EXCLUSIVE : A Clean Sweep for the New Momentum Broom in Birkenhead CLP

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… but all is not as rosy as it may seem. For a start it would seem that former Wirral councillor Louise Reecejones (LRJ) – No. 6 in the above picture –  is back in a position of power and influence as Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) ‘ Diversity Officer’ . Yes, the same LRJ who was as you can read here was removed as Secretary of Disability Labour earlier this year as Labour Party members had deemed her position had become ‘untenable and unworkable’.

However we leave the expert analysis to a Labour Party insider who attended the Birkenhead CLP Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday 28 September . Whilst we’ve always maintained that the only way that the local Labour Party could rehabilitate itself locally ,having been brought so low by a corrupt cabal , was by its own members holding them to account. The jury is out on whether these latest developments are the way forward. As you can see it’s a view that is shared by ‘Red Eye’ our eyewitness at the Birkenhead CLP AGM :

So, it was a clean sweep for the Left with the old guard well and truly swept aside.
Predictably there was much self-congratulation going around on the Left. Some of it deserved but perhaps satisfaction rather than congratulations was more appropriate.

There is no question that Corbyn has caused there to be a dramatic increase in
membership in Birkenhead; it has more than doubled. But this has not translated to increased attendance at meetings – to be fair not an uncommon feature across
England and Wales.

Friday’s success was claimed by John Maher, Birkenhead CLP Secretary, the self-styled leader of the purge, as a masterclass in organisation.

The real reason for Friday night’s success was not down to some Left-wing uprising but down to a dramatic collapse in the old guard/opposition to the Left when compared to the previous year. Last year the ‘old guard’ attracted 80-100 votes compared to around 70 for the Left. But on Friday whilst the Left’s vote was broadly unchanged from the previous year the old-guard’s vote fell to around 40 or so.

No doubt the direction of the Labour Party nationally has heartened local socialists.The truth is that the Wirral ‘old guard’ are in disarray. Disheartened Blairites, the old guard councillor club and St Frank Field fan club are waving the white flag. For them accountability is an ugly word and they would rather remain at arm’s length from the accountability that party activists are beginning to demand.

So, it seems we are at last beginning to a new broom sweeping through Labour locally. Perhaps that is no bad thing as there is surely many decent and earnest people are amongst them. But there are some warnings signs too and grumbles are beginning to emerge.

As reported recently in the national Press, John Maher, self-styled leader of the group has a somewhat chequered history of party allegiance and embrace of democracy. As  Wirral Leaks  reported in 2016 here Maher has his own way of doing things and isn’t best pleased if you disagree with him. The prize at stake in Birkenhead is of course the Parliamentary Candidature. The NEC has given the go ahead for Birkenhead to proceed with an open selection.

John Maher has made no secret that Cllr Tony Norbury is his man for the job. Cllr Norbury has been quick to defend Maher when accusations of bullying and intimidation have been made by old guard councillors in the national Press. They seem to be a formidable tag team. So, is it a forgone conclusion that Cllr Norbury will become the MP? Will anyone have the temerity to challenge the anointing of Norbury? Will the resurgent Left in Birkenhead have a democratic choice of socialist candidates or will they do as Maher tells them? The prize is indeed great. Let’s hope they choose wisely and from a wide field of worthy candidates

Red Eye

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A Sick Building for a Sick Organisation

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Wirral Leaks reader from the local area has provided us with a picture and asked us did we know anything about the barriers that were erected outside of Wallasey Town Hall south annexe earlier in the week.

Further enquiries suggested that the windows are more than a bit dodgy and that the building has long been known to suffer from ‘sick building syndrome’ which has been exacerbated by a lack of maintenance, lack of care etc;

Wirral Council once laughably used to claim that their greatest asset was its employees. Now having realised they were were never going to convince their dwindling workforce or the Wirral public that this was the case they seem to have transferred their lack of care to its physical assets ( no doubt before they transfer them to the Wirral Chamber of Commerce)

Many questions are being asked about  exactly what have Wirral Council’s asset management team have been up to – and not just about what’s collapsing around all them.

‘No shit, Sherlock !’ we hear from our many sources raising concerns  – and those in the know will know exactly what we mean by that reference!

 

 

 

 

Tales From The Chamber : Chapter 1 – ‘The Elephant in the Lift’

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We understand that Wirral Council’s ‘Witchfinder General’ and Deputy CEO David Armstrong has been making less than discreet enquiries about who has leaking information to us .  So let’s help him with his enquiries and let him know it’s ‘Spartacus’. The thing he (and other local powerbrokers) need to understand is that when toxic and dysfunctional organisations treat people badly then those people who have inside knowledge as to what goes on within these organisations will sometimes seek an outlet to bear witness to what they’ve seen and heard . It was how Wirral Leaks came to be and we are honoured and privileged that people come to us ,  as where else would they go?

Whilst we have been receiving information about the Wirral Chamber of Commerce  (WCoC) from various sources for some time often people are reluctant for us to publish their compelling stories merely because they recognise the power of the local connections that WCoC have (and particularly with Wirral Council). That in itself is a damning indictment of the corrosive, insular culture’ that has been created on Wirral.  So as an antidote to last night’s meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee and the anodyne news in the Constituency Manager’s report about litterpicks and skip hire we provide an insight into what lies behind jargon such as this :

3.4 Birkenhead First Activity Update: 2018 Since May 2018, we have had two of our Town Hosts leave the team, this has opened up an opportunity for us to re-evaluate the strengths of the team and review where our strategic focus needs to be aligned in terms of moving the BID forward

Read full report here : Birkenhead Constituency report

Whilst the information should be of particular interest to Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) levy payers we also think that there is a significant public interest element to the first anthology of Chamber tales we’ve compiled below :

I will offer you some interesting facts. Why isn’t the expenditure of the levy money made public ? Why aren’t the accounts available to be scrutinised? Simply because it’s mis- managed. Ask the question – why was Mark Barrow ( Campaign Manager) paid his salary out of the levy money? Why have the Chamber paid £25,000 to The Hive to be a Patron ? Who paid for the lights within the gardens of Hamilton Square?  Who is behind the creation of the CIC Food village at Woodside ? Who are the board members and associates? – I’m sure you can guess! There is only ONE host remaining at Birkenhead – considering there was 4 – ask the question about a public document that was put out by the BID after their first year – in it states about extra cops in the town – think from memory it said 37 extra cops – a simple question where’s the paper trail of how those cops were paid for? How was it accounted for? Simple answer is ,  it’s a number plucked from the air . PP (‘Princess’ Paula Basnett – WCoC CEO) took it to (Wirral Council) cabinet and stood up and quoted it as fact.

The BID  money is about £370,000 per year. The first two years nothing was spent on the town other than planters and some money for alley gates near Sally Army. So where did the money go?  It went to prop up and pay for the Chamber – and its staff

Quite funny you should mention about PPs salary-  at some point PP and her chums salaries details were given out by mistake to staff. I think PP was on a substantial salary . Big red faces and emails directing people not to disclose.

Around mid 2017 the BID produced its annual report. Within that report was mentioned what the BID had done over the last 12 months – by and large most of it is inaccurate and misleading. This document was taken by PP to (Wirral Council)  Cabinet – who painted a picture of how great things were. Like all things official – it’s about showing to the public and in this case more appropriately the businesses in the BID area that there is credibility in the BID.

A system was believed to be in use to record Town Host activities. It was a system used by (Wirral) Council to track maintenance but it was used as a way by the BID to record activity. It would have been useful for councillors to ask the question as to which areas were subject of the 70 clean ups as stated in the published yearly report and ask WCoC to   produce the records of those clean ups.Who was involved? What was cleaned up? Where was cleaned up?

37 extra cops in the area? Ask the question as I’ve mentioned previously – it costs around £600 a day for a Police Officer – you pay not only for the officer but the supporting infrastructure. Ask PP to disclose the costs – I’m sure it would be recorded somewhere. NOT. To produce an Annual Statement that features inaccurate and misleading information surely can’t be right and should be brought into the public domain. As an organisation (WCoC) that advises new and existing business they run their own business in such a shambolic way. Disclosures that over 20 people have left over the last 18 months or more – if it’s that good, why do people leave. Do you know about the elephant in the lift at Pacific Road? More wasted money. Paid for by PP at a charity auction at Oxton cricket club. It’s a huge almost life size model of an elephant made of copper or something similar. But since all the work at Pacific Road it sits in the lift .And has done for some time. Cost of lights in Hamilton Sq gardens was about £50,000. I’m sure BID  levy payers in Oxton Road would see the benefit of that money being spent.

The four original priorities of the BID are falling short. Budget £100,000 – Safety and Security. Budget £75,000 – Marketing and Promotion. Budget £110,000 – Clean and Attractive. Budget £50,000 – Supporting Business. As can be seen in the Annual report this was the budget for each of the BID’s priorities. Once again ask the question – how is the money spent ? Surely as an organisation that advises and supports new and old business they keep ACCURATE records !!!! All this will show that the BID does not have any credibility. It needs to be brought out into the public domain – ie via your website/ social media platforms.

My final comment at the end of this extensive piece is that within the UK there are over 200 BIDs operating. As far as I’m aware there are NO BIDs that are set up like the Wirral BID – most if not all are stand alone companies. They invoice out and record all their expenditure – they are more likely to operate independently without any of the money being diverted to support another organisation. In this case the WCoC. The levy money is there to make a difference to the local business community – above and beyond what is already provided. But it’s clearly not.

I have to say there is a huge amount of good people in the chamber but sadly really, really badly led …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defend Our NHS meeting – Feedback and footage

Feedback from last night’s Defend Our NHS  Wirral meeting at Birkenhead Town Hall.. Footage below available on DONHS Facebook page.

Interesting developments from last night’s Defend Our NHS meeting . Our first speaker was local GP Dr Abhi Mantgani whose practice is home to one of the centres under threat. He noted how up to 90 thousand patients attend Wirral walk-in centres every year. Their closure can in no way be categorised as more convenient or less confusing.
The meeting agreed to support a mass cross Wirral campaign to stop the closures, to urge Wirral councillors to stand up for their constituents, and noted that rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic was not any way to defend our NHS .
There will be a further protest meeting in the very near future.
Time and time again members of the audience noted the gulf between Labour Party policy nationally and locally, and the Councll leader’s apparent willingness to implement Tory policies on health. The audience wanted a Council which stood up for the NHS and its voters.
Happy days.

Wirral Council and the NHS …what is the truth?

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In advance of a report of tonight’s public meeting at Birkenhead Town Hall where the headline issue is the threat to close all Wirral’s NHS walk-in centres we provide some background information indicating that this threat is the tip of the iceberg. Which is an appropriate metaphor as what Wirral Council and Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group  (CCG) are doing is rearranging the deckchairs of Wirral’s NHS Titanic.)

The fundamental issue is that the Council and CCG have amalgamated health and care services and ‘pooled’ related budgets. (This will end in tears.)

To finalise the shenanigans on 16th October they will sign something called a Section 75 agreement (laid down by the Tories in their 2012 Health and Social Care Act). Incredibly the agreement has not been shown to Wirral councillors on the scrutiny committee, let alone the public. And they have refused to release the associated ‘due diligence’ report until the same date even to their councillors!!! The ‘due diligence’ was done for £40 by the very very iffy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

The Labour Party nationally is dead set against S.75 because it allows whatever is its subject to be subsequently contracted off (as will be inevitable as the two parties discover that trying to do twice as much with two slashed budgets is not an easy trick to pull off and so they will have to sub-contract the mess to the highest bidder).

But then the Labour Party nationally (and apparently some of its councillors locally – who knew?) are dead set against most of what Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies is seemingly prepared to go along with.

It could, for example, end up with a group of GPs bidding for the contract… or a health company of which some Wirral GPs are very fond? Only speculating, of course…

There is a judicial review of the contract about to be heard so the whole caboodle could end up being illegal! http://999callfornhs.org.uk/999-judicial-review-aug-2018/4594401565

Pip could land in deep water with the law – and with his party nationally.  But does he care?

 

More Light On The Subject

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Prompted by yesterday’s blog post further light sources have come forward with information which we thought we’d share with you prior to our upcoming special report on Wirral Council’s mini-me , the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

I should point out the pictured floor light on FB (Facebook)  – Hamilton Square – supplied by the BID  (Birkenhead Improvement District) to the tune of 50,000 – they also installed so I’m led to believe CCTV cameras in the centre by the Monument – CCTV Cam is bogus – and is there to deter not record. No use

Seeking some corroboration and further information from a well placed source we received this response :
Well that’s a strange one because a complaint went to (David) Armstrong about staff being monitored and their conversations picked up via the CCTV having sound.
That was rightly refuted by Armstrong as he started it does not have sound and staff are not recorded.
Hence if staff are not recorded I take it the public are not.
The truth about the Hamilton Square project is plain and simple. David Armstrong and the council leader.
The Chamber are a law unto themselves , the council are terrified to upset them . Why ! ?
Simply because the Chamber said leave them as they are, you don’t have the money to do the works we do, to this end the council has backed off.
It’s not just the electrical issues and wastage, they employee one company who do the works who are a cleaning company specialising in widow cleaning who then employee local cash in hand lads who dig up the place making a mess .
The council will not take them on . All true sir I guarantee it. The point you make about highways doing the work is the question everyone is asking. Their managers do know the legislation . But the council need the Chamber’s dosh. The Chamber want something doing do not have specialists in their team so do what any ignorant client would do employ cheap incompetent contractors…
We’ll have more on the curious tale of the tail wagging the dog and other stories tomorrow…

Bright Spark Illuminates The Lights In Hamilton Square

Twilight Zone

The background to this story can be found in the following previous posts :

The Lights Are On But No One Is Home 

Tripping The Light Fantastic

The mystery of the non-stop lighting of Hamilton Square may not have been solved but perhaps may be explained by a bright spark (pun intended) and a response from Wirral Council to a Freedom of Information request.

My Lord,

In my opinion, you wouldn’t leave a “fault” to stand, untouched, allowing the burning of several floodlights for 24 hours a day and permit this wastage to endure for what appears to be many, many months.  Huge amounts of money will have been wasted by now and the lifetime of the equipment will have been shortened.

If you were doing your job properly you would get your BAM Nuttall outsourced contractor to fix it pronto by issuing a job request.

You also wouldn’t say “Oh, we’ll leave it until the end of the year when we’re due to change the lanterns.”  I don’t know how these lights are fed and controlled but I can do a bit of armchair diagnosis.  One thing’s for sure: changing the lanterns will not eradicate the fault, which (if it exists) will be at a switching / control point somewhere remote from the lights themselves.

If this is the case, which seems highly likely – unless we’re being spun a yarn – the photo-cell will have switched to open circuit when it failed, turning all the equipment ON.  Such a fault could have been resolved very, very quickly by changing the photocell.

A spark would explore, fault-find and get the thing resolved quickly and cheaply, and NOT leave the lights to burn and burn and our council tax to go up in smoke.
I suspect we’re being lied to now because they’ve been found out, and Councillor Stapleton has indeed decreed that they’re switched on during the day.  I just can’t get at the information to prove this.
Whatever the truth is here, we have a choice: they’re a. lying or b. staggeringly incompetent.
I’d suggest both.

Twilight Zone 2

Don’t Fence Me In

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We very rarely get contacted by West Wirralians . Perhaps it’s because that generally life is fairly pleasant that side of the peninsula (as the 10 year difference in mortality rates between East and West Wirral , neatly dissected by the M53 motorway, seems to prove). Here’s our take on the situation and which we think would save Wirral Council’s Public Health team time, trouble and money in consultations –

Q: Why do people die earlier in East Wirral than West Wirral?

A: Because they want to…

Even Wirral Council can’t seem to mess the quality and quantity of life up of the people who live as far away on the peninsula from Birkenhead as possible, as they only seem to take an interest in West Wirral when ‘The Open’ golf tournament is on.

However we’ve been contacted by some ‘Hoylakers’ (is that the collective term?)  asking us whether we know anything about why contractors were out at a local school over the weekend.

There are suggestions that we’d be interested because it possibly relates to a previous story on Wirral Leaks about Wirral Council, local contractors and school fencing which we hope to revisit shortly. Whilst they tell us that Hoylake is a lovely place to live -although Market Street is looking a bit tawdry at the moment with some boarded up shop premises – but as an exposed coastal area it is sometimes subject to fierce winds like those that were experienced last week. They suggested to us that wouldn’t it be awful ,if during such fierce winds, a fence fell down at a school and landed on top of a child who ended up in hospital because ,on inspection,the fence was not put up correctly and had securing brackets missing ?…

 

Dear Eric – Open Letter : Wirral Housing Needs to 2033

Eric Gut

Mr. Eric Robinson, CE
Wirral Council, PO BOX 290
Brighton St., Wallasey CH27 9FQ 23.09.18

Dear Mr. Robinson

OPEN LETTER: WIRRAL HOUSING NEEDS TO 2033

As you have no doubt heard the government has updated the national and local population and household projections for the next 25 years (ONS website September 21st 2018). In the case of Wirral both the population growth and the household numbers growth have halved based on 2016 data. However you apply the numbers (for example by referencing back to your Litchfield Consultants report of 2016) the result is effectively the same. Instead of 12,000 houses over the fifteen year plan only ~5,900 are needed. Any attempts to ‘uplift’ this number based on now mythical economic growth scenarios, or affordability factors, or the later release of ‘pent up’ demand in certain age groups, will not be credible in the light of recent government economic forecasts. Indeed the credibility of the government housing needs methodology will now come under close scrutiny. I should also tell you that the latest population forecast growth to 2033 relies entirely on a large net migration into Wirral which your own consultants questioned in 2016. I expect the newly released numbers to be further challenged and actual Wirral future housing needs forecasts will be lower still (~4,400 based on current trends).
The housing implications are obvious. Some weeks ago I submitted an analysis to the public consultation which was also widely published. I enclose a copy. It works through several housing scenarios using brown field, Peel offers and empty house recovery assumptions for the 12,000 houses target and for that target simply scaled down by the changed population forecast (i.e. 7,100 houses). You can see that very little of your 4,900 acres proposed GB parcel release plan would be required. This land could support 71,000 houses. With the new government household growth forecasts the 15 year plan period housing needs drop to ~5,900. The effects of this are shown in the second document enclosed. Under most scenarios NO green belt land needs be used at all to meet housing needs. At most it would be a few percent of your 4,900 acre GB parcel release plan. The ‘plan’ is totally spurious and unjustified by the ‘official’ data.
In these circumstances I suggest the public consultation should be halted until the council makes the new housing need numbers clear to all Wirral residents and compares them honestly with your GB release plan proposals which in principle could accommodate 71,000 houses. It is not good enough for David Ball to tell public consultation meetings that the numbers will be looked at in camera, by a council appointed ‘expert’, ‘some time’ in the future. Alternatively the GB release plan could be withdrawn now before formal challenges to it emerge.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

(Claremont Defenders Group)

 

The Great Green Belt Deception : Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

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We proudly present a message from ‘The Prof’ along with his measured analysis of the newly released data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the significant impact it should have the Green Belt debate. Spoiler alert : NO GREEN BELT IS NEEDED TO MEET HOUSING DEMAND!  

Gents….the new ONS population / household growth forecasts for Wirral have just halved. (Still too high though). This means that Green Belt land requirements should be slashed even further than I suggested a few weeks ago. With a bit of the brown field already identified and a bit of Wirral Waters and a bit of refurbished empty housing NO Green Belt land release is needed.

The  council should objectively inform the public of the new numbers, halt the consultation and scrap their crazy 4,900 acre Green Belt release plan immediately. If they don’t we should ask why not?

Has too much money already changed hands? See the needs analysis attached . Click here :  WirralHousingTABLESEPT18 2
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Statistics 2

The Wirral Council Playbooks