In the first of a series of special features Wirral Leaks proudly brings you :
” Where Are They Now?” – a roll call of Wirral Council “characters” who have variously kept us intrigued, entertained or appalled whilst working at Wirral Council.
No 1. BILL NORMAN – aka Torbay Bill, Billyboy Norman and Wirral Council’s former Director of Law .
Well what can we say about the Monty Burns lookie-likie?.
Let the facts speak for themselves –
a) Sweet William leaves Torbay Council with a bloody big cheque – his time there was particularly notable for a scandalous case involving a £200K + award made at an Employment Tribunal to a whistleblower
b) Seemingly impressed with his ability to deal with whistleblowing cases Wirral Council appoint this dynamic hotshot lawyer to deal with a series of whistleblowing scandals – but do we really need to cite the litany of sin and disarray he left behind?….. and yet he still managed to leave with yet another big cheque (plus his legal fees) .
c) And now we hear that Herefordshire County Council are so impressed by his exemplary track record that they’ve hired this paragon of public service as their new Director of Law and Monitoring Officer.
Indeed the person specification for the post stated:
I am not accepting of mediocrity
Seriously Billyboy…. and you worked at Wirral Council ?.
As you experienced – they could only aspire to mediocrity!.
Perhaps in consideration of all of this Billyboy’s arrival in cider country is being treated with some healthy scepticism by the apparently long suffering people of Herefordshire:
Indeed – if you scroll down you will find a very pertinent post from one of the Hereford Times contributors commenting on his departure from Wirral Council which reads:
“Why didn’t he just go without putting £150,000 in his back pocket?”
However we all feel at Leaky Towers that it is time the tale was told of how Big Bill actually departed with nearly £150K (and his legal fees paid for) – because it really is a salutary tale.
As we all know he left with “No Case To Answer” stamped on his shiny pate courtesy of a certain Richard Penn and indeed Billywillydoodah owes Tricky – Ricky Penn BIG-TIME.
To the tune of approximately £150K…Or shall we more accurately say Tricky-Ricky’s moby…………………
At this point Lady W interjects with : ” My dear can we have less of your riddlesome cryptic nonsense – get down to brass tacks – and as we know where’s there’s muck there’s brass – and finally reveal what is known to all and sundry in the corridors of power in Wallasey Town Hall?”.
So from various sources Verity has managed to piece together what we understand to be the story and it goes a little something like this:
As we all remember during the fallout from the AKA report the Highways whistleblowing case starts hitting the headlines.
Suddenly there’s serial headline grabber Frank Field in the papers calling for sackings and there he is in the House of Commons bemoaning the ineptitude of Wirral Council senior officers and there he is again at a full meeting of the Council playing Grumpy Uncle Frank gently reprimanding his naughty nephews with an exasperated sigh as if to say:
” I have to say I’m rather miffed with you lot! – you are such a rabble of tiresome little scamps getting into all kinds of troublesome scrapes.What am I going to do with you?….”.
Well we at Leaky Towers think that what you did Frank was absolve Councillors of any blame when it came to lack of scrutiny or implementing effective and responsible Corporate Governance and thereby succeeded in deflecting calls for a Public Inquiry and/or the intervention of Local Government Commissioners to look into what the hell had been going on at Wirral Council for many,many years.
However as investigations (by the Audit Commission and external investigator Richard Penn) proceed a cast of thousands are implicated in shenanigans which remain to this day shrouded in technical detail ( pun intended) and subsequently the following took place:
– Technical Services Director Dave Green is suspended as is Finance Deputy David Taylor-Smith
– CEO Jim Wilkie suddenly goes (with a pay -off)
-Director of Finance/Acting CEO Ian Coleman is also implicated in something – although we’re not quite sure what (and eventually goes with a pay-off).
But the mysterious question always remained as to who exactly sent Big Bill on his way?.
And why exactly did he get a bigger pay-out than either of the above even though he’d only been with Wirral Council for 4 YEARS??.
We understand that the then fairly new Council Leader Pip Davies couldn’t suspend Mr.Norman.
So in steps the fearless Mr. Michael Frater!.
Remember him?. The £15K a month troubleshooter who achieved a big fat zero other than pave the way for fellow “Improvement” Board member, the mighty Mr Burgess, and yet another one who nevertheless managed in the interim to considerably enhance his bank account.
Desperate to play the BIG-I-AM to match his BIG fee, it is reportedly Termin-Frater who sent Bill on his less than merry way.
However all that legal know-how which served Bill so well as Director of Law suddenly kicked-in and we can only imagine he swiftly dabbed his crocodile tears,gave a fist-pump as if to say “quids -in” ,contacts a top-notch legal rottweiler from that there London and it’s a case of Wirral Council picking up the bill…… because as “any fule kno” you don’t suspend a Council Monitoring Officer without first establishing that “THERE IS A CASE TO ANSWER” ( apparently they’re very special people and have all kind of legal protections that the ordinary Council employee could only dream about).
So could that schoolboy error from Mighty Mickey Frater have cost the Council another six-figure pay-out?.
I think we should be told! (but I bet we won’t be!)
If this is the case it is doubly ironic that at the time of the suspension we have been informed that Tricky-Ricky Penn was on a fast-track mercy dash on the Wirral Gravy Train Express (no doubt from First Class) serenading Frater on his mobile phone with that old refrain : ” Do Nothin’ Til You Hear From Me”.
Could it have been that Penn’s mobile was cut off going through a tunnel? that he’d run out of credit? that he got stuck on level 64 of Candy Crush?…. who knows? but we understand that may have been a costly missed call……to Wirral Council Taxpayers!
Of course to square the circle all Mr.Penn subsequently had to do was to deliver the “No Case To Answer” report….and the rest is history.
Or is it?………are we to believe that Frank Field’s grandstanding was based entirely on spurious information and that really there was absolutely no funny business going on? .
However if Richard Penn’s investigation report is to be believed (for heaven’s sake Eldritch , will you please stop sniggering) – it was all a bit of fuss and nonsense about nothing much at all.
Which leads us to ask the question:Why was Frankie getting his knickers in so much of a twist in the first place?.
Of course the person who could tell us is the star of this profile – Bill Norman – and as we know he didn’t sign a gagging clause.We think he owes the people of Wirral an explanation as to what was going on behind closed doors and the invidious position that sometimes he must have been placed in by his political masters.As anyone who witnessed former Leader of the Council and soon to be Deputy Mayor Steve Foulkes shouting in Council Chambers ” NORMAN,MY OFFICE NOW…..” we can only imagine what kind of coercion and pressure he was put under to “manage” the whistleblowing maelstrom which very nearly blew the House of Cards down.
Oh come on Bill,you can tell us…………..or maybe just tell Verity.
Verity always wins out in the end.