MUTLEY CREW: More DASS- tardly (Mis) Deeds?

cast-of-dastardly-and-muttley-in-their-flying-machines-31

We take a break at Leaky Towers from the Wirralgate! scandal to bring you a belated update on that most  worrisome of Council departments – the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS).

Although we concede that Director Graham Hotpotatoskins inherited a shitstorm of Biblical proportions it would appear that despite his bright,shiny,optimistic presentation to the nodding dog “Improvement” Board things don’t appear to be getting any less controversial…..

For example, a highly critical speech making serious allegations was delivered to Wirral Council Cabinet last week by Wirral Carehomes Association (WCA). Power Boy Pip asked Hotpotatoskins  to either confirm or deny the claims of WCA. He chose to very carefully say that WCA should have brought these matters to his attention before the meeting (they claim they did , on several occasions) and went on to say that he was under the impression that his officers have acted lawfully. We understand Directors of WCA are now taking legal advice as to how to identify, prepare, and present evidence in a form that can be given to Merseyside police to instigate a criminal investigation.

Needless to say Power Boy Pip accepted Hotpotatoskins explanation without question (dearie,dearie me it’s like the past decade of disastrous DASS Directors never happened).

It was interesting to observe that immediately following the Council meeting, Hotpotatoskins approached the Directors of WCA in a desperate attempt to reopen lines of communication on the subject. However WCA are now and we quote ” taking legal advice from an expert in local government law on the benefit of attempting meaningful communication with DASS, against involving the Police and the Local Government Ombudsman based upon the evidence WCA have already gathered”.

Good luck with that WCA ! – you can scream maladministration and misfeasance in public office as much as you like but based on previous stories we’ve reported on the Police and the Local Government Ombudsman  will be quickly tossing the file into their respective “Nothing To Do With Us Guv” trays.

Much more interesting to us at Leaky Towers is a recent cryptic communique we received about DASS  and we’re requesting  whether our source can elaborate further otherwise it remains an unfounded allegation made against a blameless Council Department:

  • Imagine if DASS were to get a letter asking for one of its care providers to be paid into another account.
  • Imagine that DASS have a few requests.
  • Imagine that they don’t do any checks on the £100k payments, that actually the emails or requests were not signed.
  • Imagine on pay day a number of care homes contact DASS saying they have not been paid.
  • Imagine if DASS had paid lots of money to fraudsters and then had to pay it again to the care providers.
  • That would be very poor safeguarding of the public purse as well as utter inept financial mismanagement.

Anyone care to help us out with this one? And could it have anything to do with one of those awkward Freedom of Information requests that seem to so vex the powers that be?.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wbc_dass_inaccurate_payments_to

Perhaps Mark Niblock,  Wirral Council’s Acting Chief Infernal Auditor and a worthy successor to the Council’s previous Chief Infernal Auditor – David ” Audit report not fit for purpose” Garry, can clarify?

In the mean time we eagerly await the response to the above FOI request to find out whether DASS is the gift that keeps on giving (to all the wrong people) and whether Infernal Audit just let them keep right on doing it knowing that no awkward questions will ever be asked at Audit & Risk Management Committee……

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WIRRALGATE! : A MESSAGE FROM OUR LORD*

( *No, not that one – we’re not that well connected!)
HOLY-FUCKING-MOSES-PHIL-DICK

Judging by the number of hits and the responses we’ve had to the Wirralgate! tapes it would seem that, unsurprisingly, our followers have a large number of outstanding questions about the unfolding story.

Some we have the answers to,some we don’t and some we probably never will.
And sorry to have to mention the C word – but dear Leaks fans, think of this as being like the run up to Christmas – for as in many things – the anticipation is often as rewarding as the actual reveal.

However prominent among the many questions we are being asked is why did our very own version of “Deep Throat” feel they had to approach Wirral Leaks with their story?.

I for one think this is a brave and significant act. We understand that our sources had already been approached by the Council who wanted to initially undertake  an internal investigation and latterly an external investigation in,I presume, a determined bid to keep this story under wraps.

The Council will of course cite a desire to want to follow “due process” – but as we all know by now – due process is a one way street and it only applies when it suits Wirral Council’s ends (and it’s usually a dead end at that).

As to the internal investigation let’s just say our sources didn’t want to “Blott” their copybook when it became very clear the scope of “investigation” was being unreasonably constrained.
Instead of offering a feeble ” no comment” as to why certain parts of the recording where not to be investigated we wish the Council representative would just admit that he was told to just look at the bit that could possibly be fudged (although believe me it would be interesting to see how they could have fudged this one! ).

So under these circumstances who can blame our sources wanting to take the road less travelled and walk the Wirral Leaks way ?- as let’s face it if Wirral Council investigations and reports aren’t deeply flawed (Penn) or an amateurish whitewash (Vickers) they’re redacted and compromised (Smith,Klonowski) and always,always endlessly delayed ( the Grant Thornton reports into the BIG/ ISUS /Working Neighbourhoods debacle is but the latest shameful example)….and then there are reports that never even see the light of day (but funny how they manage to find their way to Leaky Towers like the doves in our dovecote – like a better class of chicken coming home to roost).

And even when a report suggests that behind the blacked out redactions and the inscrutable Council -speak that something somewhere might possibly has gone horribly wrong (but nobody knows for sure) – the holy trinity of truth,justice and accountability are still inevitably denied.

Judging by how this investigation was mooted to proceed the worst that was ever going to happen is that a recommendation is made that all Councillors and Senior Officers attend a Race Awareness course rather than focus on the individual whose grasp of ethnicity,equality and diversity seems to be – how can we put this delicately? – ….. somewhat awry.

Anyway as we know some people are untouchable and unaccountable (and this applies to Wirral Councillors most of all) –  and so we know there will be no consequences whatever the outcome of an investigation and the whole smoke and mirrors circus act will stagger on to the next series of mishaps and scandals because someone “important”  is always implicated in some real or imagined misdeed and everyone seemingly has got something on someone else – A confederacy of dunces in a conspiracy of silence.

Indeed a significant part of the of the Wirralgate! case is concerned with a prominent Councillor  casually trying to acquire compromising information about a political opponent as part of what our sources perceived to be some kind of  “sweetheart deal”.

So I can only admire the courage of these sources and the spirit of resistance their stance represents. There is a very strong message being sent to Wirral Council, which is this:

“WHAT REALLY MATTERS” IS HONESTY INTEGRITY & EQUALITY – UNTIL THESE CAN BE CLEARLY DEMONSTRATED BY WIRRAL COUNCIL WE NO LONGER HAVE ANY TRUST OR CONFIDENCE IN THE ORGANISATION OR IN IT’S CORPORATE GOVERNANCE……

THE LORD HAS SPOKEN:

The Honourable Lord Julian

WIRRALGATE! : A SICK ORGANISATION

Mental-PowerBoy

The above is an actual quote from Power Boy Pip  in response to being told about the possibility that  Wirralgate! could be exposed on this site ( and he knows at least that isn’t a lie)

His response only confirms our concern for the mental wellbeing of Wirral Council as an organisation.

So much so we Skyped world-renowned and appropriately named  psychotherapist Dr.Dee Niall in La-la Land ,California for a psychiatric opinion.
She told us:

” Honey, lemme tell ya, Wirral Council is like a sad old soak denying they have a freakin’ drink problem.They need to get themselves outta the gutter and get themselves to AA ( Arseholes Anonymous) pronto …..and then get with the 12 Step program….which in their case goes a little somethin’ like this…” :

  • We admitted we were completely hopeless—that the Council had become unmanageable.
  • Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity ( sadly we learned to our cost, to our great financial cost,that the Local Government Association was NOT that power).
  • Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to public service
  • Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  • Admitted to the public, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs ( please ! – no laughing at the back).
  • Were entirely ready to remove all of these defects of character
  • Humbly ask Human Resources Department and the electorate to remove our shortcomings (we have a list of Council staff and Councillors – a very,very long list ).
  • Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all (again this is a very,very long list).
  • Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others ( as that would add injury to insult).
  • Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it ( by promptly we make the commitment that this should mean within the same decade).
  • Sought through meaningful consultation to improve our conscious contact with the public as we finally understood we were answerable to them, asking only for their support and the power to carry out their directions (and not direct them for our own ends).
  • Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to all arseholes and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

EXCLUSIVE : WIRRALGATE!

WirralGATE
Wirral Leaks are aware of recordings that could eventually be described as being Wirral Council’s “Watergate”.

We believe these recordings do more to explain the distorted mindset of those running Wirral Council (or more accurately running down Wirral Council) than any number of reports by Penn,Klonowski,Smith,Vickers,Audit Commission,Grant Thornton etc;etc; and which have cost Wirral Council taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The recording contains the type of unguarded comments that a Peer Review or Improvement Board never hears but would tell them everything they needed to know about Wirral Council’s “improvement journey”….

They do say that sunlight is the best disinfectant and we at Leaky Towers are hopeful that this will be the chink of light that will eventually bleach Wallasey Town Hall clean once and for all……

Verity is working on a transcription as I write – tune in to Wirral Leaks for daily bulletins and watch “WIRRALGATE!” unfold before your very eyes (and indeed ears)…….

Shock Report: “WIRRAL COUNCIL STILL SHIT” say beancounters

WIRRAL-COOKIE

A new report by Wirral Council auditors Grant Thornton identifies “continuing concerns raised by regulators” and “governance weaknesses which have been repeatedly identified in key issues such as whistle-blowing, conflicts of interest, compliance with procedures, risk management, internal audit and providing value for money”

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/10663303.Audit_probe_says_Wirral_Council_failing_to_get_its_finances_in_order/

And yet despite the fact the report concludes that the council “did not put in place proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources for the year between April 2012 and March 2013″ Power Boy Pip still sees fit to blame an administration that was not even at the helm during this particular time frame !!!.

He’s clearly the kind of character who having let off a particularly acrid sphincter whistle kicks the family dog before the missus gives him a clip round the ear!.

What’s more the report seems to make a mockery of the premature appointment of Comrade Burgesski to the permanent Chief Executive post.As commentators said at the time of his appointment, after a mere 2 months in post, shouldn’t such a position be bestowed only after it was clear that Wirral Council was no longer an organisation seemingly under the control of Billy Smart?.

It now appears that the man once voted the fourth most influential in local government ( “That’ll be a lovely eulogy on a tombstone ” trills Lady W ) is being made to appear by Wirral Council’s continuing woeful performance as though he’d be out of his depth in a kid’s paddling pool.

The fact that auditors have made this damning assessment is particularly telling as these are the type of people who compromise their integrity for a living.

As some of the main protagonists in this sorry tale are currently in the far east we thought it appropriate to ask Leaky Towers feng shui consultant Sum Ting Wong to provide some Chinese proverbs as wise words of solace in these difficult times:

“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.”

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names”

“Don’t consider your reputation and you may do anything you like”

Back To The Future

ECHO

I was as perusing the papers yesterday when I espied the front page headline headline ” Wirral Council Charges Scandal” on the front of the Liverpool Echo. I assumed Verity had been raiding the Wirral Leaks archive and had a Proustian moment remembering the heady days of 2008 and the first rumblings that something was seriously amiss at Wirral Council.

There I was reminiscing about cover ups and crimes and Bentleys and baseball bats when Lady W returned from her afternoon perambulation, prodded me with her shooting stick and pointed to the date on the front of the paper: September 5, 2013!.

I readjusted by monocle,checked the date and read the sub-heading  – EXCLUSIVE “Two mental health patients left tens of thousands out of pocket…then staff tried to keep it secret “.

By jove, yes, it was Back to the Future!.Although this time it was more Marty McFly than Martin Morton. Turning to page 13 (unlucky for some) the sense of deja vu rises as we see political opportunist Cllr Jefferson Green bemoaning that the new regime “has not learned the lessons of the past”.

Council spokesperson and Super-Duper Director Clare Fish is assigned the onerous task of defending the indefensible and delivering a masterclass in the use of weasel-words says that this was an “historical case” discovered through ” due diligence”. Which is  Wirral Council-speak for : “The unlawful charging of two people with mental health needs went on for SEVEN YEARS and we only ‘fessed up because of the previous overcharging scandal and only then after someone made a Freedom of Information request” .

Ms.Fish goes on to reassure us this was an “accounting error” and “the amount was concerned was less than £60,000 and therefore it would not have been appropriate to take this matter to cabinet” .

And so the matter of nearly 30 grand each being unlawfully taken from 2 people is airily dismissed as only someone on a Super Duper Director salary could possibly do.

As I said to Lady W : ” She’s no Fish out of water is she?,she be OK swimming with the sharks of Wallasey Town Hall…or should I say the testicle eating Pacu fish allegedly invading British waters?”

” Oh don’t be silly dear…” she replied ” we all know Wallasey Town Hall is a scrotum-free zone” .

Jimmy Riddle

WilkerLer
Wirral Town Hall season ticket holder, keen observer of Council meetings and local blogger John Brace is probably one of those pesky and persistent members of the public who give the likes of Frankenfield and the Town Hall cabal the vapours.Mr.Brace displays the same attention to detail as our own dear Verity Snoop ( and if only some of our Councillors displayed the same interest such tedious minutiae perhaps minor considerations such as £31 million of toxic debt might not have passed them by……) .>On Mr.Braces blog it would seem that he has been looking at some curious invoices

http://johnbrace.com/2013/09/02/a-town-hall-mystery-the-riddle-of-32074-98-spent-on-legal-advice-for-employee-who-had-already-retired/

As you can see Mr .Brace titles his Blog article:

“A Town Hall Mystery: The Riddle of £32,074.98 spent on legal advice for employee who had already retired”.

The employee referred to is former Wirral Council Chief Executive Jim Wilkie.
Mr.Brace is puzzled and poses this question:

The puzzle comes first in the form of this invoice for £28,422.44 from  Eversheds for “Advice on governance and employment issues” and “Professional fees in conjunction with advising you on the above matter Period of Invoice 11 June 2012 to 31 July 2012 Your ref: Jim Wilkie

>How could they be advising Jim Wilkie on governance and employment issues as he no longer worked for Wirral Council? He’d retired!

However we at Leaky Towers are keen observers of Town Hall shenanigans and are of the mind that this wasn’t legal advice FOR Jim Wilkie but ABOUT him…..as he had indeed “retired” on 7 June 2012.

Indeed there are many puzzling aspects to Wilkie’s sudden ,and from what we understand, dramatic departure from Wirral Council.

Wilkie ,we all may remember was the poor sap who was deemed to be the safe pair of hands to manage the fallout from Klonowski’s Corporate Governance and Independent Review reports.

However as we have previously reported it is now clear cracks were beginning to show in his relationship with his political masters and inevitably his days were numbered…because as many have learned to their cost if you cross the power elite at Wallasey Town Hall you’re dead meat.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/06/

Remember it was less than a month after the publication of the damning Independent Review in January 2012 and the shameful and unjustifiable paying off of DASS Senior Officers Mike Fowler and Maura Noone just before it’s publication, that Wilkie went on sick leave.He was never to return, although it wasn’t until June 2012 that his final departure was officially agreed.
What is surprising is that considering his length of service and seniority he didn’t receive the bumper pay -out of the likes of his predecessor Maddox or more pertinently former Director of Law  Bill Norman.

Bill Norman had barely been at Wirral Council for 4 years whilst Wilkie had been at Wirral for 23 years -Their respective severance payments puzzlingly don’t reflect this ( Norman £146K + legal costs compared to Wilkie’s £111K – ironically only £1K more than Fowler & Noone).

We feel that the circumstances surrounding Norman’s pay-out may explain this particular puzzle.

Unfortunately for Wilkie – he didn’t seem to have Norman’s bargaining tool and therefore could it be that the staggering legal fees that Evershed’s accrued just after Wilkie’s “retirement” were an assessment of a potential legal challenge ?.

Of course we may never know – as throwing Council money like confetti on expensive external legal advice is shrouded in legal privilege.

However to prove that,just like Bill Norman safely ensconced in Herefordshire, there is a lucrative,privileged and influential role to be had away from Wirral Council we have been made aware that Wilkie is now a Neston Town Councillor and serves as a Trustee on the Countess of Chester Hospital Board.

Chin! Chin! to you Jim – make mine a double when we next meet in one of Parkgate’s fine hostelries.

Lord W