off and forgotten about.
Consequently Wirral Council leaders rap sheet of cases where they protect their positions of power by protecting wrongdoers continues to grow.
Whilst some of the questions raised by one of our sources may have been answered , some haven’t, such as how come an “unsuspecting solicitor colleague” signed off some the petty cash slips – until suddenly a new member of staff joined his department? What the hell were Internal Audit playing at ? Did Wirral Council provide a reference for Mr T ? and whether being Mayor Foulkesy’s former chauffeur influenced the (in)actions of Wirral Council ?
It is with great pleasure we bring the news that karma seems to be a fully functioning phenomena as we understand the serial highly paid local government diva La Klonowski – infamous on Wirral for her highly remunerated (if ineffectual) reports has suddenly resigned her Chief Executive post at Bristol City Council .
We reported earlier this year that, staggeringly, Anna was appointed to the above post in January of this year.
It is no surprise to us that she didn’t last the year out . We’ve been keeping up with our local equivalent in Bristol The Bristolian and it’s clear they held her in the same contempt that we do #cashcow
The Bristol City Council website declares that Anna Klonowski has resigned in order to focus on her role as primary carer for her parents.
All very laudable and dare we say unusual for such a serial careerist to put her family first. Might we suggest that her decision was influenced by her experience on Wirral? For would any respectable public servant want their parent’s dying days to be in the hands of drugs money launderer’s ?
If ever you needed confirmation of how things work round here look no further than the inexorable rise of Asif ‘Massive’ Hamid. Of course we’ve reported regularly on his ability to attract public monies in the pursuit of his personal business empire by exerting influence over local politicians via his chairing of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.
Now it appear the modus operandi has been repeated over the River Mersey as his chairing of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has seemingly enabled him to secure the final remaining plot on the iconic Liverpool waterfront.
Needless to say the ultimate cynic Mayor Joe Anderson called the King’s Dock deal with his LEP colleague “brilliant news for Liverpool” and said it “could ultimately lead to the creation of a new riverside destination, boosting our visitor economy and creating jobs for local people.”
We’d prefer to stick with our original analysis that call centres are the ” dark satanic mills of the 21st century”
If Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site was under threat before now this cynical philistine decision should finally seal the deal. The Liverpool Preservation Trust must be hanging their heads in despair.
Meanwhile we’re left wondering just how long it will be before Hamid’s , ahem, “hands on” management practices will hit the headlines. But hey! – he’s been awarded an MBE and so is obviously beyond reproach. And confirms that it’s not just the way works round here but how things work nationally.
Time to emigrate.
On returning from nos vacances en France we wanted to burst into a heart-warming rendition of ” Hello, hello
It’s good to be back, it’s good to be back, Hello, hello, hello……”
But then we remembered the associations and connotations and thought better of it. Lord knows Gary Glitter, Rolf Harris , Stuart Hall , Jonathan King and Jimmy Savile have sullied our childhood memories enough . Abusers of power protected by their status and/or powerful institutions allowing abuse to continue for far longer than it should have. And despite the eternal cry of ‘lessons have been learned’ we fear that it is a scenario that remains prevalent throughout many of our institutions.
However talking of the ‘Leader of the Gang’ we note that on our return our inbox was stuffed with comments about local MP Frank Field playing the first two hands of his tried and tested three card trick. Firstly we have his anti-social behaviour schtick (see below). Initially, when we read Frankenfield was complaining about “toe-rags dragging our town through the gutter” , we thought he was finally calling out certain corrupt councillors but then realised he has a twisted symbiotic relationship with those very same councillors and so it soon became clear to us he was back to bashing Birkenhead’s bad boys . The line that really got us though was : “The thugs act as though they can get away with whatever they want, knowing they will face no consequences…..” . Those of us who know better clearly think Field has had an irony by-pass. The expression those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones (at bus shelters) comes to mind. Whilst there is no excuse for anti-social and criminal behaviour why should Frankenfield expect any better from the poor and the powerless when some of the most powerful politicians on Wirral appear to get away with whatever they want ,knowing they too will face no consequences – mainly because they are protected by him!
Secondly we were asked to catch up on the equally familiar but slightly more entertaining story of Frankenfield continuing to play handbags with “Sir” Philip Green Empty Threats
“Sir” Philip would be well advised not to hold his breath waiting for an apology from Frankenfield as the latter is used to saying what he likes about people he doesn’t like.
Now all we need is a news story about how many ‘starving mites’ he’s personally saved from malnutrition during the school holidays with ringfenced Wirral Council money and we’ll have a Frankenfield full house.
However we have to say we particularly interested in his Toe Rags article for the Wirral Globe as Field describing some parts of his constituency as being in the ‘gutter’ would appear to to undermine the gallant attempt of Wirral Council’s chief shit-glitterer Martin Liptrot (sky) to sell the peninsula under the banner of Wirral Well Made
This picture postcard PR job shrieks ‘amateur hour’ especially when the website heralding ‘A new vision for Wirral’ ( yes folks, yet another ‘vision’) originally included a text box with Latin – the standard filling used by printers to work spaces out. Although this has since been corrected it would seem to be the usual story from our well paid public servants . Not so much ‘Wirral Well Made’ as ‘Wirral Cobbled Together’ .
Indeed with the Council giving the green light to build on the green belt, continuing recycle bin and flytipping fury and further news of Asif Hamid’s massive empire building ( more of which later) it seems to us that having returned to Leaky Towers it’s a case of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose……..