EXCLUSIVE : And the new Parliamentary Labour candidate for Birkenhead is…

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As you will know from this report : EXCLUSIVE : The runners and riders in the race to be the next MP for Birkenhead we’ve been breathless with anticipation to find out who Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) would choose to succeed Frank Field as their candidate for the next General Election .

This is the report from our man on the inside holding his head in his hands wondering whether it’s a cock up or a conspiracy…

The Selection Committee election didn’t go ahead tonight, it started off
badly with the Town Hall being locked securely causing meeting to be
transferred to The Welcome Centre on Argyle Street at the last minute. 
Sadly the candidate’s statements were also locked in the Town Hall,
after initially being told the vote was going ahead without any real
knowledge of the candidate’s viewpoints, the meeting chose to take over
and it was agreed that the election will be held at a later date, as
soon as possible.

An offer of allowing each candidate to speak for two minutes was on the
table but not only was it unclear whether all the candidates were
present but also it wasn’t deemed fair that this should be sprung on
them especially with such a small time slot.

It was also suggested that the statements should emailed out, reading 16
candidate’s statements of 250 words each in the meeting (potentially
4000 words) was not considered conducive to finding the five most suitable.

Various other points were raised including one candidate’s application
appearing to be waived through despite it not being correctly received by
the deadline.

The Chairman had a hard job which wasn’t helped by the dictatorial NEC
member that was present who despite being there to ensure due process,
seemed to want to throw the rulebook away and make up his own rules on
the fly (I’m sure he will see it differently). Democracy won the day.

Love ACTUALLY

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Here’s what’s ACTUALLY going to happen to the Vue cinema site bought by council for £7m

This is what’s ACTUALLY going to happento Vue cinema site bought by council for £7m

We continue our series of commenting further on this week’s news stories by asking you to spot the difference between these two reports published yesterday in the Liverpool Echo and the Wirral Globe  

Our first comment was that we loved the use of ACTUALLY ,  in UPPERCASE – the written equivalent on standing with your hands on your hips and saying we know better than you,ner,ner,ner,ner,ner…

Although ACTUALLY we don’t think ACTUALLY is the right word here as it refers to the truth and the facts of a situation not the usual Wirral Council pipedream.

However what we didn’t love was the further erosion of local press plurality as BBC funded ‘Local Democracy Reporter’, Tom ‘Media’ Houghton , provides an official BBC approved version of the local news which follows a familiar pattern of the same story being a big splash in the Liverpool Echo before becoming a little ripple in the  Wirral Globe .

Clearly this was Wirral’s finger-wagging riposte to the negative response from commentators and bloggers to the press announcement earlier in the week that Wirral Council had bought Vue cinema for £7 million and which we reported in our  Birkenhead – A Tomb with a Vue  post.

Luckily for Wirral Council there was a fearless ‘Local Democracy Reporter’ at hand ( or more accurately on the receiving the end of an email from the Wirral Council Press Office) to put the record straight ( or rather unquestioningly publish some quick copy and a picture from the photo library) .

The MSM message being : ‘Oh no you nay-sayers and doubters, cash -strapped Wirral Council, who are reknowned for their business acumen, haven’t spent £7 million on a fleapit ! Nay,nay and thrice nay we’ve paid £7 million to demolish it!…’

Well, that’s alright then!…and what’s more they’re going to replace it with artist’s impressions. Lots of ’em – and they’ll all be dutifully published in the Liverpool Globe and then the Wirral Echo or the the other way round  – we get confused!

As to whether these artist’s impressions ACTUALLY happen is open to question but we’re going to put this out there – and it may surprise you but we think they just might! However looking at some of the councillors who would be involved in making the decisions , particularly the Cabinet Member for Housing & Planning and the Chair of the Planning Committee, we wouldn’t be surprised if it was ACTUALLY as dodgy AF…

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Kingdom Comeuppance ? – Part 2

 

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More leaked emails from Wirral Council featuring correspondence between Liberty Antiques shop owner  Sean Martin and various councillors is most illuminating on the political machinations that are going on behind the scenes.

We’re confident that our campaigning friends at Wirral Against The Litter Police (Kingdom Security) understand the motives of a ‘Tory-Come-Lately’ or a ‘Labour Appeaser’ as clearly there is much political capital that can be made from the increasingly contentious situation in the run up to the local elections in May.

Our main concern is that the current ruling administration would rather stick with a highly unpopular course of action than be seen to cave in to public pressure . The same approach also applies to the plans for the Hoylake Golf Resort/Celtic Manor Resort and the publication of Wirral View.

This also seems to be the approach of Cllr Anita Leech , Wirral Council Cabinet Member for Environment about whom it is alleged knows nothing of Kingdom’s actions – which is simply either untrue or a failure of scrutiny. Although it must be said from other comments she’s alleged to have made at least she seems to be upfront about her motives – money for Wirral Council and political power for her party.

All we know is that the controversy surrounding Kingdom will run and run until  hopefully they are run out of town…

Liberty Antiques <libertyantiques@gmail.com> Thu, Feb 14, 12:10 AM  to all Wirral councillors

Good morning all Wirral Councillors I received a call today from a small business owner in Pensby who had just received a £300 fine from Kingdom. This is what he said to me: “I feel that Wirral Council have given someone the authority to enter our premises and take £300 from our till and there is nothing I can do about it” As an elected councillor whose job it is to serve the public if you think what Kingdom are doing is right you have lost touch with reality and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Your views on this matter would be welcomed

Kind Regards Sean Martin

Ellis, Gerry (Councillor) Thu, Feb 14, 8:34 PM

Dear Mr Martin

Thanks for the copy of your message to councillors. I totally agree with you. It was a discrace (sic) for Kingdom to behave in the way they did. However, I understand that our Cabinet Member responsible for Waste was not aware of Kingdom’s actions and she has now ordered them to cease the practise until council officers have investigated what is going on and reviewed the policy.

With best wishes  Councillor Gerry Ellis Hoylake & Meols Ward 

Liberty Antiques < Thu, Feb 14, 8:58 PM  to Gerry Ellis

I am sorry sir but you are deluded if you think that. Her own constituents have been telling her for the last 4 weeks and she has been rude and dismissive with quotes such as “the council need the money” and “it’s either us or the tories so take your pick” . My local representatives Pat Hackett and Tony Jones have been canvassing her for the last 2 weeks without success. Pat Hackett actually asked her to come down to meet us and listen to our concerns and she ignored his request

I stand over my beliefs

Kind Regards SEAN —

Kingdom Comeuppance? – Part 1

Cathy &amp; Granty

#sadface pic courtesy of BBC website

Grant us this indulgence but we’d like to comment further if we may on stories featured this week on Wirral Leaks with a mini-series of quick fire posts .

First up is a follow up to last night’s Kingdom Suspended ! story where in our haste to get the BBC footage on the website we missed the opportunity to comment on some aspects of the latest saga in the Kingdom Security debacle and particularly the role of the  mainstream media and local politicians in ‘exposing’ how the cash for trash company operate on the say so of Wirral Council. No doubt Kingdom will still be operating to full contract value (much like the other Wirral Council suspendee Stewart/Stuart Halliday) and so will now have the capacity to have more operatives out on the streets of Wirral hounding those least able to pay a fine for what is essentially a trash tax on the poor and very little to do with environmental protection.

The most curious aspect for us was how the suspension of Kingdom Security from dealing with the business waste aspect of their contract with Wirral Council ended up on the telly. Perhaps a clue is to be had from one of yesterday’s commentators on our blog :

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Taking time out from from name-dropping to comment on litter-dropping Peter ‘Granty’ Grant in his ‘Granty’s Infernal’ column was surprisingly low key on the Kingdom story (not even mentioning them by name) he merely stated :

While Wirral Council comes under fire for “Waste-Gate” (the incredibly ill-thought out fixed penalty notices blitz on businesses… )

“Waste-Gate”, eh? Now where have we heard a similar turn of phrase ? Ah yes  – “Wirralgate” . Now we know that Granty is keen on recycling – and as has been brought to our attention before, often from this very blog – but we very much doubt Granty will be referring to “Wirralgate” any time soon and certainly not in the run up to May’s local elections like he did last time round (see below). Well, not since July 2017 when the editor of the Wirral Globe got his hands on the “Wirralgate” tape anyway!

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Talking of ‘literary musings’ let’s get back to Granty and Cathy Roberts , the ‘co-owner’ of the ‘Literally’ bookshop in New Brighton, who was on the telly complaining about being fined £300 over sandwich wrapper . The TV and website records Ms Roberts in full flow  complaining that sweet papers, newspapers, milk cartons and tea bags weren’t commercial waste. Whilst we agree it made us wonder a) just how much butty munching, sweet eating and tea bagging goes on in ‘Literally’ b) was Ms Roberts reading ‘Granty’s Infernal’ column in the picture on the BBC website above c) did Granty  pull a few strings with his extensive media contacts to enable the story to get such prominent media coverage ?  and d) why has the Kingdom business waste story attracted so little attention at the Wirral Globe until this week? If they had covered the matter as Wirral Leaks had done so here back in October 2018 and highlighted “the incredibly ill-thought out fixed penalty notices blitz on businesses” perhaps the co-owners of ‘Literally’ might have known what was heading their way !

Shall we await “with bated breath” to see whether Granty answers these questions in next week’s Wirral Globe column…

 

Kingdom Suspended !

 

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BBC North West Tonight are claiming the credit for the suspension of Kingdom Security following their ‘investigation’. Tip off  more like.

But will the ruling administration Wirral Council dig their heels in as a show of strength or finally realise their support for how Kingdom operate on their behalf will be calamitous at the May local elections.

View here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0c2jldc/north-west-tonight-evening-news-14022019

Chariots of Ire : The Oval Upgrade Charade

Earlier this week there was an announcement in the Wirral Globe that there was a Major revamp planned for Bebington’s Oval leisure centre . We were told that plans were to be approved by Wirral Council’s ruling cabinet later this month for the £775,000 upgrade and Cabinet member for leisure, Cllr Phill ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore, said (no doubt in a press release written by someone else) :

The Oval – which famously was used to film key scenes of the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire – is one of Wirral Leisure’s flagship leisure centres, unique in the borough boasting a 25m competition pool, athletics track, football pitches, and tennis courts.

These improvements form part of a larger investment in Wirral’s leisure services, ensuring that they remain accessible and affordable for all residents, and represents another excellent example of Wirral Council’s careful management of its budget at a time of continuing pressure on local government finances.

Our services are extensive and Wirral Council invests £5 million a year in making sure that statement remains true, in addition to more than £8 million invested in the past few years on making sure our services are of the best possible quality…

So as is our wont we thought we’d bring you the reality behind the pre-election spin and report on events at The Oval from last night and from information we received late last year about a previous £1 million upgrade .

‘A concerned parent of a child who attends The Oval swimming club’ writes :
I think the council needs to be reminded about the cost in lives and not pounds that failure in fire safety can have if a real emergency took place. Remember Grenfell???
There was a power failure in Bebington last night whilst my child was in the pool at the Oval and it was very dark in quite a lot of areas. It was quite a scary experience.. staff to be fair did well, but when we stated it was the dark areas that upset us , and scared the children they quite openly and honestly stated that they have had problems for years with the emergency lights, and that the pool area only came on because staff constantly complained about it and it was only recently repaired otherwise that would have been also in complete darkness .
This is a big shock and I and many other parents are seeking reassurance from the council that the building is safe. Whilst staff were helpful the biggest surprise was their anger. We could hear one staff member say : “ I am *** fed up telling them but they never listen , they never come out, they don’t want to see what we have to put up with, they won’t move from the Concourse *** the lot of them.” When we asked another staff member what that meant , they said it was a reference to senior managers who never visit  and never listen to staffs real issues like emergency lights not working.”
So what happens when there has been upgrades at The Oval in the past ? We were sent this photo and comments last November
image1

The Oval Bebington

Newly built kitchen cafe at least 6 months old. Inc in the fixtures and fittings a £3500 coffee machine, a new oven sat for months unpacked (now possibly missing) value £10,000+

None of this has ever been used and may never be used.

Needless to say we asked ‘How come?’ only to be told:

No idea, it appeared soon after the gym renovations at the Oval. It got built/fitted but has not been used. A lot of wasted cash. Maybe they can’t get anyone to run it within. Or not financially viable to external operators. Either way it’s very expensive and all quality stuff. Likesay the oven was sat there still unpacked for months and I’m not sure if now fitted or disappeared.

Although we understand the above was part of a previous  £1 million upgrade  of The Oval announced in 2016 more recent enquiries of a well placed source suggest the situation remains the same:

The white elephant .They had plans to hire someone. I think there is a tale to tell on that. Badly designed and not fire compliant. Also as asset management don’t seek planning permission to alter a structure because they are a law unto themselves… 

However we’d be quite happy if Cllr Brightmore could reassure us that this is no longer the case and that there are ‘robust’ plans to ensure that in the future £775,000 of public money will not be going down The Oval’s notoriously dodgy drains. Might we suggest it’s time to move on from past glories as Wirral Council are rapidly running out of money as fast as Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams on anabolic steroids…

 

Cllr Chris Meaden : Not so much a declaration of independence as an exercise in pointlessness

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We were alerted to the fact that Cllr Chris Meaden had changed the party status on the Wirral Council website and that she now classed herself as ‘Independent’.  This struck us as somewhat ironic as Cllr Meaden aways struck us as one of those councillors who did as they were told by the local Labour Party elite and was quite content to be swept along on Rock Ferry councillor Moira McLaughlin’s coat-tails as it was an easy ride. We were once again minded to recall that old joke  Q:   What’s the difference between a supermarket trolley and Cllr Chris Meaden ?  A:  A Supermarket trolley has a mind of its own.

The belated declaration of ‘independence’  was all very reminiscent of an adolescent flouncing off  Facebook when no-one is paying them any attention and hoping for a few ‘U OK Huns ?’

Despite the Liverpool Echo headline  Yet ANOTHER top Labour politician quits party -blaming ‘hard-left’ takeover  our initial reaction to such a political hasbeen was CBA.   However reading the local media coverage it is clear that Meaden  has taken her acting out her adolescent angst to another level and be seen a-bitchin’ and a-snipin’ and a-moanin’ all over the local papers (the story in the Wirral Globe written by the same ‘Local Democracy Reporter’ Tom Houghton is a barely disguised re-write ) . As washing your dirty linen in public goes, the soon to be ex- councillor Meaden seems to have dug out the skiddy undies from the bottom of the washing basket , talking of ‘verbal attacks’ , ‘public attacks’ and ‘double standards’ . Much of her bitterness is directed towards Yvonne Nolan , her successor as Labour Party candidate for the Rock Ferry ward.

I believe over the coming months more information about Ms Nolan`s past involvement with politics will emerge and I don’t believe she is fit to serve the people of Rock Ferry. With her term coming to an end this spring, Cllr Meaden was ousted at a selection meeting back in October. But she said some of those present had “never attended” a branch meeting, while others had “never so much as delivered a leaflet’.That makes me believe that the meeting was packed with the aim of removing me and replacing me with Yvonne Nolan and the intention is to bring her in to lead the group.

Now we can’t comment at this stage whether Nolan is fit to serve the people of Rock Ferry but we do know that there are a few current Labour councillors who are DEFINITELY unfit for public office but has Cllr Meaden ever publicly voiced her concerns about them?  No, she hasn’t ! – and it suggests to us that the Rock Ferry selection committee made the right decision in getting rid of someone who was quite happy to follow the orders of a PROVEN dishonest,bullying and controlling Labour cabal whilst it suited her which makes her  declaration of independence nothing more than an exercise in pointlessness.

 

 

 

Birkenhead – A Tomb with a Vue

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And so to the cry of  “have you got any spare change mate” the slow, agonising  death of Birkenhead town centre continues.

Whilst Wirral Council’s Wirral Growth Company seems to be in desperate need of anabolic steroids and the Wirral Chamber of Commerce is doing what exactly ? Birkenhead seems to be zombie-walking into an open grave…

Now having taken over control of Birkenhead Market and Milton Pavement with grandiose plans to make it somehow resemble Barcelona and Las Ramblas (where the beggars and scammers are at least entertaining) Wirral Council have hit upon the bright idea of buying the Vue cinema for a knockdown £7.1 million ! Whilst it’s understood the cinema will continue to be run by Vue, it will be owned by the council and presumably the Wirral public will still have the added cost to pay for the privilege of parking outside. Dare we ask has anyone checked out the financial viability of handed over millions of pounds of public money to a private company ?  Has anyone checked the demand and turnover?  Or is this all about maintaining a cinematic presence in the town rather than sound economic sense?

Meanwhile a couple of readers ,aghast at the move, have contacted us to express a vue :

  1. Read in the Globe that the Council have spent £7 million on the cinema in Birkenhead…WHAT?…No money to regenerate New Ferry though! Probably give it to Princess Paula (Wirral Chamber) in a few months anyway!
  2. The most expensive ticket is around £5.99 … no wonder we’re in the shit

As the song goes ‘this town becoming like a ghost town ‘ and whether this will be enough to raise the dead from the tomb of a town centre we will vue with some caution – but with Wirral Council (and partners) past track record we’d say there isn’t a ghost of a chance of those artist’s impressions coming to life…

EXCLUSIVE : The runners and riders in the race to be the next MP for Birkenhead

red silks

Red silks all the way in a two horse race?

16th February 2019 could be the most the most significant date in Birkenhead’s  political history in the last 40 years. Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) have started the process of finding a replacement for Frank Field – the man who has been the town’s MP since 1979 – and this Saturday will see a special meeting take place where a Selection Committee will vote on who will be the parliamentary candidate at the next General Election.

So let’s have a look at who is in the running for £77k (plus expenses) prize that comes with being first past the post:
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Whilst we understand that Frank Field is a non-runner following his withdrawal of the Labour whip and can no longer be considered a candidate we just hope that someone has checked the rule book when it comes to running for selection-  just in case there’s a Steward’s Enquiry when the result is announced. We say this as a journalist at New Statesman recently wrote this :

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Therefore assuming that Field is out of the race who are jockeying for position to be riding high as the Labour candidate in one of the safest seats in the UK ?

Well first off in stall 1 and running in the ‘Maomentum ‘ colours is Tony ‘Tight Fit’ Norbury, local councillor for Prenton and scion of the so-called Wirral ‘hard left’. He has a favourite’s chance due to his ‘comrade’ John Maher and that latter’s control of the Birkenhead CLP and consequently the make up of the  Selection Committee.  Under these circumstances Norbury would appear to be the front runner…

Norbury scarf

However in stall 2 running Norbury close will be Mick Whitley in the Unite colours . We recently introduced you to him here and reported

Mr Whitley, formerly a long-standing convener at the Vauxhall car plant in nearby Ellesmere Port, was born in the area and is the former north-west regional secretary of the Unite union.

He has gained the support of Momentum, which holds a powerful presence in north-west England, while left-wing MPs such as John McDonnell, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Dan Carden have voiced their support.

The local branches of Unite, FBU, RMT, BFAWU and Aslef have also formally endorsed Mr Whitley’s candidacy.

Thus far ,despite living in Wirral (but not in Birkenhead?), Whitley has, up until now, not had a local political (or media) profile. However now that Unite’s Regional Political Officer,Alison Spencer Scragg, is running his campaign (and pulling the reins) Whitley has taken a sudden interest in turning up at food banks,demos and picket lines and making sure he’s seen to be doing so on his Twitter account which was only set up in November 2018…

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Jez ‘n’ Mick

Finally, in stall 3 we have the token filly in the race. Theresa ‘I’m not Tony or Mick’  Griffin is running in the colours of  the EU flag/Unison/GMB. The clock is ticking on MEP Griffin as she looks like being out of a job by the end of next month unless Brexit is halted or delayed. Fresh from her defeat in the selection in Walton in 2017 we predict Theresa will again aim to be the token woman on the shortlist and hope that following her defeat she may make it third time lucky and actually win in Liverpool Riverside when their trigger ballot happens and current Labour incumbent Louise Ellman is ousted.  Consequently Griffin’s half-hearted attempt to become the next MP for Birkenhead has thus far amounted to nothing more than taking a sudden interest in Birkenhead’s flyovers :

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Thus a Labour insider sums up the current selection process situation for us as follows :

There will also be several local also rans who will no doubt throw their caps into the ring but in truth the members of Birkenhead CLP will have a choice between Tony Norbury or Mick Whitley, which will be akin to them being asked if they would like to be stabbed or burned to death.  Ah thank God for a new and kinder politics……

 

Halliday fallout : Will Wirral Council Deputy CEO David Armstrong be the fall guy ?

Armstrong &amp; Pip

David ‘Kingmaker’ Armstrong – Power Boy Pip’s right hand man among Wirral council chief officers

And so the fallout from the Stewart/Stuart Halliday ‘situation’ begins…

As you may have read in our EXCLUSIVE : What’s in a Name? – Is this the real reason the controversial, high profile Stewart/Stuart Halliday appointment was suddenly dropped by Wirral Council? story the man who’s name appears prominently on the invoices at the centre of the mystery with so may unanswered questions is Wirral Council’s Deputy Chief Executive, David Armstrong. Therefore it would be reasonable to assume that Armstrong was the one signing the invoices off and in the light of recent events perhaps not giving them the proper scrutiny they warranted.

Now we understand that last Friday (two days after our exclusive story) Wirral Council CEO Eric Robinson circulated an email saying that Armstrong’s health has deteriorated. Something to do with eyesight apparently . Shall we expect an early retirement announcement soon ?

For us at least , Armstrong has been the very model of a modern public servant which these days means serving the interests of the powerful and not the public. More specifically he has been the power behind the throne and as ‘kingmaker’ to Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ who has depended on his  ‘loyalty’ . With Pip popping off next month we predict that Armstrong will follow soon after . If so, here’s the fitting epitaph we recently received from a long suffering Wirral Council worker :

Armstrong – the silent assassin who knows where the bodies are buried , does not take kindly to staff whistleblowing . So staff go to councillors for help, then David says to the councillors , ‘it’s a concern that staff feel that they can’t come to me, can you tell them my door is always open’… Fork tongue David. There exists only respect for the organ grinders .  And you wonder why capable people leave after a few weeks / months . They are in shock …

Meanwhile we’re gratified that whilst Googling for an image to accompany this update we got this from one of our old posts (our thanks go to John Brace for the picture above):

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Whilst Armstrong’s culpability in matters relating to the Halliday situation may still be open to question we firmly maintain that the period when he was the interim CEO between the hopelessly compromised Graham Burgess and the utterly hopeless Eric Robinson may well prove to be part of one of the darkest episodes in Wirral Council history…