To Have and Have Not

pacific-road-arts-
Readers will note from our last report ( Low Friends in High Places) the news that the Pacific Road Theatre has come into the clutches of the ever open hands of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce ( CEO : Paula Basnett).

As ever our source was er, “on the money” when it came to the peppercorn rent arrangement and the refurbishment costs being met by Wirral Council.

This is described as “The town hall will enter into a lease arrangement with the Chamber allowing it to “draw down” funding to pay for conversion work….”

A report in Wirral Globe HERE is littered with such amusing doublespeak.

Ms.Basnett trills in the same report : “This will bring not only significant opportunities for new and existing businesses to develop, but also be a conduit for employment creation.”

Won’t it just ! – jobs for the boys and girls in “the gang” – especially when we understand that Wirral Chamber of Commerce are also the lucky recipient of a ERDF grant and what we’d like to know is whether a certain Mark Basnett was involved in determining this grant and whether he is in any way related to Paula Basnett

One can’t help comparing and contrasting the treatment of the folks from Fernbank Farm.

Were the Upton Park Pony Owners Association ever given the opportunity to develop the land at Fernbank Farm as a community asset?

Were they ever given the opportunity to “draw down” money from the Council to repair and refurbish the stables?

Were they ever the recipient of a substantial European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grant?

And we certainly can’t imagine any Council Manager being instructed not to enter into discussion with their extremely well connected former colleague Paula Basnett!!!!

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Wirral Leaks – Updates & Lowdowns

BET-FRED

Curse of Pip

Is it just us or does the hapless Power Boy Pip (Phil Davies)  seem to reel from one PR fail to the next? For example after hosting a reception at Wallasey Town Hall to celebrate Tranmere Rovers unofficial role as ambassadors of Wirral SEE HERE  their Manager Ronnie Moore then goes and gets himself suspended and an investigation ordered into potential breach of betting rules. SEE HERE

Foul Play

According to former Wirral Council Supremo Steve Maddox all that the people of Wirral were concerned about was dog crap – which considering the trail of crap he left behind he should be thankful he escaped with a pooper scooper full of filthy lucre ( try saying that after a Campari & soda!)

So if Councillors find themselves inundated with irate members of the public complaining about dog crap they only have themselves to blame for it has been reported to us that in the Council control room (which is just about still open for business) two former staff remain assisted by 2 Community Patrol Officers and 1 Dog Fouling Officer – the latter of whom brings a whole new meaning to the expression “it’s a crap job but somebody’s got to do it!”

What’s more if there are absences or holidays we understand that these are covered by Community Patrol Operations Managers on shift or OVERTIME. Thereby proving that it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good even if defeats the Councils attempts make savings! This arrangement has been extended to later in the year which must surely bring into question how this affects the previous nine officers who have been notified they were being made redundant as from the 31st March 2014 and which was agreed by the Cabinet and full Council.

Furthermore this also brings into question the amount of money saved from the budget if the redundant positions continue further into the financial year along with paying higher paid staff (Community Patrol Operations Managers) to cover shifts and overtime.

Indeed how can a postholder  be made redundant and yet their role still be carried out after the agreed termination date?

I think we should be told! – but then knowing what we know Councillors and union reps won’t ask the question and Wirral Council won’t give the answer!

Low Friends in High Places

We’ve been advised that Wirral Council’s Cabinet have agreed to “give” the Wirral Chamber of Commerce the Pacific Road theatre (at a ‘peppercorn’ rent).

What we’d like to know is who is funding the refurbishment!?!

Answers on a postcard – although there are no prizes for guessing!
Please remember to include the secret password “nepotism” on your entry.

Only Following Orders

dickinson-s-real-deal_main

No not THAT Bobbydazzler!

The fallout from the Fernbank Farm fiasco continues with campaigners Carol Kane and Val Woodley getting further support from Cllr.Ian Lewis with their case.

This has just included an appearance on Radio Merseyside.

What interests us here at Leaky Towers is their court case which is covered in forensic detail on the ever vigilant John Brace’s blog    http://johnbrace.com/

Of course  the devil is in the detail  and we were particularly drawn to the testimony of one David Dickinson (yes the poor guy has no doubt had a gutful of “cheap as chips ” quips but as you know we like to refrain from such juvenile jibes.This is a better class of blog – well until Eldritch returns from his stay at one of Her Majesty’s hostelries anyway).

This particular David Dickinson describes himself, not as a perma-tanned furniture fondler , but as working in “asset management as a surveyor for Wirral Council”.

To which Lady W retorted: ” I have suffered many indignities in my life but I must be eternally grateful that I have never been stuck on the landing at a party with someone who describes themselves as an asset management surveyor for Wirral Council “.

The part of his testimony which had us in turn shaking our heads in disbelief and then nodding our heads in recognition was the craven Eichmann defence detailed here on John Brace’s blog :

Only following orders –

A defendant asked why the lease was terminated before the policy was changed? David Dickinson replied that that was what he was instructed to do. District Judge Woodburn pointed out that it had already gone through that and that David Dickinson had been instructed to do so by Tony Simpson……………………..

District Judge Woodburn asked if David Dickinson had been told not to engage in discussions with the defendants between November 2012 and May 2013? David Dickinson replied yes and that he was told not to agree to new terms. District Judge Woodburn asked if he was told not to engage in discussions? David Dickinson replied yes, but that he had to answer the phone. District Judge Woodburn said that if nothing happened by May 2013 then Wirral Council would get a windfall?

Now David Dickinson might be a very nice guy and do wacky stuff for Comic Relief and be kind to animals (although perhaps not ponies) but we have to say his responses in open court  are representative of a particular mindset which seems to afflict the culture of Wirral Council.

As we have witnessed from the series of well -publicised scandals there has been a dishonourable roll call of Wirral Council staff who swear blind obedience to their bosses even when what they are being asked to do is simply wrong ( not to mention the cases detailed on this blog which are unlawful ,unethical or immoral).

What is the motivation to act in such a way – fear? or to find favour?

Either way we believe the notion of public service is subverted once again by people who’s “loyalty” is to the Council and not to the people they are meant to serve.

 

What Money Can’t Buy

2CYNICSInevitably the good folk of Fernbank Farm have been turfed out of their stables by the callous cynics of Wirral Council looking to make a quick buck. A judge has ruled that the Council can repossess ten acres of grazing land – worth around £5m.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/11011538.Community_pony_group_loses_land_battle_with_Wirral_Council/?ref=mc

Attending the court hearing where this decision was made were representatives of Upton Park Pony Owner’s Association supported by their McKenzie Friend Councillor Ian Lewis ( A McKenzie friend assists a litigant in person in a common law court).They were up against the seemingly unlimited legal and financial resources available to Wirral Council.

Whilst the Council presented a valid reasoned argument that , in such financially constrained times , they were acting in the best interest of taxpayers by taking possession of land which they can flog off for building development or a crazy golf course, their *innocent face* approach was somewhat undermined by the  underhand way in which they seem to have treated the tenants of Fernbank Farm.

Indeed the actions of Council Officers led Cllr.Lewis to make the following statement:

“On days like today, I am ashamed to be a councillor for an authority that is so dysfunctional and seemingly out of control.

“The pony owners and local residents have been deliberately kept in the dark by senior managers, who appear to think they are unaccountable….”

Seemingly even the prospect giving their evidence under oath did not deter from Council Officers carrying on with their well-worn ways.
But then it would appear that everything is a commodity to these town hall tyrants , be it ponies,property or people , and what’s more they have the luxury of using public money to get what they want or get out of jail free.
The gags,the pay-offs,the expensive legal advice and the relentless abuse of power.
However we can’t help thinking that for the morally bankrupt there will always be some things that money can’t buy – HONESTY,INTEGRITY & CREDIBILITY…..
Gird your loins Lyndale School campaigners  – you’re sitting on a potential capital asset….

For The Love Of Golf

GOLFERS

When Verity come bursting into the drawing room spluttering something about “Royal & Ancient” I thought that Councillor Janette Williamson had been at it again with insensitive tweets about elderly members of the royal family.

Apparently not – “Royal & Ancient” is a reference to The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews and it transpires that one of Wirral Council’s Super Duper Directors ( I’m sure we can guess which one) has been there this week on a fact -finding mission.

“For goodness sake what facts do you need to know?….” spluttered Her Ladyship  ” it’s an extremely tedious pastime involving sports-casual attired players trying to get a golf ball into 18 holes before disappearing into the 19th!”.

This is no doubt part of the campaign by the Council to shrug off it’s inward-looking insular peninsula reputation. However, a Council spokesperson has denied that there is a proposed trip to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin to teach Council managers how to organise a piss-up.

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Bullshit Bullseye

This-Is-A-Bullshit-Free-Zone..-We-Do-Not-Apologize-For-Any-Inconvenience

We’d like to thank Plain English Campaign for nominating Wirral Council for a Golden Bull Award.

This award dishonours public documents which have proved to be outstanding in the field of bullshit.  SEE HERE

This particular nomination (there was also one for the Council last year ) comes from perennial underachievers , the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) and goes a little something like this…..

“The former model for integrating the integrated arrangements for health and social care were dealt with through separate streams, reablement and carers funds paid to the CCG and a special social care transfer for improved health outcomes, the section 256 agreement, these arrangements are superseded by the Better Care Fund.”

 

No, we haven’t the foggiest either ! Which is worrying considering that this is meant to be a document for public consumption.

But we  all know it’s not really – it’s meant to bamboozle Councillors and bemuse the public.

The purpose of the exercise is to prove that Council Officers know best – they know all the acronyms and all the buzzwords – and all are intended to exclude and enable them to retain their power over those “not in the know”.

However we were pleased to see Power Boy Pip picking up a buzzword from those “in the know” – namely Wirral Leaks – when he commented on the nomination : “I wouldn’t begin to defend it,” he said. “I agree, it is gobbledegook”

Leaky Fans will remember an article from October 2013 T titled “The Pollyanna Principle”

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/power-boy-pip-the-pollyanna-principle/

where coincidentally we took particular issue with the mystifying language of Wirral Council’s Annual Governance Statement commenting as follows :

“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”.

Finally in celebration of this well -deserved nomination Wirral Leaks are issuing a special commemorative cut out and keep Bullshit Bingo card.

Any further suggestions of bullshit from Wirral Council documents and communications please send  to : wirralleaks@gmail.com

BINGO-BOLLOCKS

Green Lightning* Strikes (Not Once But Twice…)

Green-Light

* a meteorological phenomenon during severe storms!
The Health Services Journal (HSJ) has reported and WUTH Chief Executive David Allison has confirmed what the Wirral Leaks mystics foretold and that Sue Green has left Wirral University Teaching Hospital.HSJ reports : a human resources director who had been suspended has lost her job despite a disciplinary investigation finding she had no case to answer
The official statement from WUTH Chief Executive David Allison reads as follows:

As part of the Trust’s Corporate Services review I confirm that the Trust has made the decision to review/streamline the Executive structure. Following this review the position of Executive Director of HR  has been made redundant.The Trust would like to take the opportunity to thank Mrs Green for her service, hard work and achievements. We wish her well in challenges ahead.

As we have previously observed the parallels between Dave Green leaving Wirral Council and Sue Green leaving Wirral University Teaching Hospital are strikingly familiar – from the suspension, investigation, right down to the “no case to answer”  conclusion and what some may view as a frankly suspect  “redundancy” ( The Trust apparently just so happened to review/streamline the executive structure during Mrs.Green’s suspension/absence …..which coincidentally was exactly what Wirral Council claimed happened to Mr.Green! )

Of course we don’t know ,as yet,what the scale of the “redundancy” payment is. Nor do we know how on earth do you make a HR director post redundant in the NHS.

Nevertheless we can’t help re-phrasing and adding to a well known literary quote : ” To lose one job may seem unfortunate but to lose two seems like either carelessness or calculation ….”

Carelessness or calculation on whose part will no doubt never be known in both cases as enquiries are always stonewalled with statements such as  : “As per our previously issued statement, it’s our practice not to comment on the individual circumstances of any employee….”

The point that is seemingly missed is that such employees were employed by public bodies and it is in the public interest to know the actual circumstances surrounding their departure.

Meanwhile as a public relations distraction WUTH announce today (without a hint of irony ) their “green makeover”  http://bit.ly/1bztMiL

Flashbacks & Updates

Picture Puzzle

UNHOLY

We have been sent the abvove picture with the rather cryptic message ” Who are this pugnacious bunch (oh and Chris Eubank) and why is this picture seemingly no longer available on the internet?”

Answers to wirralleaks@gmail.com

 On Patrol & On The Ropes

We’ve been informed that the remaining 3 staff in the Wirral Council control room have now been offered the chance to stay on after the March 31st cut off date due to senior officers not having a Mr.Magoo what operations are actually carried out in their own departments, even after they were informed by the soon to be stitched up eleven experienced staff members they haven’t got anything in place out of hours if they close the OUT OF HOURS control room.  We kind of thought the title rather gives it away but clearly, it was a bit ambiguous for those making the decisions.

We also understand the prize for this reprieve would be a pay grade drop and a new shift pattern for a job the self -serving management gurus deemed redundant on the 18th December 2013.

We understand these options weren’t available to the eleven staff members before being forced out of their positions.  Was this the Council’s duplicitous plan all along?  “Just stop whining about a reduction in pay and conditions and just be grateful you’ve got a job?” .And where were the union reps when this tawdry arrangement was made?  Exactly!  – exiting stage left (pun intended) with a nice little redundancy package of their own.

 Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am

Our thanks to Her Ladyship who wittily hinted in a previous article that the contractor taking over the Council’s Highways contract from Colas sounded like a professional wrestler – BAM Nuttall (geddit?).

 Left Hand Meet Right Hand

And so on to a cancelled meeting arranged to discuss the fact that the Council are “minded” to close Lyndale School (that usually means they’ve already “made their mind up”).  The cancellation was allegedly due to the Council failing to abide by its own constitution – a course of action which drew the following comment from one parent, Christine Woodland whose seven year old son Alex attends the school, who said she was “not surprised” at the blunder.

“The whole thing has been frustrating, but it doesn’t shock me that they have done this – it is Wirral Borough Council after all.”

Christine Woodland – we salute you!  , we couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Joe Blott, Wirral Council’s Strategic Director for Transformation and Resources is seemingly responsible for addressing this latest debacle but judging by his attempt to constrain the Wirralgate investigation to the narrow issue of “an inappropriate comment” we’d advise Ms.Woodland and

Co not to be overly optimistic that openness and transparency will prevail.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/wirral-council-accused-over-lyndale-6670046

 It Couldn’t Happen Here…or could it?

Another day, another useless document whose main purpose seems to be how many times the word “robust” can be interspersed between the tedious platitudes.  This time the document in question is  “The Implication of the Francis Report for Wirral” produced by Wirral Council’s Families & Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50016458/Francis%20Review%20-%20Final.pdf
Those familiar with the Francis Report will know that this was a highly damning report into the abuse and neglect of patients at Mid-Staffordshire Hospital.

This review document is most notable for its absolute determination NOT to use the W word.

The fact that the Mid-Staffs scandal was exposed by WHISTLEBLOWERS is of course studiously ignored, which may have something to with the fact that two of the Councillors involved in the review were Moira McLaughlin and Denise Roberts.

The fact that they would like to think that there are ROBUST processes in place to ensure that Mid-Staffs couldn’t happen on Wirral is not in the least bit reassuring when you consider the pair of them did their utmost to ensure that the abuses identified in the AKA  Independent Review would never see the light of day.

 Nokia Down

Talking of whistleblowing, we have been privy to a series of emails about the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods case sent to all 66 Councillors.

Once again, this is a case that would not be out of place in an espionage novel – there is the reference to the acquisition of Nokia phone records and unpublished reports and the police, auditors and “pretend friends.”

Indeed, it must be said these emails can be said to make up for in detailed information what they lack in deference to Councillors and Council Officers.

Certainly, our esteemed elected members cannot claim they weren’t told about the multitude of questions and concerns this case raises.

 

Bunker Mentality

GOLF

Here we see some very,very,very important people launching a glossy brochure extolling the delights of the “Golf Peninsula”.

That’s Wirral by the way….just in case you were wondering.

So we’ve had a quick flick through this Visitors Guide expecting a flattering representation of what was formerly known as the Insular Peninsula.

Now we do realise that this is a PR push for punters to visit Wirral and therefore we’re not expecting a promotion for ASBO Tours – “You Too Can Be Traumatised By Troubled Tearaway Teens Terrorising Tenants in Tranmere”  – but we have to say this re-branding of Wirral as some kind of great big golfing theme park leaves us feeling decidedly under par (and not in a golfing sense).

Now we concede that Her Ladyship and I have only experienced the pleasures of golf from the cosy confines of the clubhouse. But we do know that many of Wirral’s most prominent public figures, past and present , have enjoyed it’s bucolic pleasures whilst donning garish Argyle Pringle sweaters and chafing polyester Farah slacks.

We also are led to believe that during the summer months it has been known for Wirral Council’s most important business meetings to transfer from Houlihan’s pub to the golf links.

However as much as we like to see the promotion of this once proud coastal promontory we do feel like Wirral Council are putting all it’s golf balls in one basket. We’d like to think that the young people of Wirral deserve better future job prospects than becoming a golf caddy.

More pertinently how can we have trust and confidence in the current incumbents of Wallasey Town Hall delivering on their seemingly endless promises to change it’s ways?

Their strategy seems to be one of distraction : “Who needs to be  “Open and Transparent ” when we’ve got the British Open coming to Hoylake !”

Meanwhile the Council elite seem to be permanently stuck in a bunker or according to our faithful factotum and golf aficionado Verity, hopelessly thrashing about like Jean Van De Velde at the last hole of the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.

As she says: “Triple Bogeys All Round!…”