Highways : Against the Flow of Traffic

Flow of Traffic

We raised the issue (and our eyebrows) at the proposal to bring the highways contract back under Wirral Council control as part of our Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2

This particular story concerned a meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee (ARMC) where Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green wanted reassurance that the decision to bring the highways contract back in house wasn’t “written on the back of a fagpacket” . We also noted that :

Incidental dark comedic value is to be had from the ever oleaginous senior officer David Armstrong who promises a short report and ingratiating interm Monitoring officer Philip McCourt who says that the commissioning of highways contract is a ‘live project’ and that the report would be a ‘ partial measure’ – ain’t that the truth!

Needless to say council officers showed their usual contempt for opposition councillors by failing to produce a written report for yesterday’s ARMC follow up meeting. There were also no shows from McCourt and ARMC chair Cllr Adrian Jones . Consequently Deputy Chief Executive Armstrong was allowed by stand-in chair Cllr Angela Davies to hand the hot potato over to poor sap Mark Smith (Strategic Commissioner for Environment) to deliver a verbal report – all the better to hinder proper scrutiny when nothing is written down and there’s no report in the public domain for ‘ a particular website’ to pick (pot)holes. It was enough to give us an attack of the verbals.

As you can see from the John Brace footage of last night’s meeting Smith gives a tortuous explanation of ‘options appraisals’ and how the decision was reached. Although we have to say that as he’s on £90,532 p.a. our sympathy for his squirming is somewhat limited.

However the information that was eventually dragged out of Smith was most illuminating (and probably explains the lack of a written report) . It was revealed  that the current holders of the highways contract BAM Nuttall get £6 million p.a. from Wirral Council . Smith described it as an ‘unusual scenario’ that BAM Nuttall chose not to take advantage of a contract extension to which they were entitled. BAM Nuttall currently spend £5 million is spent on sub-contractors and £1 million on what Armstrong described as 28/29  ‘operatives’ . It is these ‘operatives’ who will be TUPE* transferred back to Wirral Council (if they wish) – and the sub-contracting from the private sector will continue.

* Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment ) Regulations.

We begrudgingly give him his due on this one (because he’s had a shadowy part in this shady story) but Cllr Green whipped out his calculator trying to deconstruct the £1 million cost of 28/29 operatives -which he calculated to be about £700,000 . Labour councillor Christina Muspratt attempted to explain the missing £300,000 as ‘on costs’ However it was eventually wheedled out of Smith that ‘operatives’ included both managers and back room staff (approximately half operational and half management) so it wasn’t just staff filling potholes and replacing streetlights.

Armstrong and Smith were particularly twitchy on the issue of TUPE transfers with the former interrupting through the chair to advise Cllr Muspratt  that there was a list of staff who were eligible and who can “TUPE if they wish”  to either BAM Nuttall or Wirral Council . Smith went on to say that ” it wouldn’t be appropriate to go into any further detail in this forum”

However might we suggest there remain pertinent questions that need to be asked :  a) are the managers subject to TUPE some of the same Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) managers from Wirral Council who failed to win the highways contract during a tendering exercise in 2008 and who’s contracts of employment  were TUPE transferred to Colas and then presumably BAM Nuttall in 2014 and who have been in dispute with Wirral Council for a decade ? b) did this ongoing dispute influence or play any part in the decision (under delegated powers) to return the highways contract to Wirral Council control and c) has this dispute been resolved – and if so – how? 

Whilst , like some of the councillors at ARMC  , we welcome the return of highways to Wirral Council control , we seem to be rather more enquiring as to the reasons why – especially when such a decision goes ‘against the flow of traffic’ when it comes to outsourcing council services.

9 thoughts on “Highways : Against the Flow of Traffic

  1. G’day Leaks

    Wouldn’t you laugh your frogs legs off if they had to give their brown envelopes back or face the consequences.

    People missing from the Fudge It and Risk It Mis-Management Committee I do hope it was for serious no no very serious personal issues.

    They never wished me and “Highbrow” any good for doing a good deed so I personally hope The Fudge It and Risk It Mis-Management Committee never sees “The Pretend Friend” or the likes of that orrible little welsh arsehole again.



    Arsehole with haemorrhoids the size of an oggie.


  2. TUPEE, or not TUPEE: that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The Shius and marrows of alleged #racist fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of pizzas,
    And by opposing order them? To die: to sleep;
    No more; and by a sleep to say we hide
    The covert tape and the thousand natural shocks
    That Foulkes is heir to, ’tis a consummation
    Robustly to get pish’d. To die, to sleep;
    To creep: perchance to scheme: ay, there’s the Hub;
    For in that sleep of Morton, what PIDAs may come
    When we have shovelled off this mortal pot hole,
    Must give us pause: there’s the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life;
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of Thynne,
    The Combover’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
    The pangs of Surjit’s love, the law’s decay,
    The Jefferson of office and his spurns
    That patient merit of the unworthy fakes,
    When he himself might fat brown envelopes make
    With a bare bodkin? who would Frank Field bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weighty bung,
    But that the dread of something after death,
    The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
    No whistleblower returns, muzzles the will
    And make us rather keep those secret recordings we’re still FKN clinging onto come what may
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    Thus conscience does make Pip Davies’s of us all;
    And thus the DLO of resolution
    Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of rewarding intimidation,
    And enterprises of great pith and moment
    With this regard BAM Nuttall turns awry,
    And lose the shovel of action.–Soft you now!
    The fair Adrian! Welsh nymph, in thy Santa suit
    Be all thy sins remember’d.

  3. Very fine Good Master Cardin,very fine indeed
    Thy eloquence giveth the lie to whom doth plead
    That thou art nought but a scurvy varlet
    Nor haveth neither verse nor couplet
    When rather you be of gentle condition
    A soldiering pilgrim on a public service mission

    Kind soul shrive me my weakest verse
    No allowance,nor council wage do fill my purse
    And so you may forbear me to curse
    Unlike the borough’s salaried you mirth!

  4. G’day Leaks

    If “Ankles” or “The Pretend Friend” or “Philly “FUCKING” Liar” spat at “Eccles Cake Face” “The Blinking CEO” I bet you Lordy they would get away with it.

    They would do a report then get a friendly public “gravy train” servant in to investigate it and then hide the report until there was 18 months of FOI’s.

    Even that Tory Leader whoever he is would do fuck all.

    ….apart from maybe a photo shoot with that ratty Gilchristess tatty beard.



    You don’t grass on Merseyshite do you……”Ankles”?

    Unless its a scally with no links.


  5. Oh Lordy

    From their rubbish ex-propaganda sheet THE wIRRAL GLOB(UL)E of spitlle.

    Wirral’s longest-serving councillor John Hale retires.

    Wirral’s longest-serving councillor John Hale retires.

    (He keeps repeating himself and should have retired 30 years ago….no one would have noticed)

    This must be, forgive me if I am wrong.

    The fucking old fool that said “Highbrow” should apologise for trying to save the taxpayer £2,000,000.00

    It says it all that he is a neighbour of the member for Tranmeirdere “Philly “FUCKING” Liar” that common barstard from Caldy.

    All the family live there and will probably move into the new golf resort.



    Another blot on the wirral taxpayer’s purse bites the dust.

    Good riddance and I wish you exactly what you deserve.


    • Excuse me….I must just laugh….ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

      Bore da to yourself James, (Did I mention I could speak Welsh?) Kind of….

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