As Wirral Leaks crashes through the quarter of a million hits barrier whilst being on WordPress we celebrate the age -old Christmas Tradition of Wirral Council appearing in the Christmas edition of Private Eye. Let’s face it Rotten Boroughs is to Wirral Council what stuffing is to turkey.
The article itself titled “Stella Performance” takes centre stage with a box and a cartoon all of it’s own. As the title suggests the story concerns Wirral Council’s globetrotting exploits from the wooing of Shiu to the beano in Reno.
Private Eye writes :
“Despite all the evidence that Wirral Council was being had , it’s regeneration director Kevin Adderley insisted all ” due diligence” had been done,while council leader Phil Davies pathetically insisted: This is not a myth ,they are real companies with real investment plans.” Alas,nothing has been heard of Ms.Shiu since. Never mind,Onward!”
The story may well not be new to Wirral Leaks readers but it’s certainly the first time we’ve seen Addled and “due diligence” in the same sentence (shurely shome mishtake?!)
And we must say the word “pathetically” clings to Power Boy Pip like a limpet to a sinking ship. Leader? – the only way this guy leads the people of Wirral is up the garden path. Witness his pathetic history – ” There’s nothing we can do – they’ve all left…” he said wimping out after it was revealed that council officers had departed cheque in hand after failing to tell councillors that oops! they’d run up £30 million + in toxic debts. Byeeeee! And didn’t he chair a disciplinary hearing when he exonerated and let off two of the main protagonists involved in this financial mismanagement?
As Private Eye says: I think we should be told!
Witness also his ongoing support of Foulkesy and Georgy as Wirralgate unravels…..”I can’t defend that” he apparently said after hearing the Wirralgate recording.
Oh but he has and will continue to do so as long as he clings (pathetically) on to power ( cont. p.94).
Following our earlier story about the beano in Reno Verity has been doing some further research into other towns who have had the dubious honour of being twinned with Wirral. Apparently Wirral has been rather wanton with it’s unique charms and has previously wooed (in no particular order) Gennevilliers (France) ,Lorient (France) ,Latina (Italy) and Midland (Texas ,USA not the Black Country).
Then of course there was the Eurowirral office in Brussels which achieved er, well nothing much at all really.
As we’ve said before it seems to us at Leaky Towers that never has so much public money been spent on air miles by so many globetrotting councillors and officers to achieve so very little………
Of course the Twin Town debate is something that has concerned the great and the ghoul of Wirral for sometime.
Leaky Towers have always maintained we should be twinned with Jericho in recognition of our local whistleblowing community whilst Frankenfield seems to think that Birkenhead should be twinned with Beirut!.
However it seems to us that Wirral is behaving like a desperate divorcee on a dating website – posting flattering pictures to prospective partners in the hope of finding true love and salvation. The Reno hook-up seems particularly dodgy – apparently the fact that “The Chamber of Commerce had a contact over in Reno with a guy who used to work in Liverpool in the video gaming industry….” was enough for the Wirral posse to metaphorically put on the lippy ,reach for the Wonderbra and fly down to Reno on a wing and a prayer.
Finally we’d particularly love to know what clean living local Councillor Paul “Danceaway” Doughty thinks about twinning with Reno – famous for gambling and quickie divorces.
Let’s just hope if we get a delegation from Reno visiting that Wirral tops up the Botox to prevent “The Biggest Little City in The World” seeking a quickie divorce…….
Following on from our latest story about Wirral Council’s profligate spending on consultants darling Verity has been undertaking further research into the consultancy firm V4……….
Readers will remember that Cllr Chris “Cross” Meaden authorised that V4 undertake a 50 grand job that eventually ended up costing Wirral council tax payers a whopping £260,000.
We can only ask ourselves whether you can get an internet connection in Meaden’s Rock Ferry ward as even the most basic search would have set the alarm bells ringing like Quasimodo on Christmas Day.
Perhaps “Cross” Chris just relied on the tried and tested “word of mouth” method which as we know is always a winner when it comes to public accountability! Did she put her faith in elusive Super-Duper Director Clare “Wet” Fish who we’ve been told used V4 when she was at Oldham Council or did she ask Comrade Burgesski’s fandango dancing wife as to whether V4 helped to put Warrington’s leisure services into a trust whilst slashing wages and staff?
However we have been asked to focus our attention on a V4 consultant by the name of Peter Kilkenny who we understand was linked to the bumper pay-day consultancy work in Wirral.
And it would appear from Verity’s research that Kilkenny has a bit of previous ……
Apparently he left his job with Rochdale Link4Life , the arms length organisation that runs council services last year , after allegations of credit card misuse.This included his boss Craig McAteer spending fourteen and a half grand in 12 months on his card including a holiday to Florida (all of the money was apparently paid back). Between the 2 of them they made 65 staff redundant whilst giving themselves massive pay rises.
It is particularly noteworthy that Rochdale’s Labour MP Simon Danczuk has been extremely scathing of their work in his constituency :
“I am very much of the view that the bosses of this outfit, Craig McAteer and Peter Kilkenny, have been taking the taxpayer for a ride, and I publicly challenged their huge, unjustifiable salaries over a year ago.
So the story that appeared on the front page of the Observer last week, detailing how they had been inappropriately using company credit cards to buy, among other things, a holiday, came as no surprise to me.
This company seems happy to spend taxpayers’ money, yet does not want its spending scrutinised and deliberately avoids transparency. At a time when public spending is being seriously reined in, this culture cannot continue. Quite simply, McAteer and Kilkenny are making a mockery of public services. ..”
Good call Cllr Meaden!…..a match made in Local Government Hell. Cash strapped and scandal ridden councils are clearly proving to be happy hunting grounds for some.
Coincidentally it should be noted that poor beleaguered Rochdale also deployed the services of Anna Klonowski of Independent Review infamy after North West Employers Organisation recommended her to undertake investigative work in relation to sexual exploitation in the borough – after they in turn had also undertaken work for Wirral Council!
Are people beginning to realise how this self-perpetuating money -making merry go round works yet ?!!
However although Rock Ferry may seem to be an internet dead zone other parts of Wirral have been able to access the above information. Particularly interested have been Wirral Council staff facing redundancy, some of whom, after decades of loyal service, now find their entire futures in the hands of cash-crazed consultants !
Way to go Wirral Council !…..
We anticipated it would be the usual obfuscation and delay and sure enough true to form the requester had to wrestle some of the information out of Wirral Council before they started invoking the usual legal KO and invoke exemptions to deny full access to the information requested.
The exemptions mean that although we find out exactly who were the 43 Councillors who availed themselves of Wirral Council’s generous hospitality we do not get a “definitive” list of guests enjoying a pleasant day out on the public purse.
However there are some interesting revelations – the first of course being the fact that 43 Councillors had their entry to the Open paid for by the Council and not the 2 that Comrade Burgesski originally claimed (no wonder there’s financial problems at Wirral Council when the Chief Executive seems to have trouble with figures).
Secondly we note the presence of “Weightmans Lawyers” on the Thursday and Friday sessions – would that be ex- Wirral Council employees Morris Hill and Simon Goacher perchance?
Although this information is somehow allowed to leak out we don’t get a full list of business associates who were the beneficiaries of Council freebies “due to on-going commercial negotiations between the Council and the organisations in question”
Which begs the question that if there are “ongoing commercial negotiations” with certain organisations should Wirral Council be offering what might be seen as inducements or favours?
However the exemption which had us blowing our turret off Leaky Towers was the non-disclosure of the Wirral Council staff who were on the golf course rather than sitting behind a desk.
The Council refused this request “due to the seniority of the officers in question and the fact that they do not hold public facing jobs. There is therefore an expectation that their privacy would be upheld.”
“Public facing jobs?” – that’s a new one on us. How about ” Public serving jobs?” Wirral Council – have you ever heard of them? No,thought not! Especially in the light of the harrowing news coming out of Rotherham this week we simply cannot fathom the motive behind the obsessive zeal with which PUBLIC bodies consistently seek to protect their staff at the expense of vulnerable people and the public purse.
It’s the same modus operandi which is demonstrated time and time again here on Wirral where readacted reports afford anonymity to abusers and those guilty of malpractice.
It’s a protection racket for the powerful – and it is the public who have to pay.
“If you drink,don’t drive.
Don’t even putt…….” – Dean Martin
Writing recently about his dealings with local Council Law Lord Surjit Tour and his team Mr.Cardin reports that :
“Over the last two years, in response to probing, but otherwise innocuous freedom of information requests, the “team” has combined the awesome power of their collective legal minds, and has clubbed together to issue a total of three rebuttals, in which they’ve claimed that my requests are ‘vexatious’ …..And three times, I’ve whacked the Wirral Council mole over the head and sent their hideously deluded collection of lawyers, misfits, deniers and data geeks scurrying back into the town hall to lick their wounds.”
Subsequently Mr.Brace was sent an email titled “Fraudulent Email” by Tour following the publication on his blog of correspondence sent by Comrade Burgesski providing details of the upcoming Open golf beano.
Tour blusters as follows:
“This is clearly a serious matter and I formally request that you immediately remove the email and the associated commentary concerning this subject matter from your blog.The Council would prefer to avoid taking action in respect of this entry; however, I must put you on notice that the Council will have little alternative but to consider alternative action should you refuse or fail to remove this entry from your blog forthwith…..”
Now can we offer Mr.Tour some advice (pro bono , of course) and humbly suggest that when it comes to vexatiousness and the leaking of confidential correspondence that he looks much, MUCH closer to home.
There’s more fun to be had on the Brace blog
as he provides a transcript of a recent Roger Phillips Radio Merseyside programme where local caller (Paul from New Brighton) raises the issue of the grace and favour hospitality to be enjoyed by the local political and business elite at the Open golf championships.
Then up pops Councillor Walter “Wally” Smith to deny such claims before disclosing he has indeed enjoyed “lavish hospitality” not because he is a Councillor – oh,no,no,no – but because he’s run up a few pair of kecks for a local hotelier.
Well that’s alright then!
He then goes on to whine ( no pun intended) : “We don’t even have a drink with the Mayor every sort of four or five months like we used to because we’ve cut out all the frills because we’re in an extremely difficult period for local government funding…..”
Forgive us for being underwhelmed by such principled self-sacrifice!. Whatever possessed Smith to think that a piss up on the public purse was ever appropriate in the first place !
Talking of the Mayor and ,ahem, drinks – we note that the Council are being particularly coy about releasing the costs of Foulkesy’s Mayor-making ceremony and ,we presume the bar bill in particular, which we suspect will be eye-watering.
Not to fear – as we know all too well Wirral Council has more leaks than a rusty colander , so we can expect to see the details on a local blog very soon – not this one obviously.We at Leaky Towers are always the soul of discretion and the epitome of decorum……
The official statement from WUTH Chief Executive David Allison reads as follows:
As part of the Trust’s Corporate Services review I confirm that the Trust has made the decision to review/streamline the Executive structure. Following this review the position of Executive Director of HR has been made redundant.The Trust would like to take the opportunity to thank Mrs Green for her service, hard work and achievements. We wish her well in challenges ahead.
As we have previously observed the parallels between Dave Green leaving Wirral Council and Sue Green leaving Wirral University Teaching Hospital are strikingly familiar – from the suspension, investigation, right down to the “no case to answer” conclusion and what some may view as a frankly suspect “redundancy” ( The Trust apparently just so happened to review/streamline the executive structure during Mrs.Green’s suspension/absence …..which coincidentally was exactly what Wirral Council claimed happened to Mr.Green! )
Of course we don’t know ,as yet,what the scale of the “redundancy” payment is. Nor do we know how on earth do you make a HR director post redundant in the NHS.
Nevertheless we can’t help re-phrasing and adding to a well known literary quote : ” To lose one job may seem unfortunate but to lose two seems like either carelessness or calculation ….”
Carelessness or calculation on whose part will no doubt never be known in both cases as enquiries are always stonewalled with statements such as : “As per our previously issued statement, it’s our practice not to comment on the individual circumstances of any employee….”
The point that is seemingly missed is that such employees were employed by public bodies and it is in the public interest to know the actual circumstances surrounding their departure.
Meanwhile as a public relations distraction WUTH announce today (without a hint of irony ) their “green makeover” http://bit.ly/1bztMiL
We understand that a certain Sue Green, head of HR has recently left the employment of Wirral’s other most prominent employer after Wirral Council – Wirral University Teaching Hospital (WUTH) as it now fancifully likes to call itself. On the Wirral rather like North Korea (which apparently has a better life expectancy than certain parts of the Wirral ) people seem to disappear overnight! Not only is no explanation given, it is frowned upon when people ask perfectly reasonable questions. Those who do dare raise issues meet a wall of silence or glib corporate fudges about ‘confidentiality.’
This of course completes a notable family double after the departure of Mrs Green’s universally loved and much admired other half – Dave ‘Del Boy’ Green from Wirral Council. It is also somewhat serendipitous given the fact that DG is rumoured to have found ‘gainful’ employment again, beyond the confines of the insular Peninsula. Let’s hope there’s a nice local golf club at hand.
Now we don’t know the full circumstances of really happened, or whether this was about the appalling lack of staffing in the hospital because APH’s Department of spin is essentially as communicative as a brickwall, but without the warmth. However, we are always suspicious when the Chief Executive of WUTH (David Allison) circulates the following type of message to APH’s inmates on the ocassion Sue Green was first absent from work .
Here are some highlights, which rather than enlighten, one feels would baffle employees at the hospital.
“I am writing to advise you of a situation that is likely to appear in the media in respect of this Trust’s Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development
As with any employee of our Trust, we would not comment on circumstances related to their employment. We therefore intend to issue a response to this effect.
My purpose of advising you of this situation is that I felt it would be inappropriate for you to learn about it in the first instance via the media.”
Clear? Well actually no !
What is particularly curious is that no such story ever appeared or was followed up , no doubt due to some spectacular stonewalling, and Mrs.Green was eventually allowed to quietly disappear from public view and quite possibly as seems to be the trend in that particular household, clutching a big fat wad of public money ( one for devoted Freedom of Information fans to follow up).
From leaks that have been received about this case we at Leaky Towers can only hope that :
a) The media wasn’t being used in this sorry saga as a bargaining tool rather than serving the public interest.
b) That Mr.Allison is aware that only last week a group of MPs hit out at “outrageous” examples of public bodies apparently paying employees to keep quiet about problems.The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) highlighted that so called “gagging clauses” have been used to cover up serious failures in organisations such as the NHS….and indeed we understand that some of the recommendations were based on a number of cases in the public sector and a particular case involving Wirral Council!