WHAT “LIES” BENEATH?

SweatyFouker

Loyal Leakers might remember a piece from August 2012 where we reported:

“We, at Leaky Towers, are all a-quiver about the promise of astonishing revelations from mysterious sources. It is clear from these sources that there are Town Hall employees who are STILL afraid to go through official channels……However, Lord and Lady WL are sitting here with our dry Amontillado breathless with anticipation, should Miss Snoop sweep majestically and stealthily like a young gazelle with the promised piece of paper, which has been referred to in a number of cryptic communiqués from a variety of sources?…….”

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/more-shocks-in-store/

Well we’ve been tipped off that this piece of paper (and more besides) has finally surfaced courtesy of a Freedom Of Information request ( is it any wonder Frankie has a bee in his bonnet about them?)

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/135605/response/395046/attach/4/632112%20ICO%20Disclosure%20FS504428877.pdf

The FOI response has been reported in the Wirral Globe thus:

CLICK HERE

There is an indication of sensitivity about the revelations that a number of comments have already been removed from the website.

However, revealing as it is to see behind the scenes discussions and the veiled threats from the then Council Leader Steve Foulkes to the then Chief Executive Jim Wilkie we understand that the devil is in the redactions ( as it is in many Wirral Council investigation reports) and especially pages 18-20 of the FOI response and on the pages that are inexplicably totally blanked out.

We need to remember the correspondence is concerned with an Employment & Appointments Committee held on 29th September 2011 where along with proposed management arrangements following the publication of the highly critical Refresh & Renew Corporate Govenance Report  the meeting also included a series of measures about whistle-blowing.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=197&MId=3518&Ver=4

We  also need to remember this was during a critical period BEFORE the AKA Independent Review report was published.It would be most revealing, would it not, to discover what the Council leadership’s thoughts were on the gathering storm and how they wanted whistleblowing and the fall out from it to be “managed”……….

Therefore as a true test of the new regime’s commitment to  GLASNOST  we challenge them to publish the documents revealed in this FOI request FULLY and UNREDACTED (…and the AKA/Martin Smith reports whilst they’re at it).

We believe that if the documents were published unredacted the people of Wirral would finally begin to understand much of the madness that has been going on at Wallasey Town Hall for many years…..

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Whistle While You Work

 WBSUNITED

There was a strong sense of deja vu at Leaky Towers as we perused the Sunday papers and recoiled in horror at the continuing CQC/NHS scandals  – cover ups,pay offs,dishonesty,incompetence,mismanagement,abuse and death ,hidden documents ,redacted reports,bullying cultures ,protecting perpetrators and punishing whistleblowers,  collusion of politicians, appalling governance,no accountability, smearing whistleblowers as being mentally unstable and despicable, cynical PR spin in the name of reputation management .All there in all it’s gory detail and all so familiar to us here on the Wirral.

We can only hope that the public are beginning to realise what type of people are running some of Britain’s most respected institutions – those highly paid,public servants who behind the rictus grins,the expensive clothes ,the friendly handshakes and the important titles are finally being revealed for the scheming,devious,dishonest,ruthless self-serving sleazebags that they actually are……

Considering these type of revelations does anyone still maintain that any of the local whistleblowing cases have been handled properly by Wirral Council?.
There are more questions than answers when it comes to the Highways ,4 week delay and Wirral Biz cases.And even when there has been a supposedly thorough investigation such as the AKA Independent Review and Sundry Debts Independent Review  there remains the suspicion that we haven’t had the full story (and the redactions don’t help). We certainly don’t think anyone would dare argue we’ve witnessed any form of accountability. What’s more there are a few more cases that we’re aware of but because of all-pervading culture of fear we have agreed to preserve anonymity until such time as our sources are confident that they won’t be persecuted for telling the truth.In which case all we have to say to the poor creatures is that breath-holding is inadvisable!

However, is the tide finally turning ?……..we live in hope that the outrage that has accompanied the NHS scandals must surely have been causing reverberations closer to home.We can certainly feel them here and we suspect that others must be to. Not sure what we should call them (and thank you, but no,Eldritch we don’t need any suggestions from you!)  –  “The Redactees”?  “The Untouchables”? “The Departed” ” The Damned”? ” The Deniers” ?-  won’t be able to open the paper or switch TV channels or turn on the radio without hearing the the “W” word –   and we can sense,just like the increasing horde of NHS whistleblowers, that these guys and gals aren’t going away any time soon, even though Wirral Council spins the cases in such a way as to be considered “historic”.

So might we advise that if it seems there’s a sudden outbreak of tinnitus at Wallasey Town Hall it may just be that it’s the shrill,discordant tones of whistle-blowers…….and we predict they’re going to get louder and louder until those in power make up their minds as to whether they are part of the problem or part of the solution.
As somebody might have advised the Deputy Mayor : ” You know how to whistle Steve, you just put your lips together and blow…..”

Tootle Pip – Lord W
 
 
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Frankly Mr.Frankie

Frank-N-Field Judging by this weeks woeful media appearances it appears that Birkenhead MP Frank Field (why do we never hear from the other Wirral MPs?) seems to have embarked on a reckless kamikaze bid to restore Wirral Council’s tawdry reputation in his new role as the Unofficial Town Hall Apologist.

He seriously may need to reflect upon his decreasing credibility and ensure he doesn’t go down in flames with them.

We were breathless with anticipation here at Leaky Towers in the hope that Channel 4’s “Dispatches” programme would be a ruthless uncovering of exactly what has been going on at Wirral Council.

Instead we got a ” blink and you’ll miss it” slot which amounted to a couple of  shots of Wallasey Town Hall and some bumbling fool driving through the streets of Wirral and then (deep breath) at last on comes St.Frank to provide a excoriating analysis of the £ 40 million highways contract scandal.

First Frank helpfully explains to the rest of the country that Wirral is a “small place”  and then he went on to give the impression that because of that, it was quite likely that a Council Officer just might accidentally bump into a potential contract bidder during a tender process.

Well that’s alright then!!!! … we certainly heard nothing from Wirral’s numerous whistleblowers –  but as this part of the programme was about the £260 million of public money paid to Council workers to shut them up, one could argue that this seemed entirely appropriate!

However Frankie made a slip up – referring to Council officers who had been “found wanting” – we thought that the official version was that there was “no case to answer”!.

Does he know something that we don’t!?……….

However incredulity was replaced by hilarity with his tetchy appearance on Tony Snell’s  Radio Merseyside programme where he seemingly got up out of the wrong side of the coffin because he wasn’t allowed to turn the interview into another PR stunt and he started complaining he’d been brought onto the programme under “false pretences” before veering awkwardly into David Icke conspiracy theory territory and claiming Wirral Council’s woes were the result of a “campaign”  to “break down that part of the Council” responding to Freedom of Information requests.

http://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/frank-field-blames-too-many-people-making-freedom-of-information-requests-for-wirral-councils-ongoing-failure/

Making the few staff in the Wirral Council’s FOI office sound like GCHQ rather than a few under-resourced,overworked staff who rely on information from people who seemed to have forgotten they’re public servants, Frank seemed to be suffering, once again, from selective amnesia.

He seems to have forgotten that the Information Commissioners Office has been highly critical of Wirral Council’s performance when it comes to FOI requests and  he also seems to have forgotten Anna Klonowski’s reference to “obsessive secrecy” in her damning reports and the recent  £31 million Sundry Debts report where investigator Eugene Sullivan said he was “shocked” that the extent of toxic debt was “hidden” ( Power Boy Pip’s words) from Councillors.

What’s more I thought he said the other week that Wirral’s problems stemmed from local government re-organisation in the 1970’s – oh for goodness sake we do wish he’d make up his mind!

Care to evidence your allegation of a  “campaign”  Frank ? .

No thought not. You don’t seem to understand the rules of the game have changed – it would appear the years of a passive,docile electorate nodding meekly at your every utterance are sadly over.

CONFERENCE CALL

GROUP

Group on left  :
She: What are your main targets?
He:  Redundancies and gagging clauses.
Group on right:
He: Fancy a threesome?
We understand that Welsh Wizard and Rubeus Hagrid lookalike Cllr. Adrian “Windbag” Jones has made an Executive Decision, waved his magic wand and in his grandstanding stentorian tones cried:
 ” Oh yes my lovelies,verily I do decree – Councillors Power Boy Pip, Ann McLachlan ,George Davies,Jeff Green and Phil Gilchrist – thou shalt go to the Local Government Association Ball to be held in Manchester in July” .
Now in these times of austerity this years LGA beano ,sorry, conference is no doubt a bargain at £495 a pop plus travel expenses for each Councillor …..but does the Labour Group really need to send 3 delegates?!.
To be fair they probably do – glad-handing potential LGA peer reviewers may pay future dividends when times come for another glowing report.
The official version is that this year’s event will be one not to be missed and will enable Wirral Council delegates to be:
  • stimulated ( “No Eldritch not like that” I snort)
  • informed  (” That’ll be a first….” sneers Verity)
  • enthused ( ” Rather like a Labrador puppy with a loo roll….” drawls Lady W)

The conference will discuss and debate the central role that the council plays in:

  • promoting economic growth, jobs and prosperity ( hopefully Councillors will begin to realise this doesn’t mean their perks,expenses or lucrative seats on Boards and Committees ) 
  • delivering public service reform and ultimately more effective services for local people ( “public service” may be an entirely new concept for some)  
  • ensuring that financing for local government is sustainable and fair ( we presume this applies to pay-offs for failure to Council Officers because it “sustains” the status quo but again we think “fair” will be a radical new concept )
I think we’re beginning to see how this never-ending carousel of schmoozing and business card bingo works – Blue Sky Thinkers,Transformational Horizon Gazers,Bullshit Merchants,Reputation Management Consultants,Cover- Up Facilitators,Offshore Bank Account Advisers……………………all Local Government “life” will be here and we’re finally beginning to realise, with a deep sense of foreboding ,that we’re all going to hell in a handcart!!!.

Beware ! : Turdpolishers at Work!

TURD POLISH

We understand that the local Labour group had become such a toxic brand that centrally the party had to look elsewhere for a prospective parliamentary candidate for West Wirral.

This appears to be part of co-ordinated PR makeover that infamous Labour shit-glitterer Alastair Campbell would no doubt be proud of!.

Has everyone noticed the plethora of press reports emanating from the Labour group which takes the form of what we at Leaky Towers called The 4 D’s :

a)  Deflection -“it’s the Coalitions fault”)  b) Denial  – ” it’s really wasn’t that bad”   c) Dismissal ( Centre for Social Justice identifies Birkenhead as a “welfare ghetto” and Power Boy Pip remains blithely “optimistic” d)  Delusion “we’re “moving forward” and everything is tickety-boo …”

To reinforce The 4 D’s you first of all you get your mates in to give you the thumbs up.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/wirral-council-praised-peer-challenge-4037452

The Official Press Office approved report puts it like this:

“Wirral council has made “enormous progress” in its attempts to get back on track following a string of scandals, an external report found.

A team of local government experts brought in to review the authority’s operations said its “improvement journey to date is clearly evident”.

The findings were revealed in a report by the ‘Peer Challenge’ team – invited back after a previous review in October – to examine what progress had been made since then”

And then of course you get the local political heavyweight in the red corner Frank Field to chip in.

Birkenhead’s MP who appears to be morphing into a Michael Gove look-like seems to be very selective about what he pipes up about these days ( £31 million of toxic debt went by without any comment).

But suddenly straight out of left field (geddit?) we get St.Frank making a profound revelation that he’s suddenly discovered when all Wirral Council’s troubles started.

1979 to be exact! – when Wirral Council came to be created under Local Government re-organisation.  All is explained in his “Frankie Says” column in the Wirral News  : “Shortly before I was selected, the local authorities had been pushed together into ‘the Wirral’. The wounds were there for everyone to see.The crisis in the council came to a head long before the Colas whistleblowers called time….”.

http://www.wirralnews.co.uk/wirral-news/local-wirral-news/birkenhead-news/2013/05/29/frank-field-first-time-in-35-years-i-m-dealing-with-a-council-on-top-of-its-problems-80491-33396466/

Everyone at Leaky Towers thought this was a curious statement to make and wondered why it had suddenly dawned on Frankie Goes To La-La Land  to come out with that ludicrous statement.

Now as you all know we’re big fans of whistleblowers here, but to claim that the Colas whistleblowers “called time” on the chaos of Wirral Council is puzzling to say the least, especially when the official line is that “there was no case to answer” when it came down to their whistleblowing allegations ( and we all believe that don’t we boys and girls?!).

We would have thought time was called on years of Council misrule with the publication of Anna Klonowski’s supplementary report from September 2011 : “Corporate Governance Arrangements : Refresh and Renew ” where it was stated:

 “In short, the evidence confirms the consultant’s conclusion that, over a considerable period of time, this council has been consistently unable to get a grip of a range of inter-related issues. This indicates that Wirral MBC’s corporate governance arrangements were, and probably remain, inadequate.

 

The consequence of this inward, insular focus is that over time, residents and service users’ needs and rights have become submerged beneath an increasingly complex set of bureaucratic machinations. These have gripped different parts of the Council, diverting both attention and resources. Despite this, the organisation is still struggling to resolve the problems.

 

These machinations have had a corrosive impact on the basic levels of trust that need to exist between a council, its members, staff, residents, and users”.

Or failing that how about Wirral Councillors themselves “calling time” with a vote of no confidence in Labour Council Leader Steve Foulkes in 2012 ?.

We are therefore lead to conclude that the exclusion of such obvious points of reference serves not only to promote Field’s championing of the Colas whistleblowers but is more resolutely “on message”.

We think the explanation of Field’s unsustainable argument is contained in a recent article in The Economist where in an article laughably titled “In Praise of St.Frank” (yes really!) it is stated:

“Yet he is a politician, not a saint, for all that. “Everything I do”, he insists, “is meant to get Labour re-elected.”

An approach that clearly applies locally and whether or not it involves a series of damning reports and scandals.

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21577056-would-more-mps-were-frank-field-labours-voice-crying-wilderness-praise

Meanwhile back in the real world…… a reliable source informs us that behind the scenes there have been frantic discussions about the need to make further savings  – increase in unpaid leave?,pay cuts? reduction in working week,further cuts in services?.Who knows?

It seems DASS needs to find £20m savings but to give him his due the Director Hodkinson/Hodgkinson ( we never seem to get that guys name right) has told Comrade Burgesski and  Super Director Fish that this is impossible!. It appears that the new Super Directors only impact thus far is to put the pressure onto the Directors and them onto the Heads of Service! – which is exactly the type of “corrosive impact”  that Klonowski reported back in 2011!

Apparently after the DASS restructure, there is a growing sense of discontent in one part of the Department where staff are managed by someone in whom they have no confidence nor in any of the colleagues they brought with them from over the water ( which also has echoes of past “corrosive” issues) .

Furthermore the impact expected from some highly paid interim Managers is now being questioned as no savings seem to have been found. Another Finance Interim Manager has been brought into DASS to replace someone who was allowed to “retire” last year as the post was supposed to be surplus to requirements.

As our source says:

“Meltdown. But the Echo says its all hunky dory….”.

Which all goes to prove Lady W’s dictum : ” Darling you can polish a turd until it shines brightly but it will still stink to high heaven….”