Wirral Leaks regulars Wirral Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive ‘ Princess’ Paula Basnett and Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies clearly see themselves as local power brokers. Unfortunately we’ve been around too long and seen too much that troubles us and which leads us to conclude they’re more aptly described as power abusers.
This view is reinforced by a couple of stories that have come our way over the weekend. Firstly the frightening news that Pip ‘urgently’ needs to appoint an ‘Investor Development Manager’ on £80K – like you do when it appears you can do what the bloody hell you like with public money . Talk about out of the blue and into the red!
So what’s the problem with this we hear you cry ? – well , firstly the fact that opposition councillors are being prevented from asking any awkward questions (or in Wirral Council – speak ‘the call in’ procedure should be waived) and more significantly from what we hear that the main name in the frame for this personal appointment is current ‘policy advisor’ Martin Liptrot aka Liptrotsky . This would make sense as Liptrotsky now needs to supplement his measly £45K for two days ‘work’ at Wirral Council after Mayor Joe Anderson failed to get the Metro Mayor gig . We ‘ll be particularly interested to see how this ‘politically restricted post’ plays out and whether this insider tip -off actually comes to pass.
A request for not for profit/charitable organisations to be exempt from the ‘Birkenhead Improvement District’ (BID) levy has hit a brick wall . This is a 1.5% levy on top of business rates for local businesses to fund what we think is an expensive window dressing exercise administered by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.
However it seems charitable organisations who do not pay the levy face a summons with extra £100 in charges added. The legality and validity of this alleged summons is highly questionable along with the fact that Wirral Council are acting as the ‘collecting agent’ in this matter using all powers available to them to secure payments . Apparently whilst Wirral Council agree it is a civil matter they are issuing summonses in the Magistrates Court which is a criminal court. These summonses are batch processed and cost an estimated £6 maximum but then they want to charge circa £100 in costs! So it’s win/win for both Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce! What is even more bizarre is that Wirral Council have previously agreed 100% rate relief to qualifying not for profit organisations whilst at the same time they are prepared to act as collection and enforcing agent for the BID.
Petitions to Wirral Chamber / Birkenhead First to exempt charitable organisations or to access a robust appeal procedure have not been successful. Charitable organisations which should be exempt and very small businesses who should be able to appeal are being denied the opportunity to opt out. Apparently a vote was taken of all affected businesses in the BID area and whilst the majority voted of introducing a BID those who voted against still have to pay the levy.
Attempts to get to the bottom of decision making on the imposition of the BID levy and arrangements between Wirral Chamber of Commerce/ Wirral Council via Freedom of Information requests have faltered on the grounds that Wirral Chamber of Commerce claim to be exempt from FOI legislation.
So whilst Wirral Chamber of Commerce seem quite happy to take public money and acquire public property they’re not quite so keen on public accountability…… somewhat like Wirral Council !