A Sobering Story

frontpageecho

We were sent a copy of last Thursday’s print edition of the Wirral Echo last week but the front page story – or rather front page fantasy – deals with a matter that came up at tonight’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting.

Looking at the screaming banner headline : ” WE’RE IN BUSINESS”  and  the news of “£47m INVESTMENT PLAN FOR WIRRAL DOCKLANDS” over the ubiquitous artist’s impression we were rather excited at Leaky Towers that departing Super Duper Director Kevin Addled had reciprocated the substantial leaving gift he received from Wirral Council and cleared his in-tray and sorted out the Wirral Waters development before he departed.

So imagine our disappointment that when we turned to page 13 (unlucky for some) and we saw a picture of some gormless government policy wonk in a hard hat and hi-vis jacket talking hot air.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/new-investment-fund-wirral-waters-10348634

Therefore we had to read the council report on which the Echo story was based and we have to say the report gives a rather more sober take on events than the high octane hyperbole dramatically portrayed on the front page of newspaper.The council report discussed at tonight’s meeting sought councillors approval to establish something called a Wirral Waters Enterprise Zone (EZ) Investment Fund.However when we tried to get to the bottom of the £47million investment plan all we could fathom was some blather about re-investment of business rates and that potentially £47 million could be realised by 2037!. So yes – basically a figure plucked out of the air that may or may not materialise in a quarter of a century! But hey! – “WE’RE IN BUSINESS!” screams the Echo. 
Overcompensating somewhat after the Stella Shiu debacle the phrase “due diligence” appears half a dozen times in the above council report . There’s even a “rigorous due diligence”.

Let’s hope Wirral council’s future “due diligence”  on matters pertaining to the Wirral Waters are more “rigorous” than their development partner Peel Holdings. Lindsey Ashworth, Peel Group development director, once  joked “that he picked Ms Shiu as a partner because of her ability to drink him under the table.”

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f6e8dda8-582f-11e3-82fc-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3qeNUpBP9

The quote comes from a report in the Financial Times which has consistently reported on how Britain is so keen to sign new business deals with China that it is failing to carry out enough due diligence on prospective investors.

Under the circumstances and especially after the Stella Shiu no-show we would expect more sober reporting from the Echo when it comes to Wirral Waters

However we can’t help feeling that the close working relationship that Wirral Council’s Spinmeister General Martin Liptrotsky has struck up with the Echo is already reaping rewards – see also the recent 75 things to do in Wirral before you die article.
Frankly contrasting the hype emanating from Wirral Council and the continuing false dawns surrounding Wirral Waters we whittled the list down to 1 thing to do – leave.
The drinks are not on Stella!

The drinks are not on Stella!

Mugshots and Soundbites

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We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again but it seems to us that the Wirral Council political elite seem to be bent (and we use the term advisedly) on fostering a cult of personality. As Her Ladyship says : “Shame it’s all cult and no personality!.”

Above is the suggested template for the Wirral Council Cabinet meetings to be discussed and presumably agreed this Thursday , 5th November. We’ve got more to say on this particular agenda but we’ll leave pissing on the bonfire until then.This proposal involves mugshots of cabinet members and their every word being printed in future cabinet minutes.This means that us mere mortals will be able to bask in the glory of their profound utterances and gaze adoringly at their wise and benign countenances . We’re just surprised the template doesn’t read :

Councillor (insert name and title) , said : (insert cabinet approved empty soundbite here)

In the meantime we’d like to point out that if this is more about better presentation than improving accountability it helps if you can actually spell the word “Photograph”. Having said that we have to ask ourselves whether this is a wise move on the PR front .Have you seen the photographs in the Wirral Council councillors rogues gallery?. It looks like they’re auditioning for a role in “The Usual Suspects”.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgMemberIndex.aspx?bcr=1

One of our beady-eyed readers has bravely been checking out the councillor details on the Wirral council website and pointed out to us that both Councillors Jim “Vindicated” Crabtree and Louise Reecejones are lacking a Labour logo on their respective profiles – so we can only assume that their suspensions from the North West Labour Party are still yet to be fully resolved. 

Finally,  as ever we can’t help feeling that this is just another case of Wirral ‘s political elite indulging once more in gesture politics and adding to their endless photo-ops at foodbanks, flowerbeds and the Floral Pavilion.