Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #5

More Money, More Troubles

This week’s Cabinet announcement concerning a council tax of 5.99% came as no surprise to anyone. Nor did Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies inevitably blaming ‘Tory cuts’ for such a hike. However where Pip outdid himself in his budget proposals was suddenly finding £20 million down the back of the metaphorical Town Hall settee  “to prevent Wirral’s young people becoming victims of Tory policies.”

Now whilst we readily acknowledge that cutting off funding streams to local authorities is very much part of a shameful central government strategy to dismantle public services – and which the Labour administration at Wirral Council seem more than happy to go along with – we baulked at the rewriting history that was going on here . The playing of party politics with children’s lives and taking no responsibility whatsoever for the dire state of Children’s Services on Wirral was a new low even for Pip . But then it’s so much easier for a Council leader, who is in a permanent state of denial, to lay bad management,  poor decision making , laziness, and incompetence on the part of public servants and poor governance on the part of local councillors at the door of  ‘Tory cuts’. It was all very reminiscent of the first edition of the Town Hall propaganda sheet Wirral View turning the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services into a good news item. We had the foresight to write : “The article on the damning Ofsted Inspection report is given more spin than Rapunzel on speed and has the title ” Children’s services to get major investment” ! Which we suspect will be the distorted shape of things to come. Full article here : First Glance at Wirral View

The October 2016 announcement of this ‘investment’ to recruit additional social workers ,improve training and management and provide more experienced, long-term leadership for children’s social care amounted to £2 million . Could it be a measure of just how much trouble Children’s Services are really in is that the required investment has increased TENFOLD ? ! 

The Emperor’s New Impose

However we do have a good news item to report and that is the retirement of Birkenhead MP Frank Field.  Well, that got your attention didn’t it! Unfortunately it’s not imminent , which is a shame – as anyone who witnessed his tetchy performance discussing Brexit on today’s Sunday Politics TV programme will testify . There he was all flush-faced and flapping hands as Stella Creasy the Labour MP for Walthamstow accused Frankenfield of “driving the Boris bus” . Which we can only hope wasn’t a lewd euphemism. Stella stood her ground and wasn’t having any of Frank’s passive aggressive nonsense telling him ” You can talk over me all you like Frank” . Full coverage here :  Frank v Stella

During the clash of handbags Frankenfield maintained that the public should have ” the right to every bit of information going”. Which is a change of tune from someone who once objected on Radio Merseyside about the Wirral public making Freedom of Information requests to Wirral Council . We just wonder whether this new found fondness for openness and transparency extends to persuading Wirral Council to finally publish a much heralded report dating back to 2015 which was written by Frank’s mate , Nick Warren. Frankenfield was whining to the local press as far back as July 2015 as to why the report hadn’t yet been published.  Now everyone involved -including Field – apparently wants to bury the report. What’s that all about?

However let’s get back to the matter of who Frankenfield thinks should inherit his kingdom. Apparently Upton councillor Matthew Patrick (aka Matty Patty) is the nice young man that Field would like to succeed him as the MP for one of the safest parliamentary seats in the land. But then we suppose there isn’t a deep pool of talent to draw upon in Birkenhead is there? But what about Foulkesy? Georgie? Crabby?, Doughty? we hear you cry. All we can assume is that Frank would like someone more in keeping with the aspirational artist’s impressions of a future Birkenhead that have been knocking about all over the local press this week.

Matty Patty 002

Artist’s impression of a possible future MP for Birkenhead

Speer’ of Destiny 

Talking of these artist’s impressions …..there were a slew of pretty pictures accompanying such headlines as Stunning new images of how Birkenhead could look in future as billion-pound deal is agreed’  concerning the Wirral Council/Muse Developments Joint Venture which includes potential plans for glossy new Council offices. Somehow a cheeky Wirral Leaks reader was suddenly minded to recall the work of the Third Reich’s architect , Albert Speer. 

We’re sure they’re not making comparisons with a power-crazed, progaganda-obsessed regime but rather just reminding us that the self-aggrandizing plans for a People’s Hall/Great Hall/Hall of Glory were never realized.

 

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Pit of Despair

Pit 1

After all this week’s talk of Wirral Council’s ambitious plans we thought it be a good time to bring them down from their ivory towers/skyscrapers/ drug-fuelled (?)hallucinations and remind them they need to walk before they can run (up a big bill to be paid for by us).

We say this as we publish this salutary tale about what it’s like to try and report safety concerns about a Council run facility and ask the question as to how, as a society, did we reach the point where someone who wants to raise genuine concerns about the health and safety of children is afraid to do so in case there are repercussions for their family and reprisals for Wirral Council staff? Not for the first time – we despair!

The specific concerns are as follows were originally reported to the local press and local MP ( Margaret Greenwood) :

As a concerned parent of a two year old girl I would like to bring to your attention a concern I have had for a number of weeks now.

I use the swimming facility with my family at Woodchurch, have done for many years. I sometimes, like most parents lift my daughter out of the water and on a count of 3 she jumps into my arms.

On the occasion in question, I was stopped by the lifeguard, he came over to me, asked not to allow my daughter to stand on the side, on the grounds of Health and Safety I initially thought he was stopping me , ridiculously having my daughter jump into my arms and I took issue with the person.

He then pointed out a large drop that runs the length of the pool, highlighting that if she fell she would be seriously hurt. My stomach churned and I felt physically sick. I thanked him.On leaving we highlighted the concern to a staff member, who just stated  : ” Yes I know, its terrible isn’t it? Living local we often see staff out and about and we always exchange pleasantries. On this occasion my husband took it upon himself to further discuss the large drop at the back of the pool. The staff member confirmed it’s a problem , further offered up information that staff on duty are terrified of it also and have been complaining about it for years,also that there have been numerous incidents and accidents and still management will not do anything about it. We asked why, the reply was ” They are all D heads” and also that it will get sorted one day, but it will be too late then.Could you please warn the public of this, as it terrible, It’s just a case of finding the right vehicle to channel a public safety concern , whilst protecting yourself and we have done enough now. Hopefully something will get done.

It’s a sobering thought to think that we’re considered a right vehicle for such concerns – but it would appear we are. For obvious reasons we’re not confident that this issue will be resolved as it has now been raised by a third party as a ‘safeguarding’ concern with Wirral Council social services . However we are reassured that the external agency the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are now involved.

When we asked our source how they wanted to cover this story they replied :

It’s up to you.It’s all true and don’t want to get staff in trouble by giving too much information as they have already started asking who said what.However everyone is talking about it know . HSE have been out I am informed and condemned it also. So that’s all I can tell you really. Do it if it helps to get it sorted – run it. It’s cost I am told. Cost to protect people just by a cover. Ridiculous!.

When we asked about about our sources thoughts about how difficult it is to raise genuine concerns in the public interest they replied :

Sad society we live in I am afraid .

And so it would appear that giving a damn about children’s safety remains a problem and especially the case if you live or work on Wirral !

Pit 2

 

 

More Muse Musings

Muse

The closest we’re ever going to get to a Pre-Raphaelite joke Pic : ‘The Blessed Damozel’  Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Lady Lever Art Gallery , Port Sunlight )

What warms what’s left of the dying embers of our heart is when we set the hares running and questioning, enquiring  Wirralians come running back to share their concerns with us.

So following on from yesterday’s Muse Musings story we have yet more muse musings.

The first observation concerns a report in Place North West with whom Wirral Council seem to have struck up a special rapport.  After reading about the Wirral Council/Wirral Growth Company / Muse Developments ‘preferred development partner’ hook up what particularly caught the interest of one of our readers was something not included in the bulletpointed  list of ‘initial proposals’ and which as far as we know , is not reported elsewhere (or indeed in Council leader’s Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ message to  Labour Party members – see below) . Hidden in plain sight is the comment that  ‘Place North West also understands that some of the office space is earmarked as a new headquarters for Wirral Council’ . No prizes for guessing which of those currently playing ‘let’s- pretend-to-be -property magnates -with public assets’ will be earmarked for spanking new office space if this proposal comes off . However it would seem to be politically inopportune to metaphorically shout it from the top of the Wirral Waters ‘International Trade Centre’ (see any number of previously published artist’s impressions).  Read full article here : Muse chosen for £1bn Wirral regeneration

Meanwhile another switched on Wirral Leaks reader referred us to report of  next week’s Cabinet 28th February  where the Muse Developments appointment is to be rubber -stamped.   We’re sure you all know the drill by now . Pip introduces the report and talks about challenges/ Tory cuts/ budget shortfall/20 Pledges/bigs up Wirral Growth Company and then the rest of the Cabinet chip in with carefully rehearsed variations of Pip’s paean.

We can guarantee that what won’t be discussed is some of the more problematic areas in the report identified by own of our readers :

Bidder A is Muse

Bidder B is BCEGI/Scarborough

An investigative journalist such as your good selves might want to look at how Muse develop and how this agreement is to be made. (And the so called ‘Muse tax). They are stating 50/50 but Muse never put any money into schemes. They borrow. The report states that the BCEGI/Scarborough bid matched the land value with cash.

3.32 Based on the business plans submitted, Bidder A requires a Council cash injection whereas Bidder B requires land investment as security for the cash equity that it would put into the Joint Venture (JV) on the Council’s behalf. In terms of the peak exposure, Bidder B had a peak security requirement of £7.5m whereas the peak cash requirement from Bidder A is only £3.96m. Therefore, under the worst case scenario where the market crashes and the developments stall then Bidder A’s proposal has a lower peak risk exposure. 3.33 The total returns from the proposed development of the 11 priority sites assessed under Bidder A’s proposals is c£30.4m. This is broken down as follows:
· Land Value (Capital) – £17.7m
· Profit (Revenue) – £11.7m
· Loan Note Interest – £0.8m 3.34 The majority of the financial returns from Bidder A are delivered to the council in the first couple of years of the JV being established. In fact, £27.8m would be received by 2021.

 A couple of points which whiff:

 If the market crashes, what happens to land value? Presumably it rockets towards zero, whereas cash is always cash and their £3.96m loss is absolute.

  1. If Muse aren’t completing until 2022 (one year later Bidder A), how can they possibly have realised 91% of total returns by 2021?
  2. The 7.5m land value is also Bidder B’s assessment which is much more than the actual land value!!!

 Why are they happy to bear a risk of £3.96m cash against using their land intelligently! This doesn’t fit with the revenue & financial pressures that the council is under. I would have thought that an asset based investment would be more attractive to a cash poor authority.

 You may want to also look into the relationship with WBC financial analysts GVA and their relationships with MUSE in other schemes. The whole thing is a stitch up. The Bidder B development is quicker and a much more financially sound offer without the council borrowing cash. Bidder A has 2 multi storey car parks and the council are saying this is a good thing! During the bid they were telling all bidders that they can’t fill or make pay the car parks they already have! 

By the looks of it this one will run and run (and our hares are on to it). Meanwhile here’s the Pip-approved  version of the story that the Wirral Council ‘leader’ chooses to share with the Labour Party faithful (and clearly the not so faithful!) Check out the final line (which we have put in bold) which is pure Corbyn-lite Common Purpose speak . We’re just left wondering whether Frank Field approved the Jezza references?

Dear Labour Party member

In the coming weeks, Wirral’s Labour Council will be announcing a new initiative to drive economic growth across the borough in what will be the biggest public-sector led regeneration programme in the UK.

Wirral’s development story began nearly 200 years ago when investors were encouraged to choose our peninsula to build great shipyards, factories and plan new towns and villages that were the envy of the world.

Today we face new challenges – how to fund our public services, improve job opportunities for residents, provide suitable housing, and attract new investment into our borough.

As you know, in 2021 this Tory Government will stop providing councils with the Revenue Support Grant, a vital source of income for us to deliver front-line services. While wealthy London councils may be able to get by on their council tax and business rates, for authorities like ours it will be a devastating loss of nearly £30m a year.

We have to act to secure the services we know our residents rely upon. As Jeremy Corbyn made clear in our 2017 Manifesto  – “our public services must rest on the foundation of sound finances.”

Council’s Cabinet will meet on 28th February to approve a recommendation to appoint Northwest-based regeneration specialist Muse Developments as our joint venture partner to create Wirral Growth Company.

Muse has been behind a number of impressive schemes across the North West such as St. Paul’s Square in Liverpool and urban regeneration projects in Chester, Warrington and Stockport and we are impressed with their track record of working with local authorities and meeting a wide range of regeneration goals.

In what is an ambitious but responsible public-private sector partnership, the profits from the numerous developments will be split 50-50, with the Council’s share providing income to be reinvested to help compensate for the financial shortfall we face because of decisions taken by Tory Ministers in Whitehall.

This Council’s ambitions are shared by our new partner. We have enshrined in the guiding principles of the joint venture a commitment to deliver our 2020 pledges, to hire local workers, purchase materials and services from local businesses and to provide training and work experience for local residents through our relationship with Wirral Met College.

Three years ago, our administration set 2020 Pledges and I am pleased that Wirral Growth Company will play a key role in delivering these goals. We said we would create thousands of new jobs, attract 100s of millions in new investment, and provide good quality housing and protect and improve Wirral’s attractive local environment.

Wirral Growth Company will deliver:

£1bn Growth Plan
As the economy continues to flat-line under the failing, Brexit-obsessed Tories, Wirral Growth Company will be a game changer, injecting hundreds of millions of new investment in Wirral.

Buy Local, Hire Local
As our 2017 General Election manifesto stated, we understand the creation of wealth is a ‘collective endeavour between workers, entrepreneurs and investors’. That’s why I wanted to make sure Wirral got the best possible social outcomes from this deal, so have included commitments to hire locally, buy supplies from and contract with local firms, train local workers, and meet the highest environmental, health and safety standards.

New Homes
There is a housing shortage nationally, and a need for appropriate new homes to be built here in Wirral. Our plans will include the creation of more homes right across Wirral, meeting and exceeding our affordable homes targets in a way the private sector alone never could.

Extra Care Village
With health and social care services struggling to survive under the Conservatives, Wirral Growth Company will develop an Extra Care Village to look after vulnerable residents because this Labour-led authority cares for all, especially those in the greatest need.

Thousands of New Jobs
Providing work for our residents sits at the heart of any regeneration plan. We predict Wirral Growth Company will help deliver more than 3,000 new jobs within the first three years. We will also develop and strengthen local ties with Wirral Met College to train the workforce of the future as part of  a solid foundation for a local industry strategy.

With the deal being proposed, Wirral Council won’t be selling any of its assets, we will have full involvement in every development decision, we will benefit from the economic growth any regeneration creates and, as a 50-50 joint venture, the Council will benefit from the profits.

If cabinet approve the recommendation, the next steps include starting the conversation with you and local residents about what, where, when and how regeneration begins across Wirral.

I believe this is the start of an extraordinary new chapter for Wirral. Through our pioneering spirit, Wirral Growth Company can help blaze an urban regeneration trail that shapes our 21st century economic fortunes.

By using the strength of our common endeavour, I know we will able to deliver these bold plans to deliver for the many, not the few.

Members who are interested in learning more about Wirral Growth Company should visit www.wirralwellmade.com website for more details, or join the conversation on @wirralwellmade twitter account or wirralwellmade facebook page.

Cllr Phil Davies

Leader of Wirral Council

 

 

Muse Musings

How lovely of the local MSM to join the local party (and we all know what party that is don’t we boys and girls?).

OK so the Liverpool Echo and Wirral Globe are exactly ONE MONTH late in dancing to Martin Liptrot’s tune after Wirral Leaks exclusively revealed that Muse Developments were Wirral Council’s preferred partner – in what exactly? Wirral Growth Company – apparently !

Our thanks go to ‘Frankie'(not that one obviously) for saying this  :

I know you’ve moved away and hope your enjoying being away from the rat race…. just to give you an update looks like the clowncil are about to appoint the partner this being MUSE who seem to be the front runner in the shenanigans.

Loves ya leaky
Frankie

MUSE

Wirral Council placing public assets and development programmes under the control of a private company –  what could possibly go wrong?  Just don’t mention Carillion ! Full story here :  Dispatches from Dystopia

However it wasn’t us who noticed that the orchestrated media message about Muse Developments was embargoed until it could be better managed . As one of our (many) sources said after picking up the story from Martin Liptrot’s Facebook page : ” He’s headlines in all our local fearless news outlets today….”

Cabinet to consider appointment of Wirral Growth Company partner

Stunning new images

Isn’t he just ? – but we just wish he’d spare us yet more bloody artist’s impressions. Our favourite quote was from Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies who is in the Liverpool Echo saying that the Wirral Growth Company “would be accountable to the public”.

Wirral Growth Company – A PRIVATE Limited Company

Well that would make a change wouldn’t it? We can’t even get a public body to be accountable let alone a private limited company. Moreover the Wirral Growth Company appears to be a one man operation (or should that be be one man bandit?) as it is registered in the name of the eternal Wirral Council frontman David Armstrong. A man who when it comes to being held accountable on behalf of Wirral Council at a forthcoming Tribunal said he’d call in sick if asked to do so ( didn’t he Rosemary?)

We’d also like to ask as to why Wirral Council had to resort to a solicitor in Bristol by the name of Christopher Harper (Bevan Brittan LLP )to set up this thoroughly flimsy looking operation.

Having said all that what we’re particularly interested in is the role of Power Boy Pip’s friend and neighbour Martin Liprot (aka Liptrotsky) who according to his LinkedIn page is no longer the ‘Lead Investment Officer (Interim)’ at Wirral Council and has now resorted to being a ‘Communications, Stakeholder Engagement & Public Affairs Consultant’. That’s ‘Spin Doctor’ to you and us. Although somebody still needs to explain how ‘Wirral. Well made. ‘ fits into all of this – even if it is Col Regis Davies ( are you still going with that hilarious nom de guerre, Martin?)

However at this point we really must direct you to Liptrotsky’s vainglorious Facebook page – 98 Republic

All we’d like to say is that you’d think a ‘Communications, Stakeholder Engagement & Public Affairs Consultant’ would know the difference between an ‘article’ and an ‘advertisement feature’ paid for by us wouldn’t you?

Liptrot Shit 007

We’re left feeling that that we should send out a message to the various inadequate protagonists involved in this increasingly sordid story and ask them to listen to a song written appropriately enough by ‘Propaganda’:

Sell him your soul, sell him your soul, sell him your soul
Never look back, never look back

 

Frank Field : Fearless or Shameless ?

Now we’ve imagined that we would meet a grisly end courtesy of either a failed brakes incident as Her Ladyship and I cruised La Grande Corniche or a like a deadlier version of the opening scene to the film ‘Sexy Beast’ as we lounged in the Mediterranean sun.

However it would seem our readers have other ideas. Are you really trying to induce a coronary? We say this as we’ve received pictures from a Mail On Sunday reader – we’re a broad church and we don’t judge – yeah right! we hear you cry- but that particular publication isn’t usually part of our reading matter , especially when it regularly features their ‘pet’ Labour politician Frank Field.

Last Sunday’s edition exceeded itself as it features a full page spread of our beloved MP for Birkenhead under the headline – ” Fearless Frank : How I brought TWO Philip Greens down to size” and where we find Frankenfield adopting a macho stance (or as close an approximation as he can manage).

Fearless frank 002

The TWO Philip Greens involved are the former boss of BHS , ‘Sir’ Philip Green and the Carillion CEO of the same name who isn’t a knight of the realm . Frankenfield is wringing every last ounce of self-aggrandizing publicity out of this isn’t he?  How ‘fearless’ do you have to be when you’re the chair of Work and Pensions Select Committee and what is it with Frankenfield and Greens? – beit Dave, Philip or the Green Party? Perhaps ‘Dear Papa’ forced him to eat his greens and he’s held a grudge ever since. And if there’s one thing we know about Foodbank Frank is that he ‘bears more grudges than lonely high court judges’  .

The hagiographic article written by the clearly impressionable William Turvill is jampacked with early entries for the Leaky Awards ‘ “Quote of the Year”.

Now if questions  A) and B) were posed to Wirral Council, Grant Thornton etc; instead of untouchable ,distant but headline-grabbing multi-millionaires we might have more respect for him*

nb – let’s be honest it’ll be a cold day in hell when we have any respect for Frank Field 

A) 

Fearless frank 008

B)

Fearless frank 011

 

Fearless frank 010

But our absolute favourite quote was this :

Fearless frank 006

To which we would like to respond and say : Be careful what you wish for Frankie-baby! Although it must be great when Wirral Council (or rather their council taxpayers) are picking up the bill as a result of your scheming ways!

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #4

WW1

WW1 : Artist’s impression # 256

                                                                   WW1

As far as ‘Wirral Waters’ press releases goes this really is the best one yet. You can almost smell the desperation.  Note how the quietly abandoned ‘Wirral Waters’ scheme has suddenly and mysteriously been ‘transformed’ into ‘Wirral Waters One’ . Whoever thought of that new branding needs shooting – say it out loud , it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? Can we also point out that when it comes to acronyms WW1 has already been taken? Just sayin’

Apparently Wirral Council’s Cabinet will announce tomorrow that a massive (! )£100,000 will ‘kick start’ a £90,000,000 residential development in ‘Wirral Waters One’ !

The proposal is a joint venture between the council and landowners Peel Holdings, and includes the Legacy Foundation – an investment fund established by former Tranmere Rovers player Aaron Cresswell………..The Legacy Foundation will provide £100,000 of funding in the first year to be invested in community activities. Full story : Wirral Waters One

We don’t get a breakdown of the total investment between Peel Holdings/ Wirral Council/Legacy Foundation but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be Wirral Council (or more accurately Wirral council taxpayers) who will be putting their hands the deepest into their pockets when it comes to ‘kick starting’ this proposal. Nor do we get an explanation as to what is meant by ‘community activities’

Instead stepping up to take credit for the momentous investment was Birkenhead MP Frank Field  (huh?)

“An idea bringing the largest programme of new housing to Wirral in living memory, announced today, is the brainchild of Andrew Forsey who is the head of my Parliamentary office.Through his work in making contact with footballers interested in making long term investments from their pensions. Andrew helped to persuade a crop of current and former Premier League players – including Aaron Cresswell, who was a Tranmere Rovers player and now plays for West Ham – to see whether it would be possible for his investment fund to begin work in Wirral Waters.”

Is it just us ? – or is is there something vaguely nauseating about poverty tourist Frank Field’s parliamentary office brainstorming about the ‘loadsamonies’ who they can approach with the begging bowl without considering whether it’s morally right that footballers and the like can earn such huge sums of money or question as to whether as a society we’ve got our values all wrong? Nevertheless it is interesting to discover that Wirral’s ‘largest programme of new housing’ is somehow the responsibility of Frank Field’s Parliamentary office isn’t it?!

NUMBER – CRUNCHING   – Aaron Cresswell’s  current fortnightly salary at West Ham Utd  = £100,000 ! (well fancy that!)  See here : West Ham Utd Salaries 2018

So what we’d like tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting to do is finally come clean and announce that ‘Wirral Waters One’ and indeed the ‘ Hoylake Golf Resort’ proposal are merely opportunistic housing developments and quit the soft soap.

 

                                                              Vexatious , Moi?

Wirral Council seemed to have backed off the desperate claim that Wirral Council taxpayer Charles Nunn is ‘vexatious’ for asking pertinent questions about the continuing employment of highly paid consultant Stewart Halliday . See their latest response here : Halliday FOI

Mr Nunn comments :

At last a part reply to my F.of Information request.
Halliday has had his contract extended for a further SIX MONTHS from 1st. January, 2018.
Another £90,000 odd from the Wirral Council Tax payer.
It may be worth a mention in your esteemed publication.
Charles

                           

                                           CGL:  “……and nobody seemed to care “

Many thanks to those who keep us appraised of national charity Change,Grow Live who are the grateful recipient of Wirral’s largest ( £7 million +) Public Health contract. Their latest mishap involves them in a massive data breach involving abandoned files found in an empty Tameside office  containing highly personal details about the lives of vulnerable young people – including abuse survivors. Once again we fear we have seen the future of health and social care. Be afraid, be very afraid.

CGL- Tameside

 

                                                     Posted Truth

A source writes :

By way of obscure and tenuous response to you excellent ‘Post Truth’ contribution/blog

… I am sending you this ‘Posted Truth’ image… I reckon you could say it is both a statement of fact…. and a protest. (Which I obviously feel to be a good thing).

Posted Truth

 

 

                                                       De-Stressed Eric 

A local barfly informs us :

Eric (Robinson) was recently seen in a pub in Liverpool when he should have been working – the pub being ‘Brew Dog’ dressed in casuals.
The council is no better than when we had the other 3 – it’s probably worse.

Now we can’t confirm whether Stressed Eric was on council duty or not whilst allegedly quaffing the craft ale – but we have to ask as to whether anyone would notice the difference ? Plus we simply don’t want to think about him dressed in his ‘casuals’.

Having said that we don’t need convincing that Wirral Council is worse than ever under his , ahem, ‘leadership’  As for ‘the other 3’ – whoever could they mean?!

       

                                               A Cautionary Tale

In Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2 we commented on recent developments where Mayor Joe Anderson was interviewed  by Merseyside Police ‘under caution’ in relation to the ongoing fraud probe involving Liverpool City Council CEO Ged Fitzgerald and others. We now hear of someone closer to home who it is alleged was also interviewed under caution by Merseyside Police in relation to an altogether different matter. However such are the extreme sensitivities surrounding this particular case we are precluded from reporting any further. Nevertheless we will be following developments with interest….

Her Ladyship’s Thoughts From A Broad : Gang Mentality

3 billboards

The second part of our movie review double bill is ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’.

The film tells the tale of Mildred Hayes (played by Frances McDormand) , a grieving mother of a murdered teenager, angry at the lack of progress made in finding her daughter’s killer, who erects three billboards outside town, calling the local police chief to task. Now it’s not just the influence of our foulmouthed butler Eldritch and his Anglo-Saxon tendencies but this film really hit home with us (and if you are easily offended could we suggest this film, this blog post and the trailer below might not be for you).

Having said that there are many reasons why we think you should watch this film (not least of which are the excellent script and performances ) . Whilst the issues raised in the film  – anger , guilt, grief, retribution and the abuse of power has many resonances for us ,there is one particular scene that nailed one of our recurring themes and made us wanna holler  , stand up and clap our hands (see below) .

We’ve previously established our uncompromising views on Wirral’s gang mentality when we published C.S Lewis’ eloquent analysis about how ‘The Inner Ring’  operates :  Wirral Council Scoundrels : Five Years On

However we maintain there is a gang mentality which is about more than just members of a particular political party who happen to follow the same religion and the same football team (although it must be said there are a few Wirral Leaks regulars who fit this particular demographic) . It is the means by which the powerful across all of our local institutions protect each other knowing that if they’re part of this gang they can never be criticised and can never be culpable. 

SPOILER ALERT !  This is Mildred’s response to Father Montgomery who comes to visit Mildred to voice his disapproval at the billboards . Whilst this may be a less eloquent modern counterpoint to C.S Lewis and ‘The Inner Ring’ we consider it no less powerful.
FATHER MONTGOMERY
I know it’s been hard for you, Mildred,
this past year. We all do. The whole
town does. And whatever it is you need,
we’ll be there for you. Always. But the
town also knows what kind of a man
William Willoughby is. And the town is
dead set against these billboards of
yours.
MILDRED
Took a poll, did ya, Father?
FATHER MONTGOMERY
If you hadn’t stopped coming to church,
Mildred, you’d be aware of the depth of
people’s feelings. I had a dozen people
come up to me on Sunday. So, yes, I
took a poll. Everybody is on your side
about Angela. No-one’s on your side
about this.
MILDRED
Y’know what I was thinking about,
earlier today? I was thinking ‘bout
those streetgangs they got in Los
Angeles, the Crips and the Bloods? I
was thinking about that buncha new laws
they came up with, in the 80’s I think
it was, to combat those street-gangs,
those Crips and those Bloods.

And, if I remember rightly, the gist of
what those new laws said was, if you
join one of these gangs, and you’re
running with ‘em, and down the block
from you one night, unbeknownst to you,
your fellow Crips, or your fellow
Bloods, shoot up a place, or stab a
guy, well, even though you didn’t know
nothing about it, even though you
may’ve just been standing on a
streetcorner minding your own business,
those new laws said you are still
culpable. You are still culpable, by
the very act of joining those Crips, or
those Bloods, in the first place. Which
got me thinking, Father, that whole
type of situation is kinda similar to
you Church boys, ain’t it? You’ve got
your colors, you’ve got your clubhouse,
you’re, for want of a better word, a
gang. And if you’re upstairs smoking a
pipe and reading a bible while one of
your fellow gang members is downstairs
fucking an altar boy then, Father, just
like the Crips, and just like the
Bloods, you’re culpable. Cos you joined
the gang, man. And I don’t care if you
never did shit or never saw shit or
never heard shit. You joined the gang.
You’re culpable. 

So , thinking particularly about a file in our possession,  Her Ladyship is currently channelling Mildred Hayes and wondering whether to organise a Crowdfund page to hire some billboards as ‘the more you keep a case in the public eye, the better your chances are at getting it solved ‘………………………………………………………………..    

His Lordship’s Thoughts From Abroad : ‘Post -Truth’

” The way they lied, those days have to be over……”

As we promised we would from time-to-time provide our thoughts from abroad as we adjusted to our new surroundings and tried to make sense of our former life on Wirral.

Now that we lead a Wilde life of ‘cultivated leisure—which, and not labour, is the aim of man—or making beautiful things, or reading beautiful things, or simply contemplating the world with admiration and delight’ we have the time to indulge our passion for the arts and we have been able to see a couple of Oscar -nominated movies which particularly resonated with us.

The first of this movie review double bill is ‘The Post’ which we were drawn to as it tells the story of the Washington Post and the ‘Pentagon Papers’ . The leak of the Pentagon Papers – and as you all know we love a good leak – occurred during the Richard Nixon US presidency. Nixon recklessly embarked on a mega exercise in reputation management – to protect his presidency. In his eyes, the publication of the ‘Pentagon Papers’ would confirm the existence of a conspiracy whose purpose was to delegitimize him and topple the ruling administration .Nixon resolved to fight back with every tool at his disposal, making the fateful decision to break the law to achieve his ends. This led to the ‘Watergate’ which led to his downfall.  The plot should sound familiar to Wirral Leaks readers as from the very first time we broke the story we have likened to Wirralgate to the Watergate  scandal. Read here : Exclusive – Wirralgate!

SPOILER ALERT! –  ‘The Post’ is a dramatisation  of how Katharine Graham the publisher of The Washington Post came to publish the ‘Pentagon Papers’ even though it would be damaging to powerful politicians with whom she had close friendships. This in turn led to ‘Watergate’ – and whilst, yes we know, Wirral Globe or the Liverpool Echo aren’t the Washington Post our thoughts turned to how our local noble and principled press men from the Liverpool Echo and Wirral Globe dealt with the Wirralgate recording which would undoubtedly (and deservedly) bring down the current Wirral Council Labour administration if the contents were ever published.

Whilst we accept that it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the press to hold public authorities to account – there should be systems of public accountability in place to do that. However it would appear there simply isn’t the will or the way, especially when our public institutions seem to be set up to maintain the status quo – no matter how dysfunctional or corrupt .

So under those circumstances,what’s the best we can hope for from the local press? – is it too much to ask that those with the means to expose the biggest scandal in Wirral’s political history , but are unwilling or unable to do so , at least don’t collude with criminality and corruption for their own ends?

It is significant that both local news outlets refused to participate in either of the Thynne ‘Wirralgate’ investigations despite the second investigation report commenting that the Wirralgate recording was potentiality a criminal matter. This can’t be justified on the grounds of protecting sources especially when Liam Murphy ,the former political editor of the Liverpool Echo not only revealed the existence of the Wirralgate recording to then leader of the Wirral Council  group, Jeff Green  , he made his own covert recording and played it to Wirral Council’s head of communications, Emma Degg. And yet now we discover Murphy has secured himself a communications role within the local Labour ‘Inner Ring’ and as for the Wirral Globe – post -truth par excellence (see below) with regular columns from Birkenhead MP Frank Field and advertorial heaven from July 2017 – the date from which they had the ‘Wirralgate’ tape in their possession. So make your own mind up as to who’s interests are being served.

All we know is that it would seem that the days of the ‘W’ word rearing its ugly head in the local press is well and truly over. It is sad to reflect that in the run up to the series of elections held in 2016 Wirral Globe was asking ” Will controversial local issues influence Wirral Voters in Super Thursday ballot?” This included the following observation :

Another highly-controversial issue put on hold is the long-awaited report – believed to have been in studied in secret for many weeks at the town hall – into the co-called “Wirralgate” scandal has yet to be seen by anyone outside the inner circle.

Readers may remember this centres on allegations of a plot to “smear” a leading councillor by political rivals and has been the subject of TWO costly inquiries by an outside consultant

Full story here : Wirralgate – controversial issues

With Wirral’s politicians gearing up for another round of elections in May we guarantee that the ‘Wirralgate’ issue will not influence local voters as they will not be informed anything about it ! . This, despite there being yet ANOTHER investigation report into issues surrounding the scandal being concealed from public view and which we understand  is now subject to a high court challenge in that there London just before the local elections . Again, don’t expect to read about in the local papers!

Or in the words of  Wirral Globe columnist Peter Grant who wrote as far back as August 2016 :

Literary musings from Mr Shakespeare could come in handy for debates in Wallasey Town Hall, especially after the recent publication of the so-called “Wirralgate” report by Patricia Thynne. If the opposition parties want to complain they could always throw into the chamber pot such verbal attacks as: “Laughing stock”“For goodness sake” and, for the council leader: “The game is up”.Phil Davies could simply reply with: “The world’s mine oyster”.Whistleblowers would ask for “The naked truth” and demand that “The truth will out”.  But here’s my own favourite Bardism while I await any good local news always “With bated breath”.

Full story here : Wirralgate : Granty Goes Shakespeare

As it’s now February 2018 we advise Granty that breath holding whilst awaiting for any news on ‘Wirralgate’ is ill-advised  – as he’s likely to shuffle off  “this mortal coil”! 

After we’d watched the ‘ The Post’ with a mannered Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks not only did we assume the film fitted the ‘worthy but dull’ Academy Award category but we were also minded to recall the ‘Word of the Year 2016’ which was ‘post-truth’ an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.  Unfortunately it seems to us the local press operates in this post truth world of politician’s pet projects and pictures of pets. For further reading might we suggest the books ‘Post -Truth : How Bullshit Conquered the World’  by James Ball and ‘Post-Truth : The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back’ by Matthew D’Ancona . The latter investigates how we have got to where we are ,why quiet resignation is not an option and how we can and must fight back.

POST TRUTH

“The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”

 

A Purple Heart for Valentine’s Day

Purple heart

 

Labour are red , Tories are blue

What do red and blue make ?

Here’s a purple heart for you!

 

Labour are red , Tories are blue,

We can’t tell the difference on Wirral

Can you?

Further contributions to this annual day of romance are welcome but preferably not such as the likes below which to us represents tacky sentimentality rather than romance and beauty.

Foulkes Valentines

As everyone who reads Wirral Leaks knows this is what true romance looks like :

WL-LEAKY

Roses are red,violets are blue

Do you like my Ugg boots?

If so, there’s a fag in my packet for you!

 

House of Bamboo

bamboo lettings 2
It’s made of sticks.
Sticks and bricks,
But you can get your kicks
In the house of bamboo.
If you consider the ‘personalities’ involved and the issues it raises it might strike you as surprising that we’ve only just caught up the curious case of Bamboo Lettings. Furthermore if you ever wanted to know about how things work on Wirral and in the wider world of networking – here it is laid out for you in this deeply worrying story.
We were prompted to pursue this story by a recent correspondent who asked us:
Also can you advise re Magenta Living being a Social non profit org. starting up a subsidiary called Bamboo Lettings which is a joint venture with Torus Group (St Helens – Graham Burgess) which will increase the returns on some formerly social-rented stock by letting them at market rates for a period of five years.
At 31st March 2017, Magenta Living had transferred 5 properties into Bamboo Lettings, with the intention being that a further 95 properties will be transferred into Bamboo by the end of 2017-18. Magenta Annual Report 2016/17
It might be legal but who decides property A is Social – Property B next door is commercial and charges more? 100 now ,how many in future years? Still classed as a Charity? Stinks to high heaven……………..
However it should be noted it was a brave and curious Wirral resident who first raised the issue courtesy of a Freedom of Information request in May 2016 . You might be surprised to know this local housing development wasn’t lauded with a press release featuring fat felines grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. Maybe that’s because some deeply troubling questions might have been asked at the time – Bamboo Lettings – FOI request
It was left to Joe Halewood and his excellent welfare rights blog SPeye blog to pick up on the issues with this post in February 2017 where Joe writes :
Bamboo Lettings is owned by Magenta and Torus.  Magenta was the former council housing department of Wirral Borough Council, and Torus is the former council housing departments of Warrington and St Helens.  It has offices in Wirral and even its own Facebook page here and there you can see the strap line Bamboo Lettings is a private lettings company, with properties in Wirral, Warrington and St Helens.  Such contrived and opaque constructs are no longer needed reader!
Then belatedly, but God love him ,  Lib Dem Cllr Stuart Kelly tried to raise the profile of this dodgy development and introduced a Notice of Motion at a Wirral Council meeting in July 2017
LOSS OF SOCIAL HOUSING TO BAMBOO LETTINGS LLP (to be debated)
Proposed by Councillor Stuart Kelly
Seconded by Councillor Chris Carubia
Council notes the establishment of a private lettings company known as Bamboo
Lettings LLP between Magenta Living and a housing organisation called Torus.
Council notes that Magenta are planning to transfer under a lease arrangement up to100 social housing homes to Bamboo Lettings company for them to be let at full market rents.
Council notes that a three bedroom house offered for let by Bamboo in the
Woodchurch area will cost a prospective tenant £137 per week against the social
rent charged by Magenta of circa £97 per week in the same area (and against an
‘affordable’ rent level of £110).
In addition, Council is concerned that Bamboo Lettings also charge private sector
style ‘fees’; an example of these fees for a three bedroom house in the Woodchurch
area is:
 Application fee – £50
 Administration fee – £75
 Guarantor fee – £50
 Check out fee – £60
 Additional deposit for a pet – £100
Council believes that these fees are not linked to the service provided, are
unacceptable and extortionate and requests a justification for this regime.
Council notes the Cabinet Member for Housing has told Magenta that Wirral Council would not want to see larger 4 bedroom accommodation, those for older people and those adapted properties being transferred; and has highlighted to Magenta concerns about a number of disposals occurring in the same popular locations, thus reducing availability of social housing stock.
Council notes that there are currently 9643 people registered on the Choice Based
Lettings System, of which 2348 have a housing priority need.
Council has objections to the use of social housing in this way and requests (through the Council’s Managing Director for Delivery to Magenta Living) that the relationship with Torus/Bamboo be suspended to allow the Council the opportunity to fully investigate the use of social housing stock as de facto private rented houses https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50042720/Council%20NoMs%20-%2010-7-17.pdf8
Cllr Kelly elaborated further on his concerns about this development in this Wirral Globe article  – Councillor slams ‘unacceptable and extortionate transfer of former council houses’
Needless to say nobody took a blind bit of notice of the ‘Notice of Motion’ and that’s not just because Cllr Kelly is a Lib Dem with – let’s face it – no power or influence over Wirral Council whatsoever.
So let’s join the dots and explain why that might be the case and look at the interested parties who do have that kind of power and influence. First of all can we say that any joint venture between Magenta Living and Torus should have been called Red Bull(shit)- geddit?
First of all here’s the Torus Group Board or more accurately the Torus COMMON PURPOSE Board TORUS COMMON PURPOSE BOARD
We first highlighted the connections here : Where Are They Now? Part 4- Emma Degg
Torus 032
Wirral Leaks readers may recall the candy floss- haired one on the left is former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess who’s main claim to fame is that he once shared a hole at the ‘The Open’ with former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin Adderley when it was last held in Hoylake. The man on the right is Rob’ Narcissist’ Young – a former Assistant Director of Wirral Council’s Housing Department.
Although surprisingly for such egomaniacs they’re quite shy about their involvement in this money-making racket masquerading as Tory housing policy : Companies House Officers
See how this works yet ? If you don’t , you need to realise that Magenta Living Board includes such Wirral Council  luminaries as Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes , Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green and Cllr Stuart ‘Witless’ Whittingham Magenta Living Board
Which raises the question as to why they were appointed in the first place – could it be they are the last people who’d raise questions in the best interests of those who need social housing?  Ever felt you’ve been bamboozled by bureaucrats?