Consultant Insults – Continued

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The long running saga involving Wirral Council’s love of costly external consultants continues.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/consultant-insults/

As following on from our interims story – The £Million Interims – we understand that there are full details knocking about of consultants performing an interim role for Wirral Council.

However the people who actually pick up the DAILY tab of £8,404 – that’s us folks! – apparently aren’t allowed to know who we are paying, what we’re paying and what we’re paying them for – go figure!

This is because Wirral Council consider the information to be confidential and the poor downtrodden consultants that are not directly employed by the Council will have confidentiality preserved when it comes to cold hard cash.

Huh ?! – not at Wirral Council it won’t, especially when much of the information is rightly already in the public domain. We think that whoever  made up this diktat on the hoof realises that someone who does work for a local authority and is paid with Council taxpayers money somehow has a right to keep their paypacket a secret is not a particularly convincing argument.

That might explain why they usually throw in ‘commercial confidentiality’ as an additional back up as to why the Council need to keep a lid on the gory details of their expensive consultancy habit.  Apparently it could inhibit the Council from recruiting future interims. Whaaaat?! – can we therefore assume that the remuneration listed on recruitment sites will just henceforth state : ‘ Fill yer boots !’

It’s such a shame that the information about the 18 interims that are currently on the Council payroll is not more readily available as we’re sure that Wirral Council taxpayers would find it most illuminating/infuriating . Indeed we’re sure that one of Wirral Leaks’ regular contributors , Charles Nunn, will be particularly pleased to hear that we understand that Stewart Halliday’s contract , at a daily rate of £705 , and which was due to end in August has now been extended to the end of 2017.

However it should be noted that ‘Happy’ Halliday is not the highest paid interim on the list. We understand that accolade goes to Surjit Tour’s replacement . Philip McCourt ,the interim Assistant Director – Law & Governance has to get by on a mere £800 a day …….making him pro rata , at £200K + per annum, on more than Wirral Council’s CEO, Eric Robinson.

Wirral Council watchers may find some consolation in knowing that one of the 5 ‘transformers’ on the list , Martin Liptrot, finds himself ranked 16th out of the 18 interims listed in terms of his day rate – a paltry £350!

And finally before we go we’d just like to inform our readers that we’ll be taking a long overdue summer break throughout August – unless of course THAT story breaks . In the interim (!) we’ll  be considering how we co-ordinate the ‘managed decline’ of Wirral Leaks when we return in the autumn.

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A Lack of Discretion

Finance 014
Five years ago, we were a local authority in crisis: focused on cuts and on the verge of government intervention. Since then, we’ve been recognised as the Local Government Chronicle’s ‘Most Improved Council’, experiencing the fastest turnaround of any council in the UK. So what’s changed? In a nutshell, we refuse to give up; we never stop moving. Our pragmatic, innovative and bold plan, ‘2020 Vision’ will ensure that we’re getting the basics right; that we’re achieving more; that we’re changing the way we do things. In this role, you’ll take us to the next level and create a legacy for yourself in the process.
As you can see from Wirral Council’s positively vomitous advert they’ve been trying to recruit a Director of Finance and Investment claiming that five years ago they were a local authority in crisis. Of course they fail to omit to say why they were in crisis. ‘So what’s changed?’ they ask. Fuck all  as far as we’re concerned and particularly in the Department of Finance and Investment!
We state this, as following on from our last story where we referenced the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) whistleblowing scandal we are proud to publish the first hand account of the whistleblower involved.
It gives a clear indication of what it must be like to work in such an oppressive atmosphere where management is rammed with those types – yes, we mean the likes of  Trish, Nicky and Lisa – who want to get through Monday to Friday without pesky staff making their job difficult whilst they’re busy advancing their careers/income. Read it and weep:
Payments (DHP) budget never attempted to manage it in terms of need/  demand etc. She took no interest and just left me to it , if I raised any concerns , she was verbally abusive . 
I was the Team Leader responsible for DHP’s . Once HvS  ( Hardy v Sandwell ) case law came in ( I was responsible for reading and interpreting the case law  and suggesting changes to procedures , which I did)  it became impossible to do my job , because my manager instructed me to ignore it . As I said myself and the appeals manager raised concerns from March 2015 . Nothing changed until mid 2016 , as a result of my WB (whistleblow). The council were in breach of the Equality Act . 
Success with an application depended on the time of year you applied . So in April when the money was put in the pot , there was plenty of money , so your application stood a good chance of success , later on in the year they would decide to be more careful , usually at the end of the year instructions would be issued to get it spent. Most years the budget was not spent . The surplus could not be carried over to the next year , and of course if you did not spend all your budget , this affected how much you received the following year .
I believe it was mostly an abuse of power . She used to repeatedly say ” well they have more disposable income” I am the parent of a disabled son , plus I run a small group for families who have a family member with Down’s Syndrome and I know how much they struggle financially . 
As an example of her abuse of power , I attended a meeting with her at the request of the Housing Options Team . Basically Housing Options wanted us to start refusing DHP for people in 4 bed houses so they would be free for larger families . When I raised objections / concerns the Housing Options Manager said “my violin is this big” and made the gesture of playing a tiny violin on his shoulder . 
My manager made me write new guidance for people in 4/5 bed homes. Myself and the appeals manager voiced our concerns , as this was not in line with DHP guidance etc.
Myself and my team ignored the new guidance and continued to make awards in accordance with the DWP  (Department of Work & Pensions) rules . 
I did raise another Whistle blowing , as she instructed the IT section to remove a question of the online DHP application form which allowed people to apply for rent in advance . (People should be able to apply for rent in advance ) . She said ” I am not paying rent twice”. There were three witnesses to this, they were interviewed by (internal) audit . 

This meant very vulnerable people could not secure homes. She would only pay it for Housing Options applications . 

Yes, folks  – these are the lovely people who are in charge of local government and responsible for spending your hard earned money – mainly it would appear on themselves and not on the people who keep them in well paid jobs!

To Sandwell In A Handcart

Colin as Surjit 009

Less than 5 years of dedicated public service at Wirral Council seem to have taken their toll on poor Surjit Tour  pic: courtesy of John Brace

We couldn’t bring ourselves to watch video footage last week’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting as we understand Power Boy Pip et al  gave outgoing Wirral Council law lord Surjit Tour a rousing round of applause as it was his last ever council meeting – yes , even from Cllr George Davies – but then the deputy leader of Wirral Council must be relieved to see the back of this particular chink in his armour.

The plaudits were all very reminiscent of the time when the subsequently convicted criminal Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree chaired the the Audit & Risk Management Committee  – yes we know ! – can you believe that actually happened ? – and led the handclapping for Audit Commission/Grant Thornton gobshite Mike Thomas. We suspect the applause for both was much for the same reason – keeping a lid on Wirral Council malpractice and getting paid well to do it.

Having said that Tour must be shooting off to his new gig at Sandwell Council like shit off a shovel. And it would appear he will be right at home. As a local source commented –‘Labour controlled and crooked forever’ 

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2016/10/10/sandwell-council-shake-up-fourth-senior-officer-leave-post/

We’re sure the six figure salary was particularly enticing for this status – conscious public servant. All we can say is that you can earn as much as you like but at the end of the day you’re still Surjit Tour.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/sandwell/2017/05/26/sandwell-council-looking-to-appoint-top-roles—one-earning-100k-pay-packet/

We’re just staggered that out of four candidates interviewed for Sandwell Council’s top legal job that Tour came out on top.  Isn’t it reassuring that our public services have such a deep well of talent to draw upon?

Sandwell Council  must be particularly dear to Tour’s heart as a legal case involving his new employer was brought to attention in 2016.  A Wirral Council whistleblower had told their senior managers that they weren’t complying with the law when it came to administrating Discretionary Housing Payments  (DHP)- which are what they say on the tin, discretionary payments made to people who are having trouble paying their rent for one reason or another and presumably some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Wirral Council seem particularly reluctant to promote this fund they have available to help people in need so we’re saying loud and clear if you find yourself struggling to pay your rent contact Wirral Council and ask about DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENTS!

Needless to say the public-spirited  whistleblower who identified that Wirral Council were acting unlawfully was cruelly hounded out of their job for showing up their managers for the bullying incompetents they were.  There will be much more to come on this story but changes to procedures and belated thanks from Tour doesn’t cut it when someone’s career is needlessly destroyed for,once again, wanting things done properly and dare we say LAWFULLY!

Is it just us who thinks that if we don’t speak up about such abuses we’re all going to hell in a handcart?

Subject: Re: Whistleblowing Matter (Case Ref: 22/2016)

Dear X

Further the above matter, I have now completed all requisite enquiries into this matter. I have received and considered the report prepared by XX (Senior Auditor) into the matter you raised in your confidential report [CRF1] dated 22nd February 2016.

The review conducted by XX showed that whilst an assessment of income was undertaken in respect of DHP applicant’s income, the assessments were not fully compliant with the post Sandwell case and revised DWP guidance (issued in August 2015) on such claims.

In light of this, supplementary guidance has issued and explained to all relevant members of the team at the Transaction Centre so that DHP claims are assessed in accordance with the Sandwell case and revised DWP Guidance. Moreover, changes to procedures have and are being implemented to ensure consistency and compliance with the Sandwell case and revised  DWP guidance.

May I take the opportunity to thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of the council.

Kind regards

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

and Monitoring Officer

The Power of Nought

Nought

As we continue to wind down we are grateful to one of our long standing contributors Dr Robert B Smith who has provided us with what he calls a ‘summery summary’ of recent Wirral Council history which he has titled :

WIRRAL COUNCIL & THE POWER OF NOUGHT.

In aerial warfare CHAFF is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of primary targets on radar screens or swamps the screen with multiple returns to create confusion and distraction from the actual target.

This is the ‘diversionary’ principle of the use of NOUGHT by Wirral Council. If, as a Council, you are completely bankrupt of real ideas and true vision, there is always NOUGHT to hide behind, and use as a distraction and confuse residents and voters.

Over recent years Wirral’s population has been reasonably static, and the borough has remained the same size (about 60 sq miles) however during that time 10s of thousands (4 NOUGHTS) has rapidly become BILLIONS using 9 or even 10 NOUGHTS.

Over recent years Wirral Council has invested in NOUGHT on many occasions. Usually NOUGHT, or multiple-NOUGHTS, are used as a smokescreen to cloud the reality of incompetence, and the most appalling standard of local government. In Wirral Council the presence of a great many NOUGHTS indicate the seriousness with which issues are being prioritised, and the likelihood of NOUGHT actually happening .

WBC Number 1 Priority – protect at any cost the status and ‘reputation’ of Wirral’s ruling administration and chief officers. As many NOUGHTS as it takes, but that is privileged information!

Here is a small sample of the power of NOUGHT in Wirral Council over the last decade.

2006 – 30 year Wirral Waters programme announced £4,500,000,000 – 8 NOUGHTS

2008 – over £500,000,000 invested since 1991 by WBC in Birkenhead – 8 NOUGHTS

2015 – Wirral Partnership ‘will pool budgets’ by 2020 – £200,000,000,000 – 11 NOUGHTS

2016 – Threat of Government intervention in Wirral Child Safeguarding arrangements – an additional £2,000,000 initially committed by Leader Phil Davies – 6 NOUGHTS

2016 – Hoylake Golf Resort – Investment revised to £190,000,000 – 7 NOUGHTS

2017 – Maggie Atkinson takes Chair of Wirral Child Safeguarding Board; Eleanor Brazil takes Chair of Child Safeguarding Improvement Board; suddenly an additional £10,000,000 is committed – 7 NOUGHTS.

2017 – Wirral Growth Joint Venture Company investment ‘opportunity’ announced £1,000,000,000 – 9 NOUGHTS

If we add up all of the NOUGHTS, they total 56 – which added together totals NOUGHT.

What value, or real benefit or improvement, has Wirral Council achieved with all of these projects combined?

Yes, you have got it in 1 (which is a figure far higher than Wirral Council has successfully achieved to date) which is NOUGHT.

Wirral Council and its Leadership has taken the power of NOUGHT to sensational new heights in Wirral that others can only dream about!

… because for Wirral Council spin doctors, whatever they say, NOUGHT really means nothing. 

 

There Goes The Green Belt

Wirral green belt

Source : DCLG 2016

One of the very few things that remains attractive about Wirral is that it is relatively green.

However in the time-honoured tradition of brutalism Wirral Council seem to be exceeding themselves when it comes to concreting over everything that’s good about the place.

Specifically we’re talking about last night’s decision to approve the building of a fire station in Saughall Massie following pretend democratic processes involving public meetings and site visits.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15425897.Campaigners_vow_to_fight_on_as_Saughall_Massie_fire_station_is_approved/

Yes, we know there’s more tedious bureaucratic processes to go through before the fire station becomes a reality but we’re sure we’re all agreed it’s the principle of agreeing to build on the green belt which is the issue. This decision will surely give the green light to build on other parts of the green belt and specifically the Hoylake Golf Resort. And what’s more it’s no good local Tories belatedly bleating about how unfair it all is!

The Planning Committee Chair is Anita Leech ( you do the punchline) and the Vice -Chair of the Planning Committee is Steve ‘Kindred’ Foulkes. So spare us the ‘feigned outrage’. We all knew what was coming next!

Indeed might we suggest that a fitting tribute would be that Foulkesy’s political career is entombed in motorway concrete. And the sooner the better!

Hallmarked WBC

New-WBC

The latest forensic examination performed by whistleblower Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro on the BIG fund debacle is set out below.

Try and stay with the technicalities and complexities as it demonstrates the effort and commitment that whistleblowers have to go to evidence their concerns. Such effort and commitment is of course totally inexplicable to the powers that be at Wirral Council.

As a matter of interest our view on the question posed in the final line of the article is that the powers that be just want the titles and the money to sustain their egos . And they want to do it with the least possible effort. Those who want things ‘done properly’ are to be swatted away like irritating midgies. All the ‘midgies’ can do is too continue to get under their skin……..
I have just completed a review of my penultimate audit sample of BIG fund files. When I get the Data Commissioner’s order for WBC to release the Merseycare Transport ltd BIG fund file I will, as any proper auditor ought, have selected a sample of 20% of all BIG fund files. It is incumbent on any auditor to increase his sample where a random sample-the original 6- is found to be entirely deficient, as it was.

I am of course unpaid and have had to battle with a reluctant, and indeed deceitful Council and officers seeking to cover over the inadequacies of its staff and systems in the years 2009 to 2012.

What strikes me is that these officers never demanded original Excel files, or indeed created them from pdf’s. I had to recreate the Excel file so as the better to analyse its shortcomings from indistinct copies of pdf’s. However if this did not, and it did not, demand much of my time, then how much easier it would have been back in 2009-2012. Why did these officers not test these Budgets as so easily they might have done by recreating them on Excel. Grant Thornton in their report indicated that no sensitivity analysis had ever been done for which read my comment above. You can only readily flex budgets if you have them on Excel! What ifs, and, does the Cash flow and the Profit and Loss gel?, are questions answerable if the data is on Excel. My first test was to “Excelise” and place Profit and Loss and Cashflow together to create a Balance Sheet. If the balance sheet from these two combined does not balance then one has unearthed the central lie, and so it was unreconciliable.

Further the officers might have distrusted LEC’s budgets and their competence by observing that even in small matters the budget submitted was wrong.. there is no VAT to be claimed on either bank charges and interest nor on Insurance, but LEC Lights calculate VAT on both. One would be on guard had the officer been awake at the time.

Can a balance sheet be prepared from the two documents, Cashflow and Profit and Loss? For year ending 30th March 2010….NO!! That is to say the fundamental underpin of all accounting numbers, that they should all add up to zero, to balance, is not satisfied. Thereby the plan is INVALID.

The reviewing financial officer, probably Bob Neeld, did point out on July 23 2009 that in October 2009 the cashflow predicted that the £15,000 overdraft facility would be exceeded by £20,000 even with the receipt of the grant… “predicting its own failure” was his expression. The cashflow sent to myself under FOI shows the re-arranged balances to answer this flaw, leading only to a £7,900 overdraft. A remarkable turnaround in the one month leading to the award in August 2009, partly explained by the introduction of supposed further Director’s loan repayments of £15,000. Indeed that became a condition of the BIG loan that at least the first of three deposits of £5,000 be shown to officers of Invest Wirral. Really it was a paltry condition indeed in face of the manifold objections to awarding the grant, not least that at 31st March 2009 the firm was insolvent to the tune of £115,000 .

The real question were the connexions between the patent holding company Luminanz . If £15,000 could be magicked out of somewhere within less than 3 months, perhaps in reality the claimant was Luminanz, based in Bolton. The reviewing account was alive to this in his July report

“I am therefore alerted to the possibility that the two companies are connected, and that the development project is being undertaken by Sign Lights ltd(lec lights) yet owned by a related company under licence”.

Indeed a former name of the company had been Luminanz Manufacturing Limited, one of its four incarnations. At inception Morton Graham was both a director and a fifty per cent shareholder in LEC lights whilst at the same time controlling Luminanz Ltd in Bolton.

Mr Neeld devotes two paragraphs to the notion that perhaps in reality LEC lights does not need the money, a vital criteria of BIG, it can get it from Luminanz, but is opportunistically grabbing at the ripe plum on the WBC tree, as did so many of those in my audit sample. It is transparent also that Mr Mathews is good for the money without recourse to WBC BIG fund. Later Mr Mathews turns £100,000 of his loan to LEC Lights Ltd to share capital, and, in 2016, is able to offer the Administrator of his company a straight £60,000 for its patents and equipment having dumped a quango creditor (NWF Energy and Environmental technologies LLP) for a cool  £750,000. I guess in one way or another that was our taxpayer money!

The magicking of £15,000 resonates with the curious absence of Director’s remuneration for the entire year projected to March 2010 and onwards through to August 2010, a fallow period of 17 months where the director would live off fresh air. A man of such resources!! He can repay the £15,000 he owes the company and still live off nothing for 17 months. Why ever does he NEED the BIG grant? The suspicion is that it is Luminarz of Bolton who are really behind this bid just as Bob Neeld, the WBC accountant, harboured suspicion. The second director of LEC lights, H Matthews, seems happy not to be repaid his £145,613 until April 2010, and then only in drip feed. The contingency that Mr Matthews will not take his money back early remains another problem for the advising WBC accountant.
The reader must therefore ask himself whether, as claimed by former CEO Mr Burgess, and by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce honcho, Mr Adderley, the BIG fund was largely a success? I will, reluctantly, write a round up of all my long protracted audit but for now I confidently can write…it was not!

It was a failure .When competent officers pointed out flaws their objections were got round by utterly facile means or they were simply ignored or outvoted in the Panel, a vote never recorded.(see Grant Thornton’s report). The independents on the Panel were never told the whole truth. The so called system was as porous as a Delhi slum sewage pipe. Perhaps the officers were incompetent, or just lazy and complacent, or perhaps a deliberate opening was made to facilitate favouritism or even bungs.

 

 

Bill-ious

DOLLAR-BILL

As we wind down it appears some of our long running stories are finally coming to fruition.

We’d like to thank the many readers who forwarded the latest news about the former Torbay/Wirral/Hereford (in that order) and currently ,for now anyway, head of the legal department at Cheshire East Council, the infamous Bill ‘The Bung’ Norman.

Yes , it would appear that Billyboy has been officially suspended from duties 3 months after his alleged despicable dirty work was retrieved from beneath the carpet.

Dirty Work

We’re gratified to read Cheshire East Council have at least got things right when it comes to suspension procedures. As we should all know by now the likes of Bill Norman operate at such exalted heights they are not subject to the same rules as mere mortals such as us. Oh no, first of all , before any action is taken against these local government Gods there must be proof of a prima facie case to answer.

http://www.knutsfordguardian.co.uk/news/15416114.Second_senior_management_suspension_as_Cheshire_East_Council_investigates_misconduct_allegations/

This of course is what Wirral Council failed to do when Bill Norman worked for them and which led to a near enough, and as far as we’re concerned, a totally unjustified £150K  pay off  – which of course meant that Wirral council taxpayers yet again picked up the tab for cowardice/incompetence on the part of their most senior council officers/politicians .

However the most interesting aspect of this case for us is that Bill has built up such a following during his travels (although not necessarily in a good way) that it was inevitable that his much anticipated and well deserved demise would ultimately be chronicled on this blog.  One of those sources giddy with schadenfreude at Bill’s blunders reached us by a circuitous route. Our message to them is this – get in touch with us when you’re happy to explain the backstage compromise that led to to Wirral Council being the recipient of the ‘ Most Improved Council’  award at the 2015 Local Government Chronicle awards . This of course being the fig leaf behind which they have hid their corporate micro-penis ever since. Might we suggest that low cost loans from one failing council to another must have eased negotiations. Just sayin’

To which all we can say is pass the sickbag – all of these duplicitous town hall potentates make us positively bilious.

Crabby v LRJ : The Feud Continues

jimcrabtree

Jim ‘ Crabby’ Crabtree proves once again that he’s the gift that keeps on giving in the ongoing Shakespearean feud between him and Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) .

Above is a screenshot of the latest ill-advised missive that Crabby has subsequently deleted from Facebook ( on the advice of his probation officer/solicitor?)

However we particularly like the fact that Crabby has a pop at Pip.  As as far as we’re concerned the Crabby v LRJ debacle needs to be laid at the door of the hopelessly ineffectual ‘leader’ of  Wirral Council, Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies. His failure to manage the internal strife within his own party has led to two suspensions by North West Labour and an ongoing, highly embarrassing,  spat played out on social media.

Perhaps Crabby should turn to an elder statesman of the local Labour group and all-round – and boy do we mean round-  man of integrity Cllr Steve Foulkes to guide him through the political turmoil.  However might we suggest that Foulkesy may need to alter his advice from ‘ Jumbo stay strong fella‘ to ‘ Step away from the keyboard/mobile – especially after you’ve had a few scoops’ 

But then again if Crabby really does hate liars perhaps Foulkesy isn’t the man to turn to !

Jumbo

As for expecting a ‘full apology’ from Pip, Crabby can whistle dixie as Pip knows only all too well that Crabby was probably up to even more no good than has already been disclosed.

However Pip proves once again what a coward he is when he finds it easier to allow a whistleblower to be bullied out of their job than address the concerns they raised about Crabby and the use of grant monies. And to think that Crabby still sees fit to have a pop at LRJ!  Indeed to us, it is simply astonishing , ASTONISHING !,  that this man was once the chair of  Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Meanwhile it would appear that this ongoing and long -running feud between Crabby and LRJ clearly has some way to run – and we intend to follow it every step of the way!

MAT Carpeted

MAT 010

Before we move on to education from health can we just comment on today’s Wirral Cabinet ‘good news’ item?

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15403266.Councillors_approve___20m_boost_for_Wirral_health_services/

And can we just say there is no £20 million ‘boost’. It’s not an ‘investment’. It’s ‘Public Health’ money which appears to have been unimaginatively allocated to the usual suspects. This includes £7 million + to  Change,Grow,Live (CGL) for their services – about which we still get a torrent of complaints about.

 The ‘investment plan’ is as follows :

  • Drug and alcohol services:  £7,332,674
  • Smoking cessation:            £697,878
  • Sexual health:                   £2,939,729
  • Children (0-19):                £6,909,800
  • Weight management:        £200,000
  • Health checks:                  £306,029
  • Mental health:                   £40,000
  • Miscellaneous:                   £1,614,027
  • Infection control:               £223,578

Total = £20,263,715

Yes , you read that correctly . £40,000 for mental health.

Perhaps if Wirral Council invested money in mental health services from the get go perhaps they wouldn’t need to pick up the tab further down the line for the sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll casualties. Just sayin’ !

However , on to education and the ‘ Multi Academy Trust’  (MAT) consultation involving Woodchurch High School. For those interested everything can be found here:

http://www.woodchurchhigh.com/poll.php

Why we were particularly interested in highlighting this story was because our source gave us a handy summary of the proposals :

Greedy Top Brass (CEO, Directors etc), dishing out scraps to the serfs ( Primary Schools)
Resulting in poor education for children as schools can no longer afford quality teachers ( too expensive )
Thus relying on NQT’s ( Newly Qualified Teachers ) to start our children’s journey through education.
Unfortunately this will sound very familiar to our readers who know that a concentration of power in institutions on Wirral usually leads to abuse of that power.
Just sayin’ (once again)

STP – Slash, Trash and Privatise

davies

‘Defend the NHS – Wirral’ and ‘999 Call For The NHS’ have contacted us to share their concerns about ‘Sustainability & Transformation Partnerships’ (STP). Of course we’re suspicious of anything with ‘Transformation’ in the title. And certainly anything touched by the dead hand of Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies.

Therefore we proudly present a crash course kindly provided by the above pressure groups as to why we all need to be concerned about  STPs.

The STPs are the vehicle to ‘slash, trash and privatise’. You can find all the gory details here:http://www.stopthestps.org.uk/mad-as-hell/4593267514

The story of Wirral Council’s leader and his steps from willing participant to Damascene conversion to unconversion along the road to health and well-being (taken from published minutes inter alia).

Step 1: 9th March 2016 Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

“The Board discussion included a focus on: How the Wirral Plan and 20 Pledges related to the work of the Board; How the Plan related to the emerging NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan; and How the Board could add value to help deliver more effective and efficient partnership working to achieve our priorities.

The Board agreed that a follow up discussion was required to understand and agree, within the Wirral Plan and emerging strategies:- Which strategies were top priorities for the Board; and Which strategies does the Board wish to; Lead; Influence; or be kept informed – included in Figure 1 of the report.

To help inform the follow up discussion, the report brought together some supporting information. This aimed to draw out the strategic linkages between the draft Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Wirral Plan in order to help partners agree the future focus, priorities and strategic direction for the Board. 

Councillor Phil Davies cautioned against duplicating work and suggested the focus be on how, as a Board, members could add value to the whole agenda.”

Step 2: 13th July Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

“Jon Develing, Chief Officer, Wirral CCG presented the report to brief members of the Health and Well Being Board on sustainability and transformation plans for Cheshire and Mersey and how this would be informed by a local delivery services plan for Wirral….…Members welcomed the report and agreed it would be a good framework and focus for the Health and Wellbeing Board with helpful ties to the Wirral 20:20 Plan.
Resolved – That the development of the Healthy Wirral Local Delivery System Plan and the mechanism by which this will feed into the wider development of the Cheshire and Mersey STP be noted and endorsed.”

Step 3: 16th November Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

This is the day the STP was officially published. Board papers included the milestones and timetable for the Sustainability and Transformation Plans and associated operational plan. Apparently glitches on the CCG web site were disrupting further dissemination. Item 4 on the agenda was the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) and a verbal report from Graham Hodkinson, Director for Health & Care. Councillor Davies refused both to take the item and to allow any questions or comments from the audience. The exchange is available on video via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTvIQwwwUWw  about two minutes in.

Step 4: Wirral Globe 21st November

Sit down before you read this…Leader of Wirral Council Phil Davies says: “we are extremely unhappy that elected members and officers have not been involved in the process of producing STPs and we will not sign up to any of the proposals until we have had an opportunity to discuss the contents of the STP and effective arrangements put in place to engage our residents.”  READERS FALL OVER IN AMAZEMENT…

Step 5: November: Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey (Wirral) statement:

”Yesterday I sat down with Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Borough Council, to discuss the Tory government’s plans for a billion pound in cuts to our local NHS. These cuts threaten the future of acute care across the whole of the Wirral. It became clear very quickly that the plans are yet another top-down set of cuts and reorganisations, imposed by the arrogant Tory government, on the Wirral, and that neither Phil nor I have had any say on the plans at all. It is wrong for the Government to act in complete defiance and without any consultation with local people, workers and their representatives. Sign our petition today at www.savewirralnhs.com to register your concerns.”

Step 6: 28th November Wirral People Overview Scrutiny Committee:

Rejected the Cheshire & Merseyside STP.

The plan was also rejected by Cheshire West and Chester Health and Wellbeing Board on 16th November, by Sefton Council on 17th November, and by the Liverpool Health and Wellbeing Board on 1st December. These have all been widely reported. Knowsley Council have joined the opposition.

Step 7: December 2016 full Council meeting:

 “agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Health and call on the government to withdraw these Plans immediately with a view to holding urgent discussions with key partners, including local Councils, on how good quality health and social care services can be provided going forward [sic] based on continuing to provide a National Health Service which is properly funded and free at the point of need.”  

There is no evidence that the letter was written or a reply received.

Step 8: July 2017 Phil Davies writes:

“I don’t see any sign that STPs are going away, although they have been re-badged as Five Year Forward View Delivery Plans. Locally, we have committed to integrated commissioning, and that naturally leads to the question of how the providers are going to respond.  There have been a series of workshops, led by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), to explore what our view is about accountable care on Wirral.  What has come out of that is that there are a number of options, ranging from a single ‘organisation’ through to an ‘alliance of providers’ and a couple of stops in between.  The very strong view currently expressed by the providers (and that includes the GPs) is that they do not want a single Accountable Care Organisation, so we are talking about an Accountable Care System…”

Meanwhile…

The cuts have already started – Wirral CCG ran something called a ‘consultation exercise’ late in 2016. It’s part of the STP but they don’t say that too loudly. And it asked the public for their opinions on proposals to cut a whole list of medical services. [And they’ve already been ending contracts for valuable work.]

So, rather than simple clinical decisions, the public were invited to vote in some kind of treatment beauty contest. People in other parts of the country are being asked to vote on different lists. The local NHS is becoming a postcode lottery.

Meanwhile the cuts have been happening for years because we and the NHS are being ROBBED.

Last year US drug giant Pfizer increasing the price of 100mg packs of an anti-epilepsy drug from £2.83 to £67.50.

We are being robbed by the PFI (private finance initiative) – hospitals built and then leased back to the NHS at eye-watering rates of interest, often by firms which also blacklist trade unionists.

And it’s happening close to home. Not many Wirral residents know that 20 of their local GPs are in cahoots with Richard Branson. Yes, the tax ‘avoider’ Richard Branson runs Virgin Care – and they are in a surgery near you. It’s not a huge contract BUT Branson is biding his time until the NHS collapses and he and his collaborators are asked to pick up the pieces and run a service on the cheap ‘in the community’.

We’re being robbed by accountancy firms like Price Waterhouse Cooper, brought in and paid £300,000 by the Cheshire & Merseyside STP to identify where the STP can make cuts.

Most of all we’re being robbed by the madness of running something we never used to have – an NHS market. Thousands of managers, administrators, lawyers, accountants, inspectors, regulators employed simply to oil the wheels of awarding contracts to private firms. Privatisation does NOT save money. The cost of running the NHS commissioning ‘market’ takes about 15% of the total budget.

So hospital waiting lists get longer and you can’t get an appointment with your GP despite the fantastic efforts of NHS doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff whose wages have been frozen and whose conditions get worse. Medicines previously available on free prescription now have to be bought.

Why? Not because we need to ‘save’ money. The NHS is almost the cheapest health service in the developed world.

So why the problems?

Because there have already been billions and billions of pounds worth of cuts.

Because of the robberies listed.

Because staff aren’t been recruited and trained.

But most of all because this government WANTS to destroy the NHS and force us into some US-style insurance scheme.

That’s the emergency in brief.