Public Service Announcement : Wirral NHS CCG AGM

CCG 011

Your chance to learn the language of NHS and hopefully find out what’s happening locally with OUR NHS at Wirral NHS Clinical Commissioning Group’s AGM.

Further details of how to register for the event can be found here

 

 

Public Service Announcement : Defend Our NHS (DONHS) Meetings

NHS 009

Published on behalf of DONHS Wirral are details of upcoming meetings and the following message :

We will be inviting Wirral councillors and all four Wirral MPs.

The focus of the meeting will be the local STP – now officially called a ‘sustainability and transformation partnership’  

Some partnership! It doesn’t include patients , STPs generally are not engaging or collaborating with GPs

(let alone the public), and 80% of councillors thought STPs were “not fit for purpose” and “prioritised cost-cutting and closing hospitals over preventing illness”.

The reality of the STP is the dismnatling of our NHS. Campaigners have been warning about this for years. Every day we see the headlines.

Wirral Council voted overwhelmingly in December to oppose the local version of ‘slash, trash and privatise’ and to write a letter of protest to the government. We have no evidence that the letter was sent or a reply received. And now the leader of the Council says  “I don’t see any sign that STPs are going away,…” Some opposition!…

Come and join us – and join our campaign to share information about what’s happening  and to OPPOSE the STP.

(Talking of opposition : did you write to your councillors and MPs as we urged you last month? Where do you send them? It’s easy – simply click here and adapt the draft letter attached . Thank you! http://www.writetothem.com/  

Best wishes on behalf of DONHS

More about STPs? http://www.stopthestps.org.uk/home/4593142849

More about DONHS? https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/

 

 

Consultant Insults – Continued

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The long running saga involving Wirral Council’s love of costly external consultants continues.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/consultant-insults/

As following on from our interims story – The £Million Interims – we understand that there are full details knocking about of consultants performing an interim role for Wirral Council.

However the people who actually pick up the DAILY tab of £8,404 – that’s us folks! – apparently aren’t allowed to know who we are paying, what we’re paying and what we’re paying them for – go figure!

This is because Wirral Council consider the information to be confidential and the poor downtrodden consultants that are not directly employed by the Council will have confidentiality preserved when it comes to cold hard cash.

Huh ?! – not at Wirral Council it won’t, especially when much of the information is rightly already in the public domain. We think that whoever  made up this diktat on the hoof realises that someone who does work for a local authority and is paid with Council taxpayers money somehow has a right to keep their paypacket a secret is not a particularly convincing argument.

That might explain why they usually throw in ‘commercial confidentiality’ as an additional back up as to why the Council need to keep a lid on the gory details of their expensive consultancy habit.  Apparently it could inhibit the Council from recruiting future interims. Whaaaat?! – can we therefore assume that the remuneration listed on recruitment sites will just henceforth state : ‘ Fill yer boots !’

It’s such a shame that the information about the 18 interims that are currently on the Council payroll is not more readily available as we’re sure that Wirral Council taxpayers would find it most illuminating/infuriating . Indeed we’re sure that one of Wirral Leaks’ regular contributors , Charles Nunn, will be particularly pleased to hear that we understand that Stewart Halliday’s contract , at a daily rate of £705 , and which was due to end in August has now been extended to the end of 2017.

However it should be noted that ‘Happy’ Halliday is not the highest paid interim on the list. We understand that accolade goes to Surjit Tour’s replacement . Philip McCourt ,the interim Assistant Director – Law & Governance has to get by on a mere £800 a day …….making him pro rata , at £200K + per annum, on more than Wirral Council’s CEO, Eric Robinson.

Wirral Council watchers may find some consolation in knowing that one of the 5 ‘transformers’ on the list , Martin Liptrot, finds himself ranked 16th out of the 18 interims listed in terms of his day rate – a paltry £350!

And finally before we go we’d just like to inform our readers that we’ll be taking a long overdue summer break throughout August – unless of course THAT story breaks . In the interim (!) we’ll  be considering how we co-ordinate the ‘managed decline’ of Wirral Leaks when we return in the autumn.

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A Lack of Discretion

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Five years ago, we were a local authority in crisis: focused on cuts and on the verge of government intervention. Since then, we’ve been recognised as the Local Government Chronicle’s ‘Most Improved Council’, experiencing the fastest turnaround of any council in the UK. So what’s changed? In a nutshell, we refuse to give up; we never stop moving. Our pragmatic, innovative and bold plan, ‘2020 Vision’ will ensure that we’re getting the basics right; that we’re achieving more; that we’re changing the way we do things. In this role, you’ll take us to the next level and create a legacy for yourself in the process.
As you can see from Wirral Council’s positively vomitous advert they’ve been trying to recruit a Director of Finance and Investment claiming that five years ago they were a local authority in crisis. Of course they fail to omit to say why they were in crisis. ‘So what’s changed?’ they ask. Fuck all  as far as we’re concerned and particularly in the Department of Finance and Investment!
We state this, as following on from our last story where we referenced the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) whistleblowing scandal we are proud to publish the first hand account of the whistleblower involved.
It gives a clear indication of what it must be like to work in such an oppressive atmosphere where management is rammed with those types – yes, we mean the likes of  Trish, Nicky and Lisa – who want to get through Monday to Friday without pesky staff making their job difficult whilst they’re busy advancing their careers/income. Read it and weep:
Payments (DHP) budget never attempted to manage it in terms of need/  demand etc. She took no interest and just left me to it , if I raised any concerns , she was verbally abusive . 
I was the Team Leader responsible for DHP’s . Once HvS  ( Hardy v Sandwell ) case law came in ( I was responsible for reading and interpreting the case law  and suggesting changes to procedures , which I did)  it became impossible to do my job , because my manager instructed me to ignore it . As I said myself and the appeals manager raised concerns from March 2015 . Nothing changed until mid 2016 , as a result of my WB (whistleblow). The council were in breach of the Equality Act . 
Success with an application depended on the time of year you applied . So in April when the money was put in the pot , there was plenty of money , so your application stood a good chance of success , later on in the year they would decide to be more careful , usually at the end of the year instructions would be issued to get it spent. Most years the budget was not spent . The surplus could not be carried over to the next year , and of course if you did not spend all your budget , this affected how much you received the following year .
I believe it was mostly an abuse of power . She used to repeatedly say ” well they have more disposable income” I am the parent of a disabled son , plus I run a small group for families who have a family member with Down’s Syndrome and I know how much they struggle financially . 
As an example of her abuse of power , I attended a meeting with her at the request of the Housing Options Team . Basically Housing Options wanted us to start refusing DHP for people in 4 bed houses so they would be free for larger families . When I raised objections / concerns the Housing Options Manager said “my violin is this big” and made the gesture of playing a tiny violin on his shoulder . 
My manager made me write new guidance for people in 4/5 bed homes. Myself and the appeals manager voiced our concerns , as this was not in line with DHP guidance etc.
Myself and my team ignored the new guidance and continued to make awards in accordance with the DWP  (Department of Work & Pensions) rules . 
I did raise another Whistle blowing , as she instructed the IT section to remove a question of the online DHP application form which allowed people to apply for rent in advance . (People should be able to apply for rent in advance ) . She said ” I am not paying rent twice”. There were three witnesses to this, they were interviewed by (internal) audit . 

This meant very vulnerable people could not secure homes. She would only pay it for Housing Options applications . 

Yes, folks  – these are the lovely people who are in charge of local government and responsible for spending your hard earned money – mainly it would appear on themselves and not on the people who keep them in well paid jobs!

To Sandwell In A Handcart

Colin as Surjit 009

Less than 5 years of dedicated public service at Wirral Council seem to have taken their toll on poor Surjit Tour  pic: courtesy of John Brace

We couldn’t bring ourselves to watch video footage last week’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting as we understand Power Boy Pip et al  gave outgoing Wirral Council law lord Surjit Tour a rousing round of applause as it was his last ever council meeting – yes , even from Cllr George Davies – but then the deputy leader of Wirral Council must be relieved to see the back of this particular chink in his armour.

The plaudits were all very reminiscent of the time when the subsequently convicted criminal Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree chaired the the Audit & Risk Management Committee  – yes we know ! – can you believe that actually happened ? – and led the handclapping for Audit Commission/Grant Thornton gobshite Mike Thomas. We suspect the applause for both was much for the same reason – keeping a lid on Wirral Council malpractice and getting paid well to do it.

Having said that Tour must be shooting off to his new gig at Sandwell Council like shit off a shovel. And it would appear he will be right at home. As a local source commented –‘Labour controlled and crooked forever’ 

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2016/10/10/sandwell-council-shake-up-fourth-senior-officer-leave-post/

We’re sure the six figure salary was particularly enticing for this status – conscious public servant. All we can say is that you can earn as much as you like but at the end of the day you’re still Surjit Tour.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/sandwell/2017/05/26/sandwell-council-looking-to-appoint-top-roles—one-earning-100k-pay-packet/

We’re just staggered that out of four candidates interviewed for Sandwell Council’s top legal job that Tour came out on top.  Isn’t it reassuring that our public services have such a deep well of talent to draw upon?

Sandwell Council  must be particularly dear to Tour’s heart as a legal case involving his new employer was brought to attention in 2016.  A Wirral Council whistleblower had told their senior managers that they weren’t complying with the law when it came to administrating Discretionary Housing Payments  (DHP)- which are what they say on the tin, discretionary payments made to people who are having trouble paying their rent for one reason or another and presumably some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Wirral Council seem particularly reluctant to promote this fund they have available to help people in need so we’re saying loud and clear if you find yourself struggling to pay your rent contact Wirral Council and ask about DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENTS!

Needless to say the public-spirited  whistleblower who identified that Wirral Council were acting unlawfully was cruelly hounded out of their job for showing up their managers for the bullying incompetents they were.  There will be much more to come on this story but changes to procedures and belated thanks from Tour doesn’t cut it when someone’s career is needlessly destroyed for,once again, wanting things done properly and dare we say LAWFULLY!

Is it just us who thinks that if we don’t speak up about such abuses we’re all going to hell in a handcart?

Subject: Re: Whistleblowing Matter (Case Ref: 22/2016)

Dear X

Further the above matter, I have now completed all requisite enquiries into this matter. I have received and considered the report prepared by XX (Senior Auditor) into the matter you raised in your confidential report [CRF1] dated 22nd February 2016.

The review conducted by XX showed that whilst an assessment of income was undertaken in respect of DHP applicant’s income, the assessments were not fully compliant with the post Sandwell case and revised DWP guidance (issued in August 2015) on such claims.

In light of this, supplementary guidance has issued and explained to all relevant members of the team at the Transaction Centre so that DHP claims are assessed in accordance with the Sandwell case and revised DWP Guidance. Moreover, changes to procedures have and are being implemented to ensure consistency and compliance with the Sandwell case and revised  DWP guidance.

May I take the opportunity to thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of the council.

Kind regards

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

and Monitoring Officer

The Power of Nought

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As we continue to wind down we are grateful to one of our long standing contributors Dr Robert B Smith who has provided us with what he calls a ‘summery summary’ of recent Wirral Council history which he has titled :

WIRRAL COUNCIL & THE POWER OF NOUGHT.

In aerial warfare CHAFF is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns to create confusion and distraction from the actual target.

This is the ‘diversionary’ principle of the use of NOUGHT by Wirral Council. If, as a Council, you are completely bankrupt of real ideas and true vision, there is always NOUGHT to hide behind, and use as a distraction and confuse residents and voters.

Over recent years Wirral’s population has been reasonably static, and the borough has remained the same size (about 60 sq miles) however during that time 10s of thousands (4 NOUGHTS) has rapidly become BILLIONS using 9 or even 10 NOUGHTS.

Over recent years Wirral Council has invested in NOUGHT on many occasions. Usually NOUGHT, or multiple-NOUGHTS, are used as a smokescreen to cloud the reality of incompetence, and the most appalling standard of local government. In Wirral Council the presence of a great many NOUGHTS indicate the seriousness with which issues are being prioritised, and the likelihood of NOUGHT actually happening .

WBC Number 1 Priority – protect at any cost the status and ‘reputation’ of Wirral’s ruling administration and chief officers. As many NOUGHTS as it takes, but that is privileged information!

Here is a small sample of the power of NOUGHT in Wirral Council over the last decade.

2006 – 30 year Wirral Waters programme announced £4,500,000,000 – 8 NOUGHTS

2008 – over £500,000,000 invested since 1991 by WBC in Birkenhead – 8 NOUGHTS

2015 – Wirral Partnership ‘will pool budgets’ by 2020 – £200,000,000,000 – 11 NOUGHTS

2016 – Threat of Government intervention in Wirral Child Safeguarding arrangements – an additional £2,000,000 initially committed by Leader Phil Davies – 6 NOUGHTS

2016 – Hoylake Golf Resort – Investment revised to £190,000,000 – 7 NOUGHTS

2017 – Maggie Atkinson takes Chair of Wirral Child Safeguarding Board; Eleanor Brazil takes Chair of Child Safeguarding Improvement Board; suddenly an additional £10,000,000 is committed – 7 NOUGHTS.

2017 – Wirral Growth Joint Venture Company investment ‘opportunity’ announced £1,000,000,000 – 9 NOUGHTS

If we add up all of the NOUGHTS, they total 56 – which added together totals NOUGHT.

What value, or real benefit or improvement, has Wirral Council achieved with all of these projects combined?

Yes, you have got it in 1 (which is a figure far higher than Wirral Council has successfully achieved to date) which is NOUGHT.

Wirral Council and its Leadership has taken the power of NOUGHT to sensational new heights in Wirral that others can only dream about!

… because for Wirral Council spin doctors, whatever they say, NOUGHT really means nothing. 

 

There Goes The Green Belt

Wirral green belt

Source : DCLG 2016

One of the very few things that remains attractive about Wirral is that it is relatively green.

However in the time-honoured tradition of brutalism Wirral Council seem to be exceeding themselves when it comes to concreting over everything that’s good about the place.

Specifically we’re talking about last night’s decision to approve the building of a fire station in Saughall Massie following pretend democratic processes involving public meetings and site visits.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15425897.Campaigners_vow_to_fight_on_as_Saughall_Massie_fire_station_is_approved/

Yes, we know there’s more tedious bureaucratic processes to go through before the fire station becomes a reality but we’re sure we’re all agreed it’s the principle of agreeing to build on the green belt which is the issue. This decision will surely give the green light to build on other parts of the green belt and specifically the Hoylake Golf Resort. And what’s more it’s no good local Tories belatedly bleating about how unfair it all is!

The Planning Committee Chair is Anita Leech ( you do the punchline) and the Vice -Chair of the Planning Committee is Steve ‘Kindred’ Foulkes. So spare us the ‘feigned outrage’. We all knew what was coming next!

Indeed might we suggest that a fitting tribute would be that Foulkesy’s political career is entombed in motorway concrete. And the sooner the better!

Hallmarked WBC

New-WBC

The latest forensic examination performed by whistleblower Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro on the BIG fund debacle is set out below.

Try and stay with the technicalities and complexities as it demonstrates the effort and commitment that whistleblowers have to go to evidence their concerns. Such effort and commitment is of course totally inexplicable to the powers that be at Wirral Council.

As a matter of interest our view on the question posed in the final line of the article is that the powers that be just want the titles and the money to sustain their egos . And they want to do it with the least possible effort. Those who want things ‘done properly’ are to be swatted away like irritating midgies. All the ‘midgies’ can do is too continue to get under their skin……..
I have just completed a review of my penultimate audit sample of BIG fund files. When I get the Data Commissioner’s order for WBC to release the Merseycare Transport ltd BIG fund file I will, as any proper auditor ought, have selected a sample of 20% of all BIG fund files. It is incumbent on any auditor to increase his sample where a random sample-the original 6- is found to be entirely deficient, as it was.

I am of course unpaid and have had to battle with a reluctant, and indeed deceitful Council and officers seeking to cover over the inadequacies of its staff and systems in the years 2009 to 2012.

What strikes me is that these officers never demanded original Excel files, or indeed created them from pdf’s. I had to recreate the Excel file so as the better to analyse its shortcomings from indistinct copies of pdf’s. However if this did not, and it did not, demand much of my time, then how much easier it would have been back in 2009-2012. Why did these officers not test these Budgets as so easily they might have done by recreating them on Excel. Grant Thornton in their report indicated that no sensitivity analysis had ever been done for which read my comment above. You can only readily flex budgets if you have them on Excel! What ifs, and, does the Cash flow and the Profit and Loss gel?, are questions answerable if the data is on Excel. My first test was to “Excelise” and place Profit and Loss and Cashflow together to create a Balance Sheet. If the balance sheet from these two combined does not balance then one has unearthed the central lie, and so it was unreconciliable.

Further the officers might have distrusted LEC’s budgets and their competence by observing that even in small matters the budget submitted was wrong.. there is no VAT to be claimed on either bank charges and interest nor on Insurance, but LEC Lights calculate VAT on both. One would be on guard had the officer been awake at the time.

Can a balance sheet be prepared from the two documents, Cashflow and Profit and Loss? For year ending 30th March 2010….NO!! That is to say the fundamental underpin of all accounting numbers, that they should all add up to zero, to balance, is not satisfied. Thereby the plan is INVALID.

The reviewing financial officer, probably Bob Neeld, did point out on July 23 2009 that in October 2009 the cashflow predicted that the £15,000 overdraft facility would be exceeded by £20,000 even with the receipt of the grant… “predicting its own failure” was his expression. The cashflow sent to myself under FOI shows the re-arranged balances to answer this flaw, leading only to a £7,900 overdraft. A remarkable turnaround in the one month leading to the award in August 2009, partly explained by the introduction of supposed further Director’s loan repayments of £15,000. Indeed that became a condition of the BIG loan that at least the first of three deposits of £5,000 be shown to officers of Invest Wirral. Really it was a paltry condition indeed in face of the manifold objections to awarding the grant, not least that at 31st March 2009 the firm was insolvent to the tune of £115,000 .

The real question were the connexions between the patent holding company Luminanz . If £15,000 could be magicked out of somewhere within less than 3 months, perhaps in reality the claimant was Luminanz, based in Bolton. The reviewing account was alive to this in his July report

“I am therefore alerted to the possibility that the two companies are connected, and that the development project is being undertaken by Sign Lights ltd(lec lights) yet owned by a related company under licence”.

Indeed a former name of the company had been Luminanz Manufacturing Limited, one of its four incarnations. At inception Morton Graham was both a director and a fifty per cent shareholder in LEC lights whilst at the same time controlling Luminanz Ltd in Bolton.

Mr Neeld devotes two paragraphs to the notion that perhaps in reality LEC lights does not need the money, a vital criteria of BIG, it can get it from Luminanz, but is opportunistically grabbing at the ripe plum on the WBC tree, as did so many of those in my audit sample. It is transparent also that Mr Mathews is good for the money without recourse to WBC BIG fund. Later Mr Mathews turns £100,000 of his loan to LEC Lights Ltd to share capital, and, in 2016, is able to offer the Administrator of his company a straight £60,000 for its patents and equipment having dumped a quango creditor (NWF Energy and Environmental technologies LLP) for a cool  £750,000. I guess in one way or another that was our taxpayer money!

The magicking of £15,000 resonates with the curious absence of Director’s remuneration for the entire year projected to March 2010 and onwards through to August 2010, a fallow period of 17 months where the director would live off fresh air. A man of such resources!! He can repay the £15,000 he owes the company and still live off nothing for 17 months. Why ever does he NEED the BIG grant? The suspicion is that it is Luminarz of Bolton who are really behind this bid just as Bob Neeld, the WBC accountant, harboured suspicion. The second director of LEC lights, H Matthews, seems happy not to be repaid his £145,613 until April 2010, and then only in drip feed. The contingency that Mr Matthews will not take his money back early remains another problem for the advising WBC accountant.
The reader must therefore ask himself whether, as claimed by former CEO Mr Burgess, and by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce honcho, Mr Adderley, the BIG fund was largely a success? I will, reluctantly, write a round up of all my long protracted audit but for now I confidently can write…it was not!

It was a failure .When competent officers pointed out flaws their objections were got round by utterly facile means or they were simply ignored or outvoted in the Panel, a vote never recorded.(see Grant Thornton’s report). The independents on the Panel were never told the whole truth. The so called system was as porous as a Delhi slum sewage pipe. Perhaps the officers were incompetent, or just lazy and complacent, or perhaps a deliberate opening was made to facilitate favouritism or even bungs.

 

 

Bill-ious

DOLLAR-BILL

As we wind down it appears some of our long running stories are finally coming to fruition.

We’d like to thank the many readers who forwarded the latest news about the former Torbay/Wirral/Hereford (in that order) and currently ,for now anyway, head of the legal department at Cheshire East Council, the infamous Bill ‘The Bung’ Norman.

Yes , it would appear that Billyboy has been officially suspended from duties 3 months after his alleged despicable dirty work was retrieved from beneath the carpet.

Dirty Work

We’re gratified to read Cheshire East Council have at least got things right when it comes to suspension procedures. As we should all know by now the likes of Bill Norman operate at such exalted heights they are not subject to the same rules as mere mortals such as us. Oh no, first of all , before any action is taken against these local government Gods there must be proof of a prima facie case to answer.

http://www.knutsfordguardian.co.uk/news/15416114.Second_senior_management_suspension_as_Cheshire_East_Council_investigates_misconduct_allegations/

This of course is what Wirral Council failed to do when Bill Norman worked for them and which led to a near enough, and as far as we’re concerned, a totally unjustified £150K  pay off  – which of course meant that Wirral council taxpayers yet again picked up the tab for cowardice/incompetence on the part of their most senior council officers/politicians .

However the most interesting aspect of this case for us is that Bill has built up such a following during his travels (although not necessarily in a good way) that it was inevitable that his much anticipated and well deserved demise would ultimately be chronicled on this blog.  One of those sources giddy with schadenfreude at Bill’s blunders reached us by a circuitous route. Our message to them is this – get in touch with us when you’re happy to explain the backstage compromise that led to to Wirral Council being the recipient of the ‘ Most Improved Council’  award at the 2015 Local Government Chronicle awards . This of course being the fig leaf behind which they have hid their corporate micro-penis ever since. Might we suggest that low cost loans from one failing council to another must have eased negotiations. Just sayin’

To which all we can say is pass the sickbag – all of these duplicitous town hall potentates make us positively bilious.

Crabby v LRJ : The Feud Continues

jimcrabtree

Jim ‘ Crabby’ Crabtree proves once again that he’s the gift that keeps on giving in the ongoing Shakespearean feud between him and Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) .

Above is a screenshot of the latest ill-advised missive that Crabby has subsequently deleted from Facebook ( on the advice of his probation officer/solicitor?)

However we particularly like the fact that Crabby has a pop at Pip.  As as far as we’re concerned the Crabby v LRJ debacle needs to be laid at the door of the hopelessly ineffectual ‘leader’ of  Wirral Council, Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies. His failure to manage the internal strife within his own party has led to two suspensions by North West Labour and an ongoing, highly embarrassing,  spat played out on social media.

Perhaps Crabby should turn to an elder statesman of the local Labour group and all-round – and boy do we mean round-  man of integrity Cllr Steve Foulkes to guide him through the political turmoil.  However might we suggest that Foulkesy may need to alter his advice from ‘ Jumbo stay strong fella‘ to ‘ Step away from the keyboard/mobile – especially after you’ve had a few scoops’ 

But then again if Crabby really does hate liars perhaps Foulkesy isn’t the man to turn to !

Jumbo

As for expecting a ‘full apology’ from Pip, Crabby can whistle dixie as Pip knows only all too well that Crabby was probably up to even more no good than has already been disclosed.

However Pip proves once again what a coward he is when he finds it easier to allow a whistleblower to be bullied out of their job than address the concerns they raised about Crabby and the use of grant monies. And to think that Crabby still sees fit to have a pop at LRJ!  Indeed to us, it is simply astonishing , ASTONISHING !,  that this man was once the chair of  Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Meanwhile it would appear that this ongoing and long -running feud between Crabby and LRJ clearly has some way to run – and we intend to follow it every step of the way!