So here we go again – it’s June so that must mean another Wirral Council Standards Panel cover -up is upon us – or maybe not!
This time round it’s not the Wirralgate cover -up – and if certain councillors think they’re out of the woods on that one they’re very much mistaken – but more on that another time.
We’re hoping that meeting may enable us to get to the bottom of a particular mystery that emerged from the Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree court case earlier this year when the disgraced former councillor was convicted of making a telephone call to Cllr Louise Reecejones where he threatened to kill her. During the threat reference was made to a seemingly random sum of £19,000. As we have previously reported we have never been able to get to the bottom of the significance of this particular figure.
Mystery Figure Update : None the wiser
However it would seem that all may revealed at a Standards Panel to be held next week- or maybe not ! We exclusively gave you the heads up that this meeting was on the way :
Political Manoeuvres In The Dark
Consequently , the Standards Panel meeting was listed on the Wirral Council website last week and then mysteriously disappeared and then reappeared. This was all very reminiscent of last years’ never-ending Standards Panel shenanigans.
Council insiders tell us that complainants in this case have made it known that they want the proceedings to be public but have been advised that that will be decided by the panel on the evening of the meeting.
We are also told that all 3 complainants and Cllr Reecejones will be allowed to submit an ‘opening statement’ explaining why they believe that it is in the public interest for proceedings to be either open or closed . We’re sure panel members can be swayed in favour of openness and transparency – or maybe not!
Let’s just hope intrepid reporter John Brace doesn’t have a wasted journey like he did last June (see ‘Behind Closed Doors’ story above) where he had to endure the indignity of being shut out of the Standards Panel which discussed Cllr Steve Foulkes flagrant dishonesty . We understand that council officers resorted to extraordinary lengths to keep Brace out of the meeting by blocking the door to the Committee room where the meeting was held . So when it comes to disregarding standards in public life and protecting the powerful it was a case of ‘how low can you go?’ Apparently in Wirral Council’s case it would appear to be lower than a rattlesnake’s belly!
Nevertheless it will be particularly interesting to find out as to whether Cllr Reecejones will be afforded the same privileges and protection that her illustrious colleague Foulkesy enjoyed , especially when they’re are some interesting personal dynamics within the Labour group when it comes to this particular case.
However with Cllr Moira McLaughlin, the chair of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee in attendance, we‘re sure that the conduct of Standards Panel meeting will be beyond reproach – or maybe not!……….