Wirral – Where Public Service Went To Die …

Human Nature

This week we were quite happy taking a sentimental journey round the septic isle until Dr Robert diagnosed us with ‘Sandie Shaw Syndrome’ . No , we’re not in the words of the barefoot singer’s Eurovision winner ‘Puppets On A String’ (we leave that to others). As fellow sufferers of the syndrome know  : “There’s Always Something There To Remind Me” and it messes with your head.

So whilst it’s vaguely concerning/amusing/appalling that other local authorities are equally inept and corrupt, let’s be reminded of Wirral Council’s rap sheet courtesy of ‘The Good Doctor’. Although as we replied to our esteemed commentator the sleaze (there is no other word) that lies behind the bare reported facts doesn’t bear thinking about!


It is 2011, and Wirral Council is in serious trouble. It is on the brink of Government intervention and has received a damning report1 from consultant Anna Klonowski (AKA Associates). The report paints a graphic picture of Wirral Council’s corrosive and bullying corporate culture, failures in corporate governance, and of Wirral as ‘the insular peninsula’. The Council is vividly described as an inward-looking organisation where the abnormal had become normal. The Council Leader and Chief Executive unreservedly accept the devastating assessment, and all the consultant’s findings.

In April 2012 the ‘window dressing’ started. A politically-expedient decision reportedly taken by Frank Field MP and Eric Pickles (then-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government), established a Local Government Association (LGA) Wirral Council ‘Improvement Board’. Called ‘sector-led improvement’ by the LGA, a review of Wirral Council’s corporate governance was undertaken by an ‘expert’ (peer review) panel. Its role was to identify the embedded detrimental issues and agree a corporate improvement programme.

In November 2013 the ‘Improvement Board’ produced a 63-page draft report congratulating themselves for enabling ‘the fastest turnaround2 in local government history’. Its job deemed complete, Wirral Council was unleashed from supervision.

Once unleashed, Council Leader Phil Davies guaranteed the casting vote on all Council committees. Replacing all opposition-councillor committee Chairs with ruling group councillors was in direct contravention of the Improvement Board agreement. The Council and Cabinet has had no effective political opposition since.

November 2014 saw a presentation given by Cllr Phil Davies and Graham Burgess, who appeared to have moved seamlessly3 in 2013 from Improvement Board member to Wirral Council CEO. The judging panel for this presentation, comprising primarily LGA members, judged for the first and only time, the Local Government Chronicle’s (LGC) ‘Most Improved Council in Great Britain’ award. Never awarded before, never awarded since. Without warning, Mr Burgess, described as a ‘leading light’ of the LGA, ‘retired’ from Wirral Council at the end of 2014.

It was March 2015 when Wirral residents awoke to media headlines announcing “From ‘abnormal to inspirational’ – Wirral wins ‘Most Improved Council in Great Britain’ award4.” In Wirral the question on everyone’s lips… is it April 1st?

A new Wirral CEO5, Eric Robinson, a former social worker from Staffordshire CC, was appointed in April 2015. Cllr Phil Davies stated… “Eric is the ideal appointment to take us forward towards my ambition for Wirral to become an outstanding council.”

In 2012 Wirral Council had agreed with findings that it was an ‘inward-looking organisation’ where ‘the abnormal had become accepted as normal’. In November 2015 it still was, as a very low-key peer review revealed. That was, if you could find it.

Also in November 2015, almost absolute power lay in the hands of the Council Leader when Wirral Council Cabinet agreed constitutional changes6. Coupled with the ruling group en-bloc voting7 and abstention regime, any decision could be bulldozed through. This change effectively negated any political opposition and scrutiny, Ward, community8, or resident9 representation.

Political, individual and council organisational survival were now the priorities. Residents were paid lip-service with endless ‘consultations’, as infrastructure deteriorated10, and public services reduced dramatically.

As local criticism grew, Wirral Council Leader took to ‘reputation management’. Described in the media as ‘cronyism’, in February 2016 Martin Liptrot, a self-proclaimed ‘reputation manager’, was appointed. This elicited headlines such as “Emails give extraordinary insight into Wirral Council’s controversial hiring11 of former Labour spin doctor”.

In September 2016, CEO Eric Robinson described Wirral Council’s ‘improvement journey’ as moving from “from the brink of intervention to the pinnacle12 of local government”. With his background in Children’s Services, was all well at the pinnacle of all pinnacles?

‘Most Improved’ Wirral Council’s Children’s Services were rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted in September 2016. Hidden away was a Serious Case Review into the grooming of teenage girls13 in Wirral Council care over a 5-year period. In a desperate attempt to deflect criticism and accountability, the oft-quoted ‘austerity-hit, cash-strapped’ Leader initially promised £2m additional funding. Then a promise of £10m. Then a promise of £20m, to ‘demonstrate Council commitment’.

With ‘Most Improved’ Wirral Council’s reputation in tatters, Martin Liptrot was then fast-tracked to ‘Investor Development Manager’ with ‘no questions asked’14, and immediately sent to Cannes to attend MIPIM, a ‘property market’, with the Council Leader, Council CEO and others.

…and it goes on…in November 2017 following the 2016 Serious Case Review, two brothers were jailed for a combined 40 years after being convicted of 27 sexual offences against girls as young as 14. The Children’s Services Improvement Board Chair, Eleanor Brazil, resigned15 citing Wirral Council’s “shoddy treatment” of Julia Hassall, the then Director of Children’s Services, and “…some significant corporate issues…”

… and on…Jim Crabtree, a (now ex-) Councillor and Chair of Audit & Risk committee was convicted in January 2017 of making death threats16 towards fellow Councillor Louise Reecejones, regarding an unidentified sum of £19,000. In March 2018 the threatened Councillor resigned to free herself from “the noose”17.

Without Local Government Commissioners’ intervention, ‘Most Improved’ Wirral Council is the graveyard of the 7 ‘Nolan Principles’18 of public life, viz.  Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty & Leadership.

In Wirral you won’t hear the ghosts of the Nolan Principles wailing and roaming the streets at night. They left long ago.


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17 thoughts on “Wirral – Where Public Service Went To Die …

      • I have a Birkenhead County Court hearing on 23rd May at 10:30am where WBC seeks to dismiss my claim for modest compensation on grounds divers but one being that my Whistle-blower claims were fully investigated and found to be baseless

        Now go read government internal audit report and the Grant Thornton report on isus and big

      • An excellent headline summary .. no need to mention ALL the corruption that’s been reported on here .. the headlines alone should be enough for any organisation, never mind a public one, to expect intervention, but as a public one it should damn well be demanded

        I wonder how much external legal advice they’ve notched up just this year ?, bets on which external firm has picked their early retirement home courtesy of Wirral tax payers… as a ceo surely the first thing you would do is look at the litigation on the table that should give you a finger in the wind idea of just how fucked the place is, or not, coz not all large organisations have 100s of thousands of pounds of investigations and litigation .. maybe he did do that and that’s why he sits under his desk … ignoring everything past, it would appear present and for £200k more likely the future too !!

  1. Once again the esteemed Doctor has produces a superb analysis of (nearly) all that is wrong with this appalling Council and the equally appalling people who run it in a fashion reminiscent of a Communist Party State.
    No dissent is allowed. Truths are turned on their head and untruths become fact. Corruption and nepotism become entrenched. Waste is endemic.
    The will of the Leading Commissars, aided and abetted by a compliant, gutless and highly paid Executive, are absolute.
    This article should be published in full in the local media so that all the Council Tax payers, and voters of Wirral become aware of the dreadful mob they have voted, yet again ,into power.
    However, we all know that Hell will freeze over before that happens.

  2. My Lord, I mentioned to the bloke who is building the ‘Giants’ that are coming to Merseyside in October that your good self is presently residing somewhere in the south of France.

    As you are no doubt aware the Giants are based in Nantes (where construction is taking place) Good news! The bloke says you are more than welcome to pay a visit to have a look at the work in progress.

    I asked if it is true that he is building a Giant James Griffiths Aussie, with a hat with corks hanging down ….. and if was also true the Giant was going to spue all over Wallasey Town Hall? (He wouldn’t say My Lord)
    Please take your camera phone with you if you decide to visit and try to snap a sly photo….

  3. You mention this appointment of lipshit….. what about transformers Paul Shitour, Happy Halliday, clapped out Clayson and lastly Eric’s right hand man yours truly Stephen Butterbean the slimy git. The list is endless and corruption at its best. Accountability ‘my arse’!!!!!

    • Mr.Davies.

      You mention “Happy” Halliday.
      I am not surprised with his nickname given him by Private Eye.
      With first a 3 months and then an additional 6 months extension to his £188,000 twelve months contract, my maths indicate that he will have trousered £330,000 of our money even if he does not get a further extension.

      This is the equivalent to the annual Council Tax revenue of around 215 band C properties. And the Council Leader pleads poverty due, as always, “To savage Tory cuts.”

      • G’day Chas

        You say Mr.Davies

        I say “Philly “FUCKING” Liar.



        Charles he deserves absolutely no respect after what he did to the Wirral “Funny” Bizz £2,000,000.00 knock off whistleblowers.

        He is a scum bag of the very worst deluded type.


      • And to top it off he’s now a fully fledged member of Wirral council with a pension pot as well so once he vacates post he will walk away of just short of £250k…..so this would be a cool eye watering £750k give or take… nice!!!!!

  4. That’s one hell of an audit trail of dropped turds; where’s the council turd fouling wardens when you need ’em?

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