Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Paula NWT 009

Paula Basnett : Primus inter pares in action

 

In the aftermath of the New Ferry explosion over the weekend it was reassuring to see the emergency services, the local community and indeed Wirral Council working together to help the stricken people affected by the devastating event.
Also helping out were the Wirral Chamber of Commerce in the shape of their CEO Paula Basnett  who ‘popped up’ on last night’s edition of North West Tonight to tell us that the Chamber was looking for ‘pop up spaces’ for displaced local traders.
All we can say is that with all the properties the Chamber of Horrors have at their disposal ,which they’ve been gifted or are paying peppercorn rent for, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem!
However it would seem that this charitable largesse on the part of  the Basnett clan doesn’t extend to charities themselves. We’ve been contacted by Jim Barrington from local charity Wiser Solutions Ltd
Jim not only provides us with a fascinating update on a story we covered earlier in the year concerning a local business initative  co-ordinated by Wirral Chamber of Commerce known as the Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) aka ‘Birkenhead First’ , but also with a frightening insight into ‘how things work’ round here.
Here we witness the increasingly unhealthy symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce and the political manoeuvrings of local politicians  and powerbrokers that we don’t see on TV :
Wirral Chamber of Commerce is taking charities and not for profit companies to a criminal court after introducing a BID Levy in Birkenhead then rejected appeals to exempt those affected who exist for the benefit of the community. Affected businesses are told they have to pay 1.5% of the rateable value of their property.
 
The BID Levy was introduced following a vote by firms in Birkenhead after they were told it would listen to their needs and campaign on their behalf to improve the area. In reality however it has refused to listen and change their decision not to exempt charitable firms, despite the BID Regulations allowing it and precedent already being set to by HMRC, Customs and Excise and even Wirral Council who all exempt or reduce the financial obligations of charities and not for profits regarding levies and taxes.
The BID Levy is being collected on behalf of Wirral Chamber of Commerce by Wirral Council. However this contradicts Wirral Council’s own policies and commitments to support not for profits. The small business rates relief ensures the majority of rates are paid by a contribution from the Government and Wirral Council provide a discretionary exemption for qualifying charitable firms which takes care of the rest. However Wirral Chamber of Commerce insist no exemption applies to charities and not for profits, even where they cannot afford to pay. Instead they have insisted on pursuing them through the Magistrates Court in order to obtain a liability order so they can gain access to charitable funds. The use of Magistrates Court is particularly troubling since they are predominantly used for criminal matters and even Wirral Council have admitted this is a civil matter which are usually dealt with in County Court.
Even more troubling is the fact Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce are adding £95.00 in court fees before liability has even been established in court, yet cannot provide a full and proper breakdown of how these costs have been arrived at. It is unlawful for any council to make a profit from court fees so one would expect them to be able to say exactly what it costs to take an individual or business to court. Instead however they appear to have been obstructive by providing a spreadsheet which lists the annual costs to run the entire council tax and revenues department. When asked for a per capita breakdown which takes into account economies of scale (i.e. they are taking a lot of people to court for not paying council tax and non-domestic rates on the same day and they batch process them all, plus the BID Levy collection is tagged onto the end of these), they sent the same annual totals for running their entire department. When asked again and told the costs breakdown must be BID specific they refused to send any further information.
An example of these costs would be the cost of filing fees (circa £3.00 per summons) and say an allocation of £2.00 towards staff time and other costs. An explanation therefore of what the remaining £90 costs is for has not been forthcoming. Requests to move things to the County Court, which is the proper setting for civil matters, have been ignored by Council Officers. 
Frank Field was contacted for help at least three weeks for the summons date. He responded at 5:00pm the evening before the court appearance to say his office had contacted Phil Davies who in turn had contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce and they had refused to change their decision, despite his personal feelings and views to the contrary. So the MP for Birkenhead and the leader of Wirral Council are both being dictated to by officers at Wirral Chamber of Commerce. 
Clearly this suggests Paula Basnett, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid who run Wirral Chamber of Commerce are also in charge of Wirral Council. Worse still is the fact Wirral Chamber have stated they and Birkenhead BID Company (Birkenhead First) are not subject to Freedom of Information legislation so can claim everything they do is commercially sensitive and confidential. No transparency there then.
Even the officers at Wirral Council who are collecting the BID Levy do not seem to agree with the decision to criminalise charitable firms. They contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce asking them to change their position but they were also told the it would not be changed. The attitude appears to be it is only 1.5% of the rateable value of a property so Wirral Chamber cannot understand what the fuss is about. It seems to have escaped their attention charitable firms, by definition of what they do, may have large properties on peppercorn rents and very little money, most of which is from funding or donations and some modest earned income. Which is why they have taxes reduced or are exempted entirely. But Wirral Chamber of Commerce insists everyone must pay.
The Birkenhead BID Levy purports to be there to help support firms in the Birkenhead BID district but some have argued it is instead a way to pay the high salaries of staff who, until recently had worked for Wirral Council. It claims to be there to listen to and represent business owners in the Birkenhead BID Levy District, however there is no formal complaints procedure and minutes of meetings are confidential. Clearly they are not doing a very good job of listening since they are insisting on dragging charitable firms into Magistrates Court to pay for a Levy which did not exist until recently.
To be fair, Birkenhead has been declining for years and business owners are struggling to stay afloat. But cleaning up Birkenhead is the job of the council. 
This is why people pay business rates. The BID appears to be a stealth tax method of increasing business rates without actually increasing the business rates which is the same argument successfully used by Esther McVey when the council attempted to place a levy on wheelie bins and which forced them to hastily back away and reconsider their position.
Wirral Chamber have recently released a wonderful glossy document which makes bold claims about the achievements of the Birkenhead Bid company (also known as Birkenhead First). However the majority of these are things Wirral Council would do anyway as part of their obligations to Business Rates Payers. So it seems the suggestion the BID Levy is supporting the over bloated salaries of former council employees may have some foundation.
Also since this is clearly a civil matter, why is there such a reluctance to transfer proceedings to the County Court? Clearly civil matters fall under contract law and County Court is the proper setting. The costs are similar and certainly can be itemised easier. This suggests a worrying symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Magistrates Court where proceedings are being led by Wirral Council and not the local Magistrates.
The subject of costs and lack of transparency surrounding these certainly raises more questions than answers and this spills over to affect every council tax payer, business rates payer and now BID Levy payer who has ever been summonsed to Magistrates Court and had liability order costs imposed. Whilst clearly Council Tax is a criminal matter, the BID Levy certainly is not and belongs in County Court not the criminal courts.
It has also been suggested the BID Levy and demands for payment would not stand up to scrutiny under contract law. This has never been tested but would certainly be in the public interest. Taking charities and not for profit firms to court in an attempt to access charitable funds is not. It does not matter if the BID Levy is a small token amount. It is still immoral. It is also grossly unfair. For example there is no way to spread the cost monthly, no refund mechanism if firms move out of the area part way through the year, no contract and no control or input on how money is spent. In short it represents an unfair contract under civil law and threats of heavy penalties and costs, bailiffs and similar from Wirral Council are tactics which could be viewed as extortion and threats in public office. Whilst we are not suggesting this is the case, it certainly could be viewed as such. All the more reason for the matter to be placed in its proper setting in the County Court and not the Magistrates Court.
Even more worrying is the notion if Wirral Chamber is not challenged, this could be the first of many BID Levy districts in Wirral and more struggling business owners and charitable firms will find themselves subject to this new stealth tax with no opt out clause, no appeal and no transparency over how their money is spent.
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32 thoughts on “Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

  1. Deeper and darker. Ms Bassnett has stated that Wirral Chamber pay full business rates (and in turn so do the charities and community organisations, who should be exempt, as they do not lease from Chamber/Lauries/Pacific Road / Egerton House they instead have licence to occupy)
    It’s a crazy mixed up world we live in.

    • G’day 2011gv

      Its not a crazy mixed up world, the Davies, Tour, Adderley, Basnett live in it is criminal a la Lockwood Engineering.

      Why do you think the peanut won’t write to “Highbrow” over his question of 19 December.

      Ooroo

      James

      Ta gv

  2. I’m a bit confused, it doesn’t take much! I don’t understand on what legal authority this Birkenhead First outfit gave the right to charge anyone anything. Who agreed this was legal? They are acting like Fagan? Does this mean anyone can set up and start charging charities? Has this been put in local statute? Can someone please explain? Just doesn’t smell right this!

  3. High heaven.

    Has anybody noticed that strange “other-worldly” odour emanating even from publicity pictures of these Chamber Potty “people” in their glossy magazines?

    I have. Once, I flicked to the centre spread, then rushed upstairs under the mistaken impression somebody’d left the toilet door ajar after a particularly bad attack of the sh1ts.

    As we all know, gurning pictures of them regularly appear peppered throughout their own publicity material. And as we flick through, their repellent, toothsome visages swim up into our vision far, far too often.

    Presumably, they must be the controlling egos responsible, the directors of content behind the toxic brand, and as such, advising their browbeaten inferiors which pic is “good to go”, instructing which pic is to be positioned where in the outgoing bilge, and which not so perfect shots are to be binned.

    And if as I suggest, these photographic representations are indeed giving off a heady, rotten, poisonous airborne brew in bucket-loads, imagine how strong, perhaps *lethal* this pong could be if derived directly from the veins of the living creatures themselves?

    Has anyone pondered, if their corporeal, earthly forms AND pictures do whiff so badly, ARE they real people or are they perhaps those non-human, council-service-swallowing aliens from the planet Tharg? And perhaps Power Boy Pip is one of them also?

    If many moons ago, a bright-eyed, innocent WirralBiz / Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd grant applicant had rumbled them, had a brainwave, pinned them all down under threat of death, bottled that toxic whiff and sold it as a stinging insect repellent – something that saved real, honest people’s lives in malaria ravaged countries – they could have covered their £500 grant money in seconds, gone on to make a fortune and could even have bought the Chamber “people” out lock stock and barrel, and gone on to run a non-corrupt, fine, upstanding, non-alien, local Wirral Chamber of Commerce, smelling like a rose garden, with no need for corruption or the plugging of their alien probe nozzles into the arteries of local charities, and sucking the lifeblood from them.

    As for the former managers – the Tharg local authority highacking aliens – they’d be well out of the way, safely chained to radiators in a secret laboratory / dungeon, underneath Egerton House, plugged into the intricate, rattling condenser equipment, exuding their heady, shitty, lethal stink… and all done for a wonderful global cause, moving forward, and transitioning to a successful, empowering, ethnically diverse, inclusive, robust outcome.

    • My sat nav has said…..

      ‘”In four hundred yards….Wirral Chamber of Avarice is acting ULTRA VIRES.”

      But as this is Latin, think we should check with Friar Highbrow….

  4. G’day Lordy

    It warms my heart to see that others are aware of what the “Chamber Pot” scumbags are all about.

    And, are now speaking up albeit anonymously.

    The “Chamber Potty”, AdderleyDadderleyDooLally and “Phil the Very Very Very Very Slimy, Elusive. LYING Dill “obviously think they are above the LAW and despite “Sir Git” “The Shyster” saying he hadn’t read that REPORT when he met with “Highbrow” and my good self.

    What Report was he talking about?

    We didn’t know what that REPORT said at that time.

    He did obviously.

    So Lordsville there should be some sackings and some standing down you can’t be above the law.

    Not even at wirral.

    Ooroo

    James

    I just don’t get how people can work with these people.

    Says he……. unemployed.

    Luv your Leaks Leaky XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    “Interested” watch that boomerang doesn’t drop the Companies Act but more importantly the Insolvency Act on your head as it circles Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant wirral Waters heading for Egerton (shit) House.

  5. The sheer arrogance of the ruling class at Wirral Council is now obviously joined by those who preen themselves in the top echelons of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce. They come across as a particularly unpleasant, publicity seeking, self serving bunch.

    Not only does the “cash strapped- through savage government cuts” Council waste the huge sums of the money that they have on consultants, golf course projects etc. but we now learn that an organisation, set up to develop business, is putting the squeeze on charities, apparently aided and abetted by those who infest the upper reaches of Wallasey Town Hall.

    Is no one running the Wirral peninsular straight and honest?

    The silence from our four elected M.P.s, who were very vocal about the parking charges, is deafening.
    Several e.mails to my M.P. Ms. Greenwood, drawing her attention to the scandals of Liptrot and Halliday have yet to have a response.

    E.mails to our very well paid Council Chief Executive on the disgraced Hallidays` (£15,000 a MONTH) appointment also met with silence. However, a further reminder triggered a reply a week ago that it would be answered by the Council`s H.R. Department. When I played rugby this was known as “kicking for touch.”
    You will not be surprised to know that the H.R. department must all be on leave as nothing is yet forthcoming.

    I can only hope that the generally reactive Wirral Globe will run with this story as, otherwise, the voting residents will not be aware of the iniquities that are committed in their name.

    • G’day Chas

      You talk so much sense.

      Ooroo

      James

      The joint needs ADMINISTRATION they can’t be open, honest and transparent let alone act within the law.

      Talk more please.

  6. J.G.

    Thank you for that.

    Having reread the excellent report I note that it is proposed that £95.00 court fees will be claimed by Wirral Chamber of Commerce for every case brought before the Magistrates.Presumably this is to pay for the shyster solicitor who will represent the equally shyster W. C. Commerce.

    As the cases are likely to be dealt with in batches a nice little earner for the Legal Mafia!

    It reminds me of the Television Licence prosecutions held at Wirral Magistrates` Court when cases, from all over Merseyside were dealt with in one court on one specific day.
    Several hundred cases in total were listed for morning and afternoon.
    Few defendants appeared or wrote in.
    Each time the solicitor prosecuting on behalf of the television licencing authority, claimed £60.00 in costs for what was often little more than reading out a brief statement of facts.

    • G’day Again Chas

      You say

      However, a further reminder triggered a reply a week ago that it would be answered by the Council`s H.R. Department.

      I saw the boss and some other overpaid employee of HR give evidence in my favourite courthouse over Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant wirral Waters in a whistleblowing case recently in the company of Paul Cardin and John “Tarrantino” Brace and possibly Martin Morton, “I can’t recall”.

      Funnily enough that is what they kept saying to the judges, “I can’t recall” “I can’t recall” I can’t recall”.

      So Chas, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for HR to write to you because they “won’t recall” being asked.

      Ooroo

      James

      They take the example from the L E A D E R “Phil the Very Very Very Very Slimy, Elusive LYING Dill” who still hasn’t replied to “Highbrow” when he said he would on 19 December.

      He possibly “Couldn’t recall” his lies, cheating and obfuscating.

      Well done Chas.

    • Gandhi-like resistance ought to have led the defendants each to demand for their £80 a hearing in court. The costs remain the same.

      Now imagine the chaos that would have ensued. I witnessed some dozen cases in Council tax where defendants insisted on being heard. The council solicitor was hapless as magistrates admonished her repeatedly for failing to prepare the cases. Double or treble that number and the charade would indeed metamorphise into a charivari

  7. I say it again. How is this legal and under what legal statute does the Chamber claim his levy? Where are Nigel or Paul when you need them?

  8. G’day, G’day, G’day

    ………in four hundred yards…

    Sir Gits clock will be put back…..for he is ULTRA VIRES…..who says so?

    I fecking do……Ok? (Do want a fight???)

    • Settle Petal

      Have you seen them in that Chamber of Horrors, it’s not just that Williamson horror, actually treating “The Shyster” with respect, or is it just his fucking enormous timepiece.

      They ask him a question, he doesn’t answer and they go away happy.

      Every time Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro asks him a question, accounting or law, he has to tell “Sir Git” what the answer is.

      Why would you tell someone (us) you haven’t read a, damning to the scum bags, report without being asked?

      STUPID

      &

      GUILTY

      Ooroo

      James

      ULTRA VIRES you say I say “iacentem defraudat”.

    • Hi Interested! It’s got to be UV. Under what power are they levying these monies? First question; do they have the power? And secondly; who gave them it? How can a registered company charge local charities money? I just can’t get my brain around it!

      • An act of parliament way back in 2003.

        It is a model used abroad but I am not going to read the Act. You can if you want.

        Basically a body, any body suggest a referendum in any group of largely business occupied area. Of all businesses a majority in number and in rateable value must agree to join a Bid All occupiers are bound by the majority vote whether two or two hundred or a thousand vote. For Five years they must pay a levy of up to 1,5 per cent of their rateable value for each year, collected by the council etc etc

  9. G’day Lovely Leaky

    Can you imagine getting out of law school at uni and starting at wbc under Head of Law “The Shyster” “Sir Git”?

    How could you reconcile it?

    He won’t understand what I am saying Lordy they don’t do reconciling at wirral.

    They do spending and getting new bessies…….for the life of the contract.

    Signed or unsigned, usually the latter.

    Then a report of asset stripping comes across the department and not a body is speaking up.

    They don’t know it is a report on asset stripping because the Head of Law, to be, has not read it.

    When he meets whistleblowers why would he tell them he hadn’t read a report that they hadn’t read because it was hidden with all their other mortal sins.

    What does he say to these recruits when they tell him the contract hasn’t been signed?

    Do they just employ half wits like that “solicitor” at Wirral “Funny” Bizz, Wendy.

    Ooroo

    James

    Won’t be a good reference for them.

    Luv you deeply Lordsville XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Watch that boomerang L “Interested” doesn’t realise its loaded.

    • James, “How could you reconcile it?”

      You don’t. You can’t. The poor kid, straight out of law school, won’t be told they’ve landed in a pit of vipers, a den of iniquity. He or she will have to work that out for themselves over a long time, and probably in an atmosphere of forced jollity and faux professionalism. If our hero has a strong moral compass, they’ll read this blog, Google what they can, sense all is not well very, very quickly… and feck off to somewhere – anywhere – where they can live with their conscience and carve out a career.

      But if they’re overly-impressionable / malleable / greedy / egotistical / a bully in the making, and open to having these “qualities” drawn upon, used and abused, they’ll be tested, sampled and groomed by those whom, when in their element, are colluding against good faith whistleblowers, breaking oaths in court and making an unhealthy living out of deceiving judges, tribunal panel members and us council tax payers – their paymasters.

      If the student comes out of the other side of this initiation process whiffing of whatever it is a “rotting soul” smells like, then they’re home, free and ready to receive that famous [C S Lewis] offer over a drink; that ugly proposition, where acceptance would form a welcome into the “Inner Ring”, but turning it down would transform the genial face opposite into an ugly mask of bitter rejection.

      So what do they do? Accept and become welcomed into the covert underworld where favours are dangled, confidences are given in private, everybody’s expendable, some more than others, people are sacrificed, and to keep you ambitious and keen to impress, Joe Blott then sends you a memo requiring your sterling services in court. You attend, and lie through your teeth for your sordid rewards. Why? Because everyone does it, gets away with it and it rarely fails, if ever. Even if it does there’s no accountability to deter your future dishonesty.

      By then, you’re lost. Your soul’s in tatters, and your family, if they knew what you were doing, would cast you into the wilderness. So it’s down to you now to lead a double life and ensure they never get to know.

      It gets even worse if your masters are appraised of any susceptibilities. Perhaps you’re a closet homosexual, or a secret Trotskyist lefty, or engage in compromising behaviour of an evening, or married but sampling online dating websites and putting it about. Whatever it is, once they know, you are as good as done, finito.

      It makes me wonder what peccadilloes, or scandalous criminal conduct keeps Wirral’s “Inner Ring” cemented in place and ”moving forward”?

  10. Oh Scotty Mate

    Despite me being pissed up in Scotland I feel there is some pain.

    They don’t seem to care about anyone but themselves and their sponsors.

    They will do or say anything.

    They need to be taken to my favourite court house over Kev nad Stella’s Stinking Stagnant Wirral Waters more often.

    You know were they say “Ican’t recall” “I can’t recall”.

    Lying barstards.

    Mate what example do they set?

    How do they live with themselves?

    I am broke and down but I wouldn’t do it.

    They truly are the scum of the earth.

    Ooroo

    James

    Just for money and fucking massive watches.

    God bless you and yours.

  11. It gets better. BID blocked the local community from having control of Neighbourhood Planning as they clearly thought they had found the goose with the golden egg.
    The community did consider a judicial review but were unable to proceed due to lack of funds.
    The community would not levy but would receive control of CIL payments that developers are often charged.
    There is a deliberate power grab by the so called elite and it is the least advantaged that have been denied the opportunity to build a stronger town.

  12. Pingback: Pop Ups For The People | Wirralleaks

  13. Pingback: Birkenhead First (Second Coming) | Wirralleaks

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