All of our best stories rely on sheer persistence .
God only knows what Wirral Council would get away with if we weren’t here to shove that thorn forcibly in their side.
So following on from ‘Wirralgate’ , BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods , ‘Crabby’ Crabtree , ‘Happy Halliday’etc; etc; we proudly present the latest development in ‘The Lauries’ debacle.
Well, not proudly actually , shamefully is the word. To think that the garbage at Wirral Council/Wirral Chamber of Commerce can just get away with their usual abuse of power, because, well they just can,are not over. If nothing else they are subject to our critical eye.
The latest development in this sorry saga is the tawdry press release above , where Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies joins fellow human melting wax candles Cllr Jean Stapleton and sideshow MP Frank Field in a desperate attempt to defend their indefensible position when it comes to the annexing of ‘The Lauries’.
‘The Green Party’ will do anything to get publicity” claims Power Boy Pip. To which we can only say that’s a bit rich coming from someone who employed their own ‘Policy Advisor’ at our expense and then enabled his neighbour to get a further gig because let’s face it this inept fraud couldn’t run a bath let alone a toxic and dysfunctional council !
What Power Boy Pip doesn’t mention ( perhaps because he has to check with his personal handholder, Martin Liptrot, first ) is that he has FAILED (and not the first time) to reply a complaint that is now with the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) about ‘The Lauries’.
As local Green Party Councillor Pat Cleary states:
‘Wirral Council has failed to respond to the complaint and completely ignored emails from me to address the matter. As a result, the issue was taken up with the local government ombudsman. It will not investigate yet but has promised to contact the Council to ensure that our complaint is progressed properly through the Council’s procedures.’
‘Progressed properly ?’– Good luck with that one, Pat!
Apologies – this leak from Wirral Council has been in our inbox for a week but events somewhat overtook us . The leaked email below is one that was sent to all Wirral Councillors by a local resident voicing their concerns about the Hoylake Golf Resort or Hoylake housing development with attached golf course as we prefer to call it!
Although we’ve covered some of the ground previously https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/04/30/big-hitters/ our enquiring local resident proves again that the interweb thingy is full of fascinating facts if you know where to look and brings some new and interesting information to the fore (!). Shame some of our senior councillors and council officers aren’t acquainted with the wonders of www as they might have been better informed about not only about the golf resort proposals but the past activities of the likes of Stella Shiu and Stewart Halliday!
Based on past experience we can’t help thinking that our concerned resident’s plea to councillors : ‘I hope that you will look further into these matters and continue to ask
searching questions.’ will sadly end up in the Wirral Council bunker known as ‘recently deleted items’!
Subject: Hoylake Golf Resort – Wirral’s Preferred Development Partner
*Hoylake Golf Resort*
*I am asking you to look further into Wirral’s choice of partner for the
proposal to build a golf resort, a luxury housing development and a 5* spa
hotel and conference centre on Merseyside’s Green Belt land – Niklaus Joint
WMBC have made much play about Jack Nicklaus’s involvement – he features in
a video on the Golf Resort website. Everyone love a celebrity. But the
Nicklaus Joint Venture Group consists of 5 directors, none of whom are Jack
Nicklaus. Jack Nicklaus himself has no shares in the company. Golf
courses under this company are designed not by Jack Nicklaus, but by his
son, Gary. Gary is the “Nicklaus” of the company name. The majority
shareholder of the company is *James Anderson*, who holds over 80% of the
shares. James Anderson has been the director of 18 companies, most of them
The interesting comparison for the Hoylake Golf Resort is with the *Machynys
Nicklaus Golf Resort in South Wales*, a very similar development to that
proposed for Wirral. The original Machynys planning application was for a
golf course, hotel, spa and enabling residential development, just like the
one proposed for Hoylake. The NJVG is registered in South Wales.
James Anderson was the director of Carms Construction which built the
houses at the Machynys Nicklaus Golf Resort. Carms Construction then went
into liquidation with liabilities of over £600,000. Machynys Homes (of
which Anderson is also a director) which sold the houses wasn’t affected.
James Anderson was the man who promised to bring a 125 bedroom four star
Hilton Hotel to the golf resort in Machynys. However, the Hilton Group
pulled out of the Machynys project because of “flooding concerns”.
Planning permission at Machynys was granted despite Environment Agency
Concerns about flooding:
The hotel has yet to be built, although outline planning permission was
granted in July 2002, nearly 15 years ago. No hotel, no accompanying jobs.
The issues affecting the Machynys Resort are despite the significant
advantages it has over the proposed Hoylake site. It is in a prime
location, with an adjacent beach and views over Cardigan Bay. It has good
access, with three roads, each with a bridge over the adjacent railway line.
Carmarthenshire County Council was very supportive of the project, entering
into agreements with James Anderson’s companies. Councillors enthused about
how the hotel project would be fantastic for the area bringing jobs,
tourism and investment, in an exact parallel with Wirral.
Wirral Council already has a questionable record of choosing development
partners – witness the history of Wirral Waters involvement with Chinese
company Sam Wa.
The danger is that the events of the Machynys Golf Resort are repeated,
leaving a luxury housing development on Green Belt land as the main
heritage of the proposal.
I hope that you will look further into these matters and continue to ask
Opposition councillors seem unusually curious about the recent controversial appointment of Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’Davies political ally , Martin Liptrot(sky) to the post of ‘Interim’ Investment Lead .
And so they might be! The ongoing saga is worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery ….. but who knows where the bodies are buried !?
Of course we anticipated such an appointment long ago The Uncanny and the Corrupt
That’s not because we have second sight, it’s simply because, by now, we know all Wirral Council’s plot devices.
So before we get to the heart of the mystery, let us set out the story so far. Are you sitting comfortably? – because we guarantee you won’t be for much longer!
Remember when we exclusively announced Liptrot’s arrival at Wirral Council and questioned how his ‘Policy Advisor’ post came about?
Remember when we questioned his apolitical credentials when he was appointed to a politically restricted post despite declaring his long held Labour Party affiliations all over social media ?
Who can forget when Wirral Globe disclosed that leaked toecurling early morning email exchange between Liptrot and Pip? Where the former, in full on diva mode, appears to be calling the shots – complaining about his pay and bemoaning the fact that he has to hand in time sheets to Super Duper Director Joe Blott – oh the shame!
“Apparently I’m supposed to work for 24 quid an hour and hand time sheets to Joe Blott [strategic director].Clearly that is both insulting and wildly unrealistic for the scope of the role we are discussing.There is no way I’m going to earn even less than I am now. We need to work out what we need to agree and you will probably have to just step up and tell everyone what you want doing in the end. Let’s talk tomorrow.’
And so having set the scene we move on to the latest chapter in the charmed life of Mr Liptrot and his latest ‘transformation'(!) as ‘Interim’ Investment Lead at Wirral Council.
An extraordinary series of extracts from leaked emails details the ‘bureaucratic machinations’ behind this latest appointment and provides us with even more plot twists……..
Firstly , we might recall that 24 councillors issued a ‘Notice of Motion’ in respect of, what was at the time, the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ in response to the Labour Cabinet meeting held on 16 January . This meeting was chaired by Power Boy Pip and included a report calling for the removal of ‘Call – in’ , thus denying opposition councillors the opportunity to ask any awkward questions about the post. The report stated :
‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.
Head of Law Surjit Tour clarified the situation : ‘Cabinet agreed to waive ‘call-in’ in accordance with the Constitution and the decision is therefore implementable immediately notwithstanding the request for an extraordinary council having been made and agreed. Council at the extraordinary council meeting is being invited to scrutinise the creation of the post and decide whether it is justified – but council would only be expressing its opinion/view in respect of the post and its justification. The decision maker remains the Executive and the decision in question remains implementable.’
The post was advertised via Wirral Council’s temporary worker system (Matrix) . Matrix passed on the job specification to recruitment agencies at an equivalent day rate of £195.
Initially six applications were received. However according to Wirral Council’s HR : ‘none of the applicants met the specification. We have received feedback from the agencies that the remuneration is not sufficient to attract calibre candidates.Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we are sourcing an Interim role – Interim Investment Lead on an interim rate, but for a shorter period of time’
HR went on to later add :‘The agencies feedback that they could potentially source some applicants at £350 day , but the calibre we required is likely to be £500 day. Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we need to increase the day rate .’
Frankly it is simply an astonishing state of affairs when so-called committed, and no doubt ‘passionate’ public servants, don’t consider it worthwhile getting out of bed for less than £350 a day! And of course the recruitment agencies are going to advocate such a hike in the daily rate because presumably it means more money for them! All of which means that public authorities are held a hostage to fortune!
Needless to say when the post was advertised at the higher rate, 13 further applications were received !
5 candidates were shortlisted. One of the candidates was unable to make the interview date and one candidate withdrew. And in true Agatha Christie fashion : ‘And then there were 3’. These interviews took place on 15 February 2017.
Initially we understand that Asif Hamid was due to be on the interview panel but he mysteriously withdrew to be replaced , inevitably, by Wirral Chamber of Commerce chum Paula Basnett. Clare Fish , Wirral Council’s Executive Director for Strategy was also a late absentee. This left :
- Alan Evans, Strategic Commissioner for Growth (Chair of the Panel)
- Stephen Butterworth, Interim Strategic Project Support
- Sally Shah, Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment
- Paula Basnett, Chief Executive, Wirral Chamber of Commerce
- Ellen Cutler, Director Inward Investment, Liverpool Vision
Now as we know the successful candidate was our leading suspect Martin Liptrot who was awarded an an initial 4 month contract @ £350 a day.
However the mystery here is whether the panel made the appointment or was the final decision made by Power Boy Pip and his supine CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson?
The Extraordinary Council meeting held earlier this week was an attempt by some curious councillors to find the answer to this whodunnit and other mysteries surrounding the case. However the Labour group were anxious to shut this line of enquiry down with Cllr Brian Kenny squeaking up for a ‘guillotine’ thereby reducing the time available for debating the issue.
Perhaps curious opposition councillors should seek clues about the recruitment process from Alan Evans, the Strategic Commissioner for Growth, who chaired the selection panel?
We understand that Evans’ unsung team in Department of Regeneration have been doing some excellent work behind the scenes and we can only wonder what they must feel about the influx of Johnny-Come -Lately’s such as Liptrot who ,under the guise of ‘transformers’ , appear to be muscling in on their act and potentially taking the credit for their work.
We await further plot developments with great interest!
We need to thank our lucky stars that Wirral Council ‘leader’ ( ha!ha!ha!) Cllr Phil Davies aka Power Boy Pip yesterday authorised a Wirral representative to attend a ‘Transformation’ beano in Manchester today.
Unfortunately that representative was his namesake Cllr Angela Davies.
Although it must be said that whilst ‘Our Ange’ knows all about the ‘public sector transformational journey’, it would appear she didn’t like it much. Whilst working for the NHS she was quite happy to enjoy the transformation of the drug and alcohol services over into the private sector in the guise of ‘Crime Reduction Initiatives/ Change, Grow, Live’ but then it all got a bit messy for the poor lass. And whilst she was quick to criticise her new employer on the QT she soon hotfooted back to secure employment within the NHS when she realised just exactly how they meant to ‘transform’ services.
And so the moral of this story would appear to be that ‘transformation’ is alright for us plebs but not for those with a secure pension plan – and the opportunity to enjoy free lunch and refreshments at the Manchester Hilton!
The ‘Invitation to Tender’ (ITT) document for ‘PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FOR GETTING IT RIGHT PROJECT (SUPPORTING ACCESS WIRRAL AND CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMATION PROGRAMME)’ is most revealing for those interested in finding out where Wirral Council is heading. As far as we’re concerned its willingly over the precipice dancing to the Pied Piper of private enterprise.
Behind the convoluted branding and language the document simply sets out the means by which Wirral Council are seeking to outsource public services and put people out of work. Indeed the latter is explicitly stated in the specification of the contract at 2.1 of the ITT document : Reshape services to reduce significantly, over three to five years
The former is set out in the Scope of the tender at 1.1 as follows:
We have already undertaken significant work to develop our programme; we are implementing a new operating model which sets out the future operating principles of the organisation which includes a strategic hub, business management function and service delivery through a mixed economy of direct provision, shared service and commissioned outcomes
The council has also set out a commitment to take a commercial approach to service design, management and decisions, encouraging innovation whilst optimising assets and services to exploit opportunities to generate income surplus for reinvestment and reduce costs.
This ‘new operating model’ (mainly filched from elsewhere) apparently also includes ‘imaginative’plans for Wirral Council to become an energy provider!
This doesn’t augur well as the ruling administration at Wirral Council have an inglorious record of keeping the people of Wirral in the dark and freezing out the opposition.
Having said that the thought occurred to us that if you can’t beat ’em , join ’em . We thought momentarily that we’d join the serried ranks of ex- council employees topping up their pensions merrily making their former colleagues redundant and helping to hand over precious public assets into the private sector. Accordingly Leaky Towers Inc ; were considering an application to pick up the phones and respond to complaints etc; on behalf of the people of Wirral ( in return for a mahoosive contract). However our application stalled at Method Statement 5 which read :
How does your organisation use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems whilst demonstrating the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability?
All we can only presume that Wirral Council are particularly hoping for an explanation as to what public transparency and legal accountability actually are as they appear to be alien concepts.
Meanwhile the likes of ‘Capita’, ‘The Contact Company’ and the ‘Wirral Chamber of Commerce’ can only be licking their lips in anticipation of things to come.
Pity the poor rank and file staff at Wirral Council who have to encounter these utterly bizarre posters in the Wallasey Town Hall toilets after they’ve attempted to relieve themselves (by whatever means) from the endless bullshit they have to endure on a daily basis.
The first thing to say is we don’t understand the graphics ( we’d like to think that the IQ of Wirral Council staff reaches double figures but we may be wrong if they’re quite happy to be patronised by these cartoon figures); and the second thing to say is we don’t understand the demographics. Who exactly is this poster supposed to appeal to ? – a turban -wearing, kiss-curled, impressively bearded individual wearing a lime green double breasted jacket?
Clearly any attempt to address the main public health issue on Wirral – the huge disparity in the mortality rates between east and west Wirral – is studiously avoided. Presumably because there’s a not a cartoon character who can make inequality, poverty and deprivation seem such multi-coloured FUN!!!
Having said all that, our explanation as to why the people on the wrong side of the M53 die early is very simple – it’s because they want to!
Moreover it is incredibly dispiriting to read the low expectations that Wirral Council have of Wirral’s older people. The self same people who have been the backbone of the community on Wirral for many years , paying their Council Tax and sustaining the unworthy in power are seemingly reduced to the following aspirations:
‘I still want to be able to do my own garden’
‘I still want to be able to walk my dog’
‘ I still want to be able to play with my grandkids’
‘I still want to be able to use the stairs’
Might we suggest that based on the older people (and their carers) that contact us that they’re more concerned about being left languishing in hospital as a result of intermediary care services not being available whilst at the same time they’re regarded as a drain on resources – despite the fact they established, supported and paid for those resources over many years in the first place!
Moreover the emphasis on the potential physical frailty of Wirral ‘s older people is a complete cop-out. What they want is what we all want – to be treated with dignity and respect, be afforded the services which they deserve, to hold the public officers who’s wages they pay to account and not to be subject to condescending bullshit!
For the record, as far as His Lord and Ladyship is concerned, when we get older we want to be far,far away from Wirral. We we’re thinking about retiring to the South of France but based on last week’s events we’ve decided to can the Cannes. Instead we’ve signed a living will which includes a mutual agreement to be on standby with a smothering pillow.
This post predominately ( but not exclusively) celebrates the endeavours of redoubtable Wirral resident Charles Nunn.
Check out his latest Freedom of Information request here :
Mr Nunn is a bona fide local legend who makes us look like the rank amateurs that we actually are.
Let it be known it was he who discovered the definitive Wirral Council remuneration of City of York Council incompetent Stewart Halliday and justifiably commented – because he comes from a generation who knows the difference between right and wrong:
It’s been the week of the Wirral hard sell.
The figure £1 billion has been bandied about about how much investment is heading to Wirral (or rather ,Birkenhead ,which is being branded ‘the capital of Wirral’) with slavish Liverpool Echo screaming headlines ‘£1 BILLION VISION FOR WIRRAL’
Wirral’s ‘leaders’ touting their tawdry wares in the South of France and Downing Street and according to the newly launched ‘Wirral. Well made.’ ( who thought that branding was a good idea?) aspiring that Wirral become the ‘Brooklyn of the North West’ – is that to Liverpool’s Manhattan?- with the dullest promotional launch ever. This would appear to be the brainchild of Sally Shah who apparently is ‘Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment’ – so yes, yet another highly paid public asset stripper on the Wirral Council payroll.
And then we have the Peel Holdings (up) gegging in with its ‘university of the sea’ plans for Wirral Waters with hundreds of jobs and sunshine,lollipops and rainbows for everyone!- again accompanied with the obligatory artist’s impression and yet more Echo headlines
And it doesn’t end there here comes the ‘asset transformation strategy’ and the formation of the Wirral Growth Company.
The hard sell meets the big sell off.