A postcard has arrived at Leaky Towers from the lovely Italian resort of Sorrento.
We’ve been sat here agog as we have been told of the adventures of a tired and emotional high profile couple who recently holidayed on the beautiful Amalfi coast in Italy and who will be familiar to readers of Wirral Leaks.
Unfortunately for them it would appear that the ‘what happens in Sorrento, stays in Sorrento…..’ rule doesn’t apply due to the wonders of the world wide web.
Wish you were here?
By the sounds of things that’ll be a ‘no thanks’ from his His Lord and Ladyship , we’ll stick with the South of France if you don’t mind!
We’re hoping to publish a full ” What I Did On My Holidays” story after putting the information we’ve received to our prestigious pair.
Above is a picture of the rather splendid council chamber at York Guildhall. The admirable York Mix website tells us that it will be here next week that a group of senior councillors are challenging City of York Council (CYC) leader Cllr David Carr to publish a ‘secret report’.
Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our interest is piqued by the fact that we understand the report follows a Local Government Association (LGA) investigation into what Stewart Halliday got up to before he landed a £200K + ‘transformer’ gig at Wirral Council.
What also interests us is the sheer persistence of CYC councillors in pursuing this matter in the public interest. Can you imagine Wirral Council’s equivalent to CYC’s Audit & Governance Committee writing a cross- party letter to the leader of the Council asking for a report to published in the name of openness and transparency?
Indeed if they were doing their jobs properly there’s a particular ‘secret report’ that Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee should be asking to be published. The sad fact is that half of this committee don’t even know what report we’re referring to and the other half know exactly what report we are referring to and are choosing to sweep the matter under the Wallasey Town Hall carpet !
In a classic case of getting your retaliation in first and prior to tonight’s Wirral Council meeting Cllr Bernie ‘ The Bruiser’ Mooney has been all over the press bemoaning the fact that children’s services is at ‘breaking point’. Needless to say it’s all the Tories fault.
And whilst indeed there are some government austerity measures which are nothing short of heinous Mooney needs to get real and tell us the full story. Her version of the ‘breaking point’ story slipped out yesterday on a sleepy Sunday afternoon on the Wirral Globe website.
The story was updated today with comments from Ian Lewis the leader of Wirral Council’s Tory group. Needless to say Liverpool Echo gave the Bernie’s bleatings the full front page splash – though rather spoiled Bernie’s carefully prepared narrative by mentioning that damning Ofsted report and how the authority failed to halt a campaign of child sexual exploitation by the Rajenthiram brothers which are two things that Wirral Council’s ruling administration can’t pin on the Tories.
Apparently Bernie wants £25 million of extra funding from Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to meet “increased demand for our services”. Good luck with that one !
The most shocking aspect of Mooney’s moans was the revelation that the number of Wirral children is 120 per 10,000 of the child population . This is DOUBLE the national average ! DOUBLE!!
Bernie struggles to look around for a plausible reason for this and comes up with national figures concerned with cuts in early intervention and family support services. There is no mention of the specific impact on local services and more significantly no mention of one of Frank Field’s pet projects – the discredited Troubled Families Programme (TFP) into which millions have been poured down the drain. As one of our valued contributors ‘ The Professor’ pointed out earlier this year Wirral Council taxpayers should bear in mind that our council are taking part in the useless,discredited TFP phase 2 at a minimum cost to us of £6 million to 2020.
So enough already of this Bernie blather , surely she now knows what we’ve known for a long time – that children’s services locally are indeed at ‘breaking point’ and it’s not just about funding it’s also about Wirral Council’s toxic culture of denial which has built up over a number of years and under various administrations.
We think that Mooney finally realises the extent of the problem she’s inherited with children’s services and knows there are more bad news stories on the way . So what better way of keeping the Ofsted ‘improvement journey’ show on the road by playing the overplayed austerity card and asking the people of Wirral to docilely accept half a story ?
Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our trans -pennine correspondent Charles Nunn is most definitely on the Stewart Halliday case ( even if our local public servants haven’t been -or more accurately- don’t want to be).
Charlie Boy tells us :
As you probably know Mark Warters submitted a F.of I. request to York to try and establish whether, or not there was a conversation between Robinson and their C.E.O. about Halliday`s contract extension.You may recall my request to Wirral told me that Robinson was “comfortable” with it.
I understand that former CYC employee Mr S. Halliday currently employed by Wirral Council has had his contract/placement recently extended to the end of the year there and a conversation took place between the Wirral Chief Executive and the CYC Chief Executive that led to Wirral Council concluding that “there is no impediment to Stewart Halliday’s continued appointment with Wirral Council”
I would like to submit a FOI act request for the following;
(i) Confirmation that the conversation (s) took place and if emails were exchanged copies of the correspondence.
(ii) Copies of all correspondence between CYC and Wirral Council in relation to Mr Halliday’s employment.
Thank you for your assistance.
Cllr. Mark Warters
As I suspected. Refused on the grounds of “confidentiality” although it may well have cost the Wirral Council Tax payers over £200,000 in total for taking on a shyster.How frequently we get that response from Councils.
The genesis of all this rift was a bitter CLP meeting on 24th June 2016, when Cllr Bernie Mooney (now Joint Deputy Leader of Wirral Council Labour Group ) was voted out of her position as secretary of Wallasey CLP and replaced by lefty Kathy Miller. Paul Davies was voted in as co-vice Chair ( Cllr Paul Stuart was the other co-Vice Chair.)
The CLP voted to back Corbyn in his leadership bid. Eagle got wind of this and was presumably an ‘Angry Bird’! She hadn’t yet said she was going to run for leader… and didn’t until early July.
Meanwhile the CLP was suspended by the Labour NEC at their London HQ and remains suspended to this day. Indeed the CLP only realised they’d been suspended when they read it in the Liverpool Echo!
This suspension was done on the ‘strength’ of bogus allegations that were lodged with the press (not the police, where they should have gone – but that presumably would have risked counter charges of wasting police time) saying that some members at the above meeting had engaged in bullying of others, intimidation and ‘homophobic acts’ against Eagle, who was not even present.
Reputedly, it was Cllr Stuart who was the ringleader of 17 people alleging bullying, intimidation and homophobia. Angela Eagle christened them “whistleblowers”, sullying the name of genuine, good faith whistleblowers everywhere, and whatdyaknow? the likes of the Liverpool Echo and The Guardian were there, ever eager to fuel the fire.
Throughout all this nothing was heard from Cllr Adrian Jones, the huge “Corbyn fan”, as his hero was pilloried in order to push Eagle’s leadership chances. And whaddyaknow? Both Jones’s Mr and Mrs and Cllr Stuart can be seen in the photos attached to this tweet, supporting Eagle. This was in the run-up to the 2017 election, 9 months after the CLP suspension and #Brickgate.
Ultimately the allegations went nowhere, but the damage inflicted by the media coverage had been done. We understand one CLP member still has a charge hanging over them, whilst those making bogus allegations have been strangely passed over for any disciplinary action. Is it any wonder the rifts persist and that there are plenty of angry left wingers in Wallasey CLP who feel betrayed? After being expected to tramp the streets in support of Angela Eagle during the general election campaign , some are suspecting that deals will now be done behind their backs rather than the embedded enemy within faced head on and challenged.
To quote from the latter’s email…
Comrades, “Now is the time” to stop acting like a “Party within a party” – and even like a “Momentum within Momentum”.
It is time to grasp that the mainstream (often called the “Left”) has won back the heart and soul of the Labour Party. I do not know of a single member of the Seacombe Branch who has not fully supported my own declarations for Corbyn on the two websites or who does not support him now. So why introduce friction where there need be none? Let’s try now to be a single Labour Party in Seacombe Ward.
Some comrades will remember that we also, for a while, held “Songs of the Labour Movement” musical evenings in the Park View Social Club – an opportunity for comrades to perform – or just listen and rub shoulders informally. But, since then, we have had the difficulty of the Party being suspended so long that many of us don’t even know each other.
There has been an interesting exchange in the Wirral Globe letters page over the past couple of weeks. Firstly , we had Wirral Leaks regular Charles Nunn who wrote in to say:
The announcement that the Merseyside Police and crime commissioner, Jane Kennedy, a former Labour MP, has appointed a female Labour councillor – the third such appointment in succession – as her deputy should come as no surprise.
When the Conservative Government announced the new appointments in 2012 it was met with total apathy by the voters but great enthusiasm by the political classes of all parties who hijacked the proceedings.
They saw it as a lucrative post with salaries up to £100,000 a year and probably generous expenses
The opportunities for empire-building and political patronage were no doubt an additional incentive. Many candidates were former MPs, with some resigning their seats in order to stand.
In the first elections in November 2012 the total turn out across the country was a paltry 13%.
In the second in May 2016 only 300,000 voters from the whole of Merseyside were prepared to cast their votes.
Ms Kennedy’s first task after her election with a salary of £85,000 was to appoint a deputy from the Labour Party ranks at a salary of £31,800 for a three-day week.
The latest appointment of yet another Labour councillor would appear to suggest the recruitment net is cast no further than the political party which dominates Merseyside.
The published letter can be found here
This elicited the following response the next week from David Burgess-Joyce , Conservative councillor for Greasby , Frankby and Irby
Your correspondent Charles Nunn (Mailbox, September 27) makes some very interesting comments regarding the police and crime commissioner’s appointment of a new deputy as yet another Labour Party internal placement.
In reality he should not be surprised because in the socialist Republic of Merseyside no alternative voices will be accepted other than those of comrade Rotherham, his acolytes and their Corbynite activists.
Having more than 30 years’ experience in Merseyside Police, including senior roles in the National Crime Squad and Serious Organised Crime Agency, I stood for the post of police and crime commissioner last year. I was runner-up, but because I am so supportive of local policing I decided to apply for this allegedly non-political post of deputy PCC.
Having worked with Jane Kennedy previously I knew we could make a good team in delivering outstanding policing.
Given the “experience” of the successful applicant you will be unsurprised to learn I was not even given the courtesy of an interview, proving yet again Labour’s lack of transparency.
It is good to know 1980s Liverpool is waiting just around the corner!
The published letter can be found here
What Burgess-Joyce , or B-J as we like to call him, fails to mention is the brouhaha that surrounded his hapless candidacy for the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) role. Read the full story here : A Fair Cop
As you can see not only did we raise the question as to why allegations that B-J was ‘sacked’ from his job with the National Crime Agency – now known as Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in 2013 were suddenly reported in the Liverpool Echo a few days before the election in May 2016 , we also pointed out :
Even more interestingly we have Liverpool Council’s Mayor Joe Anderson calling for B-J’s resignation as a Wirral Councillor and surprisingly not Wirral Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies.
Although this appears to be a rare show of comradely solidarity between Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip , we think that this was just another case of Pip getting someone else to do his dirty work for him.
As it turned out B-J was not so much a runner-up as a distant second in the PCC election. However, as we’ve commented before about B-J , this most self-regarding and pompous of councillors is now further peeved that he didn’t get the opportunity to be Commissioner Kennedy’s number two.
Whilst we do think that B-J nicked the ‘Socialist Republic of Merseyside’ line from us we do still have concerns that a red hegemony is potentially not a good thing in terms of public accountability. Political patronage and policing policy – what could possibly go wrong? Let’s just hope that local Labour politicians have been behaving themselves – we wouldn’t want Commissioner Kennedy or her Deputy to be politically compromised now would we?
It was whilst we were researching our piece on the appointment of Paul Boyce, Wirral Council’s new Director of Children’s Services , that we came across an interesting concept that cash-strapped Wirral Council would do well to heed.
Of course you can read the Cllr Bernie Mooney approved version of the appointment in the following local media outlets :
You may remember that we mentioned that following an Ofsted inspection in 2010, which identified children’s services at Cheshire West & Chester ( CWaC) to be ‘inadequate’ , a certain Gerald Meehan was one of the people brought in to oversee the Ofsted improvement plan. Indeed between 2010-15 Mr Meehan was somehow working at both Halton Council as head of the children and enterprise and as strategic director of children’s services at CWaC . According to The Taxpayers’ Alliance lobby group in 2015, Mr Meehan was on £168,700.
Meehan then replaced departing CWaC CEO Steve Robinson in 2015 . Curiously Meehan was appointed on £30,000 less than his predecessor with a salary of £150,000. According to a report about the appointment in the Chester Chronicle
Mr Meehan will earn £150,000 compared with Mr Robinson’s £180,000 wage as it is argued the task is less onerous compared with that of Mr Robinson who helped set up CWaC from scratch in 2008 before it became a fully fledged authority in 2009.The huge restructuring of council services that followed saw thousands of posts made redundant so it is also claimed Mr Meehan will be in charge of a smaller organisation.
The full report can be read here
Meanwhile that same year neighbouring Wirral Council ,who as we know operate in a parallel universe ,actually INCREASED the CEO salary by £40,000 to £175,000 following the departure of slash and burn CEO Graham Burgess. Apparently the justification for the increase was that Wirral Council wanted to ‘attract the best’. We suppose it all rather depends on how you define ‘the best’ – certainly best for the ruling Labour administration – but for the people of Wirral ? Is it any wonder that current CEO ‘ Stressed’ Eric Robinson has a lower profile than Lord Lucan?
And so with Wirral Council continuing to slough off staff and services like a snake shedding its skin isn’t time we asked whether the CEO and senior officer remuneration should be exponentially lowered ? Will we look back in years to come and think that rewarding public servants to facilitate a free for all for free enterprise was a shameful period for public services. It’s not only about how central government (of all political hues) has encouraged outsourcing and asset stripping it’s also about how public servants in local government getting paid very well for placing public assets into private hands. So whilst there are rich pickings at the top of the tree it seems that everyone else in public service are at the bottom waiting for windfall in the form of their P45.
Now that Wirral Council and Wirral Globe seem to be cosy all of a sudden ( Hmm – we wonder why?) it seems that the (piss) poor Liverpool /Wirral Echo have to make do with scraps off the table. Wirral Council is such a fickle mistress – even though fickle mistresses always seem to get them into trouble.
Last week the Echo published a ludicrous puff piece in advance of Monday’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting where the headline screamed :
New plans to turn Birkenhead Town Hall into boutique hotel
Of course if you read the report to which the article refers to – there are no such plans.
However there are pictures of Birkenhead Town Hall with crocuses in the foreground. “What a crocus of shit….” said our butler Eldritch. And who are we to disagree?
The report itself is grandiosely titled ‘ Strategic Regeneration Framework’ (SRF) presumably because it’s no longer good enough to have a strategy , you have to have a ‘framework’ to go with it – which of course justifies the inflated salaries of those spewing out this nonsense.
As Wirral Council seem to be so very keen on ‘ reality checks’ lets get the Leaky Towers crew to break it down for them : Hamilton Square is magnificent. So is Birkenhead Town Hall. And they’re wasted in Wirral Council’s hands. So having failed to turn Hamilton Square into a glorified roundabout U-Turn On Roundabout = Dead End
Wirral Council are now hoping that investors are going to flock to them with an open cheque for a boutique hotel .So let’s take a look around – God bless the Station Hotel. They really, really tried to bring artisan bread to Birkenhead. Unfortunately they didn’t realise that their customer base were more interested in Frank Field getting their housing benefits sorted out. You won’t be surprised to hear they’ve since closed down because those on the breadline don’t choose artisan bread.
Perhaps the model Wirral Council should be following and to which they should be lowering their aspirations somewhat and align themselves to is a skanky drug den such as the Central Hotel.
The day after our update on children’s services A Reality Check For Children’s Services which followed a meeting of the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee , Wirral Council issued a press release to announce the appointment of Paul Boyce as the new director of children’s services rather than do so at the aforementioned meeting.
Welcoming the news of Mr Boyce’s appointment, Cllr Bernie Mooney, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Paul is an excellent appointment.We said we wanted an outstanding candidate and that is exactly what we have.
Everywhere he has worked he has driven major improvements…….
Getting someone of Paul’s calibre – he has a national reputation as a leader in this field – to come to Wirral and help us improve even further is a real coup for us.
I know he will hit the ground running and very quickly deliver the excellent children’s services we all want for our young people and families.”
As you can read in full HERE Boyce Appointment the Wirral Council press release reveals that Paul Boyce is the current executive director for children at Knowsley Council . It also states that :
“he led improvement in children’s services at Knowsley, Cheshire West and Chester and Halton councils improving the services and Ofsted rating in each area cementing his position as one of the most sought after leaders in the UK within children’s services”.
Needless to say our curious readers wanted to know more about the appointment and the claims made about Boyce. Consequently it has been discovered that Boyce left Halton Council in 2009 for Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) and acquired the responsibility for a wide range of children’s services from July 2009 to September 2011. As you can see here CW&C Ofsted Ofsted judged the services as inadequate in 2010 under 9 categories including safeguarding children. Subsequently from September 2011 to March 2013 Boyce moved into a new post of Head of Strategy and Commissioning whilst the overall responsibility for children’s services was transferred to Gerald Meehan (now CWaC CEO ) and Sandra Campbell who were brought in to oversee the Ofsted improvement plan which followed the inadequate judgement. Mr Boyce left CWaC when that post was removed under a reorganisation in March 2013 with a rumoured six figure redundancy payment.
The following month Boyce was appointed as interim director of children’s and adult services in Knowsley and at a later date he was permanently appointed to the post. Lucky for some , eh?
April 2014 Ofsted judged the overall effectiveness of Knowsley’s children who need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers as inadequate – this after Mr Boyce had been in post for exactly a year. Whilst a subsequent Ofsted inspection published earlier this year identified that there had been significant improvements in children’s services and they were no longer rated inadequate, the report identified that improvements were still required in some key areas , specifically , children who need help and protection and children looked after and achieving permanence Knowsley Ofsted
It remains to be seen whether future improvements in Wirral’s children’s services bear testimony to the stellar reputation that Paul Boyce is claiming for himself and repeated by Wirral councillors desperate for someone to remedy the current inadequate status of children’s services. But then with things as they currently stand the only way is up for a highflyer like Mr Boyce.