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….

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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?

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #3

We’ve got stories backing up like a blocked up bog during the plague – and believe us they all stink to high heaven.

However let’s get on with this week’s Wirral snippets :

Rock the Boat 

There has been an interesting development with regards to New Brighton Lifeboat story which we have reported on from time to time. Apparently Wallasey MP Angela Eagle has belatedly intervened to rock the boat and ask some pertinent questions as to what exactly is going on in this long running saga . The Royal National Lifeboat Institution ( RNLI) has rejected Eagle’s claim that a ‘restricted service’ at New Brighton Lifeboat station has had an impact on its life-saving work and patronisingly invited her over for a cup of tea and a chat.  Read here : New Brighton Lifeboat
As ever there is much more to this than meets the eye and one of our long standing sources on the story has written to us to say :

Someone makes a fairly astute ‘comment’ after the end of the (Wirral Globe) article ….yes, why doesn’t Angela Eagle have a word with the Chairman of New Brighton Lifeboat, LABOUR Councillor Tony Jones. As we all know he is the bloke who fucked over the sacked crew in the first place.  And while she is at it maybe she could get Phil Davies to take a bit of interest…..

And so it would appear -and not for the first time – that the Eagle has landed without fully knowing the local background and finds herself out of her depth . Once she finds out we guarantee she’ll retreat to her eyrie
A Direct Approach to Saving Money
After an inglorious history of  DASS -tardly plots to saving money and denying vulnerable services the to which they are legally entitled – unlawful charging, 4 week delays in care packages etc; – we bring you  Wirral Council’s Health & Social Care Service (formerly Wirral Council’s Department of Adult Social Services ) latest cruel wheeze which has been forwarded to us from Facebook.
image1

Toxic Twins

Evil Twins

We’ve long bemoaned that Wirral’s pre-eminent institutions are virtually indivisible in terms of their toxic cultures. Further confirmation arrived this week :

You may want to ask some questions of senior management at Wirral University Teaching Hospital where I understand that there is an systemic culture of bullying and arse covering at the expense of both patient and staff welfare.
(This week) – management refused …..to classify a matter as a serious incident, preferring instead to downgrade the matter and protect their reputations……… 
the coroner’s findings will be very interesting to all who of us who are obliged to use this failing establishment for their medical needs.
Wirral Leaks asked : But is this a failing establishment or is it being deliberately run down? Your thoughts please. 
My belief is that it’s a failing institution. I don’t believe there is any intention or ulterior motive – certainly not on a regional or national level, it is simply managed by an incompetent team of senior managers, deeply worried by their failings, and consequently under-reporting, buck-passing, and blaming others in a desperate attempt to protect their own positions.
With Wirral University Teaching Hospital and Wirral Council being run in such a similar way are you still surprised that we scarpered? Especially , when coincidentally , we received this ‘ Where Are They Now’ update featuring failed WUTH CEO Len Richards :

Your old mate who I think last featured in your organ in 2012 has rocked up here in deepest darkest Wales as CEO of Cardiff and Vale UHB.

He’s already embarked on a fact finding trip to Canterbury with a small team. (No not Chaucer’s Canterbury, the other one in New Zealand) on behalf of his cash-strapped employer.Thought you might like to be kept informed of how one of your old boys is progressing
This is the problem – bullshitters everywhere. Surely there must be a meme for that somewhere?
Billionaire’s Breakfast Club

WIRRAL ‘SET FOR £1BN INVESTMENT BOOST’

That was the headline in this PR job published this week on the Insider Media Ltd blog  – which was no doubt set up by Wirral Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies right hand/left wing man Martin Liptrot. The plans were apparently detailed at Insider‘s ‘Invest in Wirral’ breakfast event held on Tuesday, 6 February 2018. No doubt this was followed by a ‘powerlunch’. Unfortunately the headline was far removed from the reality of the situation as what Pip actually said was :

“We are looking at £1bn development opportunities across five areas in Wirral from Birkenhead town centre right through to Bromborough. We’ve never done anything of this scale and it’s a new way of working.The attraction of this model is that we share in profits going forward. It’s important, not only for new jobs and investment, but in bringing in an ongoing revenue scheme for the council….” Full story here :  £Billion Investment Boost

Forgive us but Pip’s ‘Wirral Growth Company’ comes across as a kind of malignant local authority tumour spreading across the peninsula as Wirral Council hawks its tawdry wares dressed up as ‘development opportunities ‘ for  private investors – and all for the sake of a good news story.
Wirral’s disabled : A thorn in the side?

Meanwhile under yet another misleading headline:

Staffing issues force temporary closure of Wirral care home

We have the news that NHS respite service for people with learning disabilities at Thorn Heys  in Oxton is to close temporarily because of difficulties over staffing levels. Yeah right –  as Wirral Leaks readers will know this has been on the cards for some time.

The decision was made by Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group so this is something more than just a ‘Wirral care home’. In fact it is another slap in the face to Wirral Council’s pledge to protect vulnerable people following on the closure of respite services at Girtrell Court.

As we reported in our Good Health In Bad Hands post from September 2017 :

However more concerning for us was an issue that received  zero press coverage and caused considerably less outrage among councillors and that was the closure of  Thorn Heys, an NHS respite service for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs.  Somebody remind us what was that Wirral Plan ‘pledge’ about ‘protecting the most vulnerable’ again?

 And finally ……as a follow up to this week’s pothole story The Hole Truth we’d like to leave you with this from The Daily Mash which proves the Freudian dictum that there is no such thing as ‘just a joke’ and some things are just beyond parody :  Pothole confident it will survive latest council tax increase

A Blott On The Lauries

Set out below is the (feeble) response to a complaint from Wirral Council Super Duper Director Joe Blott to the long running ‘The Lauries’ story . Blott is, laughably,allowed to describe himself as a ‘Managing Director’ of Wirral Council. As far as we’re concerned this inadequate little man will always represent to us everything that is wrong with local government. How did we get to the stage where we reward ‘public servants’ with six figure salaries – not to serve the public – but to advance their careers by protecting a   public institution’s reputation?

And if Blott wants to complain to us  directly – can we suggest he does so from a legitimate email address  Blotto?

We offer in evidence that Blott will soon be on his way out of Wirral Council with a £390,000 reward for what exactly ?  Certainly his role in helping cover up the Wirralgate scandal will no doubt have helped his cause (and particularly his participation in the first Thynne investigation and dealing with the aftermath of the second one).

However the background to Blott’s  Lauries response can be found here :

The Sorry Story of The Lauries

The Sorry Story of The Lauries Part Two

However this is his final kiss-off for Wirral Council . What a luxury it must be to treat those who have paid your overinflated wages for years with such utter contempt and drag out an ‘investigation ‘ for as long as you can. By the time this reaches the Local Government Ombudsman – he’ll be long gone.

Oh Laurie 2 007

Oh Lauries 013

Oh Lauries 010

Now we’re not legally qualified to comment on much of this response but the fact that even Blott concedes that Wirral Council have allowed trustees to act ‘de son tort’ is deeply worrying as it would appear that Wirral Council and their agents have allowed trustees to act wrongfully : https://thelawdictionary.org/de-son-tort/

But then when it comes to Wirral Council it’s a case of  : ‘plus ca change ,plus c’est la meme chose!’

The Network – A Sign of The Times?

BNI money in motion

Now we all know there are charities that do good work and in an era of depleted public services it is often essential and vital work in support of the most vulnerable people in society. Nevertheless we have to say some of them seem to operate along the same principles as our self-serving and dysfunctional public services with over-inflated salaries to match – but with the added sickly ingredient of self-righteousness.

Consider if you will the case study below involving a Merseyside-wide charity to which we invite those in the know to comment on the allegations and concerns that have been brought to our attention . Although we understand if a certain Wirral councillor declines to do so as they got themselves into a bit of bother the last time that happened.

However personalities aside – our interest is particularly aroused by mention of a networking group called BNI ( Business Network International) . Now our regular readers will know how we have often railed against nepotism, favouritism , cronyism – that often masquerades as ‘networking’. We’ve often asked questions about the role of Common Purpose , the Knights of St Columba , Freemasons and ‘The Inner Ring’ (about which more another time) – anything that might explain some of the appalling things that local politicians and public servants seem to be able to get away with . However BNI is a whole new (and a rather worrying development) for us . It’s like Wirral Chamber of Commerce on steroids. Whilst we understand that schmoozers and shysters can see the appeal we do question as to whether charities should be mixed up in such arrangements – as they appear to scream all kinds of conflict of interest (see below). For more background information read here : Making More Money with BNI

The Chair of a Merseyside-wide charity is/was also part of a networking group called BNI which is a referral based organisation, allowing businesses to network and pass each other referrals generating business for themselves and making their chapter wealthy.  If you’re not regularly passing referrals to each other, BNI can remove you from the Chapter and cancel your membership.
 
The Chair joined the charity as a board member and at the time heavily criticised the then CEO (name provided) .  The Chair over time recruited more board members for the charity all of those being BNI members/friends.  Which meant that when it came down to a majority vote, all BNI members stuck together meaning all the votes went in their favour (when choosing suppliers which would benefit themselves, when choosing whether or not to get rid of the CEO etc).
In March/April 2017 ,the board decided to recruit a new CEO. The chair influenced this and used a recruiting company via BNI (at the charity’s expense using public funding and a referral point for the Chair  to advertise for a new CEO. During the interview process the current CEO  applied and got the position. We later found out that a recruiting Board member and the chair knew the successful candidate . The person who was appointed CEO actually the recruiting member’s boss for another company (name provided) . They declared they knew them – but not to that extent. Another board member ( a non BNI member  – name provided)  left the room stating that they would have no part in this staged interview 
 
Whilst this was going on, the former CEO (name provided) had grounds for unfair dismissal and was paid £10,000 to keep quiet.  This was taken out of public funding by Wirral and Liverpool Council.  Funding which could have been used elsewhere for the beneficiaries of this charity . So £10,000 was used to get the chair’s mate into a job leaving members of the charity  £10,000 short of public funding.
 
Since the new CEO has taken over, he has removed anyone that does not agree with them on the Board.  Members on the Board are backed into a corner and almost bullied into agreeing with the BNI members. The recruiting Board member has been paid by the charity for telecommunication services which is not the cheapest service. The CEO is using the charity (and their public funding) to secure contracts to further his own private business.  They are currently trying to acquire a company car through the charity (another liability for the charity).  Even though there are staff that are using their own cars to fulfil their job roles.  The Board are asked to provide 3 quotes for anything that they require.  Generally out of the 3 quotes they will choose the most expensive quote as it is a ‘friend’.
 
The Chair and the BNI board members will take all of the money from this Charity maybe get as many referrals as they can to keep face in their BNI groups, then move on to another struggling charity.
 
I am unsure if the Chair and the recruiting member are still apart of BNI but I feel something is going on behind the scenes that staff and I are not aware of.  An incompetent CEO is now in full control of public funding from Wirral, Liverpool and Sefton Council and directing any funding towards themselves , their friends, their business, the Chair’s charity and not services for people for whom the charity was set up. Using phrases like ‘if they don’t support us, we won’t support them’ (referring to the people who access our services funded by local councils and don’t buy into his mates businesses e.g transport services to airports, energy companies and their tariffs etc.  They are bringing in consultants which are friends at £250 per day to ‘sort out’ ‘the Charity’.  Again, a fee which is taken from public funding.
Anything you find please keep us updated.  We are lead to believe we are paranoid but a lot of things just do not add up and we’re becoming more and more suspicious.  It is almost like they want us to lose the public funding so the Chair can take those contracts for their own charity.  Do you think it is suspicious?
To which we can only reply : hell , yes!

Children’s Services : The ‘Real’ Reality Check

In the light of information we had received about Wirral Council’s Children’s Services we thought we’d do a bit of further research which included reluctantly checking out the John Brace footage of Children’s and Families Overview Committee held on January 25th .

We admit we couldn’t get past ‘Part One’  – but it was enough to introduce us to the new Director of Children Paul Boyce (forgive us but his title is giving us flashbacks to ‘The Childcatcher ‘ character in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’). Wirral Leaks readers will remember that Boyce was appointed back in October 2017 following the long overdue departure of the previous Director Julia Hassall. For further information read here :  Old Boyce Network

So what was our first impression of Boycie? Well, put it this way – as far as we’re concerned it’s never good when you can’t remember the original question asked by a councillor after Boyce has answered it .The repeated use of the terms ‘ improvement journey ‘ and ‘narrative’ didn’t help. So in answer to your question we thought the BS quotient was particularly high , even for a Director of Wirral Council .

Needless to say the councillors present appeared to be soothed and reassured . Laughably (and tragically) Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin thanked Boycie for his ‘realistic’ presentation. Because as we know Matron spent many years being duped by incompetent,dishonest Directors in the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) and thus allowed vulnerable people to be abused over a prolonged period of time .

In the understatement of the year so far Boycie admitted there was ” a bit of work to do” and ” we’ve got a way to go” in Children’s Services . There was some ‘tough talk’ about not wanting social workers who don’t know what good practice looks like to work for Wirral Council anymore .

Whilst Boycie reminded councillors of the reality visits they would be undertaking to check the claims that Children’s Services was heading in the right direction on their ‘improvement journey’ and that there was ‘depth to the rhetoric’ ( see what we mean about the BS quotient?) can we ask him whether Sandra Dykstra is what ‘good social work looks like’ ?  (see below)

Misconduct

Therefore we challenge Wirral councillors to consider the ultimate Children’s Services reality check. In answer to the simple question “Why are there so many looked after children in Wirral”  this is the response they won’t get on their carefully managed visits. Simply because the quality of management in Children’s Services is – and always has been – appalling and your much lauded new agency recruits are motivated simply by money and we guarantee will be out the door when it all gets a bit messy. And believe us – it will.

Reality Check 1

Reality Check 2

The Hole Truth

Mere Farm Before

The truth is beginning to emerge on one our Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2 stories concerning road repairs which we think shows how things work – or rather don’t work at Wirral Council. As you can see from the above picture these potholes in Mere Farm Road, Oxton were reported to Wirral Council’s ‘Streetscene’ department in December 2017 (and we understand had been raised as a concern months before that). A service request to address the potholes elicited the following response from Wirral Council in January 2018 :

An inspection of this carriageway has been carried out and although there are areas of wear, none of the defects are actionable at this time. No works to be undertaken.

Local  Lib Dem councillor Stuart Kelly followed up concerns raised by local residents at the end of January . Pictures were provided and incredulity expressed that the criteria for repairs had not been met.

Then suddenly without explanation to either residents or Cllr Kelly the road  is suddenly all marked up for repair. Perhaps the person sent by Wirral Council to inspect the site had gone to Specsavers in the interim. It has also been suggested that perhaps our intervention was foreseen as residents had vowed to contact a certain local blog . Which they indeed did and subsequently have done so again .

 

image1 (4)

When it was reported to us today that the repairs had completed we thought it was a case of all’s well that ends well.  However look at the pictures below and judge for yourselves.

Road1

 

Road2

A local resident writes :

Believe it or not , the attached shows the road AFTER it has been repaired.

The substrata is just perfectly exposed  for winter ice formation leading to further break up and another round of public money to fix what should have been a proper job six months ago !

We’re left wondering whether it’s laziness/incompetence of contractors  or BAM Nuttall giving on the highways contract after being controversially ousted in favour of bringing road repairs back in house in October 2018 . Whatever the situation it’s dispiriting to think it will be the same people responsible for inspecting and carrying out repairs in the future.

We’re reliably informed there are similar issues in Village Road , Oxton. Pictures from other sites around Wirral would be welcome. Perhaps we could introduce a new feature to Wirral Leaks  : Pothole of the Week.