Gutter Press

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Wirral News Goes AWOL ,Wirral Life Goes Warhol

So farewell then Wirral News. As reported in the press trade papers it now finds itself in the gutter :

http://www.holdthefrontpage.co.uk/2017/news/publisher-cites-crowded-market-for-bi-weekly-closure-after-council-newsletter-launch/

http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/trinity-mirror-to-close-wirral-news-in-july-in-the-wake-of-council-newspaper-launch/

As we predicted a while ago , the writing was on the wall for this woeful rag a long time ago. Never more so than when Wirral Council launched the print edition of Wirral View. Whilst it won’t be missed , mainly because it appeared to have given up being a credible news outlet a loooooong time ago , it is a worrying development for Wirral’s independent press when publishers Trinity Mirror consider :

 “The Wirral marketplace has become increasingly crowded with free print products with now even Wirral Borough Council producing a monthly free print publication themselves.

“We believe that there is no longer a viable, scalable or long-term future for free/giveaway print products within the Wirral marketplace….. “

What made us want to snort with derision and shake our head in disbelief was the quote in the Press Gazette article from Wirral Council’s head of communications Kev ‘Lost Boy’ MacCallum :

 “We are disappointed to see a well-loved local title like the Wirral News close.
“For many years, we have seen its circulation reduce significantly and frequency fluctuate between weekly, monthly and recently bi-weekly.
“It’s been clear throughout this time that the title has been trying and struggling to find an effective place in the market where it could be competitive.
“We must make it clear however, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest Wirral View had any commercial impact on the Wirral News.
“We have deliberately not sought to compete with the local media for advertising revenue, and we have ensured Wirral View is a completely different product to the existing local free-sheets…..”
Yeah right! – as we have previously reported Wirral View  have actively sought to compete with the local media for advertising revenue and it was an intention that was expressly stated by Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson! It’s just that they have been spectacularly unsuccessful in attracting any advertising. Well the last time we looked anyway, as we have still only received one print copy at Leaky Towers and we can’t muster enough enthusiasm to peruse the online edition.
However even keen Wirral View enthusiasts such as MacCallum and Robinson must know that its commercial viability in a crowded marketplace is under threat when even the Wirral Chamber of Commerce prefer to choose the June edition of Wirral Life for a glossy four page spread in the hilariously aspirational ‘premium lifestyle magazine’. We particularly enjoyed the beyond parody interview with Simon Nixon founder of Moneysupermarket.com ( don’t get us started on those Godawful TV ads) . The permatanned entrepreneur is asked :
Have you ever spent any time on the Wirral, what do you think of it? He replies:
I haven’t spent a lot of time on the Wirral but I think it’s beautiful – especially around Parkgate  and Caldy.
We’re just surprised he didn’t mention the delights of Birkenhead and how he enjoys drinking in Spud Murphy’s on Charing Cross before nipping over to the Pound Bakery for a pasty!
Chamber CEO Paula Basnett obviously feels more at home in this more upmarket publication. All dolled up in white lace we find her promoting this week’s Wirral Chamber Corporate Cup golf tournament ( you too can enter a team for £500+ !) , The Lauries and its recently launched @142 bistro and er , The Sheds at Pacific Road which apparently is the perfect place to ‘dream, dare,create and share’ and has ‘reignited the atmosphere of industrious innovation’ . Oh give over, love ,they’re sheds.
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The dreaded Davies duo scheme rather than dream! But doesn’t Gorgeous George look lovely in lilac?!

Talking of sheds another publication in the crowded media marketplace that has been brought to our attention is Wirral !nspirations .
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The summer edition features the illuminating article titled : ‘We shed some light on the man cave’. Among the helpful tips is the advice to  ‘ PRETTIFY YOUR SPACE’  – Hang some pictures – but before you put up the Playboy calendar up, remember your wife may occasionally venture into the  shed, unless you keep it locked  and ‘BE SIGNAGE SAVVY’  – put a ‘Man Cave’ sign on the door so the rest of the family understand this is your territory, and yours alone’ .
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Whilst mindlessly reading features on former Eastenders actor Larry Lamb , wedding dresses, sun cream, ukeleles, lawns, listed buildings and swollen ankles we felt as though we’d been transported back to 1953 . Nevertheless we still think Wirral !nspirations addressed our ‘information deficit’ more effectively than Wirral View ever could . What’s more it is rammed with advertising and therefore has obviously been more successful in attracting business than Wirral Council. So place your bets now as to which one of the two will go the way of Wirral News and be kicked to the kerb and into the gutter!

Men of Mystery : The Big Reveal Part 2

Speak-NO

Apologies for the delay on this one but there’s been a few glitches on the website this week . As it’s fashionable to do so we blame those pesky Russkies !

All we can say it’s a case of delayed gratification for our readers as we optimistically declare  : So, farewell then, Surjit Tour .

As yes indeed , we’re hoping that it’s the case that Wirral Council’s Head of Law is going back to where he came from. And we don’t mean that in a casual racist way a la  Cllr George Davies.  We mean that we understand that Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer (no laughing at the back) could be returning to Sandwell Council.  Could it be that Tour goes back to Sandwell and leaves the people of Wirral to go to hell in a handcart?

So what positive things can we say about Surjit as a future send off?

Er, not a lot.

Whilst we acknowledge that being Wirral Council’s legal guru is a tough gig we couldn’t imagine anyone less equipped to fulfil the role. Apologies, no actually we can – his chinless predecessor, Bill Norman!

As far as we’re concerned , during his inglorious tenure Tour steered the difficult terrain that being the pinnacle of local government legal probity involves by prioritising political and personal interests over the public interest.

This was a so called public servant who it seemed to us (and to many of our readers and contributors ) to continually thwart Freedom of Information requests,  somehow didn’t know how electoral expenses worked , circumvented due legal process and natural justice at every turn and yet who prostrated himself before people who held him in complete contempt . He was ‘ bloody useless’ according to Deputy Leader of Wirral Council Cllr George Davies (once again – no laughing at the back) . And yet he was prepared to accept a handshake,a feigned apology,  a promotion (and a cheque for hurt feelings?) to carry on as abnormal .

As for Surjit himself  – he must be counting the days before he finally drives his thoroughly vulgar personalised numberplates out of Wirral and back to the West Midlands for the last time.

But not as much as us.

Sanction Distinction

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LRJ and Foulkesy – same actions, different sanctions

And so another Labour councillor from Wirral Council is found to be unworthy of holding public office as a damning Standards Panel ‘Decision Notice’ is published. Wirral Leaks readers will know that Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ)  is no stranger to these pages . This time she appears to be the perpetrator rather than the victim of malicious acts.

The Standards Panel , after considering an Investigators Report, “found the actions of  Cllr Reecejones were designed to threaten,intimidate,underine and cause difficulties at work “ for one of the complainants Tamsin Coates . The Standards Panel also noted that LRJ  took a similar approach to the second complainant , Jessica Smyth, where she had made a complaint to the organisation where Ms Jessica Smyth volunteered . Both Ms Coates and Ms Smyth had previously raised legitimate concerns with Wirral Council’s Internal Audit and Merseyside Police. Although no charges were brought against LRJ  because of ‘insufficient evidence’ the complainants were found to be justified in raising their concerns.

LRJ 015

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50042506/Standards%20Panel%2015%20June%202017%20Decsion%20Notice.pdf

Furthermore the Standards Panel found all the complainants  to be credible ( there were more from the Overchurch Residents Association) and yet LRJ was found to be ‘inconsistent, vague and misleading’   –   we know what they’re trying to say there don’t we boys and girls? Of particular interest to us was this quote from the Decision Notice :

LRJ 018

However it was when we read the ‘Sanctions’ section that apoplexy rapidly set in.

There are 5 sanctions in all  : i ) a formal warning letter from Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer  Surjit Tour (!) ii) LJR must provide a written apology to all complainants iii)  Labour leader Cllr Phil Davies to consider whether party disciplinary action be taken against LRJ and whether she should be removed from all outside bodies to which she has been appointed iv) Tour will be arranging ‘training’ for LRJ which she must attend v) The Panel’s decision to be considered further by the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee.

These sanctions stand in stark contrast to the mild rebuke that was imposed on Cllr Steve Foulkes last year. Foulkesy got away with an apology to  Tory leader Cllr Jeff Green who wasn’t even the complainant! Foulkesy had lied to Wirral Council, lied to the investigator (necessitating a further investigation costing  Wirral Council taxpayers £17K) and continues to lie about what he and Cllr George Davies had been up to – to this very day.

If we were LRJ we’d be asking some serious questions as to why Foulkesy wasn’t given similar sanctions. Especially in relation to a proven liar being able to represent Wirral Council on outside bodies.If anything he is even more unworthy of public office than LRJ – and it would appear that’s really saying something!

But then again we did advise LRJ she was on a hiding to nothing a long time ago . She’s not and never has been part of  the ‘Inner Ring’ . Unlike Standards  Panel  member Cllr Moira McLaughlin who must have enjoyed sticking the knife in someone who played a part in bringing down disgraced former Labour councillor Jim Crabtree – who was , very much, part of the ‘Inner Ring’ .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/suspension-suspense/

We have never claimed that all Labour councillors are dishonest,incompetent or corrupt but we have consistently called out the cabal that are. Ultimately  we believe it is this ‘Inner Ring’ which has consistently brought Wirral Council into disrepute and until these people are removed from public office the people of Wirral will continue to be poorly served.

Although currently marked ‘Strictly Private and Confidential ‘ the full ‘Investigators Report’ can be found here

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/g6133/Public%20reports%20pack%2015th-Jun-2017%2017.00%20Standards%20Panel.pdf?T=10

 

 

Men of Mystery : The Big Reveal Part 1

The answer to the first part of our ‘ Men of Mystery’ quiz is that it is indeed the most powerful politician on Wirral who uttered those very words to one of his constituents who he was trying to fob off! Fortunately that constituent had the foresight to realise that Frankenfield was bullshitting him and recorded him doing so !

Who’d a thunk it ?

 

Although we need to say for clarification that Frankenfield didn’t initiate criminal proceedings against the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) as is alleged , as that would have implicated his hapless groupie Matron McLaughlin in a series of desperate cover-ups.

What he did do is pursue bogus allegations of Wirral Council misconduct with Merseyside Police and the Serious Fraud Office (for his own ends) – and even they couldn’t oblige as there was no misconduct to report. Nevertheless he has relentlessly pursued this matter – once again for his own ends and at our expense #Wirralgate.

The rest of the recording is most revealing when it comes to to considerations of public interest. We believe it demonstrates yet again that the MP for Birkenhead will only support his constituents if it is politically opportune.

Stay tuned for further extracts from ‘Frankgate’. A bit like  ‘Wirralgate’ but without the attempted bung!

And finally a message to Frankenfield – we are not seeking favours from you and never will. You’re here to serve us – not the other way round. Just sayin’ !

THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO JEANETTE STEWART .

Defending the Empire

Empire

Before we reveal the answers to our ‘Men of Mystery ‘ quiz we’d  like to maintain the suspense for slightly longer and mention a couple of Wirral Leaks regulars.

Firstly we ruefully note that ,  Asif ‘Massive’ Hamid ,Chair of Wirral Chamber of Commerce and CEO of The Contact Company has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

How appropriate that someone who specialises in empire building has been awarded an MBE! – even more so when you consider the Wirral Chamber of Horrors seems to specialise in giving awards.

Needless to say as we’re the proud recipients of a hereditary title we do have a tendency to be a bit sneery about such awards dispensed to the so-called great and the good. However our main objection is that such awards seem to serve as a defence to any  criticism-  ‘I have been honoured by the Queen ergo I am a good person’  

I’m sure all us ‘unworthies’  could name a ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ or a recipient of a lesser honour who makes us want to shake our head in despair that these people are considered to be ‘worthies’.

Talking of worthies and unworthies the Wirral Council  Standards Panel involving complaints made against Cllr Louise Reecejones did take place this week.

At least John Brace was given the honour and the privilege of being allowed to film the first part of the meeting where it was decided that he should be unceremoniously chucked out for the rest of it!

This is more than be said for last year’s  farce of a Standards Panel / Cover-Up meeting where the doors were barricaded against Brace to prevent him filming Foulkesy’s shame.

As you can see from the footage it’s the same cast from Wirral Council playing their usual roles . Cllr Chris Blakeley – the British bulldog , Cllr Moira McLaughlin  – the stern matron and Cllr Phil Gilchrist – well ,being a Lib Dem, sitting on the fence and voting to exclude the public. And of course we don’t have to tell you what the  Head of Law Surjit Tour advised do we?

Cllr Gilchrist stated that this was part of an attempt to maintain ‘public confidence in our system’ .

Really? – based on the operation of the last two Standards Panel hearings and the totally ineffectual  and self serving  Councillor’s Code of Conduct we have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE in Wirral Council’s system of protecting the powerful. Indeed when we questioned a member of the Standards and Constitutional Committee last year about the Foulkesy  ‘slap on the wrist’  They replied :

The ‘sanctions’ able to be applied are limited to just a few courses of action

As we responded :

Yes and who decided that? You guys did!. 

Utterly feeble. Should be with police and you know it.
Thankfully we know people much braver and committed to public accountability than you guys and we’ll be supporting them 100%…………. 
Whilst at the moment we don’t know the full extent of the allegations made against Cllr Reecejones – although we are promised a redacted investigator’s report shortly- it wouldn’t really matter what she (or any other councillor) had been up to as they  have neatly devised and cynically approved a policy that will forever protect the powerful to defend their political empires.

Men of Mystery

Men of Mystery

With all the bad news about at the moment we thought we’d lighten the mood and invite our readers to participate in some summertime fun and enter our mystery quiz.

The first mystery for you to solve is to identify the unlikely character who made the following comment earlier this year :

“I’m in favour of Wirral Leaks. If I was the Council I’d pay them money to find out what was going on in my Council….”

The second mystery is for you to identify the character in the tragic soap opera that is known as ‘Wirral Council’ .We understand that this supporting character (and who yet at the same time has a leading role) is moving on – no doubt to a less demanding role.

Prizes include:

  • An artist’s impression of a fantasy Wirral regeneration project of your choice ( Wirral Waters, Tower Gardens, Hanging Gardens of Bebington , Seacombe Palace, Hoylake Housing Estate and Golf Course, Stella Shiu Monument etc; etc;) This will be signed by either one of our leading artists Dee Mented and Hal Lou C. Nation
  • A referral to a Wirral foodbank of your choice (and let’s face it there’s plenty to choose from!)
  • A lifetime’s subscription to Wirral View* ( * If Wirral View pegs it before you do this will be replaced by an equivalent publication such as Take A Break  , Pick Me Up , Beano etc;etc;)
  • A recording device enabling you to compromise a local politician of your choice

Entries via the replies button below or wirralleaks@gmail.com 

Answers and prize winners will be announced when we get around to it! Good luck!

 

‘Ask not what the whistleblowers have done for themselves – ask what they have done for Wirral ….’

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The ‘whistleblowers’ in this particular case being those curious specimens who seem to be ‘courted and feted’ by the most powerful political figures on Wirral and still don’t seem to be able to cut themselves a lucrative deal . What’s that about?

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We say this as an even more curious Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has been brought to or attention.

We note that Wirral Council’s nemesis Martin Morton is still – after all these years – on their case. We also note that Wirral Council have been forced to release parts of what seems to us to be the flimsiest report of all time.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/nick_warren_investigation_report#incoming-985784

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Regular readers will know that the Nick Warren report is the means by which Wirral Council (or more specifically the Labour administration) hope to extricate themselves from the most damning scandal in Wirral Council’s history.

Yes, just think about that for a moment.

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Whilst friend of Frankenfield , Nick Warren, invites us to consider what these particular whistleblowers have done for Wirral , we’re not allowed to find out what their magnificent achievements exactly are because it would appear that Morton ,in particular, and the people of Wirral in general, are not allowed to know. Apparently we’re just expected to shut up and stump up the shush money!

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So based on what we know if Warren is posing the question what these particular whistleblowers have done for Wirral we’d have to answer : ‘ FUCK ALL’ because as far as we’re concerned there is ‘FUCK ALL’ available in his report to base our answer on!

And so it would seem we’re a long way from the JFK ideal of selfless idealism. But then again he was a shady character wasn’t he? And let’s face it he was a politician!

All we can say is that it’s a shame there isn’t a grassy knoll available to blow certain local politician’s brains out – now that’s a ‘Warren Commission’ we could support!

Billionaire Boy’s Club (Plus Princess Paula)

Tower Gardens

Tower Gardens : ‘Larger than life and twice as ugly
If we have to live there, you’ll have to drug me’

We had previously questioned whether the cancellation of the Special Meeting of Wirral Cabinet on 22 May had something to with purdah during the run up to the General Election.

Political Manoeuvres In The Dark

As you can also see we asked whether there would be a surprise waiting for us when the interminable electioneering period was over . We anticipated that council “leader” Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies and the rest of the burgeoning Billionaire’s Boy Club that went to the MIPIM event in Cannes earlier this year would reveal to us all the international trade deals that had been expertly negotiated during their spring break.

And sure enough this morning  there was a launch of a ‘£1 billion Wirral regeneration plan’ . Although Power Boy Pip shared his Wirralian hallucinations in Cannes it would appear there weren’t any takers and so deploying that old maxim ‘if you want something doing – do it yourself’  the council-led ‘Wirral Growth Company ‘ has been set up. Sadly what we have is not £1 billion of investment but  ‘a shared our vision for £1bn worth of development opportunities’ .

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15342545.Council_unveils___1_billion_Wirral_regeneration_plan/

So it would seem we’re back in the realms of ‘possible new look Tower Gardens’ and ‘possible redevelopment in Brighton Street Wallasey, and Hamilton Square’. All very much a case of dream the impossible dream and absolutely no mention of the Wirral Waters International Trade Centre. That particular fantasy seems to have been assigned to a watery grave as judging by the pictures in the Wirral Globe we now have a new set of artist’s impressions to laugh at and which suggest to us that someone has been let loose with the watercolours whilst under the influenceand some serious mind -altering drugs.

We have undertaken an Ipsos MORI  inspired vox pop of Wirral Council’s new shared vision at Leaky Towers. This may just have involved asking Her Ladyship, Eldritch and Verity what they think –  might we suggest their respective responses of : “Yeah! whatevs!, ” Here we f*cking go again”  and “Srsly?” is a more valid representation of public opinion than most pollsters have come up with lately!

Needless to say among the audience at today’s launch held at Woodside was ‘ Princess’ Paula Basnett, CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

She announced :  ” We have been awarded the business engagement and support contract for Wirral….”

Yes , of course you have Paula. And we’re sure it was a rigorous, open and transparent process!  We are therefore led to conclude from today’s historic announcement that there are 4 growth industries on Wirral – artist’s impressions , foodbanks , the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and whoever supplies their CEO with the frocks for the never-ending cycle of press launches and awards ceremonies!  It’s as simple as ABC….

I’ve seen the future, I can’t afford it
Tell me the truth sir, someone just bought it
Say Mr. Whispers! Here come the click of dice
Roulette and blackjacks – gonna build us a paradise
Larger than life and twice as ugly
If we have to live there, you’ll have to drug me

Maybe these luxuries can only compensate
For all the cards you were dealt at the hands of fate
So tell me
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire!

Millionaire! Billionaire! Trillionaire!

Hardly surprising if you might consider
Loyalties go to the highest of bidders
What’s my opinion? I’d give you ten to one
Give me a million, a franchise on fun
But there are millions who often get nowhere
And there’s just one secret I think you should share

Maybe these luxuries can only compensate
For all the cards you were dealt at the hands of fate
So tell me
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire
Tell me! tell me! How to be a millionaire!

Who wants to be millionaire?
I do! – I don’t! – I do!
Who wants to be millionaire?
I do! – I don’t!

I’ve seen the future and I can’t afford it

 

Election Selection : Week 8

Red Braces

Labour groupies Cllr Chris Meaden and Cllr Janette Williamson admire Frankenfield’s red braces and his homage to 1980’s wankers, sorry, bankers and the glory days of Thatcherism. Pic courtesy of Wirral Globe 

We don’t know how you feel but this has seemed to be the longest 8 weeks of our lives. At last we can get back to moaning about the weather and Wirral Council.

Our interest in national politics only extends to how it affects the local political landscape. By which we mean Frank Field  – obvs. For as we know Frankenfield is the de facto political leader on Wirral. Let’s face it –  McGovern , Eagle and Greenwood are mere also-rans in Wirral’s political stakes.

With Merseyside totally in the red  when it comes to local politics – from the Metro Mayor and his cabinet to all council leaders and constituency MPs and the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy there is an unprecedented concentration of  power invested in one party. Whilst that is the democratic right of the people, it scares us to death, not only because it suggests there is no effective opposition but primarily that some of the people who wield power are just so bloody awful.

But it’s not all bad news – with a hung parliament and with fox-hunting enthusiast Theresa May now experiencing what it’s like to be hunted by the ruthless and privileged ( i.e her own party) it would appear that there could be another general election on the horizon (*sighs* all round at Leaky Towers).

This of course would mean another bumper pay day for Wirral Council’s Returning Officer Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson who as we know must be struggling on his £180K + salary which is supplemented by the bumper pay outs amounting to tens of thousands of pounds he receives for declaring the seemingly never ending round of elections.

Hey Eric – any more thoughts on donating your bonus to supporting local charities or foodbanks or the New Ferry explosion fundraising efforts like a former Wirral Council Chief Executive used to do?

No – thought not!

 

Hot Flush

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Firstly , thanks go out to fellow Wirral blogger John Brace who generously tipped us off about a Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) decision made earlier this year which was published this week:

http://www.lgo.org.uk/decisions/education/school-transport/15-020-236?cn=bWVudGlvbg%3D%3D

Serendipitously it coincided with our regular leaks direct from Wallasey Town Hall and combined together they tell you everything you need to know about Wirral Council’s warped priorities.

As you can see the notoriously stingy LGO ,  who are rammed with local government failures , ruled in favour of parents who had made complaints on behalf of their disabled children who had been denied transport by Wirral Council. The LGO financially penalised Wirral Council accordingly. Well ,when we say Wirral Council, we really mean us ,the long suffering Wirral council taxpayers, as let’s face it, the people responsible for this injustice never pick up the tab – we do!

Compare and contrast this decision with the fact that a disabled super-toilet has been installed on the ground floor of Wallasey Town Hall. When we say a super-toilet we mean a toilet equipped with a heated seat and a douche facility. As let’s face it we all know the most prominent inhabitants of Wallasey Town Hall are full of crap!

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Meanwhile another leaker provided pictures of new chairs being delivered this week to the Treasury Building on two consecutive days . We can’t help feeling that both leaks serve as a perfect metaphor for Wirral Council  – as they appear to be forever protecting their own arses!

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Under the circumstances we can only suggest that Wirral Council employees wanting to climb the slippery pole press the ‘Turbo’ button. The symbol represents your tongue kissing someone’s arse. This may mean the people who pay your wages evidentially don’t get a decent service but hey! what do you care ? –  you get to pay your mortgage and pretend you’re a pillar of the community.

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