The Others & The Extras

Ana

Now if there’s one thing that get’s under Foulksey’s skin even worse than a bad dose of scabies it’s the mention of the AKA report, Anna Klonowski,Independent Review ,Martin Morton etc;.

Which explains why he had to ,ahem,take matters into his own hands and put them into someone else’s.
However less of the cryptic comments and onto the latest development in the slowly unfolding story which gives us an opportunity to repeat all of Foulksey’s favourite phrases.

It would appear that an old friend (and not a pretend friend ) of Wirral Leaks  – Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro  – has been keeping his hand in, so to speak , and by applying his forensic accountancy skills has finally battered the Council into submission about the full costs of the  Independent Review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council’s Response to Claims Made by Mr Martin Morton (and Others) –  to give it it’s full title.

This investigation was undertaken by Anna Klonowski Associates and was famously referred to by Foulksey during a Council meeting, after he’d been deposed as Leader of the Council , as a “£250,000 ambush” by the Tory group. Thus proving once and for all that his suitability for the role as Leader of the Council and Mayor may be called into question but it can never be doubted that this man sure knows how to play the snivelling victim.

Up until now it has always been the received wisdom that this investigation cost Wirral Council an eye-watering £250,000 whereas the true figure is a truly mind-blowing £410,000.

According to this weeks response from Wirral Council on the What Do They Know website the extra costs are “for professional services and related travel /accommodation expenses”
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/anna_klonowski#comment-51417

We can now exclusively reveal how at least some of these extra costs were accrued. After reading the What Do They Know response one of the people interviewed by Anna Klonowski during the investigation let it be known that during the investigation they were asked whether they felt safe to give a statement in Wirral Council offices or at an Apart-hotel in Liverpool. This is a kind of accommodation with the facilities of an apartment (own cooking facilities etc; ) but with benefits of a hotel (servicing of rooms etc.)

We understand it was from here that Mrs Klonowski held court and would meet witnesses if they felt uncomfortable being observed giving statements in Wirral (hence we presume reference to “The Others” in the report’s title – making witnesses sound appropriately enough like the mysterious, ghostly figures from the Nicole Kidman movie of the same name).

If this is the case this alone is surely conclusive proof that there was ( and many still believe still is) a culture of fear within Wirral Council.  Furthermore it also reinforces former Director of Law Bill Norman’s comment to local political commentator John Brace that the anonymity in the report was about protecting junior staff from reprisals from senior staff.

The revelation of massive extra costs comes as no surprise to our source but what does surprise them is that their statement and supporting evidence and the evidence of others appears nowhere within the final report.

Instead Klonowski states : “Despite the time taken to deliver the review it has not been possible to conclude on all matters….”.
This comes as a surprise to our source as they claimed they were interviewed months before the report was published – though they never received a copy of their statement nor was their documentary evidence ever returned!

However as Klonowski concluded in her review this doesn’t mean there was a cover up or conspiracy of any kind whatsoever ! – ultimately only time will tell whether this theory holds up and whether £410,000 of public money was well spent.

Indeed Wirral Leaks invites our readers to identify 1 lasting* positive outcome of the Independent Review.

* The vote of no confidence in Foulkesy doesn’t count as his recent appointment as Mayor proves this was short lived.

Dear readers , a cash prize of £4.10 found down the back of a chaise longue at Leaky Towers could be yours !!!!

Mark your entries : Rep Mgmnt and send to wirralleaks@gmail.com

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Lessons Learned

Wirral-Leaks-LessonsLearned

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”

As Wirral Council merrily continues to dismantle public services we note ruefully at Leaky Towers how quickly the “organisation” has returned to its bad old ways.

Firstly the libraries closure volte-face debacle of 2010 is seemingly making a comeback with Burgesski taking his turn to face the flak and issue a statement claiming there’s nothing untoward going on by reviewing the library service once again.
Of course such is the lack of trust and confidence in Wirral Council  that anything emanating from Wallasey Town Hall is instantly met with hostility and suspicion.

It seems to us that Super -Duper Director meetings must mainly consist of them drawing straws to see who is going to front the latest controversial Council press release. Funny we never seem to hear from bullet-dodger Clare Fish whose surname seems most appropriate , as considering her prominent role ,she seems to be about as elusive and vocal as Stringray’s Aqua Marina.

So having been spared the indignity of being overtaken by commissioners (thanks to Frankenfield’s intervention) and having hoodwinked the blinkered Improvement Board it would seem Wirral Council feels secure in returning to the familiar power bases and personalities. There’s Foulkesy ensconced as Wirral’s first citizen with sidekick George Davies still acting as his middle man and Matron McLaughlin back chairing a Council Committee. It’s like the Independent Review never happened – but then this is what happens when an investigator like Anna Klonowski only does half a job and there is no accountability ,no consequences and a politically apathetic public (witness the shockingly low turnout in McLaughlin’s Rock Ferry ward).

Inevitably we now have the return of all the issues which brought Wirral Council into such disrepute – the corrosive culture,the obsessive secrecy,the abuse of power.

There are only so many times the Department of Spin can rely on golf tournaments and Stella Shiu and artists impressions of Wirral Waters and pictures of the Mayor and Mayoress before the spin spirals out of control into sheer delirium

However the Department of Spin does contain at least one person who has learned the lessons of the past. They can certainly show those naive whistleblowers how it should be done. They have learned that knowledge is power – so use it to your advantage.

Keep your job and get a nice big cheque.Win-Win.

That now makes 2 people in the Wirral Council “Job for Life” Club.

Fore Play

GOLF-PASS

We understand the following Councillors have free tickets for every day of the Open golf championships in Hoylake starting on July 17th:
Labour Leader Power Boy Pip and his deputies George “Brillo pad” Davies and Ann McLachlan,Tory Leader Jefferson Green and Lib Dem leader Phil Gilchrist plus Labour cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing Chris Meaden who has done well to swing the freebies (gedditt!?)

What’s more ALL councillors are allowed to go FREE for the pre-tournament Practice Day to enjoy a bit of fore play (so to speak ) and will also be in attendance at the prize giving on the final day. Does anybody know whether any of the Chinese delegation that Pip & Co were entertaining last month have been invited?………………..

Needless to say Foulkesy exclusively reveals in his Wirral “News” Mayoral Diary that :
” I will be representing the borough at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club on a number of civic engagements during the week”

Next week’s column will no doubt feature another Foulkesy exclusive where he reveals that in fact bears shit in the woods and not the new deluxe Super-bog in Wallasey Town Hall.

Now we are all agreed that golf is the most tedious game ever devised but we do know that “fore” (week delay?)  is used as a warning to golfers further up the course if something untoward is heading their way. So we’d like to say “FORE!!!!!” to all the people of Wirral and Wirral Council staff and ask you all – do  you know what they are dealing with yet?.Has the ball dropped in the hole so to speak?

Lord and Lady knows we’ve warned you people enough times but we’d ask you to compare and contrast thes shameless freeloading above with the fact that 500 Council staff are under threat of redundancy because of what some may view as the incompetence, bungeling and dishonesty of Councillors and Senior Officers.

And no Pip we don’t want you to drag out the lazy rhetoric about cuts being a direct result of central government policy.
The irony is that Wirral Council is ideologically a Tory Council run by Labour like the North of England’s answer to Wandsworth Council.

Wirral Council’s stance on the Bedroom and Council Tax is frankly shameless and a direct attack on the poor and vulnerable.

Moreover they are using the exact same tactic as the allegedly despised central government by using the deficit/austerity/cuts smokescreen as a means to an end – in Wirral Council’s case getting rid of their staff either via redundancy or outsourcing.

Of course less staff  means less services but as far as Senior Councillors/Officers are concerned that’s OK – less staff to identify your failings and misdemeanors and public services run by private businesses which are beyond the reach of the Freedom of Information Act.

And so it would seem that  Senior Councillors/Officers get the fore-play and everyone else gets shafted!

Taking the Piss

Golden-toilet_682_1412928a

For some shitting,sorry sitting Wirral Councillors there is a sense that pesky ex-Councillor Ian Lewis is hanging round like the proverbial bad smell in the Town Hall corridors of power.

On his blog HERE  he comments:

“If there’s one thing that makes us all equal, it’s go(ing) to the loo. Except, it seems, when it comes to the Town Hall. Following one of my FoI requests, the full response has now been published by the Council.

And what do we find?  That in these times of austerity, when, it seems, we can’t even cut the grass around a war memorial, we can find £17,611 to refurbish the toilets that were previously for the exclusive use of councillors or, as the sign said ‘Members Only’. Stop sniggering!”

Clearly at this cost this was not a bog standard makeover and despite constant reminders from Councillors that we are living through hard times it seems as though they are both taking the piss and proving that they’re full of crap.

As befitting someone who has a history of crapping on people from a great height we understand that to mark the opening of the newly refurbished toilets (and bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase throne room)  Mayor Foulkesy performed a ceremonial dump to enthusiastic cries of “Beware abnormalload!” and “Somebody send in the canary!”.

Here we have exclusive video footage of Mayor Foulksey and Wirral Council sanitary spokesperson Ms.Lou Latrine discussing arrangements for the ceremony :

Most-Expensive-Toilet-Paper-in-the-World-y

Working For The Clampdown

clampdown

It appears to us as though Wirral Council are set on continuing their “improvement journey” without the aid of a moral compass.
The latest move of the ruling Labour group is to take over control of all scrutiny committees,thereby curtailing any questioning of their nefarious ways.
And so we witness the seamless transition from a rundown Council to a clampdown Council.

This was all decided at last nights first full Council meeting chaired by Foulkesy – who last week demonstrated the gravitas and solemnity he brings to the role by jokingly referring to the second part of the Annual General meeting as the “boring bits”.
Forget democratic processes eh Foulksey? It’s the Lord Mayor’s Show and we’d better not forget it!

Under the circumstances we don’t know whether the relative brevity of the meeting was a ruse to minimise dissent or to accommodate the Mayor’s apparent ADHD………

A further indication of the clampdown was the ousting of long time Labour liability Cllr Harry ” Crisp Packet” Smith from the Streetscene portfolio.
” You could say he’s been kicked to the kerb…..” commented Her Ladyship pithily.

It seems to us the Labour group have remembered the World War 2  adage that “loose lips sinks ships” and keen to keep HMS Wirral Council afloat they’ve thrown mouth almighty overboard.

And my goodness have Wirral Council got a supertanker of toxic waste they want to keep buried as deep as the Marianas Trench.
We’ve got the 3 year anniversary of the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods whistleblow coming up without any sign of the findings rising to the surface. Additionally we are promised more intriguing developments on the Council’s CCTV control room fiasco – which interestingly was part of Cllr Smith’s portfolio. A source writes:

“This will probably not see the light of day outside of the council as certain reputations will be severely damaged especially the senior officers duped into closing the cctv control room at the loss of eleven jobs and the reversal of decisions as they have kept the control room open with a large budget and untrained agency staff…….”

And of course all this goes without mentioning Wirralgate!

Is it any wonder the clampdown has begun?

Such a move is not an indication of a secure and confident organisation – it is the sign of insecurity and fear.
Therefore it still appears to us that there are more than just a few potholes to overcome on Wirral Council’s  “improvement journey”……………..

SLINGS AND ARROWS

BULLSHIT

To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles….

We’ve said it before and we”ll say it again but our local politicos love dishing it out but they don’t like it up ’em. We’ve already reported Power Boy Pip’s wimpering about the fact that not all of the assembled throng at this week’s mayor-making ceremony prostrated themselves in adoration of Mayor Foulkesy. Pip’s reasoning that it was really,really bad form to upset the rellies and besties who were in attendance, especially consideringn Foulkesy has always been such a stickler for good manners and decorum!…….

Following this feigned outrage we then had ex-Councillor and bad loser Bri “Nylon” Kenny writing to the Globe complaining that the publishing of a “critical” letter by Lib Dem Councillor Stuart Kelly the day before the recent local elections was “political” and thereby inferring this influenced the outcome of the vote in the Birkenhead/Tranmere ward which Bri memorably lost.  SEE HERE

Don’t worry Bri  we’re sure they’ll find a safe seat for you next time round:

” Meanwhile he’s on the subs bench” chortled Verity
”  Does “subs” stand for substandard ” chipped in Her Ladyship
” Well it stands for something which is more than can be said of some of our Councillors!…” I retorted  –  Oh what larks we have at Leaky Towers!

No doubt it will be only be a matter of time before we hear Foulksey claim he’s being picked on by “disgraceful” blogs again (yawn!)

Oh , but in all good conscience he can’t can he?….. seeing as someone from the Council once complained about something similar,was supposedly ignored and the only way they could possibly be consoled was with a nice fat cheque. (No, we don’t know how that works either!…..)

So all we can say is, sorry Foulkesy, but if you put yourself in the position of mayor you automatically raise your profile and become an unmissable big red target for satire and all the “slings and arrows” that entails. As far as we’re concerned at Leaky Towers it’s “open season” and we’re not talking about the golf!

However on a more positive note we’d like to thank Councillor George Davies for having a little prick in the name of Diabetes Awareness.

SEE HERE

What next on the health promotion front for Cllr Davies?
A “Smear (Campaign) Test” ? But will a positive reading lead to a negative outcome?
Health warning to Cllr.Davies : If you want to pass this test steer clear of “sweeteners”…..

Courted and Feted

FOUKSLEYS

Unfortunately our invitation must have got lost in the post so Lord and Lady W missed the opportunity to mix with the hoi polloi at Foulksey’s mayor-making bash at the Floral Pavilion.And we use the term “bash” advisedly as we understand that also in attendance on the front row was our other favourite Steve  – “Mad Dog” Maddox.With Foulksey at the forefront it must have felt as though the Bully Convention was in town having had a former Wirral Council Officer inform us that Maddox wasn’t averse to swearing at him in meetings.Just the kind of role model to whom the Freedom of the Borough should be awarded don’t you think?.

As an aside does anyone know whether the Ladies of Hebden Bridge were in attendance, as we know they and Foulkesy went back a long way – all the way back to Hebden Bridge in fact and with most of Wirral Council’s senior officers in tow!

However lets not get away from the fact that this was the Prince of Belligerence’s big night and supported  by his consort and fiancee, the lovely Elaine,Foulksey conceded that he “wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea” as 15 dissenters ( 5 nay-sayers and 10 abstentions) decided to register their protest at his appointment.

Power Boy Pip bleated :”It’s a shame because, obviously, Steve’s family and friends were here, so it should have been a nice night and council should have been unanimous in its support.It’s left a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth.”

We presume he wasn’t talking about Foulkesy’s cup of tea!

However if this statement proves anything it is this:
POWER BOY PIP DOES JUST NOT GET IT AT ALL!
But then he’s learned at the past master’s knee as Foulksey managed to show him just how insensitivity, lack of awareness and sheer ignorance should really be done.

Commenting on the fact that Wirral Foodbank would be one of the Mayor’s chosen charities Foulksey went into full Mother Theresa mode

“Wirral Foodbank is run by genuinely caring people who are in crisis. It takes steps to stop them getting deeper in crisisAs I said in my speech, we are only a few wage packets away, or a very serious accident away, from being in a situation of crisis. There, but by the grace of God go I, which is why I’m also pleased to support the charity.”

So tell us Foulksey how many people have Wirral Council made redundant or bullied out of their jobs are now reliant on such handouts whilst you snort noisily in the trough of plenty whilst being “courted and feted” wherever you go ?………..

Fatprince

 

What Makes a Mayor?

Trumpton Mayor

This article is published to coincide with tonight’s mayor-making ceremony held at the Floral Pavilion,New Brighton. What this represents in all it’s tawdry glory is a show of strength where the people of Wirral are taught a lesson as to who is in charge.
For nearly a quarter of a century Sun King Foulksey and his acolytes have had the run of the show (although lately the cosy set up has had a couple of setbacks) and today’s mayor-making ceremony is his crowning achievement.

We will be particularly  interested to hear as to who Foulkesy invites as his guest of honour. We well remember that the last Labour mayor was Cllr Moira McLaughlin who saw fit to invite former Social Services Director Kevin “Windy” Miller ,  which knowing what we know now can only be seen as a slap in the face to the people of Wirral.

What we can’t understand that if he was such a valued friend why didn’t “Windy” whisper in McLaughlin’s shell-like over the canapes and cocktails about the huge toxic debt that had been run up mainly on his watch or the unlawful charging or the dodgy care homes?

And yet even when all this malpractice was eventually exposed a source still recalls McLaughlin declaring her undying devotion to her friend “Windy” as she agreed to step down from the mayoral dais after being advised to do so by the then Director of Law Bill Norman.This was during a tempestuous Council meeting where the multiplicity of social services failings were being discussed following the publication of one in a series of damning reports

Perhaps Foulkesy will invite Bill ” My office now!!!” Norman from his Herefordshire hidey-hole.We all –  publicly witnessed how well they got on (not!) – or maybe former Chief Executive Wee Jimmy Wilkie  – another officer with whom the fur flew when Foulksey wanted his own way.

And look what happened to them ! – and look what happened to Foulksey.
There’s a lesson to be learned for anyone thinking of challenging Foulksey’s power base or the ancient regime. Of course there was another Senior Officer on the “naughty list” but due to,ahem, “circumstances” this particular Officer is now essentially bulletproof and must be the only person in Wirral Council with “a job for life.”

Fortunately Foulksey can always draw upon loyal allies especially fellow Claughton Councillors George Davies and Denise Roberts  when he wants some “special” work done but doesn’t want to be the one in the firing line. Indeed in this respect Cllr Davies has proved to be a particularly loyal wingman over many years. We only hope he gets a special mention in tonight’s expected acceptance speech which we anticipate will go ahead despite some Councillor opposition which breaks with the Council tradition of the mayor-making being a “shoe-in”.

This will then allow Foulksey to claim his £10K mayoral allowance ( in addition to his £8K Councillor allowance?) and his near £5K allowance for sitting on the Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority and whatever he gets for sitting on the board of metrosexual style bible Magenta Living*.

* Apologies – Verity informs us this is the ludicrous name of the housing association formerly known as Wirral Partnership Homes. All of this on top of his salary with Unilever (how can they possibly spare him?)

Considering the riches to be had by Foulkesy we’d like you to contrast this with an absolutely shameful bedroom tax case involving a particularly vulnerable Birkenhead tenant and (almost unbelievably) a Labour-run Wirral Council about which Welfare Rights campaigner Joe Halewood writes:

“What an offensive crock this is and what a grade one bunch of arses run Wirral council who deserve as much naming and shaming over this as we can collectively muster…..”
 SEE HERE

Once more might we suggest that the court of Sun King Foulksey bears more than a passing resemblance to the decadence and intrigue of pre -revolutionary France with it’s pursuit of power and it’s contempt for the powerless.

To which (even as a member of the landed gentry) I am led to loudly declare :

Vive le revolution!

When The Sweet Smell of Success Stinks Like A Brown Bin

LGABullshit-Stamp

At first we didn’t know quite what to make of the Local Government Association (LGA) report titled ” Self-Serving or Self-Centred?” (or something like that anyway). It was recently published without any fanfare, no doubt in the hope was that it would pass under the radar without any further comment. This is especially surprising as Wirral Council is described as a “success” story. SEE HERE

Thankfully it was picked up by Wirral Globe who reveal how startlingly close that Wirral Council came to being taken over by government commissioners just like that other local government basket case Doncaster Council. SEE HERE

We also note from the Globe article that veteran whistleblower Morton still hasn’t run out of breath (oh how the Council must wish that gag was tied a bit tighter so that he was permanently deprived of oxygen).

What troubles us here at Leaky Towers is not so much the revelation about the Council near- takeover by outsiders but the bullshit industry that seems to have flourished in the wake of abject failure and the Council’s so-called “turnaround”. Talking of which does anybody know what happened to the Council’s  topnotch “Turnaround Team”?.

From reading the report we have a sense of a group of consultants performing a PR exercise on behalf of the LGA with the message :

Don’t send in commissioners to a Council in crisis , send in the crack LGA team and based on no evidence whatsoever they’ll pretend everything’s tickety-boo in no time. Their competitive  daily rate includes their own “no case to answer” rubber stamp and an unparalleled collection of patronising  platitudes such as “you’re doing jolly well – now keep it up chaps and chapesses”
 
The authors of this LGA promotional pamphlet concludes that : “We have already recorded that after close to two years, Wirral has made a significant recovery. Although our brief is not to conduct a detailed evaluation, there was a consistency and honesty in the interviews that gives us confidence in reaching this conclusion.”

This conclusion of course flies in the face of the evidence that we report week in,week out on this blog that Wirral Council has not returned to anything like resembling normality. It appears the fanciful conclusion was reached by interviewing no-doubt handpicked “stakeholders” guaranteed to be “on message”.
We can only assume the responses went something like this:

” The constant threat of redundancy ensures I keep my nose to the grindstone and say whatever I’m told to say to visiting consultants…”

” Power Boy Pip visited our office the other day.I felt as though I was in the presence of greatness and he left me feeling treasured and with a warm fuzzy glow .”

” I’m just so grateful I longer have to manage a team as they’ve all been made redundant…being a team player is so much easier when you’re the only one in the team”

” My working conditions have improved for the better now that I know that in the unfortunate event of a fire I can waltz town the shiny new staircase like a fairytale princess”.

Meanwhile back in the real world and not the LGA – fantasy version we have further examples that seems to indicate that the basket case’s return to full recovery may be somewhat premature.

First there is the news that nearly £400K has been squandered – SEE HERE
on what we identified was a hopelessly misconceived and ridiculously -named proposal called Co-Socious. SEE HERE

This proposal was meant to lead to sharing services with the 2 Cheshire Councils – which of course was promptly ditched when Power Boy Pip  espied a more compatible and prestigious hook-up with the Peoples Republic of Merseyside. SEE HERE

Meanwhile  more pungent example of continuing concern about how the Council conducts it’s business arrives in the form of a Brown Bin.

Apparently those experiencing delay in receiving their garden waste tag have been advised that because of the backlog of applications BIFFA have been told to empty all garden waste bins ( even if people have not paid) for the first collection in June! This apparently is because  the Council doesn’t have enough staff to handle the applications due to cutbacks in Streetscene. So Wirral Leaks advises, at the height of the grass cutting season, that everyone fills their boots and fills their brown bins……….after all it’s an ill-(smelling) wind that blows nobody some good.

We were also told that as Pest Control have had a 50% reduction in staff that if you find yourself singing: “There’s a rat in my kitchen what ‘amma gonna do” that as you are likely to wait another 2 weeks for any assistance. This is unfortunate as when Wirral Council are deemed to be a “success” many people automatically smell a rat !……