BAD NEWS BULLETIN

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Live from Leaky Towers! Here is the news read to you today by our correspondent Mal Content –

 I’m All White Jack

Underlining once again that some people are more equal than others and true to the champagne socialist lifestyle we understand that former Unison firebrand and Communist Party enthusiast  Comrade Burgesski has treated himself to a brand new top of the range BMW. A white one – to match his hair and teeth.

This news will no doubt be comforting to all those Council staff facing a further round of redundancy and “outsourcing” measures.

 Enquiring About Inquiries

Another week – another call for another inquiry from Parliamentary Campaigner of the Year Birkenhead MP Frankenfield .This time it’s a job scam at the local Jobcentreplus to add to his recent calls for inquiries about modern slavery and food banks.

See HERE

Our political correspondent Phil E. Buster  reports: ” Local commentators have been observing that it’s funny how Frank Incensed is very selective when it comes to calling for inquiries.They point out that he’s been curiously silent on the Wirralgate affair and the fact that life expectancy in some parts of  the ” welfare ghetto” that is his constituency is 30 years less than other parts of the country. This worrying statistic has just led him to call for more money from central government.

However could it be that some parts of Birkenhead being a terrible place to live for some people is down to complex factors much closer to home and it’s best not enquiring too closely as to what these might be in case it reveals some inconvenient truths about the failure of  local politicians to improve the quality of life for the people they are supposed to represent?…..”

Meanwhile news that a belated focus will be placed on curbing antisocial behaviour in Birkenhead after councillors recognised the issue was spiralling out of control will come as no comfort to those residents who have lived in fear for years… ”  (cue sad face).  See HERE

An Ill Wind

We’ve just received an update on the Wirral Community Patrol situation where it is alleged that Atlas Security have sent letters to all schools touting for business quoting the Councils control room is closing on the 31st March 2014 and that Atlas can take over the monitoring of alarm systems.

Our business correspondent Ben D.Rules reporting from a dreary industrial estate :

“Now there is nothing wrong with private companies touting for business (after all these are desperate times) but if this is the case how did Atlas Security know the control room is closing on the 31st March?-  which just so happens to be the date when the remaining three staff will officially be made redundant?

Perhaps they should rename the company Atlas Telepathy?….

Our source informs us that the powers that be in the council are now keeping the control room open until October as they have underestimated what services are carried out there out of hours. Which surely begs the question as to what exactly what was explained to Councillors before the ludicrous decision was made to separate eleven staff from their livelihoods?. Unfortunately we suspect that the person/s responsible for this misinformation are, as ever, effectively untouchable…..

And just before we head back to Leaky Towers we’d like to appeal to viewers for a copy of the alleged Atlas Security letter reportedly last seen heading for a Wirral Council manager’s office….”

 A Sick Organisation

And so to the surprise of absolutely nobody at all it is revealed that mental health issues are to blame for  30% of  Wirral Council staff sick leave ( which rises to 38% for social services staff.). SEE HERE

Workloads and “management style” are cited by Council staff as being the reason they are stressed out and off sick.

We note that in the newspaper report that “management style” is in inverted commas. Could it be because that’s a polite euphemism for bullying and incompetence and what happens when an organisation promotes “managers” who play the corporate game but are out of their depth and resort to the default position of bullying staff who challenge them ?

 Over to our health correspondent Abby Normal :

“We’re not optimistic that tightening up absence management procedures will help the situation.One leaker has been in touch to tell us about a Council manager who once declared that such procedures were about “bayoneting the dying”.What’s more we understand that this was said by a social services manager – which coming from the Department which introduced the callous 4 week delay in care packages to save money must once again comes as no surprise to anybody….”

 Daylight Robbery

In a surprise move it would appear that Wirral Council is using taxpayers money to sue private company Martin McColl Ltd who they allege “failed to ensure, as far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work” of employees after a series of armed raids on Wirral stores .

Our crime correspondent Duncan Disorderly reports :  ” Ironic much?…..” (hic)

Apologies to viewers we appear to have lost the connection with Duncan reporting live outside one of the  stores in question. Unfortunately news has just reached us that thieves have targeted the film crew and stolen their cameras and microphones.

Abysmal Ambassadors

And on a lighter note we were amused in the Leaky Towers TV studio that a recent Town Hall reception to celebrate Tranmere Rovers Football Club’s role as roving ambassadors for Wirral has this week been somewhat undermined by a rather more hostile reception given to the side’s manager Ronnie Moore. According to the Wirral Globe story  SEE HERE

“Moore ripped into his players after Tranmere Rovers’ 1-2 defeat by Rotherham at Prenton Park. After some fans had told Moore to “sod off” as he sat in the dugout, the furious manager described his squad’s performance as “abysmal.”

Whilst we at Leaky Towers consider that being described as “abysmal” by their own manager makes Tranmere Rovers the perfect ambassadors for Wirral Council we somehow suspect that’ll mean no more Town Hall funded Ferrero Rocher for poor Ronnie…..

And with that it’s over to Renee Day for a look at the weather forecast….

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Green Leaves?

APH-NO-EVOL

We understand that a certain Sue Green, head of HR has recently left the employment of Wirral’s other most prominent employer after Wirral Council  – Wirral University Teaching Hospital (WUTH) as it now fancifully likes to call itself.  On the Wirral rather like North Korea (which apparently has a better life expectancy than certain parts of the Wirral )  people seem to disappear overnight! Not only is no explanation given, it is frowned upon when people ask perfectly reasonable questions.  Those who do dare raise issues meet a wall of silence or glib corporate fudges about ‘confidentiality.’

This of course completes a notable family double after the departure of Mrs Green’s universally loved and much admired other half – Dave ‘Del Boy’ Green from Wirral Council. It is also somewhat serendipitous given the fact that DG is rumoured to have found ‘gainful’ employment again, beyond the confines of the insular Peninsula. Let’s hope there’s a nice local golf club at hand.

Now we don’t know the full circumstances of really happened, or whether this was about the appalling lack of staffing in the hospital because APH’s Department of spin is essentially as communicative as a brickwall, but without the warmth.  However, we are always suspicious when the Chief Executive of WUTH (David Allison) circulates the following type of message to APH’s inmates on the ocassion Sue Green was first absent from work .

Here are some highlights, which rather than enlighten, one feels would baffle employees at the hospital.

“I am writing to advise you of a situation that is likely to appear in the media in respect of this Trust’s Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development

 As with any employee of our Trust, we would not comment on circumstances related to their employment. We therefore intend to issue a response to this effect.

 My purpose of advising you of this situation is that I felt it would be inappropriate for you to learn about it in the first instance via the media.”

 Clear?  Well actually no !
What is particularly curious is that no such story ever appeared or was followed up , no doubt due to some spectacular stonewalling, and Mrs.Green was eventually allowed to quietly disappear from public view and quite possibly as seems to be the trend in that particular household, clutching a big fat wad of public money ( one for devoted Freedom of Information fans to follow up).

From leaks that have been received about this case we at Leaky Towers can only hope that :

a) The media wasn’t being used in this sorry saga as a  bargaining tool rather than serving the public interest.

b) That Mr.Allison is aware that only last week a group of MPs hit out at “outrageous” examples of public bodies apparently paying employees to keep quiet about problems.The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) highlighted that so called “gagging clauses” have been used to cover up serious failures in organisations such as the NHS….and indeed we understand that some of the recommendations were based on a number of cases in the public sector and a particular case involving Wirral Council!

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/confidentiality-clauses-por/

No News From Nowhere

"You gotsa make me look good see. Or it wont just be the advertising we cut "

“You gottsa make me look good see. Or it wont just be the advertising we cut “

Leaky Towers has been alerted several times by readers wondering why oh why the endless stories of scandal and intrigue and spectacular fuck ups emanating from Brighton Street curiously appeared to dry up in the pages of the Wirral News a few months ago. Questions were even asked of the good scribes at Trinity Mirror, the publishers who also own the Liverpool Echo (and the now defunct Daily Post), but answers came there none.

But last week when the rag was relaunched with an exciting (copyright: Trinity Mirror) new look, Eldritch, always keen to see who’s died lately and to catch up on the bowling results, eagerly pounced on his newly-stapled copy to see what lay within. His verdict: “Virtually bloody nothing – apart from adverts and council press releases!

This week’s effort seems no better either with page after page after pisspoor page chocabloc with press releases about lots and lots of yet more council services and council initiatives….. but why no critical council news in the News? Could it be that after Communities Minister Eric “Pass the wild boar and don’t, whatever you do, cheat on the veg” Pickles finally got his bill through banning Pravda-style council newsletters this week, that WBC has simply taken over the pages of the Wirral News for free instead?

The new look, er, News, does however feature a page every week on which Wirral’s four MPs get to expound on what they’ve been up to on your behalf, which seems a little strange as, without properly telling its readers, it has actually scrapped home deliveries to Wallasey, New Brighton, Bromborough and Bebington, meaning that the sermons from Angela Eagle (Wallasey) and Alison McGovern (Wirral South) will only be able to be accessed online or from a smattering of outlets where you can pick up a copy of the paper should you want one (we won’t, sniff – although we may ask Eldritch to fetch one when he does our weekly big shop).

For those old enough to remember (and I wouldn’t deign to commit to the extent of Her Ladyship’s years) this means the sad final burial of the once revered, Bebington News and Wallasey News.

It appears since the New Year the Wirral News has chopped about a third of its deliveries, around 30,000 of them!! and replaced them with about 4,000 copies to be left in supermarkets (obviously can’t be bothered even delivering that small amount any more) and judging from the endless plugs for the Echo in among the council press releases in the copies that remain, Trinity Mirror now expect you to PAY for your council scandal updates by buying the Echo instead!

Trebles all round for Trinity Mirror and WBC!

Flog It ! WBC Style

FLOG-IT

Wallasey Town Hall will be hosting a “Flog It” valuation day in March.  See  Story – HERE

In preparation for filming antiques expert Peregrine Ponsonby has already appraised the executive fire escape as follows:

” Although I’m minded to describe this impressive erection as a neo-classical helter skelter I think that paying £850,000 for it was extravagant lunacy on a grand scale…..absolutely Rococo-Loco  ”

A Wirral Council spokesperson commented:

‘We are very much looking forward to welcoming the team from “Flog It!” to our beautiful Town Hall on the Mersey waterfront.  “We are big fans of the programme, and are sure it will receive a warm Wirral welcome from local residents, who know we have been flogging a dead horse for some time now. 

What we really want to know is how much we would get for our valuable assets such as Lyndale School, Wirral Community Patrol, Fernbank Farm etc…..  Furthermore I’m sure to the “Flog It!” team will be interested in our extensive collection of Compromise Agreements valued at over £1 million pounds which includes a very rare specimen for “hurt feelings” valued at £48,000″.

We ourselves have learned more from “Flog It!” than any number of damning reports and have decided rather than address the issues they raise is to flog off our services to the lowest bidder.  We’d like to thank our Unison colleagues who have entered the spirit of “Flog It!” and have sold their members down the river in exchange for lucrative Early Voluntary Retirement packages…”

“Wirralgate” – Louder Than Bombs

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“Wirralgate* you say ?”  A clearly delighted Power Boy Pip can’t hide his unbridled joy as he proudly shows off his brand spanking new corporate SHA – “selective hearing aid/”  [*© Lord & Lady Leaks.]

 We are exceedingly pleased that our exclusive tale of yet more shadowy goings on from September 2013 titled “Wirralgate!”  https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/exclusive-wirralgate/ has captured the public imagination and that the secret recordings we referred to, are according to the Wirral Globe , “now dubbed “Wirralgate” by council wags”. See Wirral Globe HERE

Of course avid Leaky fans will have been following the story for months – whilst we’ve been following the Council’s denials, obfuscations and what is turning out to be, even by their dismal standards, a particularly convoluted and clumsy cover up.

Wirral Leaks followers will also recall that the recent Leaky Awards included the 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 Davies.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/the-leakys-wirral-leaks-awards-2013/

But wait!  As now it appears that Power Boy Pip was indeed “played an excerpt of the recording”  and that “an adverse comment (was) made by the senior member” of the Labour group !!!

Well knock me down with copy of the Council’s Code of Conduct !!!

So according to Pip the Wirralgate! tapes have gone from an “unsubstantiated rumour” to “inaudible” to him admitting that he was indeed “played an excerpt.”

 What would be interesting to discover is whether there was a recording of the Council Leader listening to the Wirralgate! tape and what was his response when he heard it !!!…………….

We have to say we have a keen interest in this particular story because we believe it represents everything that is STILL wrong with Wirral Council and therefore, in the name of the public interest, needs to be FULLY EXPOSED.

Accordingly we were praying for the whole thing to blow sky high sooner rather than later but we must say there is a morbid fascination in watching the Council’s contortions as they try and slither and writhe out of this entanglement of taped recordings like a rattlesnake shedding it’s skin.

For example there were paroxysms of laughter here at Leaky Towers when we read the reference to “an adverse comment”.

Now we don’t know what Reputation Management Guru came up with that master class in minimisation and  f**kwittery but knowing what we know might we suggest that they’ve got their work cut out to finesse this story out of the sight and sound of the Wirral public…..

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Patrolling the Public Servants

Wirral Council Managers enjoying the hospitality at the opening of Atlas Fire & Security's new offices....

Wirral Council Managers enjoying the hospitality at the opening of Atlas Fire & Security’s new offices….

We’ve been advised of “another worrying development within Wirral Council”.

Should we be worried ? – We will let you good people decide:

Atlas Fire and Security are a local intruder and fire alarm maintenance and installation company. The director is John Piggott. It is alleged that John Piggott has a long standing personal relationship with some Wirral Council officers including the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment, Kevin “Addled” Adderley , Community Patrol and Control Room Manager John “Johnno” Kenny and Community Patrol Operations Manager Michael “Micky” Collins.  As evidenced here on the Atlas website, Kevin Adderley, John Kenny and another senior officer within the Community Safety Team, Ian Lowrie, are pictured at the opening of Atlas’ new office building.

This may be true but as long as all those declaration and conflict of interest forms have been filled in – there shouldn’t be a problem should there?…. 

We are further informed that Atlas currently holds the maintenance contracts for all Wirral schools and a large number of other Wirral Council buildings.

The Wirral Council Emergency Central Control Room (ECCR)  is due to close on 31st March this year due to a budget savings option. One of the duties of the ECCR officers is to monitor alarms for 440+ Wirral Council buildings and schools. We are informed that in October 2013 Community Patrol and Control Room Manager John Kenny is said to have authorised a full list of sites currently monitored by the control room to be emailed to Adam Piggott, John Piggott’s son. This was ostensibly to allow Atlas to return the database with all the sites maintained by Atlas Fire and Security marked as such. However it is suggested that as there are a significant number of sites maintained by other alarm maintenance companies that such a database backup could be considered commercially sensitive.

Although we understand, there has been no budget savings option published in relation to Wirral Community Patrol staff have been told there will be a reduction in staffing numbers in the current financial year, which has been authorised by Chief Executive Comrade Grayhamovoff Burgesski.

However it is interesting to note that on the 6th November 2013 John Piggott incorporated a new company Wirral Community Patrol Limited as evidenced here and an extract of the incorporation document here. With the current trend of outsourcing services currently being pursued by Wirral Council it makes you wonder if Mr Piggott knows something that everyone else doesn’t. If so I think we should be told   …..

Under the circumstances we are sure that Streetscene Maestro Cllr  Harry “Crisp Packet” Smith will want to offer reassurance and publicly state to elected members, council staff and the Wirral public that everything is open and transparent with regard to future proposals for Wirral Community Patrol.

Wirral Council And The Chamber of Secrets

Chamber

See story HERE

And when stories such as this break, our local MPS are ALL magicians… they vanish!  If only they could offer the electorate some hope..a chink of light perhaps …..

The Deserving and Undeserving

LoveSte
Following the “The Leakys” the glittering awards season continues apace with Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs Awards 2013.

Leakers may be interested to know that Wirral Leaks regular Stella Shiu wins the award  for “Femme Fatale of the Year”  triumphing against some stiff local competition.

Private%20Eye%20002

Needless to say Wirral gets a (dis)honourable mention in the Open Government Award section for their resistance to having Council meetings recorded or filmed and having observed some of their  Councillors and Council Officers in action we fully understand their reluctance !

Private%20Eye%20001

However some Councillors are not so reluctant to be photographed whilst not performing their public duties and recently there have been some interesting postings on social network sites of local Councillors in more informal situations.

Oh look there’s the Labour inner circle letting their hair down in Houlihans (except Cllr.Norbury obviously) – here’s wacky funster Cllr Harry Smith (not to be confused with his like-minded namesake from Seamer Parish Council) trying to stick a bottle of Budweiser up his nose and here’s cuddly Cllr.Salter and oh look is that “Chummy Jimmy” Crabtree with his arm casually draped over George “Wingman” Davies’s shoulder?  And who is that token female in the centre of the picture? Could she be the one responsible for the Liz Hurley-Shane Warne style makeover of Foxy Foulksey – that handsome devil in the pink v-neck?

Indeed there are a series of recent pictures of Foulksey which scream : “Recession ? What Recession ?”

Yes, whilst the axe is being sharpened for WBC staff it’s nice to see Wirral’s future first citizen enjoying the champagne socialist high life, replete with ill advised shirts that scream ‘mid -life crisis? What mid-life crisis? ‘ and the sort of self satisfied smirk that makes George Osborne seem positively humble.

For those brave enough , you may want to track down a recently posted spot of “facebragging”  which sees a topless moob-tastic Foulksey resplendent in his snazzy mirror shades atop the deck of a cruise ship making out like he’s Simon Le Bon in the “Rio” video. Or perhaps as he strives to be Wirral’s “Top Gun” despite scandals and votes of no confidence maybe he rather fancies himself as a slightly beefier version of United States Naval Aviator Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell?

However our favourite picture is the one with the matching monochrome outfits. There’s Foulksey and partner at an illustrious gathering all scrubbed up in his tux and dickie bow – his face not so much smiling as making a cry for help somewhat akin to  Munch’s “The Scream”

But then you know what they say : ” It takes a strong man to pull off a dickie….”

The Gloss-Over Glossary

INKY
During the festive lull Verity has been doing some extensive research and careful negotiating on a forthcoming exclusive so we are grateful in the interim for the ongoing investigations of Mr.John Brace which are forensically examined on his blog.
So Brace yourself (geddit?) for further revelations or should that be redactions as Mr.Brace goes to the places where everyone else loses the will to live.

First of all we are eternally grateful that he responded to our request  for a guide to the BIG Fund/ISUS/Working Neighbourhood investigation. As he says : “Well where to start?….”

http://johnbrace.com/2013/12/30/wirral-council-plays-the-regeneration-game-badly/

Seems to us it’s the usual stonewalling shenanigans and “anomalies” and a much delayed report prepared by Council beancounters Grant Thornton – which apparently can’t be released yet because it’s either with the police or with the Council or has been lost in transit.

Or possibly – as once memorably happened with that Special Charging Policy Committee report  – shoved at the back of a filing cabinet for 12 years in the hope that everyone involved dies in the interim.

Talking of which it was Mr.Brace’s lobbying which brought about the publication of hundreds of pages of appendices associated with the Independent Review .Somehow it seems unbelievable that 2 years ago this forthcoming week that Anna Klonowski’s report was published to a horrified public.

OK nobody knew what they were horrified about in the actual report because it needed someone from GCHQ to decode it first – but the  BASEBALL BATS – ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY WEAPON  headlines on Northwest Tonight certainly hinted at the fact that perhaps this report was about something more than “an accounting error”.

Mr.Brace’s illuminating commentaries on some of the aforementioned appendices can be found HERE :

http://johnbrace.com/2014/01/05/why-did-martin-morton-call-for-three-councillors-to-resign/

We also understand that former Wirral Council Director of Law advised Mr.Brace that both the report and it’s appendices had to be subject to extensive redactions so as to protect to junior staff from any retribution from more senior staff for speaking out.
To which we can only say : a) we think that’s complete bollocks  and b) shouldn’t the Council  have been acting to protect junior staff rather than protecting dishonest,incompetent bullies?

Of course the irony being that Norman was eventually hoist by his own petard – notwithstanding the usual  haul of public money he managed to wangle on his way out.

We all now know that the political elite and their officer cronies can and still do act with impunity – as the recent £48,000 “hurt feelings ” award testifies.

Meanwhile we are compelled to ask as to why the fallout from these reports continues to have such a negative impact on Wirral Council? – Is it because they came tantalizingly close to the truth and that many people know that behind the redactions, evasions and cover ups there lies a pernicious world of entitled and protected worthies and expendable minions?

Might we suggest further that these reports are the festering sore under the “open and transparent” plaster.

And every mother knows that if you don’t lance the poison the wound will never heal, especially when it is continually being picked at and prodded and probed.

So in an anticipation of the forthcoming Grant Thornton BIG Fund/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods magnum opus Wirral Leaks are issuing a cut out and keep handy glossary of the terms you are likely to encounter behind the inevitable redactions and the impenetrable language of auditors :

Confidentiality  – aka cover up. Matters that are in the public interest can’t be discussed because they’re “confidential”. Confidentiality does not apply to anyone below a senior management grade or whistleblowers as frankly the latter  forego all such privileges for “letting the side down”

Commercial confidentiality – see above with the addition that it circumvents the public from  discovering the full extent of alleged financial mismanagement or whether there are any embarrassing conflicts of interest between Council officials and their business partners.

Due process – a process that is overlong,overdue,overcomplicated and always,always on Wirral Council’s terms.

Due legal process – see above the only difference being that if legal get involved you automatically double the timescale and the cost and the cock-ups (see case law : Jarndyce v Jarndyce)

Legal opinion – payment is made to get the opinion you want.If it’s not what you want you apply a legal exemption

Legal exemption – Applied when a legal expert has given something the once over and given the following legal opinion : ” Looks like you’ve fucked up again. I’d keep schtum if I were you.”

Unlawful – To discuss the circumstances surrounding the six-figure payments made to 2  Wirral Council employees on the eve of the publication of the Independent Review is “Unlawful” and yet the cover up of £736,000 worth of discriminatory charges which both employees were heavily implicated in is “Not Unlawful” – Go figure.

Anomalies – Wrongdoing made deliberately ambiguous.

Robust – A word used repeatedly and somewhat like Lady W’s girdle – intended to provide sound support but more often used to smooth out the embarrassing and unsightly.

No Case To Answer – There is a case to answer but hey they’ve got enough on us to bury us all twice over -can’t we just bung them a few quid instead?