Master of Suspense

Master of suspense

We know we have our Wirral Council highly irregular regulars but if there is one councillor who has prompted more comments and queries than any other lately it’s Bidston & St.James councillor and , quite astonishingly , the Chair of Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee  – the one and only Jim “Crabby” Crabtree.

We are proud to say we reinforced our public interest credentials by learning that his suspension by the North West Labour Party was due in no small part to allegations made on Wirral Leaks and shamefully NOT by the Labour Party members or Meadowside Special School who were repeatedly told what he’d been up to and chose to turn a blind eye to allegations made about him.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/06/17/jimll-fix-it/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/rotten-to-the-core/

Let us remind ourselves that a key witness alleges : “ He was suspended because he took students from Meadowside School leafleting – this was at least the 3rd time and he dropped them off and left them there with 2 teaching assistants and went home to let in the electrician to his home…..He told the (Liverpool) Echo a fairy story about coming across a fellow party member which is strange as he’d told them he would be bringing a bus full of volunteers at 10 –  he pulled up ,  let them off and drove off. No risk assessment – no permission -nothing ……and he gave them his leaflets”

However further worrying reports about Crabtree are that he has :  “….. again filled the membership of Bidston & St.James with his family and friends as he does every time he’s up for re- election.He now has his female mate as chair person, he is the secretary, his daughter is treasurer and every other position is a family member or mate.”

Even more worrying is the allegation that he was also involved in conduct unbecoming of a councillor towards party members from his own ward.However a source ruefully comments that Wirral Council were strangely reluctant to investigate the matter in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct  : “ …..even with witnesses the legal dept say that in their opinion he was not acting as a councillor ,as with the leafleting , even in purdah.
I’m not sure how they can say this as they only met at meetings where he was there as a councillor and the ladies were chair and secretary and there only as reps for the ward .”

However with sad inevitably our source concludes :”The councillors are gathering round … to make sure he gets back in for another 4 years.Residents tell me he doesn’t turn up to surgeries and does nothing to help .Only when he can get his face in the paper or he’s up for re election .”

This sounds plausible to us as somewhat like Cllr George Davies’s  appearance in the local press last week you just need to show “Crabby” a flowerbed and a photographer and somewhat like Japanese knotweed he’ll quickly take over and be difficult to get rid of!.

They way things are progressing it seems Wirral Leaks were right in advising Louise Reece-Jones , the other Labour councillor currently under suspension by the North West Labour Party that : “we think her only hope is to foster a friendship with Frankenfield very,very quickly or her days are numbered….”
Particularly when a source informs us : “Can I mention also the disgraceful way Louise Reece Jones has been treated she is still suspended with no communication from any of them.”

So it would appear that for some reason senior local Labour politicians seem to have an allergy to LRJ. Meanwhile we understand that Frankenfield was allegedly “furious beyond belief”  that Crabtree had been suspended. As one of our sources  states : “I was as naive enough to think he meant because of taking the kids out but oh no it’s because he’s a fantastic councillor and how dare someone do this to him!”.

Thereby reinforcing our belief that Frankenfield’s moral compass is somewhat awry we ask ourselves what is the motivation of the Birkenhead MP who seemingly surrounds himself with fawning acolytes.We remember that the original “master of suspense” Alfred Hitchcock once said : “I didn’t say actors are cattle. What I said was, actors should be treated like cattle.”

Seems as though Frankenfield has the same view when it comes to local councillors , no matter how deep the cow dung they’re in as long as they take direction from him he’ll always be a benefactor to the bovine.

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The Maxwellisation of Wirral Council

Robert Maxwell

Never underestimate the hypocrisy of the powerful.

There were many resonances for us at Leaky Towers when we heard about the frustration of families concerned about the further delay in publishing The Chilcot Inquiry report.

Roger Bacon, whose son Major Matthew Bacon was killed in Iraq in 2005, said he was “disappointed” Sir John Chilcot has not revealed when he will publish the Iraq report, adding: “If he was in our shoes, he might well take a different view on what is going on. This process of Maxwellisation is just too much. It seems to go on and on and on. The fact he is still waiting for responses means there will be further delays.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/chilcot-inquiry-lawyers-give-sir-john-5pm-deadline-to-announce-report-publication-date-or-warn-hell-face-legal-action-10472926.html

The process of frustration,delay and kowtowing to the powerful is oh so familiar to us when it comes to Wirral Council investigations , especially when it comes to senior council officials potentially being criticised. Therefore we were particularly interested to find out that  “Maxwellisation” is a procedure in current British legal practice where individuals due to be criticised in an official report are sent details of the criticism in advance and permitted to respond prior to publication.

The process takes its name from the corrupt newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell. Maxwell was once criticised in a government report as “unfit to hold the stewardship of a public company”. Maxwell  – a man so shameless and hardfaced  he is clearly a role model for some of our local politicians  – took the matter to court where the government was said by the judge to have “virtually committed the business murder” of  poor pension-snatcher Maxwell.

Consequently official policy was altered to ensure prior notice would be given of critical findings in advance and relevant witnesses are shown the specific extracts of reports relating to them.Accordingly “Maxwellisation” will now enter the Leaky Towers lexicon to sit alongside “Machiavellian” when it comes to describing how Wirral Council conducts its business .

Maxwellisation can be said to be a feature of all the recent council investigations which seem to us to be  part of the process of ensuring that no-one is ever held accountable for failings – no matter how serious or damning they may be.

Maxwellisation becomes a means of damage limitation where the process of delay allows issues to be dismissed as historic and the watering down of words lessens the impact of the findings.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the BIG/ISUS dodgy contract debacle – yes that’s still going on folks – as the whistleblowers valiantly attempt to get the full story of what went on into the public domain.

Maxwellisation can also be said to be a feature of a startling series of Freedom of Information requests detailed on the Wirral Council section on What Do They Know website.The FOI requests are eye-watering mainly because of the fact that it makes a grown man want to cry in frustration at Wirral Council’s increasingly long list of legal exemptions.

Reasons for rejecting requests run the gamut from compromising “full and frank discussion” to “vexatious” to “can’t be arsed” .

Once more we we want to get Wirral Council by the collective scruff of the neck and say “what the bloody hell is up with you people?”  – but then that’s what should have happened in 2012 and the local government commissioners should have been sent in – but it seems to us that Frank whispered in Eric’s ear and that was the end of that !.

So much for the much lauded transformational change that Wirral Council leaders keep bleating on about.Seems to us that the only transformation that has gone on recently is that Deputy Leader of the Council George Davies has gone from a comb-over to a comb-forward.

George Comb Forward

Drinks On Us

Eric's bar
Times are hard , money is tight.
Redundancies and cuts to services abound but Wirral Council show us that when it comes to prioritising their finances they’re on the money.
Your money that is.
Yes indeed ! news reaches us that they’re looking to spend money fitting out a new bar in Wallasey Town Hall.
No really!.
That’s right  a bar- a boozer – a watering hole – an alehouse – a gin joint.
A speakeasy where nobody speaks easy – well you never know who’s recording you!.
Now we know the recent goings on at the Town Hall have made it seem like a non-stop sleaze-fest but is installing a bar really sending out the right message? .
This is after all supposed to be what they’d no doubt call the “administrative hub” of the Council and not a particularly louche nightclub.
Or are they going hell for leather to secure that sin city twin town opportunity with Reno?.
Next thing you know they’ll be installing a gambling joint in Committee Room 1 – let’s face it it’ll save a journey to Chris Pluck’s betting shop in Claughton Village for some of our more senior councillors.
Or how about the Mayor’s parlour becoming a massage parlour ?.
Or a big neon sign outside saying “COUNCIL TAX & COCKTAILS”
No doubt the justification will be about refurbishing the bar being an innovative moneyspinning venture creating a venue for hire.
But how long before inebriated teens are vomiting over the new carpet and defacing pictures of Wirral Council’s former mayors?……actually on second thoughts they’ve convinced us, the Leaky Towers posse might pop in for a quick stiffener.
Trebles all round!.
CEO Stressed Eric shows his leadership skills and gets the party started!……
Eric gets the party started

 

A Big Fat Greek Wedding

Inside sources have kindly let us know that the Greek island of Kos has just hosted Wirral’s wedding of the year as ex- council leader and ex-mayor Steve Foulkes makes an honest woman of his fiancee ,  the lovely Elaine Nolan. Although we have to say the jury is out at Leaky Towers as to whether she’ll be able to return the favour or it’s simply a case of feta the devil you know! – know warra mean like?. 

However dontcha just wanna tweak the bulging sunburnt cheeks of the lovable rogue that we see here at his stag do. Although looking at the parasols and especially the pink one at far left we’re wondering whether one of the party games was “spot the phallus”. Well they are in Greece and Foulkes seems the type to have had the benefit of a classical education!.

fatboythick
However let us not cloud the celebrations by casting nasturtiums.The glamorous couple seem to us to resemble Greek gods Zeus and his wife Hera ( the goddess of marriage ) who gaze down upon us from Mount Olympus (or in their case Bidston Hill). As we know all too well Zeus in particular has the powers to control the destinies of us mere mortals down below – all we can do is pray that he has not and does not abuse those powers.

Indeed we’re hoping that Foulkes’ God-like influence extended to the wedding reception and that new stepson Jack “Me Mam’s the Mayoress” Nolan knew his retsina from his ouzo so as to avoid another Mayor’s Ball(s) up.

Finally I’m sure all Wirral Leaks readers will join us in raising a glass to salute the happy couple and wish them  “Yiamas” !……….

A State of Flux on Fantasy Island

fantasy island

We briefly touched upon the Wirral Council Control Room debacle in a previous post:

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/loss-of-control/

Well here is further shameful information about how Wirral Council decided in their infinite – or should that be infinitesimal? – wisdom to destroy the livelihoods of some of their own staff.

Michael Edwards is one of the guys who suffered as a result and is now relentlessly pursuing the matter.Needless to say he is being thwarted at every turn as the Most Improved Council on Fantasy Island do what they do best – which ironically is being “controlling”.

Mr.Edwards has now had to resort to having to make a series of Freedom of Information Act requests in the hope of finding out exactly how he and 10 other colleagues lost their jobs.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/emergency_control_room_cheshire

We quote Mr.Edwards’ annotations to this particular request as they neatly summarise the sorry story :

“Clearly stated now in black and white by Wirral Council , Control Room staff made redundant but control room kept open.”

“Wirral Council is meant to be open and transparent but getting relevant information is like getting blood out of a stone. This is quite straight forward people were made redundant but their job wasn’t and they were deceived into walking out the door.”
“The fact staff are in the Emergency Control Room carrying out the same duties over 12 months on brings the question why were the staff made redundant, just a bit of honesty and maybe right what is wrong.”

Not only was the Control room kept open but untrained agency staff taken on who had to be supervised to carry out the role.”

“CCTV control staff made redundant then replaced by staff paid honororium to their grade plus huge amounts of overtime.”

Wirral Council’s pitiless yet pitiful response to this FOI request was this :

“4 members of staff were given honorariums due to loss of CCTV Control Room
staff through the Council’s Budget Options exercise. Agency staff had been
employed to handle calls and supervisors were needed for these new staff.
It was a management decision to give temporary honorariums to 4 existing
staff members.  This had been a management decision while the service was
in a state of flux during a period of time when they had not been able to
recruit staff. It was the only option available.”
As Mr.Edwards says : “They had no choice as the service was in a state of flux?
The choice was not to make the staff redundant.”
However it seems it’s an ill wind that blows no good as untrained council mercenaries are willing to pick up a few more bob at the expense of their former colleagues.
It also seems to us that in this context the priceless phrase ” a state of flux”  is council-speak for “our highly paid managers haven’t got a clue about what the actual fuck they are doing”.
We also wonder whether this cock up hastened the departure of former Streetscene supremo – that sweet talkin’ guy and Mr.Expletive himself – Cllr. Harry Smith.
However needless to say Wirral  Council considers that the actual cost of this cock up is “commercially sensitive” and therefore exempt information under Section 43 of The Freedom of Information Act 2000.
In this context “commercially sensitive” means that Wirral Council don’t want to admit to the extent of how they’ve wasted council taxpayers money yet again and they’re not going to tell us how they’ve wasted our money because in their twisted mindset they’re simply not accountable to the people who pay their wages!.
Indeed a couple of recent FOI cases illustrate this twisted mindset further.
The first is concerned by campaign group Big Brother Watch who made requests of all councils in England & Wales about sensitive , confidential or personal information which had been lost by or stolen from councils.Whilst most councils responded to the request Wirral Council maintained their secretive stance with a plaintive  : “request denied”.
The second example borders on the tragi-comic as inveterate amateur investigator John Brace comes up trumps with an absolute howler.
This particular case concerns a request for a powerpoint presentation that was concerned with Wirral Council’s “organisational vision”, “values”and “culture” (please no laughing at the back).

What could be so compromising that Wirral Leaks regular and Wirral Council’s law lord Dimwit Tour (who made the first decision to refuse this request) wanted to keep the information out of the public domain for the increasingly popular reason that to release the top secret slideshow would :

(b) inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views;
or
(c) otherwise prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.
However following a further refusal by new Wirral Council CEO Eric Feeble (who we are becoming increasingly disillusioned with here at Leaky Towers ) and after a year of wrangling the indomitable Mr.Brace got the decision overturned with the help of the Information Commissioner’s Office.
So it is now thanks to him we can finally see the presentation in all it’s comic glory.
A flavour of what has finally been released is contained in one particular slide which states without a hint of irony :
“We communicate & are open and honest in what we do.”
Therefore after all that’s gone before we can only conclude here at Leaky Towers that the real reason the request was denied was to inhibit the satirical opportunities the slides afforded to the likes of us.
However there are some things that even we concede are simply beyond satire and for Wirral Leaks it would be like shooting fish in a barrel.
As we’ve said many times before : You really couldn’t make this shit up!.

Let Them Eat More Cake

Cake 4

As everyone knows I am personally a big supporter of charity and indeed the reason why I became a peer of the realm has nothing to do with that “misunderstanding” with the brown envelope but because of all my charitable work helping poor folks and ne’er do wells on the road to salvation – oh and of course my services to the offshore banking industry.

So naturally I am always happy to support and promote charity – so I’d like to thank local Labour party members who kindly forwarded the following details of a forthcoming coffee and chat charity event in aid of the great work done by MacMillan Cancer support:

Councillors from Birkenhead & Tranmere and Rock Ferry will be joined by Frank Field MP at the Community Room of Rock Ferry Library on Saturday 26th September from 10.30am for cake and coffee.

We hope you can join us on the morning to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.If you’re feeling inspired by the Great British Bake Off, you can enter our own ‘Bake Off’, which will be judged by Frank.Whether you are a local resident, Labour supporter or from a community group, come and meet your local Labour representatives in this social setting and let’s raise some funds for such a worthy cause!.

Get your free ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/coffee-cake-morning-tickets-18093385804, or just turn up on the day.

Judged by Frankenfield eh?.Does he do anything else but pass judgement on others who don’t quite match up to his high moral standing we ask ourselves?.However we would have thought he might of drafted in his friend Nick Warren to be the “judge” as at least he’s then guaranteed to get the result he wants!.

Unfortunately Leaky Towers will not be able to send a representative along to the coffee morning (although we will be sending a donation to MacMillan Care Support) as we don’t want to upset Frankenfield and be accused of being political agitators , especially after that little incident-ette earlier this year in Rock Ferry where Frankenfield was viciously set upon by a ruthless gang of maverick Bolsheviks (it must be true it was in the Daily Mail!).

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/03/20/frankenfields-monsters-v-little-green-men/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/frank-field-the-biter-bit/

However we will be sending a cake lovingly crafted by our cook Nigella Knowall (see above) in homage to all the great work done by his beloved political colleagues at Wirral Council.

Seems to us that Frankenfield and his fellow poverty tourists are out in force at the moment as sources tell us the MP was out and about in their Birkenhead/Tranmere/Rock Ferry constituency with bezzies Wee Jeannie Stapleton and Matron McLaughlin last Saturday before he flitted off to Albert Dock in one of his beloved check shirts with a twinkle in his eye and a spring in his step.

What can be the sudden interest in a campaigning charm offensive when there is no election in sight and as Frankenfield made plain in a recent car crash TV interview that he’s not one of those MPs who his constituents can “boss around” .

Might we suggest that there’s something in the air and judging by the stink it’s not the smell of baking cakes…….

Taxi Cuts

Fouolkes & Niblock

When Councillor Steve Foulkes, the then leader of the Wirral Labour group, said he was very happy and that he had “a number of beliefs and principles in common” when Councillor Steve Niblock defected from the Liberal Democrats to Labour it seems he wasn’t wrong http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-13416607 :

We at Leaky Towers are grateful for more masterful work from local blogger John Brace. His inquisitive nature, attention to detail and immaculate pigtail matches our very own Verity. However we’re taking the opportunity here to give his revelations the special Wirral Leaks treatment.

Brace’s latest find concerns the discovery of expenses claims made by Merseyside Labour councillors including one of Wirral’s very own – Steve “Suave” Niblock?.

http://johnbrace.com/2015/08/05/which-wirral-councillor-claimed-50-on-taxis-to-and-from-a-public-meeting/

It seems that by enjoying the benefit of  £50 return taxi ride to attend a Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority meeting in Liverpool the Lib Dem turncoat clearly demonstrated that he is now well and truly part of the Wirral Labour fold with their penchant for being driven around like royalty just like the top of the taxi rank herself – Matron McLaughlin aka the Queen of Sheba.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/01/29/carry-on-cabby/

Now in the scheme of things a £50 taxi ride paid for by the public may not be equivalent to a near enough £50K bung to keep your gob shut.However in it’s own way it somehow strikes us as everything that’s wrong with the mindset of some politicians.Whatever possesses Niblock and his ilk to think that when services are being cut and people are losing their jobs that this sickening sense of entitlement is in any way OK?.As the saying goes: “Just because you can – doesn’t mean you should”…….

Now we know that , as Her Ladyship remarked , Cllr Niblock seems to get his fashion tips from Jeremy Corbyn, but for instance the next time he wanted to kit himself with a new bib & tucker for the next council piss up would he just pop over to top notch gentleman’s outfitters Gieves & Hawkes in Liverpool and hail for a taxi there and back?

We think he needs to cut out the taxis and get on the train or better still – Get in the sea https://twitter.com/getinthesea?lang=en

Ironically Niblock recently voted to close Upton and West Kirby fire stations (no really!) alongside fellow Merseyside Labour councillors one of whom is a certain Linda Maloney who thought it OK to spend £12 on a slap up salmon dinner and a drink of coke and expect the Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority to pay for it.

http://johnbrace.com/2015/08/05/which-st-helens-councillor-claimed-36-for-3-salmon-dinners-and-3-drinks-of-coke/

Again we would ask Cllr.Maloney (another one who likes to be ferried around in a taxi) to consider would she as a rule spend such a princely sum stuffing her face on a piece of salmon or is that only when the public are picking up the tab?.

No doubt Niblock and Maloney would justify their voting decisions with the mantra : ” It’s the Tory cuts” and yes the ideologically rather than economically motivated cuts to public services need to be “robustly challenged” as local government bods are wont to say- however do they not see that freeloading from those same public services which are under threat undermines their feigned outrage?.

Talking of St.Helens politicians by the sound of it Wirral should forget about Reno and make enquiries as to whether Wirral can be twinned with Labour controlled St.Helens Council (aka St.Hellhole Council according to one of our sources).

Witness recent allegations made against the former St.Helens Council leader and now St.Helens South & Whiston MP Marie Rimmer who could possibly teach our local political bullies a thing or two about how to deal with dissenters. Rimmer (a great name for a politician) was recently accused of kicking a Scottish independence supporter at a polling booth in Scotland (the case was , er, kicked out this week on a technicality but we understand it may be re-opened) :

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-mp-marie-rimmer-walks-9784035

Depending on the eventual outcome if the case goes back to court it could be that if St.Helens rugby league team need a new prop forward who knows how to kick a conversion they may know where to go.

We feel we need to clarify at this point that we are not kicking Labour while they’re down nationally (if not locally) we just want them (no we NEED them) to be so much better than they are – politically,morally and ethically.

Now more than ever we need a credible opposition we can believe in and trust and after all the political soul searching and Miliband-bashing following this year’s General Election it seems to us ,especially in the wake of MPs expenses scandal and the realisation that we are now living in “The Age of Foodbanks” that  £50 taxi rides and slap up salmon dinners at the taxpayers expense indicate to us just how far some Labour politicians have drifted from the values of their traditional core voters.

From Multicultural to Omnishambles

Omnishambles
Recent revelations on Wirral Leaks seem to have inspired some people to share with us misdemeanours which have remained buried for some time but which still resonate today.

Wirral Council staff past and present have been reminiscing about the memorable times they have shared with some of Wirral Council’s  “characters” who sadly are no longer around to entertain us with their unique management style.

An historic but significant case we’ve known about for some time and which has been brought to our attention at various times from different sources (and from as far away as sunny Manchester) just keeps on coming up.

The significance of this particular case for us (and apparently for others) is that we feel it set the precedent for how Wirral Council’s so called council leaders comprehensively mismanage situations particularly when they involve malpractice and possible criminality.

One whistleblower tells us they were  “advised” to keep their mouth shut about this particular case by 3 former senior council officers. Perhaps our readers would like to guess who these officers were?

Well, when we say “advised” they allege they were told by one of the above to keep their nose “out of their fucking business.” This may sound like conduct unbecoming of someone in a senior position but from what we hear about what is said behind closed doors at Wirral Council it sounds fairly typical.

The case itself was concerned with the conduct of Mr.C a social worker for the Chinese community at the flagship Wirral Multicultural Organisation (WMO).Apparently this cheeky social worker was moonlighting as a driving school instructor – like you do! – and furthermore was charging older Chinese people to fill in disability benefits forms. When challenged he said the latter was part of his “culture” – well that’s alright then!

However, the most interesting aspect for us is that we understand Cllr. Phil Davies (in the days before he was miraculously transformed into Power Boy Pip) and Cllr.Brian Kenny were on the Wirral Multicultural Organisation Board at the time and were aware of everything.However, as they didn’t want to upset WMO chief Lady Chan and the Council leader at the time was Cllr. Steve Foulkes, it was soon hushed up.

As one of our sources said: “Senior Officers 1,2  and 3 all told me to keep schtum as at the time I was telling everyone because I couldn’t believe Mr.C hadn’t been prosecuted.

They also describe themselves as being “gobsmacked” when they found out  that: “He (Mr.C) went with a load of dough and access to his pension.” 

Seems to us like this case was a precursor for all the scandals that followed in that the world and her husband knew what Mr.C was up to and those in the know turned a blind eye and when it began to look as though it was going to cause lumber the lurch to secrecy began. From bullying and threats to payoffs and gags. The pattern was set for everything that came after and is still in operation today.

Inevitably the 3 senior officers involved have all gone the way of Mr.C and left Wirral Council under questionable circumstances and we can therefore only presume that knowing about this case and other such matters could only have helped smooth negotiations when it came to their respective severance arrangements!

We can, therefore, conclude that Wirral Council’s OMNISHAMBLES MODUS OPERANDI* is as follows:

a) Council officer is not up to their job/up to no good/both
b) Those in power turn a blind eye (unless they want rid of the officer) and/or go into denial
c) The incompetence/malpractice becomes too obvious/embarrassing or some bloody nuisance blows the whistle
d) An “investigation” takes place – the report is delayed and/or redacted/compromised/buried
e) The council officer is paid off/gagged

* This MO does not apply to councillors as it doesn’t matter how much they are not up to the job or up to no good they are seemingly beyond accountability, sanction or redemption and that is why as far as we’re concerned Wirral Council will forever remain an omnishambles.