Storm Frank Hits Wirral

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#StormFrank rips through Wirral and the people of Wirral are running for cover. The front cover usually – for as we know  #StormFrank is a one man media maelstrom.

From the Wirral News and the Wirral Globe to the Liverpool Echo to the The Sun (yes ,The Sun) to his favourite sanctuary The Daily Mail.There isn’t a TV programme he won’t pontificate on – duplicitous on Dispatches , patronising on The Politics Show ,snotty on Snelly’s Radio Merseyside show.

But will his headline grabbing anti-poverty,anti-slavery,anti-yobs,anti-anyone who doesn’t worship at the altar of St.Frank onslaught be blown off course?. As the rip-roaring El Nino of Wirralgate and Thynne Part II threatens to whip up a political storm and careers and ambitions become threatened, #StormFrank spins itself into a tornado, relentlessly depositing its contents onto previously saturated ground.

So, will #StormFrank pull off the impossible ….?  Will the torrents of diversionary chaff fired up into the heavens offset the potentially devastating impact of the gathering storm and help #StormFrank to prevail?.Will all this relentless huffing and puffing save the Town Hall built of straw?.Will #StormFrank comfort his political agent with a rousing chorus of “We shall overcomb”?.

All we can do at Leaky Towers is to advise everyone to batten down the hatches……….

shitstorm-a-brewin

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Staff Care

Chris meaden (allegedly)

Part of the pleasure of the winter solstice is the opportunity to stuff your face and catch up on videos you may have missed out on.

Consequently besides”Elf” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th St” we’ve been watching recent videos by John Brace.

We we’re particularly drawn to some tedious meeting where Labour councillor Christina Muspratt asked some searing questions of leading lame Human Resources yes man Tony Williams.

Her Ladyship commented :  ” I like the cut of the jib that woman” as Musky Muspratt asked perfectly reasonable questions as to why Wirral Council managers were not following procedures and were not undertaking appraisals of their own staff.

Our guess is because a) they can’t be arsed or b) they can’t spell apprayzal upraisal

Now we don’t know Tony Williams background but judging by his grovelling  Joe Blott-style apology we suspect he’s one of those retirees from the police/fire service who litter (and we use the term advisedly) upper management at Wirral Council and is therefore quite happy to act as you would expect a Wirral Council HR manager to act whilst he’s sitting on a comfortable pension for being a complete yes man.

Now we’d like to throw our £48,000 worth in here free of charge but somebody at Wirral Council needs to make the connection between a £ 2 million overspend ( yes that’s you again Department of Adult Social Services) , the lack of appraisals and sickness absences.

However it is reassuring to know that some Wirral councillors take their staff care responsibilities seriously.

One of our reputable sources informs us that a certain councillor  :

” Has been  making a lot of unrecorded visits to the council’s control room down in the vaults of Cheshire Lines.They do have a visitors book but she will leave no trace of her visits – strange she hasn’t noticed all of the cameras still positioned around the building.

These could be harmless visits to check on the well being of council workers or the role they are carrying out but the strange thing is the same person is always on shift alone when she makes her visits and I know councillors are quite committed but Friday and Saturday nights are beyond the call of duty.
It does help that the person she is visiting is familiar as he was once seconded to be the mayors chauffeur when she was the mayoress – just coincidence maybe but I can feel a big payout on the way.”
Now we can’t think why such such cynicism prevails but nevertheless we are quite happy to report it!.

Party Games

One of the joys of the festive season is when our butler Eldritch retrieves the treasured games from behind my portrait and the embarrassing relatives we hide in the attic.

Her Ladyship stops picking sugared almonds from her teeth ( a la Cllr Bill  ” Gurn-Merchant” Davies ) , drags herself away from the scandal sheets ( and we’re not talking the beds at Mere Brook House) , adjusts her pince-nez glasses , deigns to join the servants in the parlour and it’s fun and frolics all the way.

However we can’t help being reminded of Wirral Council when we play our party games.

First of all there’s the classic game of Monopoly – because of course there’s so much fun to be had getting out of trouble using other people’s money

Boxing Day 008

Furthermore there’s nothing like mortgaging your integrity to some chancers on the make who’ve got something on you : Boxing Day 009

Talking of chancers – how many times have Wirral Council played this particular card!?.

It’s just a shame they sell their soul using our money to the highest bidder/ lowest of the low.

Get out Of jail Free 007

And then of course there’s the pieces that the powers that be move about the board as if they were Wirral Council staff facing redundancies.

Boxing Day 012

The Hat –  for pulling rabbits out of.In a spot of trouble ?,need someone to cover your corpulent,corporate backside?.Hire a consultant! – usually middle class compromisers enabling working class chancers to get off the hook.

The Thimble – for stitch ups (see above).

The Sportscar – the reward for indentured servitude.Some people sell their soul for a top of the range motor (preferably with personalised numberplates) or the chance to be driven around in a taxi at the council taxpayers expense or to be chauffeur driven in mayoral splendour.

The Boot – A funny kind of redundancy where the order of the boot comes at a high cost.

The Ship –  HMS Wirral Council has more leaks than the Titanic.They would do well to remember the World War 2 slogan: Loose lips sinks ships.

The Iron – for ironing out problems with one hand whilst wielding a Council chequebook in the other.

Which all leads to the following game :

Boxing Day 014

The Merry Game of Floundering – press releases,publicity shots and puff pieces.Is anyone taken in by the Most Improved Council in Britain tag?

Meanwhile we’ve passed many a happy hour playing Identity Kit – just who will be Wirral Council’s next Chief Executive (acting or otherwise) .From Maddox to Wilkie to Coleman to Frater to Armstrong to the current incumbent  Eric “Feeble” Robinson – monumental nonentities one and all.

Boxing Day 006

Then there’s always Funny Bunny (or should that be Funny Money?) – Might we suggest that “remove the carrots and watch the bunny drop” should be Wirral Council’s new executive incentive scheme . How about instead of rewarding failure by paying executives six figures worth of public money to disappear out the back door can we change the rules of the game and  hold them accountable instead ?.

Boxing Day 005

And finally we come to our favourite game at Leaky Towers :

Boxing Day 013

Thankfully there are an increasing number of  people wanting to play this game when it comes to challenging Wirral Council and this has led to some embarrassing recent climbdowns.

We all know the dice may be loaded but there are encouraging signs that Wirral Council’s luck may soon run out.

Here’s to fun and games in 2016!.

 

Have Yourself A Leaky Little Christmas

XMAS-WL

We’ve recycled this card from last year to remind us of the three amigos who have left Wirral Council since last Christmas mainly because of events on “Boxing” Day !!!.

We’re wondering what Christmas packages Wirral Council has in store this year? . Compulsory redundancy packages for some  and Early Voluntary Redundancy (EVR) for others.Of course £250K EVR packages are reserved for the privileged elite and not the little people who provide the essential frontline services.

We’re also wondering what stunt will Wirral Council pull over the Christmas break.We all know there is a Christmas tradition whereby they release a compromising document or do a dodgy deal  (often both) when they think everyone has been distracted by a bit of turkey with all the trimmings.It’s their way of telling us to get stuffed at Christmas (and not in a good way).

Meanwhile everyone at Leaky Towers  wishes all our readers a merry Christmas and  thank everyone for their lovely leakages.

 

 

Open & Transparent : A Feeble Response

 

Eric

“Mr Adderley has been treated in the same manner as over 300 employees.”

Leaks readers will recall the magnificent “Open Letter” sent to Wirral Council last week by Dr.Robert Smith which we printed in full.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/12/16/open-transparent/

No doubt prompted by the publicity Wirral Council Chief Executive Eric “Feeble” Robinson has provided a surprisingly prompt if typically feeble response.

The response reads like he’s doing the people of Wirral  a huge favour by agreeing to a quarter million pound plus bung to your average Wirral Council employee.

Forgive us for thinking that if you were an average Wirral Council employee and you landed a left hook on the Chief Executive that you wouldn’t be treated quite so favourably.

There are further sickbag opportunities to be had when Stressed Eric tells us about his “emerging thoughts” like he was some kind of philosopher rather than an extremely dull and extremely overpaid Council clerk.

The response – and particularly the final paragraph  – reads as though it is the work of an easily affronted  maiden aunt getting a parasexual thrill by scolding their extremely bright and attractive nephews and nieces.

“Mr Adderley has been appointment to Egerton House Community Interest
Company (previously Egerton House Wirral Limited) not the Wirral
Chamber of Commerce……”

And there’s no connection between the two at all is there Eric?.

Dear Dr Smith

Thank you for your email. In view of the issues you have raised it is
appropriate I respond to you.
There are a number of inaccuracies/misunderstandings in your email
but I hope the details set out below will clarify this matter for you.
Since my arrival at Wirral Council, a considerable amount of work has
been and continues to be undertaken in a number of areas, particularly
in relation to the development, approval and implementation of the
Wirral Council Plan which was subsequently agreed by key partners to
later become the Wirral Plan; and the development of a new operating
structure for the Council in order to meet the various challenges
facing the council.
I refer you to my report to the Employment and Appointments
Committee, considered on 21 September 2015, which details the
rationale for my recommendation to the Committee to approve Mr
Adderley’s request for voluntary severance. The report and the
Committee minutes relating to this matter are all openly available on
the council’s website. The report was initially exempt as the
committee had yet to reach a decision and it was not appropriate for
such information to be placed into the public domain when the request
for voluntary severance was capable of being refused.

In making the recommendation, I was of the opinion that the post of
Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment may no longer be
required in the new council structure or the duties of it would be
considerably different. Inevitably, this gave rise to a potential
redundancy situation. However, Mr Adderley had also by this time
independently decided to request voluntary severance, which given my
emerging thoughts on the new structure, I felt was both appropriate
and timely. An employee who wishes to pursue other interests has an
option to resign as you correctly state. However in Mr Adderley’s
case, a clear redundancy situation had already arisen in respect of
which there were legal implications arising. Accordingly, it was
legitimate and in the council’s interest to ask the Employment and
Appointments Committee to consider his request for voluntary severance
ahead of any final council structure being agreed. The cost to the
council would remain the same whether voluntary severance was agreed
or Mr Adderley made redundant at a later date. Given the opportunity
for management savings to be realised early, the decision to agree
voluntary severance was therefore considered the more favourable
option.

The Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations 2013 (“the
Regulations”) prescribe that upon termination of employment on
redundancy or efficiency either on compulsory grounds or mutual
consent, that the member of the Pension Scheme is automatically
entitled to access “unreduced accrued pension benefits” and must take
immediate payment. In terms of entitlement in these circumstances and
spending public money, there is no employer discretion under paragraph
30 (7) of the Regulations to withhold benefits for scheme members aged
55 and over. The entitlement as set out in the Employment and
Appointment Committee minutes is compliant with the Regulations. For
the avoidance of any doubt, the council did not pay any NI or personal
tax attributable to Mr Adderley and nor was any compromise contract
entered into.
Mr Adderley has been treated in the same manner as over 300 employees
who have left the Council through voluntary severance over the past 18
months; many of whom have accessed their pension with a cost to the
council. Mr Adderley’s entitlement correlate with his salary, age and
length of service. The council considers each case on its merits; and
along with approving requests, a significant number (over 100)
requests for VS/EVR have been declined because the post was required.
There were no ‘behind closed doors’ meetings as you suggest. The
Employment and Appointments Committee report whilst initially exempt
was subsequently published in full.
Mr Adderley has been appointment to Egerton House Community Interest
Company (previously Egerton House Wirral Limited) not the Wirral
Chamber of Commerce. Cllr Phil Davies was not involved in the
appointment of Mr Adderley to the company.
You make a number of other inappropriate remarks and comments about
relationships which I do not consider warrant a response other than to
say that it is inevitable that the council’s Administration, council
officers and various partner/stakeholder representatives will need to
work closely together from time to time to bring about important
benefits to the borough. This is normal practice within all councils
and indeed central government. It is not accepted that the Leader
and/or the council has acted in the manner you suggest or infer.

Regards
Eric Robinson

Chief Executive
Wirral Council

Tel : 0151 691 8589

Email : ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk

‘Most Improved Council’

The Hunger Games 2 : Still Blaming the Victims

St Frank

“Moral and civic duties provide the very foundations upon which civilised life is built and are a proper area for legislative prescription and if necessary sanctions”

The Professor once again nails local poverty tourist Frankenfield with his learned dissection of the sinister agenda behind the saintly persona.

We’d just like to add that we don’t need lessons in moral and civic duties from the man behind the Wirralgate cover-up.

THE HUNGER GAMES 2: Still Blaming the Victims

‘The liberation from the Victorian approach – or so it is interpreted – came when the poverty debate began laying the blame for poverty on society and its institutions instead of the poor themselves’ – Frank Field, Neighbours from Hell

A year has passed since Frank Field’s ‘Feeding Britain’ report appeared in a storm of media controversy. In addition to rightly condemning this government’s rabid policies towards the ‘deserving‘ poor, Frank’s team decided that the ‘undeserving’ poor, whocould not budget and cook properly, who wasted their benefits on non-essentials, only had themselves to blame for their hunger. These feckless, ungrateful people should be sent to the state Troubled Families gulags for ‘reprogramming’. As Frank’s co-author, the posh Tory, Lady Jenkin, famously said: If they can’t cook, let them eat porridge. A bowl only costs 4p.  

 The issue of these ‘undeserving’ poor people was framed not as one of intellectual and social inadequacy but as a matter of personal irresponsibility and lack of moral sensibility. Frank has long had a clear and fixed view of the coping differences between the deserving and undeserving poor in the underclass

‘How can these different circumstances be explained if personal character and its view of responsibility are written out of the script?’-                                                                        Frank Field, Neighbours from Hell

Nothing has changed a year later. Frank’s second hunger report, ‘A Route Map to ending hunger as we know it in the UK’, was launched at the end of 2015 …somewhat more circumspectly than the first report. The report is based on submissions from a sample ofthe 420 UK food banks which are now active according to the Trussel Trust. The sample evidence involved narrative observations from 115 food banks. This is a sample of 27%. Seven of the submissions were said to be anonymous. The second report still rightly sees a major factor in hunger creation as rabid government welfare policies and their deliberatively destructive implementation. However we will see that sadly, underlying attitudes to the ‘feckless’ poor in the report have not changed. Turning to page 79 of the ‘evidence’ we read that

‘A sizeable majority (is it 20, 30, 40%?) of submissions attributed the onset of, and constant vulnerability to hunger in some families to their inability to cook and budget from week to week. ‘Several food banks are quoted. Liverpool’s HOPE+ centre allegedly said

‘while it might not be a popular observation… many people do not spend their limited budget wisely in respect of food…this is due to a lack of basic budgeting skills and an inability or unwillingness to cook.

Frank concludes that therefore, school curricula must include compulsory ‘home economics and life skills courses’. A good thing surely? Well, yes but we must be careful when Frank becomes prescribing in the area of social policy. Things may get out of hand. Consider his views on the wider state control of UK society in his book, Neighbours From Hell:

Moral and civic duties provide the very foundations upon which civilised life is built and are a proper area for legislative prescription and if necessary sanctions’

Moral duties? Who is to decide on these …why Frank, of course. We must therefore be careful where Frank’s nostrums are involved. Other food bank correspondents took less condemning stances on the hungry. Financial Action and Advice, Derbyshire said

‘Many people have poor budgeting skills and prioritise wrongly…some have poor literacy and numeracy and don’t understand contracts…’

The issue here is primarily one of low IQ and poor education, not moral turpitude.

On page 80 the report turns, in earnest, to the theme of waste and the irresponsible use of resources by the poor. We are told that

‘The financial benefit of being able to use one’s resources more efficiently could make a huge difference to household budgets. The average cost to all households of the food and drink they throw away each week is £9 or 14% of the average weekly shopping budget.’

Presumably we are invited to assume, without evidence, that these figures apply equally to the poorest in the UK and without any caveats. It’s hard to throw away food from an empty fridge…or preserve food when you have no electricity to run it. It is interesting that the average shopping budget implied above is £64 while job seekers allowance and employment and support allowance (in the WRA Group) for the sick and disabled, is just £69 per week. (By the way the author knows from his professional career with a large multi-national that food processing and transport losses in the supply chain are often in excess of 25%. Perhaps the well off, throw away, middle class and the food companies should be condemned rather than the, desperate, hungry poor?)

Having set up the poor as ‘wasters’ we now move on to allegedly wilful misuse of benefits. We learn according to Frank, that

‘Even if wages and benefits were high enough to provide a subsistence minimum, we fear some of our citizens still would fall below our national minimum because of the havoc wreaked on their budgets by addictions to drink, smoking and gambling.’

This is based on two condemning reports from (unidentified) food banks. One allegedly said

‘…we are anxious that by giving them food we are freeing up money for some of them to fund other habits. Most of them smoke, many of them have drug or alcohol dependency…

We are trying to cap the level of benefit which entitles clients to come to us.’

The second allegedly said :‘Fags are ever present among poor people. They [fags] hoover money out of the pocket

…the addictive and damaging aspect of smoking is awful. It is a major factor in taking money for food and spending it on addiction…

 Of course government has the power to ban addictive and health damaging products as it does with illegal drugs. But then think of the outcry if popular ‘drugs’ were banned outright …and the loss of tax revenue. No, it is easier to further raise unit costs and impose more tax, which penalises the poorest ‘addicts’ and has no effect on the middling classes, while appearing virtuous. The poor should not be smoking and drinking anyway should they?

Addiction is a ‘lifestyle choice’…but only if you are poor.

It is interesting that in comments on other ‘hunger creating factors’ in the report, the food banks are always identified…but not in this case. In other areas of concern several food banks are typically quoted. In this case only two. Is this because dependency and misuse of benefits is not a major issue and few correspondents reported it as such? Well apparently only 2 out of 115 submissions, or 1.7% of submissions, took this strong stance. Why are these 2 not identified? Were they by coincidence, 2 of the 7 anonymous submissions received in total? Should we give equal weight to opinions which are anonymous? In other research fields, data of unknown provenance would be deleted.

In fact under the earlier ‘debt’ section of the report, the County Durham food bank takes a directly opposite view on this matter.

‘Our debt advice service is increasingly seeing people who are simply on low incomes rather than those who have been unwise in how they spend their money. Single parents, working but on low incomes, are being seen especially [frequently].’

This view is not referenced in the ‘addictions’ and ‘benefit wasting’ section although it is clearly relevant to the issue at hand and its origin is clearly identified.

Although ‘dependency’ and ‘addiction’ are recognised medical conditions we see no discussion of accessing serious medical treatment, but we see again a concern for the risk of creating a ‘moral hazard’, implied in supplying food to the hungry. It is the same apparent ‘hazard’ which persuades many to not give money to beggars…they will only waste it.

This is an argument frequently used by Iain Duncan Smith, DWP minister, to justify cutting benefits. As the report says, we should do all we can to combat smoking and other addictions. We must not however ‘punish’ desperate people in the mean time …which clearly a small minority of food banks is ready to do…with the implicit endorsement of Frank’s report. But then Frank has long established views on ‘dependency’ and lack of moral fibre as his earlier utterances show.  And as he said in the Wirral Globe on 22.05.15

‘The Victorians [or rather the evangelical Christians] were not wrong when they called alcohol the demon drink’

Of course many food banks are run by Christian church groups. Perhaps the two pro-Frank food bank quotes (out of  115 ) share his views and are able to apply them to the unfortunate hungry who come to their doors? Surely Frank and his moralising friends should be campaigning to ban the ‘demon drink’ in general …beginning by closing down the House of Commons bar and imposing sobriety checks on MPs entering the chamber.

Surely MP and peer ‘allowances’ should be reduced in case they are misspent on booze and cigars…and worse. And what about the alcohol, tobacco and legal high infested middle class, not to mention the coke snorting metropolitan elite? Well, Frank et al, lack the levers to compel moral compliance in such groups.

The fact is the ‘hungry poor’ is the last minority where ideological governments intent on rolling back the Welfare State can justify rabid cuts by labelling powerless citizens as ‘scroungers’, ‘benefit cheats’ and addicted, moral degenerates, unworthy of support. It is doubly sad when ‘charity’ groups, supposedly opposing government benefits policy and ‘supporting’ the hungry poor, use the same moralising arguments to try to impose their views on how the poor should behave. Persuasion or rational argument and education is one thing but using hunger as a weapon for (supposedly) moral and social reform is quite another. Is this perhaps an overly harsh view of some in the ‘charity’ sector? If we examine other attitudes and recommendations in Frank’s report we will see that it is not.

Chapter 4 is about ‘rescuing Britain’s wasted food’. Frank tells us

‘Earlier  in this report we outlined a series of uncomfortable findings around some families lacking skills that were once passed from one generation to the next; namely how to be good parents and be able to cook decent meals on a limited budget…the absence of these skills can impact badly upon one’s self worth.’

Hang on there…where did the issue of ‘being good parents’ sneak into the debate on

poverty and hunger? Well Frank has long had feckless, inadequate parents in his sights. That is why in the first Feeding Britain report he tried to get hungry, mentally impaired parents sent to the abusive, ineffective, Troubled Families Projects. As he has said many times

‘As an ever increasing number of families becomes dysfunctional an ever increasing supply of socially offensive individuals results’

                                                                                            Neighbours From Hell

 

Frank would like to see Citizens’ Contracts imposed by the state which would enforce his views on ‘moral and civic duties’ and behaviour …at least on the dependent poorest. Citizen ‘duties’ would be linked to ‘benefit entitlement’. As he said in NFH

‘New boundaries need to be drawn…Benefits provide such a boundary as between them they provide universal coverage for those most likely to commit antisocial behaviour [the undeserving poor]

Frank, who has attacked the Conservative government for cutting benefits to the poor, is ready, for those who fail to abide by his model of society, to…well…cut their benefits!

Not only this, but the imposing of sanctions should be seen as a criminal justice matter!

‘The agency deciding what action should follow a repeated failure to meet a [citizen’s] contract should be the police and only the police. Once the police have the required  evidence to levy a sanction…[it] should automatically come into operation on the appropriate benefit.’

The hungry poor appear to be trapped between a rock and a hard place. On the one sidea rabid government: on the other, some in the ‘charity sector’ with a moral utopian agenda. The only difference between Frank and this Conservative government on benefit sanctions is the reason for them, although in both cases those reasons are ideological as we have seen. So how will Frank use the issue of food waste to promote his utopian aims? He will use so-called Social Supermarkets along the lines of the Community Shop model. In the report he recommends, grandly that:

‘A next phase in Britain’s fight back against hunger must encourage the growth and evolution of social supermarkets. Here we have an accessible source of affordable food that also comes with so much more in the way of practical and emotional support…’

The Community Shop website itself says:

‘CS is a social enterprise that is empowering individuals and building strong communities by realising the social potential of surplus food’

That is some claim. The idea is to buy ‘surplus’ food from manufacturers at ‘ten pence in the pound’ and sell it at ‘thirty pence in the pound’ to a defined subset of the poor. The CS chairman has told the media

‘CS is tackling the problem of food surplus while giving it a real social purpose. Not only do we offer high quality, low cost food to people experiencing tough times, but we provide them with the chance to take up support services…because they are [then] motivated to do better.’

 Surely this time Frank is correct to enthusiastically support such a positive model? The author looked more closely at the scheme some time ago. Their jolly website listed the

wide range of means tested benefits which enables ‘those on the cusp of poverty’  to access the Community Shops. He was surprised to note that sick and disabled people on long term employment and support allowance were excluded…yet these are amongst the most disadvantaged benefit recipients in the country. Well it turns out that CS is only for those on in work benefits and the unemployed and the ‘real social purpose’ is ‘training to get them back into work’ and ‘motivated to do better’.

So these Community Shops actually, do not support the most vulnerable in the Community, nor those in a state of urgent need. No doubt the social supermarket model is worthy but it seems peripheral to the problem of immediate, urgent hunger. Why is Frank so keen on it? We will see.

Surely helping the unemployed is still a good thing? Well according to The Independent there is a catch: to get the ‘cheap’ food the applicants must sign up to a compulsory development and mentoring programme called the ‘Success Plan’…nothing is left to ‘chance’ despite the chairman’s claim. This appears to be rather like many state schemes available through Job Centre Plus. So why the ‘charity sector’ duplication? Well ASDA,the Co-op, M&S, Morrisons, Tesco, etc, who supply the food get good public relations coverage …doing their bit for the poor. What does the company get? We do not know …perhaps just a warm glow? Well in 2014 the Community Shop won the ‘Community Partner’ award of the powerful Food & Drink Federation whose members had supplied the surplus food. Warm glows all round. CS won the award in competition with famous social activists and philanthropists like General Mills, Mars Foods and Siemens. Anyway, at least the potentially hungry CS members ‘are motivated to do better’ …or they don’t get any food. Certainly Frank can’t get enough of this scheme. We might suspect it takes Frank back to those heady Victorian days when the feckless poor could be turned around in their lazy, immoral ways in return for bread or workhouse shelter. After all there is a moral imperative here as benefits ‘rot the soul’, according to Frank in 2012. As he also said about means tested benefits

‘As we now have a welfare state based on meeting need, this encourages individuals, not unreasonably, to try to ensure they qualify under this guise. It therefore pays to lie about one’s earnings, to cheat, or to be [economically] inactive. The worst side of human nature is encouraged…’

Frank has forgotten that the welfare state was founded precisely to support people in need and ‘for as long as that need lasts’ according to Lord Beveridge himself.  As the author suggested earlier, Frank and his like minded friends, appear to be ideologically as concerned with avoiding ‘moral hazard’ and ‘soul rot’ as feeding the urgently hungry. At the very least the above statement makes very clear what Frank really thinks about the poor he says he is championing. Is that so different from the views of rabid Tories like Eric Pickles, then Communities minister, who commanded a ‘less understanding approach’ be applied

‘ We have sometimes run away from categorising, stigmatising, laying blame…It’s time to wake up to that…to realise the state is no longer willing to subsidize a life of complete non-fulfilment on just about every level.’

In March 2015 Eric declared the supposed triumph of his Troubled Families Projects in‘turning around’ the dysfunctional, feckless, lazy, cheating families we have discussed.

Somehow getting somebody back into work in 8.9% of the 75% of families who began the projects with all adults unemployed, and marginally reducing truancy, defined this triumph. In Frank’s home territory on Wirral just 2.6% got jobs. Even these modest results were exaggerations since Eric’s own department tells us that 

‘It is likely some of the improvements in outcomes would have happened in the absence of [project] intervention’

It should be noted that the council survey data used by Eric to make his claims are not recognised as official government statistics and have not been audited by any independent body. Eric’s claims were defined by the director of the National Institute for Economic & Social Research as

                                               ‘Completely meaningless’  

 

Some MPs expressed doubts on the veracity of the success claims in the House of Commons, including Hilary Benn MP. However Frank still rose to congratulate Eric, whose approach to dysfunctional families was clearly as policy nectar, and put in his two pence worth, based on his expert observations of the dysfunctional poor  

‘There were other scallywags who could not be bothered to feed their children.’

Sounds familiar? Meanwhile in Eric’s TF projects, 33% of the families had adults with long term, debilitating, physical illnesses or disabilities and 45% had adults and 33% had children with serious mental health problems. 39% had children with special educational needs statements and 28% had children in special schools. 97% were in social housing. 27% were in rent arrears. They were very poor. Now that’s feckless for you. Only 3% had members receiving treatment for drug or alcohol dependency. 93% of the adults had no involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour. We do not know how many families had to resort to food banks.

There is much that is worthy in the second Feeding Britain report and particularly in the dissection of the roll out of Tory government ‘welfare reforms’ in creating hunger in the UK.

Recommendations for reform of government welfare reforms are well targeted. The simple innovation of having a (hopefully independent) benefit adviser sit in the food banks to tryto resolve benefit problems is excellent : the so-called Food Bank Plus model, although the echo of ‘Job Centre Plus’ is disturbing and mission creep should be watched carefully.

There are some recommendations, possibly, equally well meant but unlikely to be practical. The idea of budgetary advisers in JC+ encouraging desperate claimants, already in dire straits, living from hand to mouth, that they really should save for a rainy day is quaint, to be polite.

It is a reasonable strategic aim but out of place in an emergency context. It very much reflects Frank’s root conviction that the feckless poor simply need reprogramming to behave more responsibly and so escape poverty.

 However some of the analyses and recommendations we have examined need to be looked at very carefully and if implemented, monitored very closely. At least the ideological basis of this government’s actions is crystal clear: the reduction or elimination of the welfare state. The ideological basis of some of Frank’s proposals is not overt and should be spelled out. If one wants to try to build a new, Moral Jerusalem on the backs of the poor and hungry do so openly so that the community may debate it. But then Lady ‘Porridge’ Jenkin raised a storm of protest at the first Feeding Britain report launch when she crudely blamed the ’feckless’ poor for their own hunger. Let us hope the media and the British public will remain on the side of unconditional compassion for these vulnerable, hungry families, and particularly for their children who are indisputably innocent, and equally, be vigilant in future about damaging policy innovations by the state and  self-styled ‘do-gooders’ with an agenda.  

I completely support Archbishop Welby’s key question in his introduction to this second UK hunger report: ‘How can we take part in a wider debate about the nature of our society?’

The Professor –    December 2015

 

Justified & Ancient

Tammy wynette

We don’t know what veteran councillor Phil Gilchrist is on but can we have some?.He’s proving himself to be just about the only councillor who seems to be questioning the complete and utter madness engulfing Wallasey Town Hall and exclaiming :

” WTAF is going on here”.

Obviously that’s not a direct quote as Cuddly Phil would never express himself in such vulgar terms as his recent letter to Wirral Council CEO Eric “Feeble” Robinson demonstrates.This letter (see below) has inevitably winged its way to Leaky Towers.

As we can see  Phil riffs on previous Wirral Leaks exclusives about the Kevin “Addled” Adderley quarter of a million pound bung.Here he proves to be the Tammy Wynette  of Wirral politics – he’s justified and he’s ancient (though not as ancient as previous Lib Dem leader Tom Harney) and seemingly he’s our only hope when it comes to local accountability .

Meanwhile last night Wirral Council Cabinet wrung their hands over closing respite services for disabled people – you know the ones they allegedly care so much about.

We ask once again – when are people going to realise that essential services are lost because those in control at Wirral Council think that those running the show are so much more worthy than the people who actually pay their wages and can therefore justify obscene payments to no-marks who know too much.

 

Gilchrist 006

Gilchrist 007

 

 

Open & Transparent

Open & Transparent

We’re proud to add another to our list of celebrated contributors to Wirral Leaks.

Here is a copy of Dr.Robert Smith’s open letter sent to Wirral Council – we seem to recall they received an another open letter about the same date last year !.Doesn’t time fly when you’re covering up ?.

Both letters are concerned with using public money to make private indiscretions in public life go away.

Not if we can help it they won’t ! – it’s called accountability and apparently it is still an alien concept at Wirral Council.

AN OPEN LETTER TO  –

Cllr Phil Davies, Eric Robinson, Surjit Tour, Chris Hyams, Wirral Council Cabinet Members, all Wirral Councillors

I have watched the sequence of events I now describe below unfold, with a great deal of concern regarding the inappropriate use of public funds when so many Wirral Council Services are under threat. There appears to be a transfer of most things public sector (ie Council) to the private and voluntary sector with little or no strategy, and this indicates that Wirral Council is in serious difficulties. I won’t bother rehearsing all of the reasons that you claim are responsible for this situation, as you articulate them ad nauseam, that is not to say that some of the factors are not true. However, significant payouts to a number of Senior Officers, which appear to be neither justified, nor justifiable, the most recent reported being around c£250,000, take us into the realms of hypocrisy and raise huge questions regarding probity. When continually pleading poverty, and reducing and/or cutting services, even £50 is a significant sum of public money.

I have undertaken my own ‘public interest test’ for the issue I have detailed below (which is only one of a number of senior staff departure concerns, amongst other concerns), which is why I have not submitted this as a Freedom of Information request, as Mr Tour will employ the usual delaying tactics and hide behind the FoI Act, whilst the Wirral Council smoke and mirrors machine bursts into life with Mr Liptrot and Mr Masterman.

Given established Council procedures regarding the vetting of organisations in receipt of public funds, for which the Council is accountable regarding contractual arrangements, local labour, sustainable materials use, value for money, discrimination and equal opportunities and recruitment practices, then Mr Adderley’s departure from Wirral Council (initially veiled in secrecy) and virtually immediate employment by Wirral Chamber of Commerce (also apparently veiled in secrecy) reaches a level of the most serious concern and questions of probity rush to the fore.

In view of the fact that Mr Adderley was, during his employment with Wirral Council, a highly-paid public servant, subject to public scrutiny, transparency, accountability (as you all claim to be), secrecy is not acceptable. Public officials and the officers they employ are subject to conflict of interest rules and declarations, and as his conduct (and yours) is governed by Council policies and procedures, a veil of secrecy can not apply in a democracy. Particularly concerning public funds paid to well-paid individuals decided behind closed doors, and hidden from the public. The fact that he departed voluntarily from his employment with Wirral Council, accompanied by c£250,000 of Wirral public’s money, makes this a time when the argument that “you will not enter into any dialogue regarding individuals and personal details and circumstances”, cannot be substantiated in any way whatsoever, as I believe, neither can the payment(s) to Mr Adderley (and others).

In my view if an individual is content to benefit from a significant salary from the public purse, and enjoy all benefits that accrue as a public official, that does carry huge responsibility in terms of conduct and accountability. If additional benefits accrue, for justifiable reasons, from the public purse then transparency, accountability and justification must be expected and the relationship between the public paying, and the officer being paid, must conform to certain standards of openness, honesty, integrity and scrutiny – this should not even have to be mentioned to you.

From the Wirral Globe 22 September 2015
A town hall representative said: “The offer of a severance payment is open to all employees who have two years or more continuous service.
“All payments made are in line with our agreed and published voluntary redundancy scheme.
“Details of all severance payments are a matter between the council and the individual.”

There is obviously a big question regarding resignation with or without severance, and of course Mr Adderley was not made redundant, but the bigger question relates to the bigger sum paid out, in addition to the severance payment. All of these issues will be at the forefront of Wirral’s residents and taxpayers’ thinking when further service reductions, more closures, further staff cuts and local and other Council Tax increases are being imposed. It is a very strange occurrence when c£250,000 of increasingly scarce public money (in addition to other previous senior officer payouts) is apparently ‘gifted’ to someone who chooses to leave of their own volition, and could just resign like anyone else at no cost to the public purse.

Wirral Council/Wirral Chamber of Commerce – sequence of events and facts:

Cllr Phil Davies – is the Leader of Wirral Council

Cllr Phil Davies – is a also Board Member of Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Adderley – was a Strategic Director; Wirral Council

Kevin Adderley – was and is a Board Member Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Adderley – chose to voluntarily leave Wirral Council ‘to pursue other interests’

Kevin Adderley’s – now previous post at Wirral Council was not deleted on his departure and is listed as vacant, not redundant, nor deleted.

Cllr Phil Davies – agrees a departure payout of £250,000 (public money) Oct 2015

Kevin Adderley – takes departure payout of £250,000 (public money) Oct 2015

…not even 2 months later…

Cllr Phil Davies – employs Kevin Adderley at Wirral Chamber of Commerce – this must be a Board appointment at Managing Director level.

Kevin Adderley – assumes the position of Group Managing Director at Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

 

Wirral Chamber of Commerce derives significant financial and in-kind benefit (ie public money and value) from various ‘arrangements’ with Wirral Council – including Egerton House, The Lauries Centre and Pacific Road.

Wirral Chamber of Commerce list 26 employees plus Kevin Adderley. For an organisation effectively ‘dead in the water’ a short time ago, that wage bill alone raises a number of issues, however, that is for the future.
Wirral Chamber of Commerce Board includes Paula Basnett, Asif Hamid,the Contact Company, Alastair Gould, McEwan Wallace; Sue Higginson, Wirral Met College; Cllr Phil Davies, Leader, Wirral Council; John Syvret, Chief Executive, Cammell Laird; Kevin Adderley, Wirral Chamber Group Managing Director; John Robinson, Scantec Personnel; Elaine Owen, Designated Associates; David Prior, Chair, Wirral Radio; Patrick McCarthy, Chief Executive, Magenta Living. 

Irrespective of Mr Eric Robinson’s developing of a new delivery/management model for Wirral Council, Mr Adderley’s departure was not as a result of any ‘previously planned, or agreed restructure’,

Most people who choose to leave their current employment, possibly, ‘to pursue other interests’, hand in their notice, resign and leave their employment at the end of as notice period. At this point Mr Adderley would have had no ‘entitlements’.

The only ‘entitlement’ which would become a legitimate legal requirement would be if Wirral Council agreed to his request for Voluntary Severance (VS).

Voluntary Severance, as distinct from Early Voluntary Retirement, follows different rules and procedures. The only time any payment would become legally required of Wirral Council, would be at the point that Voluntary Severance was agreed and signed off – if any new structure had yet to be determined, there would be no formal basis for not accepting his resignation as he chose to leave, and for Mr Adderley to have worked his notice period, as is the usual custom.

Why would Voluntary Severance be agreed, as there was no redundancy inducement for Mr Adderley to be offered it, if he had already expressed his wish to leave ‘to pursue other interests’. Why would a VS payment be agreed if Mr Adderley had voluntarily chosen to leave Wirral Council?

Obviously some kind of ‘agreement’ was reached by virtue of the fact that a VS payment was made. This particular issue was not reported accurately in the press, possibly due to limited information being made available, through an eventual press release, regarding the agreed payments (c£250,000 in total) having complied with existing Wirral Council VS policies and procedures.

Voluntary Severance accounted for c£43,000, but a large contribution, c£207,000 was made to the Merseyside Pension Fund (purely for the benefit of Mr Adderley) from Wirral Council public funds which was not subject to any legislative or mandatory policy, and was totally discretionary on the part of the Council?

The only legally required payment to Mr Adderley, as a result of Wirral Council, for some reason agreeing to Mr Adderley’s ‘Voluntary Severance’ request, rather than just accepting his resignation, would be the c£43,000. On what grounds was the payment of c£207,000 to his pension fund justifiable in these circumstances, and who was it agreed by? It makes no difference essentially that the payment was made directly to the MPF as Mr Adderley via the pension Fund will be the named beneficiary of this payment

In view of the fact that Cllr Phil Davies, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid travelled to China together, and Paula Basnett, Cllr Phil Davies, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid travelled to Reno together, plus the fact that they are all Board members of Wirral Chamber of Commerce (and other local funding and other organisations) they would all be well known to each other.

In view of the fact that Cllr Phil Davies and Chief Executive Eric Robinson, and obviously Mr Adderley’s situation were all reported extensively in the media, during the negotiations with Mr Adderley, the ‘behind closed doors’ Council meetings masked the agreement of the deal. Subsequently, at a point prior to Mr Adderley’s departure, the attempted secrecy and smokescreens did evaporate and all financial and other details became public.

Mr Adderley and Ms Basnett are not shrinking violets when it comes to self-promotion,  self-aggrandisement, photo opportunities and sound bites. It would seem to be greatly at odds with their respective natures. Also, given the incessant trumpeting of the recently- resurrected Wirral Chamber of Commerce, it is surely a ‘missed marketing opportunity’ that Mr Adderley’s ‘recruitment’ to the Chamber staff team, to such an elevated position, should go unheralded…or is it hiding in plain sight…ie just amend Adderley’s entry on the Chamber website, and hope no-one notices?

It would appear that there are a great many more questions to be asked, and a great many more answers required. When a vast amount of public money, paid out by a Council continually claiming to be ‘cash-strapped’, and running down services and losing staff hand over fist, agree to pay out in secrecy, a large sum of public money to one previously very well paid (with public money) individual, when he himself chose to leave?

It has also been reported in the media that Wirral Council has previously paid the personal tax and NI liability on senior officer payout(s) – can you advise if this is Council policy to make those payments in addition, in order for the departee to benefit from the gross payout without personally losing the value of those deductions?

I look forward to a detailed response, without any undue delay, due to Mr Tour being unable to inappropriately invoke FoI Act provisions, as this is not a request made under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. This is but a simple series of questions, requiring answers which you can provide, to demonstrate the accountability and transparency that features so regularly in the media, as ‘The Most Improved Council in Great Britain 2015’ engages with the public.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith

Say Hello Wave Goodbye

Oh Pip what have they done to you?.......

Oh Pip what have they done to you?…….

And so our very own political superhero Power Boy Pip Davies throws in the towel as Chair of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Thingummy Doo-dah saying : “I felt now was the right moment to rebalance my time in favour of my duties as Wirral Council leader.”

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14143332.Wirral_Council_leader_Phil_Davies_stands_down_as_chairman_of_Liverpool_City_Region_Combined_Authority/

The long suffering people of Wirral must have heaved a collective sigh of relief to know that Pip will be around more to finally save us from the sleaze that surrounds Wirral Council.

Or perhaps not !.

His parting words sound to us to be very reminiscent of public officials who protest that they want to spend more time with their family when they’ve been caught up to no good and step down from office before they ignominiously fall from grace.

You may therefore asking yourselves do the Leaky Towers crew think that Pip has been up to no good?.

To which we collectively cry : HELL YES! 

Alternatively it has also been suggested to us that this could be the start of of Pip’s Metro Mayor campaign.This may sound far-fetched when you consider that Pip has publicly slated the idea of a Merseyside -wide Metro Mayor  –  but then when has flagrant hypocrisy and ambition over talent ever stopped Pip before ?.

We can only assume that under such circumstances he has his eyes on a bigger prize. Can you imagine the power axis that Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Metro Mayor Pip could create ?…….and not in a good way!.

 

Contacts

IMAG0934

Brother,can you spare a dime?

Kevin Adderley

Kevin Adderley was the Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment at Wirral Council.  He joined the Council in 2005 having previously spent 29 years as a civil servant working for various government departments largely focusing on key areas including employment, skills and inclusion issues.  He was an instrumental player in the design of the government’s welfare to work programme and the creation of Job Centre Plus. With the Council, Kevin designed Wirral’s Investment Strategy in 2007, and has since driven it forward with significant success.  Kevin left the Council in 2015 and has now joined the Wirral Chamber of Commerce as its Group Managing Director, and will support the development its internationalism links. 

http://www.wirralchamber.co.uk/About-Us/Chamber-Board/

Our readers may have noticed we published a previous version of this report but held it in abeyance until it was confirmed exactly where former Wirral Council Super-Duper Director Kevin “Addled” Adderley had landed on his feet.Deeply aggrieved Wirral Council staff had been reporting to us that they’d heard that dearly departed Addled had – with indecent haste – found himself a lucrative new gig.

And it would seem it is exactly as we predicted as  Addled is Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s new Group Managing Director.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/addled-skidaddles/

Curiously there appears to have been no media announcement about this high profile appointment.This is unusual as the main role of Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s CEO  Paula Basnett seems to be photo opportunities  where she displays a weapons grade spray tan whilst shaking someone’s hand.

Addled will also be working alongside Chamber of Commerce  Chair and The Contact Company Chief Executive Asif “Massive” Hamid  – and when we say “Massive” we are of course referring to Mr.Hamid’s seemingly unstoppable burgeoning business empire. As one of our contacts says about Addled : ” It appears as though the delegation trips abroad had the desired effect and generated a very nice job for him in his retirement!”

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/09/23/we-really-do-need-to-talk-about-kevin/

This of course begs the question that if Addled wanted to pursue “exciting new opportunities” with organisations with increasingly close ties to Wirral Council as to why council taxpayers had to fork out a £250,000 kiss off.

Therefore and speaking on behalf of Wirral council taxpayers – we’d like to ask another Wirral Chamber of Commerce Board Member  – Wirral Council leader  Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies that if he was truly committed to protecting services and saving money he should be asking for OUR £250,000 back !.

Just to clarify Pip – the people of Wirral are not here to fund your manifest and repeated failings in dealing with embarrassing situations involving either council officers or councillors……………….