Birkenhead CLP leak adds to Labour Party anti-Semitism controversy

DZkRdevWAAEO47h.jpg-large

Above is an extraordinary leak from Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP). No,not to us. But to The Times!

Times journalist Sam Coates posted this extract of the minutes from recent Birkenhead CLP meeting on Twitter @SamCoatesTimes . The journalist was discussing the results of a Times/YouGov poll of Labour members on how leader Jeremy Corbyn was addressing allegations of anti-semitism within the Labour Party and referenced the leaked minutes adding :

Before we reveal the poll results – news of a new upset. In Frank Field’s Birkenhead Consituency Party, The Times has been passed minutes showing why it turned down diversity training. I understand Labour has launched an investigation

This is a most curious ‘controlled’ leak don’t you think?

For starters it is simply astonishing that Birkenhead CLP see fit to reject Diversity and Equality training by the Jewish LABOUR Group on the  grounds of “possible” links with ISIS (!?) and the Israeli government . Apparently Birkenhead CLP are now going to organise their own training. Who’s facilitating that training session we wonder ? – Cllr George  Davies and former Wirral Council Mayoral consort and Birkenhead CLP  ‘Teller Girl’ Elaine Foulkes  – both of whom have had allegations of racism made against them that have never been publicly acknowledged or adequately addressed? Where will that training session be held? – the Wirral Deen centre?

However what we can’t get our heads round is how these minutes ended up in the hands of The Times journalist who just so happens to be preparing an in depth look at allegations of anti-semitism within the Labour Party for this week’s edition of The Sunday Times. Could it be that after Frank Field’s humiliation at the last Birkenhead CLP meeting where he was censured for continuing to write for The S*n , which we reported here : Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #9   , that the  local Labour ‘old guard’ have sought retribution on the Birkenhead CLP Corbynistas? A ‘controlled leak’ to The S*n’s more stateswomanlike elder sister is certainly one way of  rubbing salt in the wound of the current anti-semitism controversy engulfing the Labour Party and which is undermining their glorious leader isn’t it ?  No wonder younger people are put off attending Birkenhead CLP meetings ! Just sayin’!

Advertisements

A Sticky End?

Passionate 010

Sticky Change : Fridge magnets made flesh.

As we said yesterday in our Spot the Blott post we do like to follow the progress of former Wirral Council alumni who have graced (and disgraced) our pages. Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for them ) there are correspondents around the country – and particularly from Bristol, Hereford, York and  Sandwell – who have kept us informed of  Wirral Council’s cast-offs and how they carry on regardless of any scandals or scrapes they’ve been involved in beforehand. However it would appear that we have a particular keen following in Cheshire East. Thanks mainly to the travels and travails of Wirral Council ‘s former head of law – the infamous Bill Norman.
Firstly we hear that there are currently no less than SIX ( count ’em) police investigations concerning Tory led Cheshire East Council. Read more here : Cheshire East police investigations
Kudos to the Cheshire Constabulary for actually taking allegations of Council corruption seriously which is more than be said of Merseyside Police who are seemingly too lazy and/or too busy exchanging funny handshakes and going to the confessional box to be bothered investigating legitimate concerns about Wirral Council . We’ll be interested to know whether the mud will stick and there will be a sticky end for Cheshire East councillors and council officers.
However particular thanks go out to  “A member of ItsRandom the Wirralleaks franchise in Cheshire East”  who sends us this particularly interesting missive concerning Mr Norman and the use of Wirral based consultants ‘Sticky Change’. Now we know that ‘ Sticky Change’ may sound like an old Wirral Leaks headline from the days when we were covering stories about Wirral Council senior management sex romps but this change management consultancy firm website reads like satire to us : Sticky Change .  Their ‘Our Values’ page has to be seen to believed (and sorry we don’t believe any of it). Any one who uses the word ‘ Passionate’ to describe the process of making money is to be viewed with great suspicion as far as we’re concerned. And as for the ‘ look at my backside’ quip – oh do give over ! It’s more a case of all my arse as far as we’re concerned.We’re not sure whether Wirral Council have ever used ‘Sticky Change’ (perhaps somebody would like to enquire) . Meanwhile read this and weep :
Wirral Council and Cheshire East Council have far more in common than anyone realises, so its little wonder that whistle blowing staff and residents are in fear of speaking out. Bill Norman left his mark at both Councils, but the blame lies with those that allowed his appointment…..and they are the ones which always keep their jobs. When Councils appoint people like Bill Norman they know exactly what they are getting. Cheshire East and Wirral Council are not alone in appointing expendable people to take the flack when wrongdoing is exposed. 
Corporate organisations like to appoint people who share the values of the company, but what happens when the people at the top of an organisation not only tolerate wrongdoing but potentially reward employees via promotion for allowing it to happen. With these type of organisation all employees are seen as expendable. In fact to the people at the very top of many public sector organisations the sacrificing of employees is little more than a snake sacrificing its own skin – it means nothing because its still a snake. 
 
In fact looking at Bill Normans work history at other councils I would be amazed if Cheshire East Councils didn’t provide details of the payoff and compromise agreement as part of the employment contract for new starters. Most organisations want honest consciousness employees, but Cheshire East Council see these employees as potential whistle blowers and manage (bully) them out. 
 
Sticky Change…….
I feel Cheshire East Council spending over £150,000 to bring in a consultancy firm called Sticky Change in order to help the authority tackle its ‘bullying’ culture is more about creating good PR to fool the public into believing that the leopard really wants to change its spots. It was reported that Sticky Change worked with Everton Football club and this might help explain my point. 
 
Football is a results based business, and even when the decision was made by Everton FC to bring in Sticky Change the directors knew that the manager would still be the one picking the team to play a 442 system. It wont be any different at Cheshire East Council.
As Cheshire East Council seem committed to at least appear to be drag their reputation from out of the sewers then perhaps they would answer the question I made a week ago:

The real question is when did Sticky Change work with Torbay Council – before, during, or after Bill Normans employment with Torbay Council?

This is very important because Cheshire East Council need to be aware that the decision to choose Sticky Change as external consultants should be open to public scrutiny.
  • Sticky Change previously worked at Torbay Council and it is important to know if this was before, during, or after Bill Normans time with the council? If it was during or after Bill Normans time with Torbay Council then Bill Norman and Sticky Change may have a connection. 
  • The fact that CEC didn’t mention Torbay Council in their press release when naming who else Sticky Change had previously worked with seemed strange, so was it a deliberate omission to avoid drawing attention to any potential link?
  • Just months after the departure of Bill Norman from Cheshire East Council it was announced that Sticky Change would be brought in to tackle the bullying culture. So how and when did CEC first look at using the services of Sticky Change and did his overlap with Bill Normans time at CEC?
  • Sticky Change are based on the Wirral and whilst working at Wirral Council its believed that Bill Norman also lived on the Wirral (Bill might have continued to live on the Wirral whilst working at CEC). Given the points above and Bill Normans very close geographical relationship to Sticky Change on the Wirral there is a possibility that there is a connection/relationship between Bill Norman and Sticky Change. What steps have CEC taken to ensure that the decision to use Sticky Change (and their independence) will stand up to public scrutiny?
I cant speak on behalf of other people but I don’t think I would be comfortable discussing the bullying culture at CEC with consultants from Sticky Change if the above points remain unanswered. The fact that CEC didnt seem to carry out any due diligence when appointing Bill Norman means how can anyone be sure that it wasn’t Bill Norman that recommended CEC to bring in Sticky Change?
Sticky Change (Consultants) Ltd
Sticky Change (Partners) Ltd

Spot the Blott

Blott Farewell

Joe Blott : Laughing all the way to the bank …….and at our expense.

As we exclusively revealed in February (2016) Wirral Council Super – Duper Director Joe Blott is about to escape. Most appropriately the article featured a ticking clock as we can only imagine that Blott must be counting the seconds until his exit as he knows all too well that the proverbial is about to hit the fan. Read more here :The Final Countdown

OK it’s been two years but it seems that it’s finally time to say : so farewell then Joe Blott – the last of the infamous Super Duper Directors appointed by failed Wirral Council CEO Graham ‘Burgesski’ Burgess.  Although you won’t be surprised to hear that Blott’s £390K bung is identified in the topsy-turvy world of Wirral Council as a ‘saving’.

The summary of costs in relation to above are as follows:

 BLOTT’S BUNG
Severance £93,412.60
Employer cost £296,763.43
Total £390,176.03
Annual Saving £158,300.82
Recovery period 29.53months

 

To which we can only say  – “Oh it’s a saving all right – but of who’s skin?” because as we anticipated the proverbial may be FINALLY about to hit the fan!

Following on from the departure of previous failed Super Duper Directors Kevin ‘ Addled’ Adderley and Clare ‘Wet’ Fish we have to ask ourselves what did we get for our money?  Er ,not a lot ! From what we can gather Adderley was utterly appalling on every level except when it came to a left hook, Fish flailed around in shallow waters and laid the foundation for the inadequate rating of Children’s Services by Ofsted and as for Blott , well , Joe seems to have avoided blotting his copybook by being the chief co-ordinator of Wirral Council cover ups. But is that what we pay public servants to do? Are they there to serve us or their political paymasters?

Blott will forever be known by us for his infamous quote: ” No comment”  – Sorry  but you said it Joe and then lied about it to investigator Patricia Thynne and what’s more the ‘Wirralgate’ complainants have (yet another) recording to prove it !

Blott Quotes 020

He will also be known by the repeated use of the phrases : ” I can’t recall” and ” I have no recollection”  – which proves either  a)  a pre-requisite of a senior manager at Wirral Council is selective amnesia or b) Blott has early onset dementia

Nevertheless and needless to say we predict that with his connections and the favours he’s dealt Blott will find a nice little niche somewhere after his long anticipated but hastily arranged departure. We wonder if the previously alleged delayed hook-up with Labour councillor Paul Doughty will finally materialise ? See here : Blott’s Pension Pot

Of course , as we have done with many ex-Wirral Council employees who have previously featured on Wirral Leaks , we will be regularly checking where Blott pops up next . Any information will be gratefully received and it will be your chance to win a pair of Joe Blott endorsed ‘Personality Lifts’ – shoe inserts that will make the vertically challenged feel really, really important .

David Hamilton Personality Lifts

Life’s short but you don’t have to be!

Mark your entries ‘Spot the Blott’ and send to wirralleaks@gmail.com

 

Plan Mad

 

Plan Mad

There is currently no end to this planning madness on Wirral. Indeed we failed to include in our Dead Wrong story the fact that Wirral Council have plans for the Local Plan but actually no Local Plan. The latest excuse reported to Monday’s that in January/February  2017 Wirral Council had asked its ‘retained consultants’ – Lichfields (assisted by Lambert Smith Hampton) – and wouldn’t it be nice to have permanent staff able to do this ? – to prepare a Borough-wide Wirral Employment Land and Premises Study [Wirral ELPS]. However they’ve only just got round to agreeing the findings of the Wirral ELPS be used to inform the content of the Council’s ’emerging’ Local Plan ! So what took them so long to come to this decision ? Apparently it’s become a case that help is now needed for those on Wirral who can’t ELPS themselves!

For your enjoyment the full transcript of the now legendary ‘Dead Wrong’ speech read by Cllr George Davies in the style of a six year old reading ‘Janet & John’ appears in the minutes. Read here : Dead Wrong Cabinet minutes

Somehow we don’t think that this will rank with MLK’ s ‘I have a dream’ or JFK’s ‘ Ask not what your country can do for you…’ as one of the world’s great orations.

The same speech (this time credited to Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies appears here in this Place North West article : Wirral hits back at Javid intervention. This article  is worth perservering with for the ‘expert view’ of  Sebastian Tibenham , executive director at Pegasus Group, who has sympathy for both sides but basically concludes that Wirral Council have brought threats of intervention on themselves by acting in the way that is oulined in our first paragraph or as he more eloquently puts it :

 In short, the polarised issues in Wirral blur into an average state of indifference.   

And so when it comes to planning on Wirral it’ remains a case of another day , another artist’s impression . This time  Business Up North  reports :   Wirral waters developer submits planning application for £6m office block

No1-Tower-Road-South-sml-640x431

Wirral Waters developer, Peel Land and Property, has formally submitted a planning application to Wirral Council to build a stunning office block.

Situated on Tower Road, the £6m three-storey development will be aimed at Wirral’s small business community.

The ground floor will include an incubator facility for the region’s entrepreneurial sector, while the two upper floors will feature Grade ‘A’ level office accommodation throughout six suites.

We love the sound of ‘an incubator facility for the region’s entrepreneurial sector’. Her Ladyship asked whether this was a pop up birthing centre for busy have-it-all businesswomen. However it’s probably be more like a variation on the Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s Sheds down the road.

All fine and dandy you might think but as far as we’re concerned it’s the usual case of Peel securing yet more public money to kick start yet another opportunistic , ad-hoc private development as “the project is supported by a grant from Liverpool City Region’s Single Investment Fund and the backing of Wirral Council” – and that’s what happens when you don’t have a ‘Local Plan’

Finally we’ll be keeping a close eye on some controversial planning decisions which have been brought to our attention including one affecting one of Wirral’s Grade II listed properties, an architectural practice with links to a local councillor who has some interesting connections and a 1960’s toxic landfill site.

Dead Wrong

Cabinet 019

Cllr George Davies hangs his head in shame. Correction : he has no shame. 

Today’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting gave the powers that be the opportunity to respond to the criticism levelled at them by central government that they couldn’t organise a bunfight in a bakery when it comes to local planning issues with their failure to produce a ‘Local Plan’.

Unfortunately spineless council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies , in his inimitable style, delegated the task of chairing this meeting to his hapless deputy , Cllr George Davies. But where was Pip? – New York? Reno? Cannes? China? Apparently anywhere but his ward in Birkenhead or Wallasey Town Hall! Consequently we’d like to send him an early Easter present – a petri dish. Perhaps he’ll be able to grow a scrotum in it!

petri dish

Inevitably it didn’t work out well as Gorgeous George hid behind his PC screen (which makes a change from hiding behind Frank Field’s skirts) and , as usual, embarassingly read out a pre-prepared empty speech which bore a remarkable similarity to an exclusive statement issued to Wirral Globe by Pip in his belated response to Sajid Javid, the Minister for Housing, Communities and Local Government,and his letter threatening government intervention which we exclusively revealed to the people of Wirral –  Making Plans For Wirral

The belated Wirral Globe story can be read here

The use of the term ‘dead wrong’ was a dead giveaway that this was a Martin Liptrot-scripted case of talking loud and saying nothing.  Watch in horror from behind the settee from 7.30 minutes in of the John Brace video as Cllr George Davies has the temerity to say that as a  government minister Sajid Javid is “entitled to his opinion” . Whereas the truth of the matter is that Javid is entitled in LAW to insist that Wirral Council abide by their statutory obligations and produce a coherent ‘Local Plan’ .

What we find to be ‘dead wrong’ in the above horrorshow is that someone who has used racist slurs and offered a sweetheart deal to scammers  in return for smearing a political opponent is deemed to have the moral authority and political gravitas to challenge the accusation that he is monumentally incompetent when it comes to fronting Wirral Council’s planning portfolio.

Just watch and tell us whether it makes you feel proud that the people above – and Cllr George Davies in particular  – are responsible for making decisions that affect you and your life.

Cabinet 005

Wirral Council ‘leadership’ in action. These are the people who make decisions about our lives whilst avoiding the public gaze from behind their (smoke)screens .

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #9

Javid letter 354

Mail on Sunday 25/3/18

LOCAL PLANS,WEDDING PLANS – IT’S ALL THE SAME TO THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT (NO F*CKS ARE GIVEN)  

We think it’s fair to say it’s been a bad week for Wirral Council’s planning department. Just to cap it off there was a High Court ruling on the long running Thornton Manor story  A Thornton Huff : Where once again ‘ignorance is bliss’ when it comes to the Green Belt . You won’t be surprised to hear that Mr Justice Kerr ruled that Wirral Council had allowed Thornton Manor to flout planning laws and erect three marquees on the Green Belt by mistakenly making the permission to do so ‘unconditional’. The council only spotted the blunder in March 2017  – SIX YEARS  after permission was granted – like you do. In an unprecedented move Wirral Council apparently “confessed to its error “(!) which prompted the owners of  nearby rival and Mayor’s Ball venue , Thornton Hall Hotel, to make a legal challenge. Press reports say that as Thornton Manor has made wedding bookings up until 2020 that up to 50,000 guests could be affected by the ruling. Mr Justice Kerr stated ” I do not think that the existence of these bookings should override the public interest in the integrity of the planning process”. Little does he know that the public interest and integrity of the planning process seem to be alien concepts to Wirral Council!

We have to say the story reduced Her Ladyship to tears……..tears of laughter that is – as she read that blushing brides had been tempted to hire one of the marquees for their big day with a ‘Say I Do In Choo’ promo, where if they spent £3,950 – which struck us as a bit of a random figure – they would be entitled to a £500 voucher for Jimmy Choo shoes.  Her Ladyship composed herself after her bout of schadenfreude and rather pointedly sniffed : ” I think that prospective brides will find that being Choo-less is the first of many disappointments when it comes to married life “

“DON’T LET THE S*N GO DOWN ON FRANK” PLEADS MATRON

Oo-er Matron! Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin tries to come to the rescue of her adored Frank Field as he came under fire at Friday night’s Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meeting for continuing to write for The S*n .

The Skwawkbox blog reports that a strongly-worded motion of censure was proposed by Birkenhead CLP’s Prenton branch which stated as follows :

Prenton Branch condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the decision of Frank Field to write for Murdoch’s S*n. This not only flies in the face of Birkenhead public opinion and a Wirral Labour Council boycott, it rides roughshod over the memory of those who died or survived the Hillsborough tragedy and were smeared by that rag. It also causes upset to friends and family of victims and survivors.

One Prenton member has cancelled his membership due to Frank’s involvement in the gutter press. The branch feels that this is a clear case of bringing our Party into disrepute.

We call on Frank, to give a clear, unambiguous, public apology, for the hurt caused and to provide an undertaking not to contribute in any way, in future.

field-s_n-clp

“The writing was almost literally on the wall beyond him” –  pic and caption courtesy The Skwawkbox

A Labour Party member who was present at the meeting told Skwawkbox :

Frank said that he would not be muzzled. He refused to give the requested commitment not to repeat the offence caused and stated that if members didn’t like it, they could deselect him.

He flounced out of the meeting, claiming that he was continuing his surgery at nearby Birkenhead Town Hall. Nobody believed that, as it was nearly 8 pm and his surgery started at 5 pm!

His parting shot was some snide comment about Jeremy Corbyn, but members shouted back at him “thanks for nominating him”, as Field provided the deciding vote, which secured JC’s place on the original ballot!

We remind him of that frequently. If he thought he was being clever at the time, and JC had no chance of winning, look how that turned out.

Read full story here : Labour MP Field censured by Birkenhead CLP for S*n columns

The flouncing , arrogance and snide comments of Frankenfield will be familiar to those who happen to get on the wrong side of the Birkenhead MP . All you have to do is simply not to agree that he is 100% right on EVERYTHING and fail to prostrate yourself in adoration before him and you’re a wild-eyed Trotskyite and/or a mad malcontent. Which brings us round to Matron who gallantly (and unusually) writes in support of her hero in the comments section (Frankenfield had himself had declined to comment to The Skwawkbox) . There’s an interesting spat with local blogger Wirral In It Together. Matron loses – badly (and inevitably). One comment that particularly caught our eye was from Ian Campbell who wrote : “1984 N Wales Euro election Frank FIELDS (sic)  signed a half page in all the 10 constituency newspapers to warn against Ian Campbell the official Labour Candidate LP general Secretary wrote to me to apologise adding Fields has the backing of the Catholic Church and is untouchable.”

This reminded us that we really must get round to that story about Anglican Field’s extensive local connections with the Catholic Church………

ALL WRAPPED UP

You’re telling us that the Wirral Growth Company news emanating from its PR arm Wirral Well Made is absolutely relentless. We understand that this week’s Wirral Globe featured yet another 4 page  wrap around ‘advertising feature’ (costing  £4K +). Why Wirral Council’s ruling Labour administration continues to publish their Wirral View and duplicate spending on exactly the same content in a local newspaper we can only assume is down to arrogance and contempt for council tax payers. Wirral Well Made ‘s Martin Liptrot must be Wirral well made up that having wanting to put the Wirral Globe out of business he now has the financial means to use it as just another Wirral Council media outlet  Indeed Wirral Council now appear to have the local mainstream media all wrapped up. Indeed one reader has kindly sent us an artful representation of what it feels like to be subject to the ongoing media bombardment :

Javid letter 361

And what’s more it would appear that local opposition parties are not able to do anything about it. Whilst we understand the local Conservatives took out their own pre-purdah page in this week’s Wirral Globe (presumably paid for by local Tories and not by local council tax payers) to rerun the usual fare of complaints about consultants, Wirral View , Hoylake Golf Resort , bins and loans it seems to us that despite the high costs these are , politically-speaking , low ticket items :

Javid letter 360

The problem that opposition parties on Wirral now have (and particularly the Tories) is that as a result of their misplaced politesse the big ticket item of institutional corruption involving a small cabal of  Labour councillors has allowed the latter to act with impunity . Consequently this cabal have grown in strength, increased their power and are now acting, somewhat like their mentor and spiritual leader Frankenfield , as though they are “untouchable” . And with a perpetually impotent opposition with few new ideas things can only get worse.

AND FINALLY….

There were a few notable absentees ( including Cllr Louise Reecejones) and the announcement of a couple of retirements at this week’s full Wirral Council meeting. The latter included Cllr John Hale , a former Wirral Council leader from the last century (or was it the century before that?) and outgoing Mayor and former Deputy Leader of  Wirral Council  Cllr Ann ‘Moving Forward’ McLachlan.  Cllr McLachlan always appeared to us to be in a permanent state of denial about the appalling conduct of some of her contemporaries be they Wirral councillors or council officers . Her mantra was always about ‘moving forward’ as if it made all that ‘unpleasantness’ suddenly disappear. Now that Cllr McLachlan is ‘moving forward’ into retirement from politics perhaps she will take time to reflect that sometimes silence is compliance.

 

 

 

 

Making Plans For Wirral

Javid letter 010

Following yesterday’s masterful Masterplantastic story we bring you an immaculately timed letter from  Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing , Communities and Local Government which tells us what happens when a council has ‘visions’ rather than ‘plans’ !

As you may remember last November we brought to your attention Wirral Council’s failure to produce a ‘Local Plan’ and Javid’s warning that there would be government intervention if Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies couldn’t get his house in order : Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail .  Wirral Council was one of 15 council’s who received such a warning with  Javid making this sabre rattling statement :

…today is the day that my patience has run out.

Those 15 authorities have left me with no choice but to start the formal process of intervention that we set out in the white paper.

By failing to plan, they have failed the people they are meant to serve.

The people of this country who are crying out for good quality, well-planned housing in the right places, supported by the right infrastructure.

They deserve better, and by stepping in now I’m doing all I can to ensure that they receive it.

Now it would appear that Wirral Council has excelled themselves by being one of only 3 remaining councils who now face intervention for “persistent failure over many years to get a Local Plan in place”  For further details : Three councils

The full shameful letter from Javid to Pip can be read here :

Wirral Plan

Meanwhile a Wirral Leaks commentator going by the name of ‘HeadBallRoll’ writes to us to say :

After a series of mealymouthed excuses as to why highly paid council officers and their political paymasters couldn’t actually cut and paste something resembling a Local Plan by 31st January 2018 – as they were too busy hiding behind their 20/20 Vision and pledges rather than meeting a statutory requirement by which they can be held to account . Maybe the chosen few were too busy scoping golf courses, closing children’s centres, farming out council houses to private property developers … or simply not paying attention? So it’s been around a while, ending up with 15 councils warned by the angry Slaphead Javid.  But even nearly three years’ notice wasn’t enough for the senior, blind, bumbling incompetents shuffling around lost, bumping into each other, muttering, tripping over files, in the dusty, unused Wirral planning office.

And let’s face it, 33 months is  nowhere near enough notice to get their shit together (after 13 years of not having a ‘Local Plan’ !)  Presumably the other dozen LAs scraped through because they had enough about them to focus, gather the remnants of good practice and apply the last surviving vestiges of planning nous into cobbling some crappy document together in time.

But not here.  It seems they’ve sat around, twiddled their thumbs and hoped the horrible Tories would either go away, forget, or not go through with it.

Despite the BIG proclamations, the BIG egos, the BIG senior salaries, they’ve messed up BIG style.  It’s one BIG cock-up.

This being Wirral though, where abject failure and disaster have long become customary bedfellows, like night follows day, or falling off a log, it doesn’t soften the blow.

But hey, as long as those bumper salaries are not cut off and continue to come in on pay day, where’s the incentive to do your jobs, lol?

So chaos is now expected and planned for at ‘most improved’ Wirral. (Who remembers the Children’s Services OFSTED catastrophe that overpromoted social worker and CEO Eric Robinson  knew about months in advance, only to dive under his desk, head in hands, dribbling and doing bugger all to stave it off?)

And what of the grafting junior staff of the Planning Department, doing their utmost to at least be professional and hold the fort?

Monday morning will arrive, and they’ll find themselves intercepted, scapegoated, placed into the line of fire and reaping the consequences of years of failure by their bosses and councillors – who will have had just enough prior notification to give it all a timely body swerve…. That’s the type of ‘planning’ they’re very good at. Avoidance measures, whilst junior bods and lackeys are left to pick up the pieces. 

So it’s not just Children’s Services, Social Services, Highways Services that have collapsed into an abject, irretrievable mess.We can now add the Planning Department to the long list of shame.

Of course the upshot of all this is that Wirral’s ‘Local Plan’ could now come under the auspices of the Liverpool City Region as Javid warns in his letter:

 

My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting the Combined Authority for the Liverpool City Region to prepare a Local Plan for Wirral and on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan, as part of considering whether to use my statutory powers and if so which ones.

Could this have been part of  Pip’s ‘Masterplan’ all along ?  To evade accountability for an unpopular ‘Local Plan’ and subsequent planning decisions – ” It wasn’t us who approved a golf resort etc;  – it was the Liverpool City Region!”

 

Masterplantastic

 

Masterplan 2

We sincerely hope it’s not the last hurrah from long time Wirral Leaks contributor Dr Robert Smith. But if it is – what a way to go. The ‘Good Doctor’ shows ‘His Lordship’ up for the flâneur that he truly is.

Now whilst we all would like to live in those alluring artist’s impressions this the harsh reality – expertly and forensically laid bare :

Wirral, Wirral Council, and the development of the ‘Masterplan’ over the last 30 years.

Given that Wirral Waters is a 30-year programme of regeneration of derelict docklands, and a number of now-senior councillors in 2018 have been Wirral Councillors for a similar period, I have been taking a look at the history of ‘Masterplanning’ in Wirral and searched for the successes of the last 30 years. With a few exceptions, the greatest success of the last 30 years of Wirral Masterplanning appears to be a huge growth industry in ‘artist’s impressions’, and very little else.

Masterplanning, as opposed to planning or even developing a scheme (remember them?), appears to come into its own in local authorities, with the adoption of quasi-military and business terminology such as ‘strategic planning’, ‘resource development’, and ‘business case’ justifications in the early 1990s, to demonstrate coherent planning, business-like operations and efficient use of resources. Followed swiftly by ‘blue-sky thinking’, ‘thinking outside the box’, ‘joined-up thinking’, ‘picking the low-hanging fruit’ and ‘going on a journey’, etc., etc.; management-speak jargon, as like what it is frequently spoke…

As multiple regeneration funding sources were amalgamated to form the Single Regeneration Budget in the 1990s, and European funding sources and Objective One status came to Merseyside, a more integrated approach to planning and regeneration was required to achieve external funding support. Wirral Council officers were good at that in the 1990s.

After extensive research of Wirral Council and other partners’ efforts at planning across a wide range of services, facilities or developments, it appears that those who claim regularly to have ‘vision’ are proven by results to be the least well-equipped to hold such a self-aggrandising view.

Wirral Council whose motto may as well be ‘Lectiones sunt didici, sed nihil mutare non’ (‘lessons have been learned, but nothing will change’) is an organisation that does not learn from experience, either its own, or that of others. Now there is neither innovation nor inspiration, just copy and pasting of others’ ideas, there is little public ‘buy-in’ due to imposition, and that is why it mostly doesn’t work. And that lack of truly innovative thinking with genuine public consultation generally leads nowhere, except to bitter resentment. Wirral is never now the first to generate and implement an idea (what Wirral used to be famous for, ferries, town planning, trams, guide dogs, ship building, and lots more), but this mediocrity and endless consultancies creates exactly the pattern that has produced Masterplan after Masterplan after Masterplan, few of which have been fully or partly realised.

The pattern of Wirral Council Masterplanning is this: –

Aspiration (‘I have a vision’) – Perspiration (usually other people’s to promote the ‘vision’) – Degeneration (ongoing decline through delay during ‘visioning’) – Desperation (produce another Masterplan) …eat, sleep, rave, repeat…ad infinitum…

It is notable that Cllr Phil Davies, elected as a councillor in 1991, was having a 2020 Vision for Birkenhead in 2001, but only having a 2020 Vision for Wirral in 2015.

Also worthy of note is that between 1990 and 2008 the regeneration programmes of Wirral CityLands, Hamilton Quarter Project, New Wallasey, Lairdside, New Opportunities for Wirral and Wirral Waterfront, represent a collective investment in excess of £500,000,000. The greater part of it spent in Birkenhead. The Council was the accountable body with ultimate responsibility for the programmes and their continuation. Just to note that there has always been a £1bn investment opportunity in Wirral…why not just add more noughts nowadays to look impressive in the media?

However, in recent times when Wirral Council states that is going to be more ‘business-like’ (shouldn’t this have always been the case?) ‘with a private sector head but with a public-sector heart’ as stated by Cllr Ann McLachlan – when a council spokesperson states that Wirral Council collecting statutory Council Tax and Business Rates is business enterprise representing commercial success of the Council, we should know we are really in trouble.

I took more of an interest in the non-statutory range of Masterplans produced by and for Wirral Council (there is a lot of statutory masterplanning as well, such as in 2017 when Ofsted rated Wirral’s Children’s Services “inadequate” after “widespread and serious failures” were found. This is one element of council core business).

When you fail to deliver a number of crucial core public services (the local authority raison d’etre), you’ve ‘taken your eye off the ball’ for far too long. You then descend into the realms of ‘reputation management’ often similar to propaganda, and create the smokescreen of column inches and artists’ impressions, or even local media allies and an in-house ‘newspaper’ to control publicly available information.

But, I digress, the list below is indicative rather than definitive, and focusses mainly towards the north of the borough, as that is where the Council has chosen to concentrate its efforts. I have included relevant media quotes as appropriate.

 

30+ ‘Masterplans’ in 30 years…that really is Masterplantastic!!

 

1990-1997 Wirral CityLands April 24th, 1997 Wirral Globe. Council Leader Dave Jackson writes “The work done on Birkenhead town centre is an achievement, but it has also given the impetus to make further commercial development possible.”

1995-2002 Hamilton Quarter Project – £82m to create a cultural and creative industries quarter, rebalance the local residential demographic, and develop attractions. The programme centred on Hamilton Square with a brief to unify the Woodside/Hamilton Square link to the retail centre. Also, to continue the ‘Heritage Trail’ museums package initiated by MDC. “Deputy Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies believes the success of the Hamilton Quarter Project, which has completely rejuvenated this part of Birkenhead, has shown what can be achieved.” (Mike Hornby 11th Jan 2002, Daily Post)

1998-2003 New Wallasey – “More than £9m had been allotted to carry out work in New Brighton and Wallasey, and, at the time, it included ambitious plans to build a Merseyside Imperial War Museum. But many of the hopes fell by the wayside and the scheme came in for much criticism when one of its lasting legacies was the New Brighton clown – a sculpture welcoming people to the town.” Mar 31, 2005 Daily Post

1996-2003 Lairdside – reclamation of derelict land and buildings for re-development and creation of Tranmere Urban Village.

1998-2004 New Opportunities for Wirral – A 6-year scheme aiming to tackle social exclusion and reduce poverty in the Pathways areas on the Wirral.

2000-2008 Wirral Waterfront – £144m programme to implement a comprehensive physical and social regeneration strategy for the Wirral Waterfront from New Brighton taking in Seacombe, pathway areas in Birkenhead, Tranmere and Rock Ferry.

2001-2008 LOBO Loans financial strategy – £137m borrowed from private banks at 6% pa; interest payable £8m pa. Total repayable in excess of £500,000,000 finally to be paid off in 2078; expensive exit penalties making it super-expensive to get out of the loans.

2001-2020 Birkenhead Town Centre 2020 Vision and Strategy January 11th, 2002 Liverpool Daily Post – Deputy Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies added: “This is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved over the next 20 years. The document sets up a framework which we will use to attract additional investment and create jobs. It is something which will benefit the whole of the borough, not just Birkenhead, and will enable us to compete with places such as Liverpool and Cheshire Oaks.”

2002 Enriching Our Lives – Wirral’s first Cultural Strategy, never properly promoted, understood or implemented.

2002 Birkenhead Park £11.3m HLF restoration (completed 2007) a successful project undermined by the Council’s cavalier attitude to the agreed management plan, park maintenance and security.

2004 West Wirral Hoylake & West Kirby Masterplan designed to raise the profile of coastal towns Hoylake and West Kirby,. Consultants brought in by Wirral Council submitted their ideas in 2004. (Shelved 2014)

2006 Woodside Masterplan by Building Design Partnership (BDP) 28th February 2007The first phase of works will include the creation of a ‘development spine’ running from the Woodside Ferry Terminal up to Hamilton Square Station”. (Shelved)

2006 Wirral Waters 14th December 2009 Wirral Globe Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes said: “This is a significant step in our vision to regenerate Wirral.” Plans for a £200m International Trade Centre (ITC) in Birkenhead that could provide up to 3,000 new jobs have been approved by councillors. The centre, planned for the West Float former docks site, makes up part of the £4.5bn Wirral Waters regeneration scheme planned by developer Peel. 21 September 2011 BBC News

2007 Peach Developments/Neptune Woodside Masterplan May 2007. “The exclusivity agreement between Merseytravel and Neptune Developments and Peach Developments means ambitious plans to redevelop the Woodside area of the Wirral waterfront will go ahead”. Liverpool Echo. Martin Lowe, who runs Peach Developments, said: “I first took the drawings to the council four years ago, and when they saw them, they could see the potential for developing the area, so asked me to work with them. Since then, others have come on board, but the Woodside Hotel remains the lynchpin in the development.”

2007 Brand New Brighton – Neptune Developments scheme to redevelop the Floral Pavilion Theatre, and to develop Marine Point. 2nd September 2013 “New Brighton finally reaps rewards as successful revamp takes off” Wirral Globe. Except that Wirral Council has tried to strangle it at birth by introducing parking charges.

2008 Wirral Council Strategic Asset Review – Epic fail https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?Id=607

2011 Wirral Heritage Strategy 2011-2014 ‘Making Our Heritage Matter’ Private Eye writes… “that a fire at historic buildings in Wirral is often followed by demolition.” Liscard Hall, Birkenhead Market, ESWA Sports and Social Club, Central Hotel, British Leather Tannery, Woodside Hotel…

2013 Wirral Council and Neptune (later Ion) Development Limited – £30m redevelopment of Birkenhead town centre. The project was due to regenerate the town’s market and rebuild the Europa Pools leisure centre, with restaurants, a food court and a hotel also proposed.

2015 Wirral Council £1.1m Hamilton Square traffic plan – The plans were revised after criticism from businesses, residents and Birkenhead councillor Pat Cleary – who called it a “giant waste of public funds” – and they have now been shelved altogether. Liverpool Echo

2015 Wirral Council and Neptune (later Ion) Development Limited 27 October 2016 BBC News – Cllr Davies said the council continued to have “huge ambitions” for Birkenhead and believed it could be a “fantastic destination”. (Ion, previously Neptune Developments 2013 agreement scrapped 2016 – Council leader Phil Davies said the decision was linked to “more ambitious” development opportunities.)

2015 Wirral Council 2020 Vision (see 2001) – 20 ‘Pledges’. In his own words, Cllr Phil Davies to be held accountable by Wirral public.

2015 Wirral Partnership to pool £2bn public sector budgets by 2020 17th September 2015 Wirral Globe Cllr Phil Davies states “It is our ultimate aim to have a pooled budget by the end of the five-year plan.” Never going to happen.

2015 Hoylake Golf Resort Masterplan 7th December 2017 Wirral Globe Cllr Phil Davies states “This is another example of Wirral Council being commercial, ambitious and innovative.”

2016 Downtown Birkenhead CH41 25th Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo Cllr Phil Davies “This is the biggest regeneration plan I have ever been involved with.”

2016 Wirral’s Culture Strategy – would you know there was one? Not Wirral’s first Cultural Strategy, and will never be properly promoted, understood or implemented.

2016 Wirral Healthcare Masterplan STP – is WBC in or out and for or against, as a Wirral NHS CCG ’partner’…who knows?

2016 Wirral Growth Plan – is this a school project? https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gallery/new-images-1bn-wirral-growth-13173369

2017 Wirral Growth Company – “The prospect of bringing thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of pounds of new investment, into the borough will be life-changing for many of our residents who look to us as a council to set these ambitious visions.”; states Cllr Phil Davies. Wirral Council Chief Executive states it is ‘asset rich, but cash poor’. However, it will transfer publicly-owned assets to the Wirral Growth Company, a private company with its own board. The Council will buy more assets (Birkenhead Market £??, parcels of land £??, Europa Building £8.4m) for which it will borrow many millions to buy. It will then take additional multi-millions in loans to lend to the developers, who presumably won’t be credit-worthy enough in their own right? More interest payments, even asset-richer, loadsa-cash poorer, is the likely outcome for Wirral’s public finances. The financial risk assessment must make for interesting reading.

2017 New plans to turn Birkenhead Town Hall into boutique hotel – Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of the Council, said: “Driving regeneration, creating jobs and ensuring sustainable, long-term growth in our economy is vitally important”.

2017 Birkenhead Market Masterplan – “Birkenhead market could become such a foodie paradise that even celebrity chef Paul Hollywood could be tempted back to Wirral” states Cllr Phil Davies – maybe if Paul Hollywood (celebrity baker, duh) lives long enough….

2018 Wirral Waters1 WW1 – Wirral Waters £175m “International Trade Centre” sunk without trace, and diluted more with a splash of Urban Splash (modular) prefabs…what chance will all the Wirral Met College apprentice brickies have before their retirement?

AS WE COME UP TO DATE FROM CLLR DAVE JACKSONS QUOTE (1997) FROM CITYLANDS (started 1990), I THINK OF THE ‘LOST GENERATIONS’ OF WIRRAL, AND BIRKENHEAD IN PARTICULAR…it looks to me as if another generation will be ‘lost’ to ‘visions’, Wirral residents will be ignored, whilst crucial public services ‘wither on the vine’ due to neglect.

Here are 2 quotes from 2001 and 2017…

2017 Wirral Council Strategic Regeneration Framework Cllr Phil Davies states – “We have not been standing still in recent years, much has been achieved, but we look forward to working together with greater drive and pace in order to realise our shared vision for the borough”.

…and in 2001 Birkenhead Town Centre 2020 Vision – Wirral Council deputy leader Cllr Phil Davies says of the 20-year plan: “After consultations with businesses and the public what has emerged is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved.”

Vision…? …nah…same old, same old…it’s now obviously delusion…

Masterplan 1

Rising and Falling Stars

A-prick

It was three years ago that Wirral Council was named  ‘Most Improved Council’ at the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards and anyone receiving an email or a letter from Wirral Council will see they are still desperately trading on this tired and bogus accolade.

As you know we are deeply suspicious of awards and titles as they often serve to provide a veneer of credence to the least deserving. This is something we deconstructed when the LGC award was first announced. Read here : The Bamboozlers

Might we suggest that it would have been more appropriate – or at least in the interest of balance – to include ‘Rated Inadequate by Ofsted 2016′ on official Wirral Council correspondence. After all what would be more indicative of the true state of Wirral Council – a rigorous full inspection of Children’s Services by a team of qualified and experienced inspectors or a 20 minute presentation to a group of gullible local government gurus at Grosvenor House  ,London ? The LGC  judge’s comments from 2015 read :

This is a council that has broken the mould of old ways of working to deliver a dramatic improve to its governance. Under a sector-led approach it has gone from being an abnormal authority known locally as the ‘insular peninsula’ to an organisation that seeks help and inspiration from others and is working with residents in a way they have never done before with impressive results in terms of new jobs.

And yet one year later Wirral council gets slated by Ofsted. But then a LGC award is a notorious kiss of death. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to hear the full story about how Wirral Council got this dubious award . Maybe Jo Miller the CEO of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council -who were ‘Highly Commended’ by the LGC judges -will one day tell us about the backstage wheeler dealing that went on to ensure Wirral Council won the award. Apparently the judges thought “they’d had a hard time” . So it was the sympathy vote that won it. Bless. No wonder Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies looks so proud in the picture above. Read more here: Most Improved Council 2015

Is it any wonder that the ‘Most Improved Council’ award has subsequently become so discredited that as far as we understand there hasn’t been such an award since? This includes this year’s shit-glittering ceremony  which is to be held tonight : LGC Awards 2018

As you can see Wirral Council’s sole nomination this year is in the ‘Rising Star’ category and the honour goes to Sally Clark. Wirral Council’s pitch is as follows:

Sally Clark has recently been promoted to assistant head of communications but joined Wirral when it was undergoing major internal redesign. Her role was to help the council engage with employees to help communicate the challenges, the necessary redundancies and reshaping of services. She very quickly embedded herself across the organisation and her work on shaping how those messages were delivered had a huge impact on the final outcome and how the council was perceived. Ms Clark has been key to driving and maintaining pace in changing the way the council engages with staff, and has helped to set up new organisations that enabled Wirral to become a commissioning council.

We’ve got to admit that trying to improve how Wirral Council is perceived is a tough gig and it will be interesting to see whether Ms Clark fares better than last year’s Wirral Council  ‘Rising Star’ nominee, Strategy Manager Lucy Barrow , who we understand is now ‘all things culture’ . We also understand from a source that reclusive Wirral Council CEO  Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson has a ‘special liking’ for Ms Barrow and “can’t stop singing her praises” . But then according to last year’s LGC award pitch “People at every level of the organisation rely on her advice,support and talent” . As no doubt does her husband Mark Barrow – who just so happens to be ‘Campaign Manager’ at Wirral Chamber of Commerce’ ! Proving once again to us that if you impress the right people and have the right connections on the insular peninsula you’ll go far. Is Wirral ‘s talent pool really that shallow? Sadly the answer appears to be yes! Read more here :  Rising Star- Lucy Barrow

Now we can’t comment on the merits and attributes of these ‘Rising Stars’  but we do think it is revealing about what kind of roles are valued and relied upon by Wirral Council  – salespeople and spin doctors.

However such is the mysterious workings of the universe it would appear that it is a truism that for every rising star there is a falling star. And apparently disappearing into a black hole is former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley who having being exiled by Wirral Chamber of Commerce to Egerton House as a glorified facilities manager, has we now understand, gone altogether . Perhaps he didn’t fit with the slick ,glossy image that the aspirational Chamber are promoting. As Her Ladyship said : ” I fear that burgundy cummerbund at the LGC Awards 2015 may have been the beginning of the end for him”  

Burgundy Cummerbund

Sue Perkins points to the offending item (take your pick as to what we mean by that)

If this is the case it’s lucky for Adderley that the £250,000 pay off he received from Wirral Council in 2015 will mean that (unlike others) he won’t have to darken the door of the DWP for whom he worked for 29 years. Perhaps he can give former Wirral CEO Graham Burgess a call to see if there are any jobs going within his burgeoning property empire (Torus /Bamboo Lettings etc;) …….on second thoughts, perhaps not.

But as the stars are going out

And this stage is full of nothing 

And the friends have all but gone 

For my life, my God, I’m singing

 

 

 

 

Defend Our NHS : Heads Up On Pop Up

Our Birth Rights and Wrongs story caused quite a stir . Fortunately there are people better informed than us to to tell you about the pop up /pop out birthing centre in Seacombe.  So we are giving you the heads up about a public meeting organised by our friends Defend Our NHS and to also tell you to watch BBC1 North West Tonight tomorrow night which will feature a report about the opening of the centre and hopefully featuring a well informed ,dissenting voice facilitated by Wirral Leaks.

Dear Friends of the NHS

  1. Please find attached a leaflet for our next public meeting which will discuss the controversy surrounding the new Seacombe ‘pop-up’ Birthing Centre*. Please attend if you can – and share this information widely.
  • Wednesday 28th March at 7.00pm in St Paul’s Church Hall, Church Road, Seacombe, CH44 7BA.
  • Guest speakers: Felicity Dowling from the Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital campaign and Stephanie Miller, retired local midwife.
  1. We had another successful open meeting last week. Those present discussed the outcomes of the previous meeting, which had agreed a set of local and national concerns about the NHS as well as what we could do about them collectively and individually. The results of our deliberations will be available as a file on our Facebook page – and we’ll see the results over the coming months as we continue the fight to defend OUR health service. It all depends on YOU.
  2. Defend Our NHS was represented at the recent second meeting of campaign groups from around the Cheshire and Merseyside STP ‘footprint’. We shared information about how our services are being ‘slashed, trashed and privatised’ and how some councils are collaborating in this.
  3. One thing all local groups are determined to do is celebrate the NHS’s 70th birthday – and ensure it continues in good health. Some of our supporters will be attending the massive march in London on 30th June; on the same day many of us will be holding a ‘picnic in the park’: an NHS birthday party with fun for all the family. More details soon.

Best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS

Email: defendournhswirral@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/

Twitter: @DefendourNHS

* The centre will be opened by this week, at the invitation of Wirral Council and Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group, by Conservative Baroness Cumberlege. We wonder if Wirral Council (which has voted to oppose the privatisation of the NHS) has read this: http://socialinvestigations.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-case-of-baroness-cumberlege-why.html

Seacombe pop up 9