Transparently Anti-Racist

Race_wirral

Lady W has just nearly choked on a Viscount ( the biscuit not her second cousin I hasten to add).

When I asked her what the kerfuffle was about – she pointed out that apparently it’s just been announced that anti-racism training is being provided by staff from Wirral Council’s Minority Ethnic Achievement Service (.. and whilst no doubt worthy we do wonder how many high powered meetings it took to come up with that somewhat awkward-sounding tag).

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/news/30-10-2013/council-team-offer-anti-racism-training

Cllr Tony Smith, Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services is quoted as saying:

“Challenging racism and promoting diversity should be at the core of Britain’s education system and these training sessions recognise that. It is particularly fitting that these sessions should be offered around Black History Month.”

Whilst we wholeheartedly support these noble endeavours we can only endorse Her Ladyship’s sentiments that perhaps Cllr Smith may do well to remind colleagues that challenging racism and promoting diversity should also be at the core of Wirral Council’s culture and practice and that Councillors have a particular responsibility to transparently demonstrate this in their leadership and behaviour ………..

Advertisements

Halloween Special: “You only moved the headstones!!”

Helloweeeeen Wirral

We began to wonder on this All Hallows Eve just how much has the Wirral Council horror-show been transformed since the arrival of Comrade Burgesski and the expensive window dressing that is the Improvement Board ? – A bit of expensive window dressing that calls itself voile but its basically a net(work) curtain to stop people knowing what’s really going on. ( By the way we’d leave this  particular gig off your CV if we were you Ms.Redfearn and don’t worry we’re not going to ask for a big fat LGA-sized consultancy fee for telling you that).

After considering a series of calamitous headlines, damning reports,botched investigations and the departure of various Chief Officers and senior staff we are minded to recall a scene from the classic spooky movie “Poltergeist.”The clip below especially resonates with us at Leaky Towers because we all agree that it’s no use moving the headstones from the cemetery when the bodies remain buried. If they’re not put to rest the skeletons will simply keep on rising up until they bring the house tumbling down.

We suspect that until there’s a decent burial it’ll be some time before get anyone declares that “This house is clean…” especially when burial is confused with denial.

Meanwhile we have exclusive live footage from Wallasey Town Hall with our reporters Myra Mains and Phil McCrackin

SHOWERSHITE

“Contrary to strong rumour – no shower has been installed. or will be, in my office or anywhere else in the Town Hall.”

 

Application Number:LBC/13/00678

Costa Lot – taking the breeze or taking the piss?

WL-LEAKY
Thankfully we’re early risers and so were able to complete our mission and exit the garish yellow supermarket just before 9am on Wednesday morning – October 16, for fans of people who like to say “FACT”.
After dispatching Eldritch to the car with our goods, Lady L and I decided to take in some of the bracing sea air and have a closer look at this gleaming new monument to council ingenuity.
And, alas, it seemed we were not alone!
In FACT we fear our innocent stroll around Marine Point may have unwittingly disturbed a curious meeting of minds taking place that very morning.
Stood there, at 9.10am on Wednesday, October 16 – again for people of “FACT” fascination -huddling away from public gaze and sucking furiously on cigarettes, stood two very familiar figures from the power elite in Brighton Street.
Now for someone under the weather (apparently Wirral Council do still authorise “gardening leave” for the chosen few), one of them looked utterly resplendent in a suit and open necked shirt.
And their companion was equally eye-catching in a three-quarter length coat and “fashionable” riding boots that stomped from side to side.
Fortunately, they were able to keep warm through the miracle of nicotine and take-out cups of Costa Coffee.
Unfortunately, dear readers, we were too far away to actually hear what they were saying to one another. One can only wonder if it was strictly council business – whether it was about issues surrounding an incredulous  “damages” pay out is strictly conjecture.
However by this time Lady L had had enough of all the intrigue and was demanding we return to Leaky Towers for kedgeree and Earl Grey. But as we turned to leave we could have sworn we saw something flashing in the background….
Inevitably after our afternoon snooze yesterday, a “ping” indicated that an email had arrived in our well and truly pummelled Wirral Leaks in-box and subsequently this article went to press .
As contrary to popular belief  (or as it’s better known Power Boy Pip) we don’t just report “lies”, we write about issues that are very much in the public interest and we don’t publish until we get concrete evidence and judging by the pictures we’ve received  this story is about as concrete as brutalist architecture.
We’ve spared the protagonists blushes by rendering the images in “film noir” -as
one has a feeling these images could set already wagging tongues wagging even further.
And we really wouldn’t want that… well we would really because we beseech the good people of Wirral that enough is enough.

Career Advice – The Three Tenents*

AUDIT

* Please note: not to be confused with tenants or tenors.This article is not about the Bedroom Tax orOpera Singers with pituitary problems

Howdydoody Leakers and Leakerettes it’s Verity here.

Lord Julian has sent me a memo and asked me to provide some advice to beleaguered Wirral Council employees at this difficult time.My specific brief is as follows:

” Dearest Verity – can you share your experience of the clandestine workings of Wirral Council and so assist employees to survive a culture of fear and loathing. Especially that poor sap who is going to cop for the conman cock-up?
Love and snuggles,Lord J x”

Well I must say the most shocking aspect of the whole episode to which His Lordship refers is that Power Boy Pip is reported to have stated:“I have ordered a full investigation to be carried out and concluded as quickly as possible.We need to be absolutely sure that this kind of thing could never happen again.If it turns out that negligence is to blame for this, then I have made it clear that disciplinary action will follow.£45,000 is a large amount of money, and it’s all comes from the taxpayer.”…..http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/10741273.Urgent_investigation_ordered_as_Wirral_Council_hands_over___45_000_to_conman/I am simply aghast that this £45,000 “mistake” appears to have elicited this kind of response.It appears to me to be but a little local flooding compared to the tsunami of misconduct,malfeasance,maladministration and mismanagement that has gone before…..and for which no-one,absolutely no-one was disciplined.Indeed the dishonest and the incompetent appear to have been obscenely rewarded with huge amounts of public money and therein I believe lies a real problem for the organisation when it comes to disciplinary issues and which leads me to :

Tenent 1 –  Wirral Council has NO MORAL AUTHORITY.
Any employee working for the Council could legitimately claim that there is now a two-tier system of disciplinary measures largely dependent on high ranking seniority and hidden secrets.

The higher up the hierarchy you are and the more you know the more secure your position. Meanwhile the Council cannon fodder are on their own (and let’s face it the useless supine Union reps aren’t going to save them.Too busy making deals in which their members are but a bargaining tool…..(and no Eldritch I am not inserting your smutty pun here)

It strikes me that unless this particular scam had all the sophistication of the ubiquitous Nigerian gentleman with a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to the English language the culpability for this cock-up lies in the weaknesses of internal financial controls (and someone who clearly has the knowledge as to how to exploit those weaknesses)

Therefore once again the unholy section of the Finance Department known as Internal/Infernal Audit must have serious questions to answer. Let us recall –  it is this particular section which has been the common denominator in a series of inglorious cover ups up to and including the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods hoo-ha ( which is another Wirral Council horror-show waiting in the wings.)
So what’s a struggling Council plebeian to do in the face of such insurmountable odds? Lets’s move on to…

Tenent 2: NO RESPONSIBILITY
Remember it is never,ever your fault EVER.It is always,always,always a systemic or corporate governance failure. And anyway what’s £45,000 between criminals when Wirral Council were handing out millions to an organisation with links to an OCG ( Organised Crime Group) ?See the document cunningly hidden in this Freedom of Information request for confirmation of the Council’s dealings with drugs money launderers

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/144477/response/373336/attach/html/3/20130327100651891.tif.html

However having said all that it is always best to remember that if these guys want you gone then you are dead meat, in which case lets move on to…

Tenent 3:  NO WHISTLEBLOWING .
They say all is unfair in Law and Wirral Council so you need to arm yourself with as much information as you can to defend your position. Perhaps noting any indiscretions at the Office Christmas Party or maybe saving that dodgy email and making a note of the time when you were told to dupe elected members because they’re thick as ….. Anything,absolutely anything  that might help you any-time you get threatened with a redundancy notice or disciplinary action.

But remember absolutely no whistle-blowing –  it is sad ,mad and dangerous to whistleblow.  Look what happened to all those schmucks who thought they were trying to protect the public purse and/ or vulnerable people. Get with the programme and you never know  – if your info is particularly incriminating or about someone with a lot of power and a lot to lose you may even strike lucky and get a nice little sweetener!

So to recap – here are Verity’s Three Tenents :
1 NO MORAL AUTHORITY

2 NO RESPONSIBILITY

3 NO WHISTLEBLOWING

These are “The Three Tenents” which have  served me very well at Leaky Towers and let’s just say His Lordship knows his secrets are safe with me.

Which reminds me I must re-negotiate my terms of engagement as I understand from what’s on the horizon there may be some lucrative overtime looming…!!!

😉

Ciao Verity

Lord Knows

I CONFESS

As the the late great Northern philosopher Hylda Baker used to say:
 
“(s) He knows y’know”!
 
It’s gratifying to see the local press picking up on stories first revealed by Wirral Leaks.
 
Here’s our exclusive from 27th September where we first leaked the story about the possibility of Wirral Council’s hapless Social Services Department being scammed:
 
https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/mutley-crew-more-dass-tardly-mis-deeds/
 
Here’s the Daily Post story published today 16th October
 
http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/wirral-council-conned-out-45000-6191632?ptnr_rid=134578&?icid=eml_LiverpoolPost_NewsReadMore1
 
And here’s the Freedom of Information request which confirms that the matter is now in the hands of the police.
 
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wbc_dass_inaccurate_payments_to#comment-44192
 
What we at Leaky Towers would like to know is whether anyone will be held accountable for this latest debacle? It’s back to Hylda for the answer to that one: ” Not on your nellie”!.
 
Will it be yet another case of off you pop with a Compromise Agreement which can’t be discussed for moral and legal reasons?!……….

Not_On_Your_Nellie_DVD

“I Dreamed A Dream”

Wirral-Licks

I was reading yet more shocking tales of Wirral Councils alleged distribution of taxpayers money in the local press, this time centring on rumours of a secret pay-off.
http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/10738915._Veil_of_secrecy__over_Wirral_Council_payout_rumours/

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/wirral-council-leader-silent-pay-out-6186413

Suddenly my mind became a whirl of unanswered questions, a maelstrom of confusion and intrigue and then I became all woozy,I heard the sound of a harp and saw wavy lines before my eyes just like in old movies ,then found myself drifting off into a restless slumber with these words tinkling in my ears …..

 “Hold your breath,make a wish,count to three……Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination,take a look and you’ll see into your imagination,we’ll begin with a spin, travelling in the world of my creation,what we’ll see will defy explanation…….” 

And so let us venture into this world of imagination, a parallax universe where wrong is right, , bad is good and spin is truth.  Imagine if you will – The “Council X” Press Statement –

” A Council (X)  employee  may have been compensated for something but we’re not sure what for and we’re not going to tell you if they were anyway “.
 
Employee X says ” Although there appears to be no financial or career detriment and I didn’t have to bother with all that tiresome and fiddly legal palaver I feel fully vindicated after my valiant and heroic struggle against corporate oppression.This financial compensation of  just under 50 grand sends a very clear message that the failure to address a grievance will not be tolerated.”
 
I am confident that following due process those responsible for my heinous treatment will be held to account,lessons will be learned and hopefully no-one else will be a victim of such appalling appallingness.
 
I am therefore proud to work for an organisation that has a Chief Executive X who acts decisively when it comes to writing me out a cheque with the sage advice : ” Let’s keep it under the £50K and if anyone asks any awkward questions we’ll  just repeat the words “Compromise Agreement” and  “Moral and legal duty” at regular intervals  “
 
I am also proud to work for Leader X who can use the words “open” and “transparent” without blushing or crossing his fingers behind his back. A Leader with Supreme Powers (after checking with Chief Executive X first ) who doesn’t hide behind references to  “Corporate Governance” or “Culture” as a means of deflecting responsibility and accountability from those individuals who instigated the Corporate Governance failures and a “corrosive culture” in the first place.    
 
But I am proudest of all to be supported by my loyal colleagues, the dear little people who tell me that I’m an inspiration and would never in a million years leak compromising information because they felt either deeply aggrieved or that it was in the public interest to do so .     
 
Finally I’d like to state that if this Council is to truly “Refresh & Renew” itself after a series of damning reports and scandals it cannot be seen to tolerate or condone such disgraceful disregard of Council employees rights…….well when I say employees I mean the ones that matter….. I mean we can’t be handing out bumper cheques to everyone who’s complaints aren’t handled properly can we?
 
So just to be clear on that specific point, when I say “the ones that matter” I mean the ones who are already on megabucks, know where the bodies are buried and what buttons to push ……. “

…..and then her Ladyship prodded me with her riding crop and I woke up and realised it was all just a bad dream…..a bad dream from which I suspect I will never awake.

and if you aren’t a team player remember …..

POWER BOY PIP & THE POLLYANNA PRINCIPLE *

POLLYPIPANNA
*The “Pollyanna Principle” is a psychological principle which portrays an excessively or blindly optimistic person displaying the positive bias they have when thinking of the past.
From the name of the child heroine created by Eleanor Porter (1868–1920), American writer

Now we all agree about the power of positive thinking but judging by Power Boy Pip’s performance at this weeks Wirral Council Cabinet meeting the positive spin seems to be spinning out of control to the point of delirium.

Talking about the Annual Bullshit ,sorry,Governance Statement 2012/13 – which can be found HERE:
http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50014512/Appendix%201%20-%20Annual%20Governance%20Statement%202012-13.pdf

Power Boy Pip expended a lot of hot air talking about visions (“ Are you sure the poor boy doesn’t mean hallucinations” chirruped her Ladyship ) and stated that there were a number of challenges ahead (“ I’ll say” we all chimed in unison) and made specific reference to the 6 principles that were going to address the Council’s “Significant Governance Issues” (which in plain English translates as the humiliating failure to run the Council properly).

Exhibiting a hidden flair for comedy Power Boy Pip also made reference to the toxic debts catastrophe:
“I think we’ve taken quite strong and prompt action to address the bad debts” he said trying to convince himself,if no-one else, that this was indeed the case.

Needless to say he failed to mention that no-one was held to account for the £31 million financial fiasco or that some debts went back well over a decade or that Council Officers had known what was going on for many years and it just slipped their mind to tell Councillors, who in turn, clearly didn’t have their eye on the ball,ear to the ground or mind on the job !!!.

Anyway we thought we’d check out the 6 principles outlined in the Statement that Power Boy Pip referred to and although we were a little dismayed to find that there is no mention of the Pollyanna Principle, the document nevertheless provided the opportunity to play one of our favourite pastimes at Leaky Towers – Bullshit Bingo!.

Principle 1 : Focussing on the purpose of the Authority and on outcomes for the community including citizens and service users and creating and implementing a vision for the local area

Oh here we go with the visions again!  How many Super Directors did it take to come up with that gobbledygook?!  Because as anyone will tell you who lives here – life on Wirral would be so much better if only we had a vision!  Meanwhile we’ll have to console ourselves with the mirage that is Wirral Waters.

Principle 2 : Members and officers working together to achieve a common purpose with clearly defined functions and roles

Especially ,we presume if they’ve undergone the same Common Purpose brainwashing – sorry training – that  we understand Comrade Burgesski  has undertaken. As a matter of interest Wirral Leaks would like to request Wirral Council leakers to keep us posted on the increasing frequency of the use of the term common purpose over the coming months.

Principle 3 : Promoting the values of the Authority and demonstrating the values of good governance through behaviour

Well, knowing what we know at Leaky Towers,all we can say at this juncture is that we hope that Council Officers and Councillors are confident that they are able to demonstrate good behaviour or this principle may ultimately prove to be their undoing!

Principle 4 : Taking informed and transparent decisions which are subject to effective scrutiny and managing risk

Where the goodie bags full of public money handed out as rewards for failure or compensation for corporate  failure fits into this principle we can only wonder!
It’s as if “The Childcatcher” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has been put in charge of the sweetshop and has been handing out sweeteners to the particularly dim,badly behaved and greedy kids to keep them quiet or better still make them disappear altogether.
When suddenly the stakeholders in the sweetshop (that’s you and me) turn around and say: “Where have all the sweets gone?”
The Childcatcher replies: ” It may leave a nasty taste in the mouth but I fear I cannot tell you as the little dears and I are partial to gobstoppers which come in the form of a Compromise Agreement”.

Principle 5: Developing the capacity and capability of members to be effective and ensuring that officers – including statutory officers – also have the capability to deliver effectively

Another mouthful which seems to suggest something we’ve known for a long time at Leaky Towers –  that certain members and officers are simply not up to the job.
Effective doesn’t come into it- how about members and officers operating within a legal and ethical framework and understanding their roles as public servants for starters.

Principle 6: Engaging with local people and other stakeholders to ensure robust local public accountability

Verity wins Bullshit Bingo! shouting “House!” after the inevitable appearance of the word “robust”. However we feel that placing robust adjacent to “local public accountability” has to be a contender for oxymoron of the year .

Talking of which – “robust” makes yet another oxymoronic appearance in the most selective paragraph of the whole Statement in Principle 4 :

In December 2012, the Information Commissioner’s Office announced
that Wirral would be monitored for three months after concerns
emerged regarding the timeliness of responses to freedom of
information requests. The Council has also put in place robust
processes to respond to freedom of information requests which are
regularly reviewed by the Chief Executive’s Strategy Group to ensure
that a timely response is provided. These improved processes are
having a significant impact on the Council’s response to freedom of
information requests.

There is no mention here of the previously reported public undertaking that Wirral Council had been asked to agree to after failing to improve during the three month monitoring period imposed by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
Indeed they seem to have ignored the ICO altogether, as no such public undertaking still appears to have been made. Nor is there any mention of the numerous Decision Notices that the ICO have made on their website upholding complaints made against Wirral Council by people making Freedom of Information requests.

One such Decision Notice published only last week involves local FOI campaigner Paul Cardin.

Mr.Cardin  had previously been refused information by Wirral Council on the grounds that he was a “vexatious” and “obsessive” complainant.
However ICO have rejected this claim and issued a damning 13 page assessment of Wirral’s case which among other spurious claims alleged that Mr.Cardin had once upset an unnamed but clearly delicate little flower who works for Wirral Council on a certain site by the name of Wirral Leaks!!!!! (as Eldritch said: “You couldn’t make this shit up”!)

The full Decision Notice is highly instructive as to Wirral Council’s continuing “bureaucratic machinations” but be warned it is one of the most cringe-worthy documents you will ever read.

http://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/foi-news-the-ico-issues-a-12-page-mauling-of-wirral-council/

If you’re disinclined to read the full version it can be best summarised as follows: ” Wirral Council – grow up,get a grip and give the public the information to which they are legally entitled”

Clearly ICO have a more,ahem , “robust” approach than Wirral Council to officers who claim to have been unfairly maligned and can only be consoled by a substantial amount of public money which somehow manages to evade “effective scrutiny”.

Under the circumstances might we suggest to Wirral Council that in the light of recent events they abandon  Principle 4  altogether. In fact why don’t they just scrap the lot of them and just  ” Be Glad” to stick with the one principle they excel at:

The Pollyanna Principle!

BULLYING IS AN UGGLY BUSINESS

WONKA

“OPEN and transparent” – two words that allude to being honest, possessing integrity, a nod to what normal people consider basic common decency; all things that Wirral Council is not, has not been in recent years, and has no hope of becoming in the near future, either.

How so?

Let’s talk bullying.

Let’s talk, specifically – as the council very much does not care to – of the somewhat interesting notion that a notorious manipulator within Wirral Council has very recently been awarded the princely sum of £48,000 of your council tax money – tax-free, kids, natch – because they were the victim of “ill treatment” by one of the council’s other, equally notorious bullies.

How one bully can get such a massive sum when we’re cutting services left, right and centre, is anyone’s guess. Certainly, there is no issue with a loss of income because they remain in place. So it’s presumably – unless the council deigns to confirm otherwise, which it has resolutely refused to do on the grounds of protecting an employee’s privacy – “damages”.

As usual, no matter where the axe falls on Wirral Council services because of “the cuts”, there is always, always, ALWAYS money to be found to kindly ask employees to STFU.

(Remember those words: “Open and transparent?” Let them howl around your mind right now, like an orchestral echo performed by a murder of crows or an unkindness of ravens.)

Both individuals in this case remain very much part of the organisation. They are, to keen council observers like us, at least, household names. If you’re unfortunate enough to work in Brighton Street, you’ll be more than familiar with the pair of them.

Neither has ever swept a street, fixed a lamppost, filled in a pothole, helped someone vulnerable to be safe from harm or emptied someone else’s green bin.

It would be  impossible not to be familiar with them – think vessels, loud noises, that sort of thing. But Lord and Lady Leaks are obliged to nod to the law of the land in these matters – the same way Wirral Council does when not responding to anything of legitimate public interest while lashing your money around like a hideously drunken sailor – so we’ll have to name the duo at a later date.

What makes this situation so farcical, and then absolutely obscene is the spectre of the arch-manipulator rewarded for feelings hurt by a former comrade yet they still manage to limp on at work with a more than generous salary when there appears to be no evidence of an investigation,no assessment of “damages”,no legal advice and no scrutiny  ( which no doubt offers considerable food for thought for Freedom of Information fans).

There’s still, after all these years, after all these inquiries, after all the payouts to the culpable but unsackable, something very rotten and uggly at the heart of matters in Brighton Street.

You have to pay for it through your council tax – but you’re not allowed to know about it.

Open and transparent indeed. Hark! There’s that orchestra again – playing a horribly discordant and mournful refrain……

Swimming with Sharks

shitstorm a-brewin'

News that there is currently carnage in the corridors of power at Wallasey Town Hall over an impending  story that is about to blow brought to mind a scene from a favourite old movie we watched recently on the gogglebox – the appropriately named  “The Lady From Shanghai!”

Pass the popcorn and enjoy the plot twists