The Curse of Leaky Towers

Leaky towers

So farewell then – for now  –   Cllr Jim “Crabby” Crabtree who on Friday night failed in his appeal against deselection by Bidston & St.James ward members.

Our congratulations go to the ward members who held their resolve whilst no doubt under extreme pressure from prominent local politicians. May we wish that they are now able to freely appoint a representative in whom they have trust and confidence.

Although no doubt he will be nursing both a sore head and injured pride after last night’s local Labour Party Christmas do at Our Lady’s we’re left wondering how long it is before Crabtree is parachuted into a safe seat somewhat like his helium voiced colleague Cllr Brian Kenny such is the perverse regard with which he is held by those who pull the strings (and pull the public’s leg) .

However we’re left reflecting at Leaky Towers upon the continuous trail of the Wirral Council elite (both councillors and officers) that have in recent history (dis) -graced our pages that have gradually fallen from grace and/or favour.

Her Ladyship , who is not only very superstitious and also has something of the Cassandra about her, has christened this strange phenomena “The Curse of Leaky Towers”  –  from the likes of  Adderley , Burgess and  Degg (funny how we always associate these three together) to more obscure horrors like Rick ” 4 week delay” O’Brien there is a pattern reminiscent of lost teens in a stalk “n” slash movie as one by one the seemingly untouchable of Wirral Council prove they are not omnipotent deities but ordinary mortals who are usually more monsters than gods.

Let’s make it clear this karmic satisfaction is not motivated by irrational , random dislike for fine upstanding members of the community .Our cutting coverage has always guided by the information provided by our downtrodden followers and it is invariably about the same bad eggs up to the same old stuff they’ve been up to for years and years and getting away with it….but now it seems ,alas,thanks to Wirral Leaks it is no more.

However as this social media screenshot shows it’s nice to see Crabby/Jimbo/Jumbo/Whatever remaining stoical in defeat and getting support from another who ignominiously fell from grace – though not far enough as far as we’re concerned – when he was unceremoniously ousted as Leader of Wirral Council in a vote of confidence , the one and only (thank the Lord) Stephen Foulkes (aka Foulkesy).

We just need to let Foulkesy know that our hex is very much still on as far as he and the other 3 constituent parts of the Gang of Four is concerned.



Cash for Trash


There’s been much clamour in the local press concerning the overzealous pursuit of alleged litter louts or more accurately those who happen to be easy targets of litter Hitlers issuing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) at the drop of a bookmark.

Now as our readers will know we have a particular aversion to filth and detritus at Leaky Towers which may explain why we report so often on the dirty dealings of Wirral Council. Therefore whilst we realise the days of the Litter Defence Volunteers have long gone we would usually wholeheartedly applaud efforts to keep Wirral tidy. However we also realise that standards in local public life have also fallen into the gutter.So when we read that fines from FPNs issued by Kingdom Security Ltd on behalf of Wirral Council had topped well over a quarter of a million pounds in the first three months of their mutually beneficial arrangement we began to question the motivation behind the cash for trash scheme.

Is this more about swelling Council coffers than about environmental concerns ?.

One of our sources shares these concerns and has provided Wirral Leaks with information that suggests that Kingdom Security Ltd are clearly incentivising their staff to issue Fixed Penalty Notices and at the same time misleading councils about it across the UK.

Our source informs us that Kingdom bought up a company called XFor who were an environmental enforcement company, who are mentioned in the articles below .The XFor Directors now run the environmental enforcement for Kingdom. These articles talk about incentivising with XFor, a practice that is being continued with Kingdom.

Another article shows a previous Kingdom officer who worked in Merton and was fired for sticking up for the public because they were wrongfully being fined. There is also mention of a £5 bonus for each ticket issued. This practice went on despite Merton Council responding in a  a Freedom of Information Request that :  “Under our agreement with Kingdom security no incentive scheme or structure is in place. Staff are not rewarded for the volume of FPNs issued.”

Consequently following the recent bad local press Kingdom have been quick to take down their job advert showing that these incentive bonuses are part of the job description of their grandly-titled Senior Environmental Enforcement Officers .
Fortunately our quick thinking source saved a copy before it was removed :

These job adverts and various articles in the press clearly show that Kingdom Security Ltd are incentivising their staff to issue more tickets. If councils are clearly stating they prohibit this, are Kingdom in breach of their contracts ?. And could this mean that every ticket they have issued has been done without proper authority and everyone who has been fined is entitled to claim the fines back from these councils ?.

Here are some further examples where Kingdom Security Ltd  are accused of overzealous issuing of FPNs.


Sounds like Wirral Council undertook their usual fail safe “due diligence” exercise before they entered into their contract with Kingdom.Indeed we’d be particularly interested to know whether Kingdom informed the Council  that the Home Office have imposed illegal working civil penalties amounting to £15,000 on them !.

Therefore might we suggest that Wirral Council should have checked that Kingdom Security Ltd had cleared up their own mess before allowing them to inflict their charmless enforcers on the long suffering  public of Wirral.There’s certainly no mention of any of the above on Kingdom’s own blog where they boast : “Kingdom Makes Incredible Start on Wirral”.

We’re left wondering if the shit hits the fan on this one who’s there to pick up the tab?.




Low Standards , High Fives

Moral standardsWirral logo

Let’s get the credits rolling first. Thank you once again John Brace for sharing your video of last night’s Wirral Council’s Standards & Constitutional Committee meeting which proves once again that old adage that the camera never lies even though some of those being filmed do!.

Now if your idea of fun is watching someone picking their teeth, gurning and looking generally befuddled for 40 minutes we recommend you keep your eye on Committee chair  Cllr Bill Davies – “standards”  don’t even come into it !.

Her Ladyship turned her head away from the screen and cried despairingly :  “Oh for goodness sake get that man a toothpick and some lessons in etiquette.What is it with local councillors called Davies ? –  they appear to be social disgraces unacquainted with the social graces”

However knowing what we know of standards and conduct issues lurking behind the scenes we were looking forward to a thrilling show.Imagine our disappointment to witness some well rehearsed routines with Cllr Chris Blakeley as the bulldog chewing a wasp and Matron McLaughlin playing the diva  – the latter declaring an interest during a discussion about how standards complaints are dealt with or more accurately not dealt with by the Council and flouncing out of the meeting.” That’s the first time I’ve ever known the Matron take an interest in standards ” meowed Her Ladyship.

Meanwhile Super Duper Director Joe “Bless” Blott issued a grovelling apology about his “summary failure” to address a Standards complaint that still hadn’t been resolved after 12 months. We actually have a smidgeon of sympathy for the hapless patsy – as we well know that delays such as this are not always the doing of officers wanting to keep conduct complaints a “live issue” but of councilllors wanting complaints about themselves to be dead and buried !.

However we have no sympathy whatsoever for Surjit “Job for Life” Tour who really does seem to have thrown himself wholeheartedly into his new role as senior Town Hall apologist.

At about 5 minutes in on the video clip Tour proves to be (ef)-fluent in bullshit with talk of “context” and “turning the corner”  and how the case being discussed was “a slight blip”.

A slight blip – ?. Well there’s a leading contender for “Understatement of the Year” at the Leaky Awards 2015 – which will be like the Local Government Chronicle Awards without the deals done behind closed doors,the corporate crap and the self-delusion.

The double bind symbiotic relationship that Tour now seems to have with senior Wirral councillors is morbidly fascinating to watch but then it seems to us that a designated parking space and a personalised numberplate must be some compensation for having to live in Wolverhampton!.

Now if we’ve learned anything from recent history at Wirral Council it is that senior councillors will discard their officers like a ciggie butt out the back of Wallasey Town Hall if they don’t do as their told.So we’ll just wait and see how long the strange arrangement lasts if Tour fails to do his bit to ensure that the conduct of certain councillors remains forever hidden from public scrutiny………………….






Northern Outhouse

Northern Outhouse

What leadership looks like : The Liverpool City Region Gang celebrate diversity by ordering a Chinese takeaway…..

My how we laughed at Leaky Towers at yesterday’s brouhaha and ballyhoo over the so called Devo Scouse Agreement launch.

As you can see from the agreement itself they seem to have ditched the cumbersome Liverpool City Region Combined Authority tag which appears to uphold our theory that this exercise has been nothing more than the Lord Mayor Joe’s Show all along.

Devo Agreement

Of course as casual observers of local political lunacy there was much to comment on – not least the curious local media coverage.

BBC1’s North West Tonight featured the obligatory appearance from Mayor Joe Anderson himself, the Lib Dem MP for Southport John “Who?” Pugh and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark – who befitting someone who is the MP for Tunbridge Wells maintained a rictus grin throughout media proceedings which seemed to say :

” I’m a Conservative Get Me Out Of Here……and preferably First Class” .

Surprisingly there was no show on TV from our very own Power Boy Pip Davies – the chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

However judged by his erring and erming in the Wirral Globe video covering the Devolution Agreement launch this may have been a wise move on the part of his political aide, Martin Liptrot(sky) to pull his charge from further embarrassing exposure across the Northern Powerhouse region.Indeed it appears the video has since been pulled from the Globe website – as unless we we were hallucinating previously we now can’t seem to find it.

Even the relentlessly upbeat Power Boy Pip had to concede that the powers and funding devolved by central government to – let’s face it , Liverpool  – was relatively pisspoor compared to the likes of the Manchester City Region.The agreement was not so much Northern Powerhouse as Northern Outhouse.

“This deal isn’t perfect, no deals ever are.” he whimpered.

Might this include sweetheart deals with whistleblowers who have the means to bring his political ambitions crashing down around him we ask ourselves?!.

However it must be said  – oxymoron klaxon alert – that sensibly , central government have resisted moves to put police powers and health funding in the hands of a group of so-called Merseyside leaders who couldn’t even agree on a collective name (and now seem to have had it thrust upon them).We can only wonder which ones will throw their hats into the ring to contest the “Metro Mayor” election in 2017 – which is currently  the most significant aspect of the Devolution Agreement?.Put it this way we won’t be offering any prizes for guessing!.

However we’ll give the last word to Wirral Lib Dem Councillor Phil Gilchrist who mixing his metaphors with a double entendre comments on the Devolution Agreement :

“This is a great opportunity, with strings attached. The strings and tools are now in our own hands.”

Judging by the motley crew pictured above no truer words have yet been spoken on the Devo Scouse debacle!.


Jim- Bo De -Selecta !



Further encouraging news that the Wirral Council Labour group are trying to get their house of ill repute in order.

As we’ve previously reported they’ve already  deselected “The Defector” and the “Wet Lettuce” who are so insignificant in the political scheme of things we can’t be bothered identifying them.

However the deselection of Jim ” Crabby” Crabtree by the brave members of the Bidston & St.James ward is particularly significant as Jimbo is very much part of the tight-knit Labour cabal which has helped bring the reputation of the local party so low.

We’re currently awaiting further news as we understand that all three councillors are appealing (in the procedural sense not in terms of attractiveness obviously).

We just hope faithful Labour members who’ve had enough of the bullies and the bullshit send out a strong message about the direction they want the local party to go and in Crabtree’s case that his departure from high office would be every bit as welcome as when he “left” Wirral Council when he was a lowly employee.



HQ Deja Vu

Disneyland lights spitting in the face of Hamilton Square's history.

Disneyland lights spitting in the face of Hamilton Square’s history.

Ever get that vague feeling you’ve been somewhere before and discounted the fact you may have been pissed the first time ?.
Well our Hamilton Square revamp “consultation” story has sent some of our readers scurrying down memory lane recalling the horrorshow that was known as the Hamilton Quarter.
From our perspective the Hamilton Quarter amounted to nothing more than the removal of timeworn and cherished iron railings , the installation of cutesy moon and stars light fixtures that wouldn’t look out of place in Disneyland and the proliferation of ne’er do wells intent on Actual Bodily Harm.
However those closer to the action have asked the following pertinent questions :
“Why didn’t the famous Hamilton Quarter have an exit strategy ? Perhaps Power Boy Pip’s leading man at Hamilton Quarter  Ian Walker could answer….in between counting his  redundancy money from HQ and then stepping into a job with the lovely Paula Basnett”
“Why was the Tourist Information Centre ‘given’ to Mersey Ferries…  yep no money changed hands….funny that for a cash strapped Council.
Where any of the HQ offices sold?  – NO !
Might we suggest this flyer could explain why :
Meanwhile a local councillor reminisces :

Many years ago, in the Conference Room at Birkenhead Town Hall, there was a black and white photograph of Hamilton Square.It dated back to the days of Birkenhead Corporation buses, at a time when buses went to the Ferry terminal, and when train passengers might access Hamilton Square station after using the ferry to and from Liverpool.

In those days, too,  the Square was seen as the suitable home of the professions 

Unfortunately the Hamilton Quarter initiative merely ensured that Hamilton Square was the suitable home of the oldest profession!.

Some years later the Hamilton Quarter regeneration scheme concluded that the area would be far more pleasant without through traffic, that the Town Hall required a better setting, that patterns of  economic activity had changed.

I served on the body managing the Hamilton Quarter until I had a series of disagreements and concerns about process, probity, and the quality of some schemes.

Hush your mouth – concerns about process ,probity and quality ? – who do you think you are ?. A responsible public servant?. Get outta here!

Restoring the buildings and improving the environment in the Hamilton Square was, however, a scheme I agreed with.

I have found, in my files, a copy of ‘Hamilton quarterly9’ which proudly announced that..’most of the through traffic has been removed from Hamilton Square’..

Hamilton Quarter half arsed

‘Reduced traffic in and around the Square, together with the pedestrianised areas, have improved accessibility for buses, cyclists and people on foot’.

Subsequently the business case for the Museum at the Town Hall did not stack up and that project did not develop further. Quelle surprise !

It is, therefore, relevant to examine whether opening up the road to two way traffic will further the regeneration of that area. What study has been made of the current uses of the property around the square? Has consultation with the owners established whether their use as office space is highly desirable or is the conversion to quality apartments now more viable?

What data has been taken into account regarding passenger usage following the refurbishment of Hamilton Square station?  Have passengers leaving the station been surveyed as to where they have walked from or are walking to?  Is it established that re-opening that section of road will save the bus operators sufficient costs to justify the investment?

It would be helpful to have such information before committing the level of investment required for the new traffic layout.

The scheme does not appear to represent good value for money when there are many local schemes, throughout Wirral, that the funding could be applied to.

Value for money?.Do you really think that’s the incentive or is it about someone ,somewhere waiting in the wings to make a killing?………………

Squaring The Inner Circle

Lest we forget - Hamilton Square is magnificent but let's not turn it into the magic roundabout.

Lest we forget – Hamilton Square is magnificent but let’s not turn it into the magic roundabout.

We must admit that when we heard about another consultation from Wirral Council we just rolled our eyes and carried on with The Times crossword.

However this latest consultation closes tomorrow and involves proposals for the redevelopment of Hamilton Square.As Hamilton Square is second only in architectural significance to our own Leaky Towers the gorgeous geometry of Wirral’s most prestigious landmark is definitely well worth having an opinion about – especially when bumbling Wirral Council and their pals start talking about mucking about with it!.

Now we all go a bit woozy when we look at maps at Leaky Towers (which might have something to do with that school field trip with a dodgy Geography teacher) but it seems to us the £1.1 million “big idea” involves turning Hamilton Square into a giant roundabout – or more accurately a squareabout.

Click to access Hamilton%20St_MMD-357912-C-DR-01-0100-0001_P1%20%282%29.pdf

However – could the grand plans go awry as one of our readers commented to Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies :

“Whatever you, Cllr Davies, quoted publicly as the reason for withdrawing the proposal, Wirral Council was stopped from introducing ‘Pay & Display’ parking in New Brighton as a result of a coordinated opposition to the scheme. Wirral Council was also defeated in its efforts to railroad a scheme in Rock Ferry against the wishes of the community.” 

Based on the cogent, well informed objections made below by one of our much valued correspondents Dr.Robert Smith we might well be on our way to a hat-trick for people power :


£1.1m Hamilton Quarter redesign scheme –

I have had sight of a number of the objections which have been, or will be submitted, with detailed arguments regarding the history, heritage, conservation, previous developments, and the Listed Building status of many buildings around Hamilton  Square itself, and issues related to Woodside

I submit this formal objection and demand for a cessation of this ill-considered, ill-founded, poorly researched and generally totally inappropriate proposal on the basis that I support all other written objections entirely and therefore you accept that they also reflect my views and thereby are included in this objection.

However, I wish to add to all of the other objections these points which are of interest to me regarding Wirral Council ineptitude, lack of transparency and accountability, the wanton waste of hard-won financial resources, and the squandering of opportunities, as well as the raft of community, economic, environmental and built-heritage, historical and social heritage issues.

First, the background to the existing traffic management arrangement.

Just to ‘set the scene’ for my objections, here is a short piece from Mike Hornby in the Liverpool Daily Post, published on the 11th January 2002 quoting the now Leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Phil Davies, regarding the Birkenhead 2020 Vision produced 15 years ago……………..

Deputy Wirral Council leader Coun Phil Davies added: “This is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved over the next 20 years. The document sets up a framework which we will use to attract additional investment and create jobs. It is something which will benefit the whole of the borough, not just Birkenhead, and will enable us to compete with places such as Liverpool and Cheshire Oaks.”
…also with regard to the investment of £82m between 1995 and 2002 – Barry Turnbull, 13th February 2002 – Liverpool Daily Post….
Of the Single Regeneration Budget schemes, Hamilton Quarter (SRB 1) has been the most significant. 
During its time it has been involved in 180 projects, many of them having a cultural and leisure flavour. 

Targets included: 
Ten new tourist attractions (nine achieved) Fifteen pubs and restaurants (12 achieved) Fifty new creative businesses (28 achieved) Seven small performance venues (achieved) 1,500 sq mtrs of exhibition space (achieved) 1.5m annual visitors (500,000 achieved). 
1,000 new jobs (achieved) 100 new businesses (achieved)

However Jim Wilkie, deputy chief executive of Wirral Council, commented: “The Hamilton Quarter has striven to meet outputs but has been hampered severely by significant delays in obtaining decisions on funding bids to Objective 1 and the National Lottery. (More about this point later)
“Business development and growth has been a particularly successful sector. Whilst there was initial scepticism about demand for retail and commercial floorspace, this has proved to be misplaced.” 
He said that the task now was to ensure that the succession strategy moved forward vigorously.

Second, the so-called ‘public consultation’ process –

My view of this whole exercise is that is so flawed that it is of absolutely no credible value, and therefore should be deemed null and void.

I would strongly recommend to Wirral Councillors and Chief Officers that they should have listened to Wirral people – not only businesses – first, before engaging in this seriously flawed, farcical ‘public consultation’ exercise with a pre-determined scheme.
Merseytravel, Wirral Council and the Wirral Chamber of Commerce do not own Birkenhead and Hamilton Square, they have stewardship and responsibility for it on behalf of the Wirral public…Birkenhead BID and Wirral Council  are content to exclude local communities, which speaks volumes regarding accountability and the public service function of Wirral Council and its relationship with Wirral Chamber of Commerce.
The so-called ‘public consultation’ is yet another, fundamentally flawed, Wirral Council process, in that there has been no prior public consultation regarding how the people of Wirral view Hamilton Square, why they stay away, and what will attract visitors to Wirral, to spend time/money in the area. It would appear that 4 alternative new schemes have been produced, but only one put out for ‘public consultation’? Why?

This creates a serious consideration of bias, accuracy of information, the possibility of a biassed outcome due to misinformation (ie lack of alternative views due to previous, behind closed doors, selection). More worryingly, previous consultations may point to the possibility of disinformation being promoted to ensure an outcome that may well not reflect in any way public need or true public opinion, and raise additional questions regarding propriety, transparency and accountability.

The promoted process of communication, or public interaction, to convey opinions and/or objections has been very limited; as has the timescale for consultation. There is the obvious potential exclusion of a number of sections of the Wirral-wide community due to the almost exclusive ‘internet-only’ promotion of the council route via which to lodge objections. For those individuals without domestic internet provision, they may well be denied access due to severely reduced library opening hours and thereby excludes those who use the internet access facility provided by libraries.

This point is important, but particularly relevant in the context of proposed changes to Wirral Council Cabinet meeting times. The advertised time for the proclaimed Hamilton Square ‘public consultation’ drop-in viewing at Birkenhead Town Hall was 3pm – 7pm. This was in what appear to be fairly poor surroundings, attended by ill-informed invigilating staff and representatives from the scheme’s developers. Presumably, this was in some way considered to be the time of day that would enable the greatest number of potential attendees to inspect the proposal? One obvious observation comes to mind related to this decision, but is applicable to something else. If this is the basis for the choice of this timing, why is Wirral Council considering moving public Cabinet meetings to 10am on a Monday morning, if not to exclude, or reduce  public attendance?

In terms of equality of opportunity to be fully consulted, this has actively been denied to people with limited mobility, lack of transport and internet access. Hamilton Square may currently be the neglected ‘jewel in the crown’ of Birkenhead, but Birkenhead Town Hall is one of Wirral’s most impressive buildings, and contained within a public square of European importance, in terms of its architectural, historic and heritage merits. Due to the Pay & Display parking scheme in and around Hamilton Square this creates discrimination also between potential attendees who have to travel a distance, may or may not be in employment, but will have to pay to park before 6.30pm, but not between 6.30 and 7.00pm.
Wirral Council, the Accountable Body for SRB schemes.

Wirral Council has an appalling record of failure and wanton waste of public money, running for decades, in central Birkenhead and Woodside. Animation is the key to ‘breathing new life’ (again) into Hamilton Square and the surrounding area (the very starting point for the Hamilton Quarter programme commencing 1995). This new, incomprehensible proposition, judged against many more successful examples including the previous Hamilton Quarter programme, and ‘breathing new life’ into public places across Europe and beyond, illustrates the totally discredited premise upon which this proposal is predicated.
The nature of the businesses currently based in Hamilton Square, mostly do not require footfall to survive. They are predominantly appointments only businesses, there is now a reduced banking presence, but a number of accountants, solicitors, training providers and estate agents, etc. The existing traffic management arrangements are perfectly suitable for these businesses – in fact the bulk of these business were consulted during the Hamilton Quarter redesign of Hamilton Square, and fully supported the changes to reduce through-traffic flows, and create a more ‘pedestrian/public friendly’ environment.

The previous works to pedestrianise Hamilton Square and to make it accessible and usable by the public, including wheelchair users and people with mobility problems, were undertaken after many months of public consultation, plus community access groups advice, and qualified professional advice. The reduction of through-traffic flows aimed to significantly reduce environmental and noise pollution, and vibration damage to the fabric of the buildings.
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to reintroduce buses and larger commercial vehicles into Hamilton Street and Hamilton Square. What is the ‘perceived need’ for this change, and where has it been conclusively researched and argued? If the seriously questionable  justification for this proposal is to ‘introduce more activity’ into the Square, this is completely the wrong way of going about it, and Wirral Council is therefore guilty, once again, of failing to learn from its own and others’ experiences which are extremely well documented regarding the use, by the public, of ‘public space’, particularly in an urban environment.

The £82m Hamilton Quarter Project 1995-2002, was designed to ‘breathe new life’ into the area after over 30 years of decline, most of which can be laid squarely at the door of poor Planning and Council decision-making. A prime example of Council driven deterioration and degeneration, of a once thriving retail centre of Birkenhead.

No-one would argue against improvement and progress as concepts, but the reality for Birkenhead has created nothing better than a now 4th-rate shopping experience at best, predominantly created by the actions of the local Council. That sadly is still the position as can be seen from the period between 2002 and the present time. The successive failures of Wirral Council to create a sustainable and adequate succession strategy (or any credible strategy) being a primary cause, but the greatest failure being that  this deterioration has been presided over by a great many of the same politicians over that period, and longer.

As previously mentioned, the Hamilton Quarter created a Birkenhead 2020 Vision for Wirral Council, wholeheartedly supported by Cllr Phil Davies, when there were still 20 years to deliver those aspirations. Now Wirral Council (in the guise of Cllr Phil Davies/Martin Liptrot) tries to be ‘clever’ with 20 – 2020 Vision undeliverable Council ‘pledges’, thinking it’s a good tag line, but true accountability 5 or more years in the future, ie now, is exactly what my objection to this scheme is based upon.

Hamilton Square was partly pedestrianised, and through- traffic reduced, to hand the Square and its surroundings back to the People of Wirral, workers and visitors to enjoy. It also served to reduce traffic noise, pollution, environmental damage and damage to the built environment. remember the electric buses – now that was innovation. This benefited those working in offices around the Square, those using the area, and also served to reduce the environmental pollution continuously damaging the fabric of the largest collection Grade 1 Listed buildings in the UK.

That properly-consulted traffic management change was delivered during the £82m Hamilton Quarter regeneration programme. Over 7 years there developed an extensive programme of cultural activities and indoor and outdoor events, shops, cafes, bars and venues including Pacific Road Arts Centre, Wirral Museum and Historic Archive, the Assembly Rooms (in Birkenhead Town Hall), Shore Road Pumping Station, Egerton Bridge, Woodside Tourism Office, and The QuarterDeck at Woodside.

Above is the list of some of the multi-million pound investments in Hamilton Quarter developments which were instrumental in attracting significant numbers of new people to the area of Hamilton Square and Woodside.

Here below is the multi-million pound list of activities and sites stopped and closed by Wirral Council since the end of the Hamilton Quarter programme.

The extensive programme of cultural activities and indoor and outdoor events were stopped, and Pacific Road Arts Centre, Wirral Museum and Historic Archive, the Assembly Rooms (in Birkenhead Town Hall), Shore Road Pumping Station, Egerton Bridge, Woodside Tourism Office, and The QuarterDeck at Woodside, all closed by Wirral Council.

The introduction of Pay & Display parking was a major contributor to the subsequent decline of the developments, and killed the area of what little ‘new life’ remained.

A number of the funding problems associated with the Hamilton Quarter and resulting in the loss of National and Heritage Lottery funding was precipitated by Wirral Council not committing, in the submission for grants, to the revenue funding for the future operation and maintenance of some of the proposed developments. As a result money had to be redirected from other funding sources to deliver some elements of the programme, which compromised the delivery of various projects, and also the future of completed developments.

The notion of the redesign, and reintroduction of through-traffic to Hamilton Square, particularly across the front of Birkenhead Town Hall, has to be one of the most damaging propositions for the area. The area now, and for the past 10 years has more than a passing resemblance to the Hamilton Square/Woodside before the Hamilton Quarter programme and £82m investment.
Cllr Phil Davies’ original 2020 pledges for Birkenhead 2020 are worthy of review – as they were given in 2000, it is time to look at the state of things after 15 years. Will a media consultant’s advice be ‘Forget all the past – let’s just start again – no-one will notice’.

Given Wirral Council’s track record of significant underachievement and its contribution to further degeneration in central Birkenhead, this proposal indicates to me that there is absolutely no comprehension, understanding, nor expertise at the senior levels in Wirral Council and its Administration.

Just now, the greatest threat to Hamilton Square is Wirral Council shooting itself in the foot, again, with a £1.1m bullet.


Dr Robert B Smith FCMI, FISMM


How To Get (A)head

top Ten tips

The second most Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) that we get asked at Leaky Towers after  ” How the bloody hell do they get away with it?” is “Dear Lord and Lady – how can we survive the cut and thrust of the modern workplace during a time of austerity and endemic corruption”.

So rather than tell our readers to FAQ off we thought we’d ask leading management consultants Jack Pott and Joe Kerr for their top 10 tips on how to get ahead in local government .


If you’re a recently appointed Chief Executive – stay in your office and refuse to have anything to do with those horrible people outside.Tuck your favourite Teddy in your briefcase and cuddle at regular intervals.Remember – only Teddy understands the pressures that come with a £15K a month pay cheque!.


Join the Labour Party.Run an election campaign on behalf of the Labour Party.Actively promote the Labour Party on your own blog and social media. Get appointed to a Politically Restricted Post and sit in an office next to the leader of the local Labour group !.


Keep up to date with the latest technology.Take a recording device wherever you go and with your finger on the pulse and your finger on the button be ready when a senior councillor or senior manager says something they shouldn’t!.


Find out who has the most power and influence in your organisation and have sexual intercourse with them!.However always remember that positions of power may change so be prepared to change your allegiance and underwear at regular intervals.


This 3 step exercise is particularly important for Human Resources managers. First –  look in the mirror and recite the Nuremberg Defence : ” I was only following orders”.Second – practice your tongue exercises by seeing how far you can extend it – hopefully as far as a Chief Officer or a Cabinet Member.Thirdly – still looking in the mirror ,practice tilting your head at a 30 degree angle and nodding your head in feigned concern as you tell someone they’re being made redundant or they’re having their pay cut.


Acquire as much incriminating information as you can about your managers and if you’re threatened with redundancy or there is the remote possibility of promotion gently remind them of what you know.For maximum impact use in conjunction with Top Tips  3 & 4.


Managers should appoint the most incompetent staff to be their immediate subordinates.Those with big mortgages and small IQs are best – they are less likely to challenge your glaring incompetence.If a subordinate seems as though they may challenge your authority or may even be resorting to Top Tip 6 – bully them.If possible enlist HR (see Top Tip 5) to threaten them with disciplinary action or with a referral to Occupational Health.


If as a busy manager you find yourself on a six figure salary and are still unable to do your job and make a decision – fear not! – hire a consultant and blame them when everything goes wrong.Alternatively you’ve been up to no good or need someone to dig you out of a hole of you’re own making – again , hire a consultant. They’re always willing to say “no case to answer” in return for a fat pay cheque.


Learn the latest buzzwords.They make you sound important and exclude those who aren’t in the know – especially members of the public who pay your wages. Regularly refer to the Local Government Association’s Lexicon of Bureaucratic Bullshit and try and use words like “triangulate” and “subsidiarity” during any meeting you attend.



If Top Tips 1-9 fail just punch the Chief Executive in the face and you too could walk away with £250,000 of public money!.