The Gift That Doesn’t Keep On Giving


Wirral Council  sinking

Wirral Council – A fish out of water when it comes to fairness. Consequently also out of the water is everyone who had a ‘Passport for Life’ leisure centre concession !.


The transcript below is a letter from Wirral Council Super Duper Director Clare Fish received by one of the retirees who has had their ‘Passport for Life’ leisure centre concession rescinded. An anonymised copy of the letter can be accessed here :

As we predicted when we wrote on Monday that we looked forward to receiving a copy of the letter and commenting on the tortuous explanation for this latest debacle it wasn’t long before a copy winged its way over to Leaky Towers.

And indeed there is a tortuous explanation – constrained financial circumstances blah blah blah , financial challenges blah blah  blah, balanced legal budget blah blah blah . However Ms.Fish doesn’t put this in context of Chief Executive  Stressed Eric Robinson’s massive pay rise or fellow ex-Super-Duper Director Kevin Adderley’s golden pension pot or indeed her own six figure salary. Oh no this explanation doesn’t apply to the likes of them it only applies to the “little people” .

The crucial line of the explanation is that  It is the Council’s view that the provision of a long service award did not give rise to a contractual arrangement. It was a gift awarded in recognition of service. 

Here Fish seems to want to have her fishcake and eat it too . Firstly by establishing that there was no contractual obligation to maintain ‘Passport for Life’ although some of the retirees who have contacted us maintain that it is referenced in Wirral Council’s Staff Handbook and therefore reasonable to assume as part of an employment contract. There is also the matter of consideration (essential for a valid contract) – a gift awarded in recognition of service ( 25 bloody years of it!) – would seem to fit the bill . Then if there was no contract and the ‘Passport for Life’ was a gift shouldn’t a gift be irrecoverable?. Isn’t the taking back of a gift simply an act of theft?

What worries us more generally is that Fish is claiming that the matter was consulted on . However this was part of one of those bogus consultation exercises where the entire population of Wirral are encouraged to chip in on – mostly on matters they know absolutely nothing about  ( “ I don’t know what a respite care centre is Derek but shall we say yes to closing that one ?” –  ” I suppose so Mavis as we said no to the last consultation question   and what’s more the socio-economic , political and ideological considerations involved in making a decision which has no impact on my everyday life is giving me a migraine “).

This so called “formal” consultation exercise is being used as a get out for unilaterally withdrawing the ‘Passport for Life’ without  consulting and agreeing with the 414 people who were directly affected by the move.

We’re left wondering whether if a consultation was organised to reduce the pay of Wirral Council senior managers  by 50%  I’m sure we all could all predict the outcome. And we’re doubly sure this would lead Robinson, Blott , Fish et al crying foul and waving their contracts of employment in our face !. But they’re different. These highly paid fly by nights matter .The long -serving and/or long suffering people who keep them in a well paid job seemingly don’t.

Thank you for your email correspondence to Sports and Recreation dated 28 Mach (sic) 2016.

I acknowledge and appreciate that the decision to remove the concessionary access to Leisure Centres is a disappointing one for you.

Unfortunately, given the current and future constrained financial circumstances affecting the Council, it was necessary to consider a number of savings options in order to meet that financial challenge. This included a decision to remove the concessionary access to Leisure Centres which was taken following formal consultation. The effect of this decision removes many of the discounts and free access to the Council’s leisure facilities which we previously offered.  This includes ending free access to the facilities for former council staff, to foster carers and their families, and free swimming for under 18s during school holidays and over 65s between 9am and 12pm.  

The Council has carefully considered its legal positon (sic) in relation to the removal of the concessionary access to Leisure Centres.    It was a gift awarded in recognition of service.

The Council has had to make increasingly difficult decisions to meet its financial challenges.  The Council has had to make savings of more than £150m over the past five years and is required to make further savings of £130m by 2020.  The Council is under a legal obligation to pass a balanced legal budget each year.

The Council’s leisure centre operations currently require financial support of over £4 million every year over and above any income generated in order to meet the operating costs. The Council needed to take steps to help redress this financial position, hence the removal of the concessionary access to Leisure Centres and other discounts and free access.

A number of former employees have asked if it is possible to select one of the alternative Long Service Award options that were available at the time of leaving. Unfortunately, as you had selected the leisure pass and had the benefit of using it for a period of time, the Council is not in a position to retrospectively offer another option.

Should you require any more information regarding leisure passes, please visit our website at

Yours sincerely

Clare Fish

Strategic Director – Families & Wellbeing

10 thoughts on “The Gift That Doesn’t Keep On Giving

  1. They have invested £2 million into leisure services announced by Cllr Chris ‘Control Room Athlete’ Meaden, no where was the passport for life mentioned in the consultation, smoke and mirrors again.

  2. It is not obvious how the withdrawal of concessionary swimming for example saves anything whatever unless the facility is closed and the staff dismissed. If it is still manned and open (with less users) how does this make a saving? Standard pricing policies are already financially naive as in ‘we have less users we have to increase the price – wow we have less users now – have to do it again gosh there is no demand is uneconomic better close’ I guess it is unreasonable to expect people who have never worked in the real world to have any commercial understanding but really!

  3. The Davies gang are going to change history by changing the listing of Byrne Avenue Baths,ignoring the money raised by the community group which should have been attached by ringfenced funding.However it has disappeared-no change there.
    This is so they can demolish it and Frankenfield is doing nothing -no surprise there

  4. I wonder if the recipients of the withdrawn passes now have grounds to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman? Clearly it is not a satisfactory answer and it could be argued that the deprivation of these passes could be deemed as detrimental to the individual’s wellbeing, as they are for the use of sports facilities. I don’t know, I’m clutching at straws here, but on the other hand, do the council think people will just write a few letters to the local press and feel they are too out of their depth to dare go through the Ombudsman process?

  5. Has anybody told Wirral Spin Doctor and Commander-in-Chief Martin Liptrot that former employees’ free leisure passes have been withdrawn?

    It’s just that The Great Man is constantly on the @wirralcouncil twitter handle lately, tweeting for public involvement in what he calls “your health and fitness journey”.

    Shouldn’t he be reminded:

    a. He once polished turds for killer of millions, DIRTY BIG TOBACCO
    b. He then moved to Wirral (for a bigger challenge)
    c. It doesn’t wash asking for details of people’s ‘health journeys’ when in the past he’s been up to his neck in misleading them about the likelihood of an impending, agonising and all too premature death

  6. If I read once more about ‘the journey’ delivered to the people by some pen pushing, sycophantic, narcissistic, holier than thou, slightly psychopathic, flesh squeezing, glad handed, happy to serve you public servant, I’ll purchase a soft leaded pencil, sharpen it and hurtle into a meeting I’ve no business attending and stab the face of the mouth that dared to mention the bloody journey once more to my tired ears that God equipped me with to listen out for absolute nonsensical bollocks.
    Isn’t enough to constantly peddle the words Partners, Robust, Passionate and bloody Emerging Thoughts without squeezing the last gasp of air form my wilting lungs by making me imagine a bloody trip called a journey that takes me nowhere other than to a place where I’d like to acquire a small pocket sized Derringer Pistol, stand on a chair outside the Townhall, scream, ‘fuck you all and your journey’ and blow me brains out with one single well placed shot to my bulging angry skull.
    Hello Cardin!

    • Two sentences Bob, rattled off in quick succession. Summing up something that would take the rest of us a lifetime to perfect.

      On pain of being incarcerated if we don’t, we are forced into funding cyphers; empty shells; hollowed-out husks; robotic, programmed purveyors of soulless common purpose jargon, one and all.

      Wirral’s abnormal PR machine lines them up in rows, admiring them, polishing them, telling them their powers of persuasion are wonderful, fondling them, faster and faster, before ejaculating the finished product all over the MP for Birkenhead. And some of that then drips into the grateful local rags to keep them nourished.

      But each time these drones ‘put pen to paper’ they torture, humiliate and destroy the wonderful English written word, revealing to the normal world beyond – that yet again – they’re quite capable of sacrilege, but seriously incapable of creating original thoughts and ideas.

      Luckily you’re there to burrow beneath their skin, to alert us – and remind them – of their folly. Long may that continue.

      They’ll be reading this. And they’re far too important to have their incompetence put under the spotlight (especially by somebody they despise, who isn’t paid a lot of money, and who can expose them without breaking into a sweat). And they hate to be ridiculed …

      Bobby “stab the face of the mouth” 47 … you are the one, true master of that art :))

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