Strings Attached – Birkenhead MP announces his plans for 2014 (which are much the same as 2013)
Happy New Year Leakers
Different year, same old spin……
Inspired by former Wirral council DASS-meister John Webb and his infamous Golden Cone award we proudly present the first annual Wirral Leaks awards – The Leakys.
Each winner will be presented with a golden whistle in recognition of their outstanding work and contribution to Wirral Leaks throughout 2013.
Scam of the year – This was a close one.The con merchant ringing up, asking for and receiving 45,000 big ones is worthy of an Ealing comedy but shading it by 3 grand is the £48K for “hurt feelings” awarded to the mystery person hiding behind the carefully constructed smokescreen (B&H ? JPS? Silk Cut ? You tell us! ) …..
Hissyfit of the year – Yes… it’s Foulkesy at the Council meeting held in July where we feared (and secretly hoped) that his head might explode in a maelstrom of feigned victim-hood and extreme bullshit. What’s more we suspect (OK we know ) his apoplexy was related to our first award. Now we don’t know what the rubicund bellicose bruiser put in that email but we do hope it was worth 48 thousand smackeroonies of Council Tax payers money.
Photo of the year – The atmospheric monochrome study : “New Brighton Rendezvous III -” Snapped By Otto Normalverbraucher
Comeback of the year – Dave Green …er….Rick O’Brien…..oh….. Martin Morton…..oops. We’ve decided this award may have to be carried over until next year.
Best read of the year – Wirral Council’s mobile phone records (especially the international calls made on someone else’s phone from China)
Lifetime Lack of Achievement Award – To add to his OBE and Deputy Lieutenant Pigeon of Merseyside honour we bow in subjugation to the supreme majesty that was former Wirral Council Chief Executive Steve Maddox.The people of Wirral salute you for the outstanding legacy you left behind as you made a hasty retreat to your Cheshire bolt-hole with a nice big cheque of their money just before you were rumbled.
Leak of the Year/Decade/Century – Wirralgate! – believe us good people this is everything that’s wrong with Wirral Council and has been for a very long time.And whilst we’re on the subject this is NOT the prerogative of the alleged maligned party to have this matter dealt with “privately.” What’s more they are NOT the complainant ,especially when as far as we understand they have NOT even heard the Wirralgate! tapes! …………
Quote of the Year – ” No evidence was made available to the investigation to substantiate a serious allegation regarding inappropriate language” – Wirral Council Leader Power Boy Pip.
a) It wasn’t an “investigation” b) It wasn’t just about “inappropriate language” c) It wasn’t a case of “no evidence” – especially when we’ve been informed YOU HAVE HEARD THE EVIDENCE YOURSELF!
Leaker of the Year – Well that would be telling and unlike Wirral Council we know how to maintain anonymity! !
Thankfully for all of us at Leaky Towers Wirral Council has more leaks than a rusty colander – but then if you treat your staff like peasants there will come a time when the peasants revolt. So in honour of all our lovely leakers we award a golden whistle to you all and long may you blow…….
The Leaky Towers Crew – Keepin’ it real in 2014 y’all.
As I find myself languidly draped on the chaise longue digesting the rich festive fayre I also find time to digest the information that came Wirral Leaks way concerning events that occurred on Christmas Eve.
And one finds oneself musing that rather like Christmas dinner sprouts that not only does history repeat itself ……it stinks to high heaven.
In this particular case we refer to a letter from Cllr Power Boy Pip Davies sent to Tory leader Cllr. Jefferson Green about Wirralgate! exclusively posted on John Brace’s ever informative blog : CLICK HERE
PB Pip promises that he will also copy his response to Cllr. Green to all Members and ask for it to be published as an appendix to the Council minutes. Now we don’t know about you good people but we were soon gripped with an overwhelming sense of deja vu and were specifically reminded of events from Christmas Eve 2012 when Comrade Burgesski made the following press statement :
“At around 2.00pm today, Christmas Eve, I had delivered to David Green, the preliminary investigation into the Audit Commission’s report on the Colas Contract on Wirral Highways.
“On the advice of the Investigator, Richard Penn, to the-then Acting Chief Executive, Ian Coleman, David Green was suspended. Mr Penn finds no case to answer and I have therefore told David Green to return to work on the week beginning 7 January 2013.
“Under the Council’s policy of transparency I would have wished to have published the report today. That is physically impossible with staff already having left for the Christmas break. I shall issue the report to the public on the first day the Council returns to work – namely 27 December 2012 – and it will be published on the Council’s Website.”
As we all know by now Dave “BoyOhBoy” Green never did return to work and despite being exactly one year apart we understand that curiously these Christmas Eve missives are not unconnected…….
Power Boy Pip goes on to comment in his letter to Cllr Green:
“We have discussed the issue of improving the culture of this Council and I believe that both myself as Leader, and you as Leader of the Opposition have a crucial role to play in this. I have stated publicly, at Improvement Board and elsewhere, that the number one priority for this Council over the coming months must be to address this once and for all……”
And indeed it will be interesting to see how the Wirralgate! case unravels over the forthcoming year. We anticipate that based on the obfuscation,evasion and disinformation contained within Power Boy Pip’s letter that a public announcement will be made on Christmas Eve 2014 inevitably stating that “there is no case to answer.”
The problem facing the Wirral Council power elite is that the Wirralgate! tapes have un-spooled messily out of their control and no matter how much they attempt to rewind them we predict the tapes will gradually entangle all those who try to smooth them out…. and rather like the ghosts of Xmas past, come back to haunt all those involved.
Another indication that “improving the culture” of this Council is likely to be a lost cause is based on another heart-warming Christmas Eve story :
“In reference to your post about control room staff working over the Christmas period I thought you would like to know that the kind-hearted CCTV and Community Patrol Manager gave the staff a very special bonus on Christmas Eve to boost the depleted staff morale for the festive stint, a neatly wrapped with a big bow on it – redundancy notice letter. Strange he didn’t get one himself not exactly going down with his ship,neither his four Community Patrol Operations Managers (very grand title they gave themselves), more chiefs than Indians as is the council way……”
Might we humbly suggest that if Power Boy and co truly want to improve the culture of Wirral Council that one of the many things they need to do is desist from hiring ex-coppers,ex- fire service and ex-local government officers who having already secured their pensions elsewhere are quite happy to do the dirty and take the bread and butter away from their colleagues just so they can have the jam……..
We’re all stuffed???
As previously reported due to series of what we shall diplomatically call “mishaps” Wirral Council has had to go out to tender (again) for its Highways contact.
This means big,big money – all in the hands of Streetscene head honcho Cllr Crisp Packet Smith.
A man who would be seriously out of his depth in a petri dish.
However Wirral Council have now confirmed that one of the companies has blocked them from awarding the contract to their preferred bidder until an “inquiry” is resolved. Please note Wirral Council cannot say the winning bidder is due to legalities.
However we could – but being a responsible public service broadcaster we will decline for now and just say that the winning bidder sounds like the name of a professional wrestler or a according to Eldritch a porn name.
Wirral Council recently gave a press report with regards to the procurement of the new Highways contract, Kevin Addled- Odderley – Utterly Butterly -Whatever stated ……..”As part of the process for awarding new contracts, any of the tenderers can raise a query about the process before the council can award the contract. This is not an unusual occurrence in tenders of this value…..”
Firstly we have been advised that Addled etc; is not entirely correct with this statement. The contact value is £ 40,000,000 (yes 40 MILLION!) and having considered what went horribly wrong in the past one would presume the Council would have got the new contract watertight, right? …
At the time of Addled’s press statement he confirmed that it was not an unusual occurrence in tenders of this value. He would be correct if it was just a general query.
For instance if an unsuccessful tenderer asked how the Council scored them or how they came to the decision, that would be classed as a general query. Wirral Council would then put in place a ten day standstill period, thus allowing time to answer the query.
Whilst we understand that Wirral Council followed this procedure (there’s a first time for everything) and at the time of the Council statement they have said they have received a query from one of the competing tenderers. What the spinmeisters in Wallasey Town Hall have NOT said is the content of the query. However we have it on good authority that Wirral Council have been legally challenged by one contractor , and that on Thursday of last week a second challenge has also been submitted from the other competing losing bidder.
As the council should have gone public and awarded the contract on Friday the 20th of December after the first ten day standstill period curious members of the long suffering Wirral public might ask themselves why the Council have now put in place another ten day standstill period!
Maybe the man responsible for this gathering shitstorm the aforementioned Cllr Crisp Packet Smith can provide a lucid answer?.
No ,thought not!
Furthermore we are reliably informed that there may be a possible breach of Regulation 32 of the Public Contract Regulations 2006 Act. Now we don’t know what that means but we do hope it involves public flogging of those responsible for the breach!.
Gleefully we are also informed that Senior Officers were kicking bins over and slamming desks on Thursday when they had an emergency meeting over this matter with Cllr.Crisp Packet Smith in attendance!
Oh what larks!, and what a way to get the Christmas party season in full swing ,although it has yet to be confirmed that those in attendance were wearing traffic cones marked with a D rather than paper hats.
Meanwhile we sent Verity off to investigate Wirral Council’s winning preferred bidder, Worringly she entered the drawing room shaking her head and declaiming: “Will they ever learn?”
Ms.Snoop tells us her discoveries warrant a report all of it’s own – blacklists within the construction industry ,zero hours contracts, disputes. One would have thought Wirral would have looked into this. Maybe some serious questions needs to be asked?.
Not by Wirral Councillors or Trade Unionists or Union-sponsored MPs obviously – they tend not to get involved with such nastiness……
Maybe Wirral Council favours companies that blacklist trade union activists and whistleblowers?
Indeed based on their past record it makes perfect sense.
We have been further advised that the upshot of all of this is another complete mess for Wirral Council with serious potential legal damages.The cost to the public is anyone’s guess but our sources say it will potentially “be off the chart”!
Meanwhile the Council, in its information to the public about the shutdown over Christmas has forgot to tell us that the CCTV control room is open 24/7 all over the Christmas period and operated by a much depleted staff team.
It is somewhat curious to us that the Council has deemed this to be a non-essential service and voted to close it down but still expect it to run over the Yuletide period. However Departments that are deemed essential are all on shut-down over Christmas.Go figure! Also on duty over the festive period are a small number of community patrol staff and as a nice little Christmas present have also been informed that after the holidays they too also will have staff axed.
As our source so succinctly puts it : “ Hold the fort over Christmas for us why we will carve up our turkeys and then come back and carve up you….”
Once again it appears it is a case of trebles all round and a slap up feast for the Wirral Council power elite and the crumbs off the table and a smack in the face for the rest !
One Christmas present we apparently won’t be opening this year is the Secret Santa mystery box that is the Big Fund/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods “investigation”
This case is like one of those maddening,infuriating puzzles like Candy Crush,a 3D jigsaw puzzle or perhaps why on gods green earth is that bellicose, belligerent, beefy beetroot-hued buffoon Foooksy considered our future first citizen? – who conveniently for him and according to Wirral Council tradition will not have to stand for election next year – dontcha just lurve democracy?
There are so many characters,allegations and intrigue involved in this particular “clusterfuck” ( yes thank you Eldritch) that it makes our collective heads spin at Leaky Towers.
Hey guys – can we have a chronology?, a biography?, a spider diagram ? a diazepam?……or failing that it might be useful if someone sent us over that wav recording that is referred to in a previous reply -below- ( Verity will know what you’re talking about – this interweb nonsense is akin to witchcraft as far as I’m concerned) :
“I myself am trying to retrieve a recording on an old mobile phone that allegedly points to the taking of bribes by council officers. Given the failure of “independent investigation” to produce any viable outcome, perhaps if I retrieve the recording I should relay it to wirralleaks as a wave (sic) file. Where “independent investigators” are told untruths by officers yet the Chief Executive trumpets forth assertions that “no council officers are guilty” we wonder how if he declare that when his administration cannot complete after 900 days a simple investigation. If the officers can stymie an investigation for so long how much more difficult it is for Grant Thornton to pursue wrong-doing by the officers themselves…..Leave it to the judgement of the people is perhaps the best course?”
We can only hope that Secret Santa empties his sack soon as it’s about time this case came to a climax….
They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions (or in Wirral Council’s case bad tendering) but we did tell you the Highways fiasco wasn’t going away any time soon and sure enough we’ve been informed today that the company supposed to be taking over from Colas hasn’t been officially named as there is “an outstanding legal case…….”
Our source comments : ” I feel Mr. Crisp – Packet Smith has messed another contract up! What does it take to get these horrible people out of their jobs ? Because it is clearly obvious that they don’t know what they’re doing….”
Once again we suspect there’s much more to come on this……………….
“Lawyers as a group are no more dedicated to justice or public service than a private public utility is dedicated to giving light….”
With changes in legal aid apparently it’s been difficult times for lawyers (it is reported that sales of the pin stripe suits have plummeted and the wine bar industry is reeling from declining sales of vintage champagne).
However we at Leaky Towers are reassured to know it’s quids in for local legal firms acting not so much as legal eagles as legal vultures who are enjoying rich pickings at the bones at the increasingly dishevelled cadaver that is Wirral Council
We are indebted ( no pun intended) to dedicated numbercrunching whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro who revealed that the attendant legal costs associated with the AKA Independent Review was an eye-watering £91,000 – but then Ms.Klonowski was given full rein to draw upon the legal expertise of DLA Piper – reputedly the biggest law firm in the world (although from what we can remember of their contribution to the Independent Review we can only hope that their solicitors did rather more than provide a convoluted and wholly unconvincing explanation of the unlawful charging fiasco).
It was subsequent to the publication of the Independent Review in 2012 that Wirral Council’s Legal Department,Internal Audit and Social Services were all rewarded for their failures with more staff and resources. For the Legal Department this meant the appointment of 2 external lawyers on lucrative consultancy rates and according to a Freedom of Information request a further £100,000 for external legal advice in 2012 alone. We predict that the 2013 figure for outsourced legal work could be even more startling.
We deduce from the figures in this request that the £10,000 paid to Wragge & Co is for Bill Norman’s legal advice when he had his little difference of (legal) opinion with the Council. It always strikes us as deeply ironic at Leaky Towers that Wirral Council ends up paying their own Director’s legal fees so he can stuff them for nearly £150,000!
However one of the main beneficiaries of Wirral Council’s legal largesse in recent years has been the law firm Weightmans. No wonder they’ve been able to expand into shiny new offices in Liverpool!
Fortunately they can draw upon the legal expertise of former Wirral Council alumni Morris Hill and Simon Goacher. The lowpoint ( and boy do we mean low) of Weightmans most recent work for Wirral Council has included giving a legal opinion on the Council’s illegal 4 week delay of care packages (and no we are NEVER,EVER going to let that one lie).
Whilst it may not be Weightman’s fault that they weren’t given the most significant document relating to this scandal : the minutes of a meeting which prove conclusively that there was a) an illegal 4 week delay and b) it was implemented to save social services money –
the best we can say about this “legal opinion” is that it seems to us to display a distinct lack of rigour.
But then as the saying goes “you gets what you pay for”. Nudge,nudge,wink,wink.
However judging by his biography on the Weightmans website it would appear a lucrative aspect of their work has been Morris Hill’s involvement in cases representing Wirral Council in disputes involving an organisation who we suspect may be one of those companies which are unfortunately anonymised within the Independent Review report (once again so much for public interest!)
Meanwhile Simon Goacher ‘s biography includes mention of the fact that he was voted “Local Government Young Solicitor of the Year 2006” .Which really must be a candidate for the worst chat up line EVER. What his glittering biography fails to mention is that he was Head of Wirral Council’s Legal Department when Martin Morton was bullied out of his job and we can therefore only conclude he was ultimately responsible for authorising an unlawful gag on someone who we were to later find out wanted to expose all kinds of appalling malpractice within the Council.
We understand he was also connected with the Colas Highways tender fiasco which we suspect isn’t going away any time soon.
What we are becoming increasingly aware of ( and deeply concerned about) is the involvement of external law firms in such matters as redundancy appeals and so-called “independent” investigations.
Surely there is a danger of the diminishing of scrutiny and accountability if such work is increasingly outsourced and subject to dubious legal exemptions when it comes to Freedom of Information requests ?
As one of our sources commenting on the involvement of another law firm getting a lot of recent business from Wirral Council said:
” Ever(sheds) felt you’ve been had? …..”
Well,well,well we wondered when the Wirralgate! story would start to unravel……
We understand that Burgesski is asking for copies of alleged tapes so that an investigation can take place whilst Power Boy Pip (who claims not to have heard said tape) is seeking legal advice on the matter – now that does sound interesting…………………..
However might we suggest that we dispense with the usual compromised investigations and just publish any alleged tapes on the Council website and let the Wirral public decide as to whether they do contain any slurs, smears or shenanigans which are worthy of concern………
From our observation tower we can only comment that if anything can be learned from history is that it’s not the original alleged (mis) deed that causes the major problems it’s how they are subsequently handled………
We shall be watching any further unravelling with interest.