*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:
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
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.
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!