Fantastic Festival of BS

Admit All

If you’re not on the guest list – you’re not getting in!

Wirral Leaks are always willing to promote local events that enhance Wirral’s reputation. So imagine our delight when we were directed towards an upcoming event promoted by Wirral Council called ‘ The Fantastic Festival of Beautiful Ideas’:

Wirral Council is sponsoring its first Festival of Beautiful Ideas. A series of ‘hack days’ will encourage people to share ideas that are potentially viable and will add to the atmosphere, sense of place and activity in the focus of the festival, Birkenhead and Woodside.

http://wirralview.com/news/fantastic-festival-beautiful-ideas

Are they sure that isn’t ‘smack days’? No , seriously. We’re not making this shit up. Needless to say Wirral Chamber of Commerce is supporting the festival by offering funded working space and mentors for some of the winners.

Apparently :  ‘It’s about cultural potential; reclaiming Wirral’s industrial heritage; pop-ups and meanwhile spaces. and enthusiastic; people who want to change perceptions, make a difference and try something new.’

http://thebeautifulideas.co/wirral/

Of course even we understand that in this day and age it’s all about pop-ups and you’ve got to be passionate – but WTF are ‘meanwhile spaces’?

Apparently the massive total of £5K is on offer – don’t all rush at once. Let’s face it £5K wouldn’t keep Wirral Chamber of Commerce CEO  Princess Paula in frocks for their never-ending awards ceremonies.

Has anyone noticed that the Wirral Chamber of Commerce is a fake organisation, run by fakes and funded by us? If not – where have you been?

And here’s the tragedy – it’s NOT ‘admit all’ on Wirral , it’s about who you know and about how much you are prepared to sacrifice your personal integrity for cash money.

We can’t help thinking there’s a rogue apostrophe when the Wirral Chamber of Commerce are seeking people who are ‘who’re passionate’

As one of our valued sources wrote :

‘Who the hell thought of ‘Fantastic Festival of Beautiful Ideas’ I have a lot of ideas but they are not beautiful . Fix the bloody street lighting, fix the potholes, prune the trees so they don’t fall and kill people, fix the run down areas all over the Borough!
Rant over.’
To which we can only add – how about safeguarding vulnerable children and adults and then perhaps we can talk about ‘beautiful ideas’!

 

 

Where Wirral View Goes To Die

Wirral View Tip

A tomb with a View or rather hundreds of them!

 

Wirral Leaks proudly presents the final resting place of  undelivered and unloved Wirral Council newspaper Wirral View. We’re glad to see they’ve ironed out their distribution issues at last.

We often say that Wirral Council throw away your money but here is the photographic proof.

This astonishing picture is believed to have been taken last week by a concerned citizen at the Heswall branch of Tesco and sent to all Wirral councillors – and inevitably leaked to us . It came with the following comment :

‘Still bundled ‘Wirral View’ plus many more loose copies. I’d taken these out of one paper bank to take the photo, and then put them back in afterwards because I didn’t want to be accused of ‘fly-tipping’! There may well have been lots more buried inside the 6 paper banks. ‘

May it rest in pieces!

Distribution Solution

 

We can’t get enough of ‘Wirral View’ – well we would if we had actually received more than one copy at Leaky Towers . Yes , we know there’s an online edition but there’s nothing like the touch of newsprint and gazing lovingly on those precious words of wisdom that fill that empty void that was once our information deficit to make us be #thankful #grateful #blessed to be living in such interesting times as these.

So imagine how relieved, nay, overjoyed we were to hear that Wirral Council are addressing this pressing issue. We dare say we need to take some credit for this. For way back in November 2016 we identified what we called the ‘Distribution Deficit’ when it comes to this vital organ.

Distribution Deficit

Subsequent Wirral Leaks posts have highlighted the fact there is no point in producing a publication which nobody ever gets a copy of and when they do they get a copy they quickly come to the conclusion that there  is definitely no point in publishing Wirral View. 

A View To A Kill

Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe

Our distribution solution would be to chase Wirral View out of town once and for all. However belatedly it would appear that Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kev MacCallum is on the case – phew! . He once was lost and now is found and what would we do without him!

Apparently the distributors that were based in Liverpool have been dumped (much like their delivery methods) and been replaced by a Wirral firm , and er, Royal Mail. This may have led to an increase in costs but Kev reassuringly tells us that  ‘This additional expenditure will be accounted for through reducing the spend associated with copy writing and photography with more work being delivered in-house.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15200280.Cost_of_pushing_council_s_Wirral_View_newspaper_through_your_letterbox_soars_to___126_000_a_year/

We’re imagining this involves the Labour Cabinet writing good news stories  about foodbanks and passing round the crayons to draw pictures of tins of beans. The next edition promises to be all very Warholian.

The media onslaught continued with Cllr Matthew Patrick Cabinet member for Community Engagement and Communications appearing on Roger Phillips’ infuriating Radio Merseyside programme to extol the virtues of Wirral View. This was  somewhat in the vein of an enthusiastic sixth former who’s proud of their media project –  ‘this is information that has to get out there’ he implored as if he was talking about a World War 2 leaflet drop over enemy territory . We confess we did snigger but then we’re still guffawing at his use of the term ‘faux outrage’ at a recent Cabinet meeting. Matty Patty (© James Griffiths , Esq) went on to deny that Wirral View was trying to take advertising revenue from the likes of the Wirral Globe and that it was saving the Council money (although he was a bit sketchy on the details).

You can hear Matty Patty at 1hr 05.20 followed by Conservative Councillor Adam Sykes  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04x0r52

However the absolute highlight was ‘Kathy from New Brighton’  who at 1hr 20 put Roger right about Wirral Council’s intentions when it came to generating advertising revenue. Kathy told us that she ran an independent business and received an email from Wirral Council in September 2016 promoting a ‘new advertising opportunity’ .

Kathy declined this opportunity on the grounds that advertising costs were ‘extortionate’ and  ‘I support my free press’ . You tell ’em!

Roger seemed a bit miffed that he’d been wrongfooted about where the advertising in Wirral View was supposed to be emanating from. ‘I was told NHS ……that sort of advertising‘ he said forlornly.  Sorry , Rog , but you seem a bit slow on the uptake that the Wirral Council crew can sometimes be rather disengenous (and we’re being polite for a change). We just wish more people would get with the programme – but preferably not yours as we find it a frustrating experience over the years as you have consistently provided the Wirral Council power elite with a platform for their mendacious BS.  Who can forget the infamous Graham Burgess ‘ mistakes’ episode for starters?

Indeed listening to Roger Phillips always makes us want to storm the Radio Merseyside studios and reinact the famous scene from the movie ‘ Network ‘ and scream : ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore…’

 

Reference Point 2 : A Halliday Hullabaloo!

Truth Sounds

There’s been yet another twist in the tale of the ‘Happy Halliday’ saga :

Happy Halliday  Nous Sommes Charlie Reference Point

Indomitable Wirral resident Charles Nunn has valiantly chased up queries about the appointment of controversial ex City of York Council (CYC) employee Stewart Halliday to Wirral Council and received this response from elusive (and gullible?) Wirral Council CEO Eric’ Feeble’ Robinson :

‘Thank you for your email  dated 13 March 2017 and follow up email on 26 March 2017. 

 The Council’s Human Resources Team has confirmed the following:
 
Mr Halliday is engaged via an agency through the Council’s contract with Matrix Ltd.  Under the process, Matrix require supplying agencies to supply references for the previous two years employment history.
 
These references were sent directly to the line manager recruiting the worker.  There is no requirement for our Human Resources Team to be involved in all such engagements.  The line manager also elected to seek an additional reference from the former Chief Executive of York Council and subsequently a further reference was provided to the agency by the Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods still currently working at York.
 
We have been advised by Mr Halliday that he refutes all the allegations which are matter of ongoing dispute between him and his previous employer. It is not appropriate for Wirral Council to comment any further on these allegations.’
However  Charles ‘ trans-pennine contacts were having Nunn of it (geddit?).

Here’s a couple of responses from his contacts in York which have been judiciously edited , not that we doubt the veracity of some of the statements , but we know how delicate the sensibilities of our highly paid public servants are and we don’t want to prompt another outraged response from’Blotto’! . The first goes something like this :

‘I’m utterly gobsmacked at the response from the C.E.O. of Wirral Council, but, knowing how these organisations work, perhaps I shouldn’t be? ……….The Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods was Sally Burns at the time Halliday was there, but, she has also now left…..Judge for yourself – here are the dynamic duo in action (do try not to fall asleep whilst watching their spell-binding performance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_C47mc1m1U

It is laughable, and outrageous that Halliday refutes the allegations…….

The front this man has, beggars belief…
Halliday hasn’t “refuted” anything.
He has “denied” it.
There is a big difference in the meaning of these words.
There is NO ongoing dispute twixt Halliday and CYC.’
The second comment is no less compromising :

‘The  current holder of the grandiose title of  Director of Communities and Neighbourhood did NOT provide a reference. I am certain, as are no doubt you, that it was a previous post holder Ms. Burns who, like (Kersten) England furnished a glowing testimonial.

In order to “refute” something one must put forward evidence and argument to conclusively demonstrate that the allegations are invalid.  Halliday has NOT done this.  Indeed he cannot. 
We know for an indisputable fact what the procurement rules are – and also for a fact that he has failed to comply with them.
Ergo – he is guilty as charged.
His denials are worthless; but he is hardly likely to openly admit wrongdoing is he?  Or accept responsibility for it all? ‘
In an attempt to resolve the matter CYC Councillor Mark Warters has waded in (geddit?) in an attempt to address the discrepancies seemingly raised in Stressed Eric’s email and has asked current CYC CEO Mary Weastall the following questions :
Dear Mary,
Following the receipt of an FOI response forwarded to me from a concerned Wirral resident penned by the Wirral Council CEO that Stewart Halliday is in “ongoing dispute” with CYC;
Please confirm that Mr. Halliday is in “dispute” with CYC and what the nature of the dispute is.
Please also confirm the origin of the second reference provided to Wirral Council from the Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods “still currently working at York”, I assume that was the former Director Sally Burns who departed under a reorganisation some time ago.
If this was the case why was the reference provided from this directorate as Mr Halliday was working for the Chief Executives Directorate.
I understand that a reference was obtained from former CYC CEO Kersten England, was a reference ever sought from the CYC CEO at the time, I assume that was Steve Stewart?
I look forward to the LGA investigation into the 22nd February A&G meeting and wonder in relation to the “ongoing dispute” with CYC if the LGA brief should be extended to cover all aspects of this sorry saga including the procurement fails at CYC, the relationships between CYC officers, including Mr. Halliday and the external communications ‘consultants’ and Mr. Halliday’s subsequent employment at Wirral Council.
I am sure the LGA would be keen to operate across two local authorities to get to the bottom of these matters if only to prevent further reputational risk to member local authorities.
Thank you in anticipation of your assistance in these matters.
To which we at Leaky Towers would’ve been ready to heartily cheer ‘here!,here!’,  if only the Local Government Association(LGA) were not involved!
However I’m sure we’d all like to know who’s telling the truth don’t we ? – place your bets now on the ‘Stewart Halliday Sweepstakes’. Which is a bit like this week’s upcoming ‘Grand National Sweepstakes’ which involves the public losing a lot of money on something that should have have put out to grass a long time ago.

Purdah Palaver

Steve Rotheram 012

Apparently we are in ‘Purdah’ – the period prior to an election where public bodies are constrained when it comes to communications in case it adversely interferes with the democratic election process.

The ‘democratic process’ involved at this particular time is the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority ‘Metro Mayor’ election on Thursday 4th May.  We’ve had our poll cards posted through the letterbox at Leaky Towers and tossed it into the junk mail tray in acknowledgement of the sheer futility of voting in this particular political sideshow. Whilst it will provide cash-strapped Wirral Council Returning Officer Eric Robinson with another bumper payout it will be , as far as we’re concerned , just another stepping stone on the road to political oligarchy. The People’s Socialist Republic of Merseyside –  only not for the people and without the socialism obviously.

However ‘Purdah’ gives Wirral Council the excuse to be even less forthcoming with the public than they usually are. But it’s not all bad news – it means the publication of Wirral View has been suspended.  Which surely is a tacit admission that the truly terrible rag is indeed a political tool and was never intended to address anyone’s ‘information deficit’.

Talking of which – some of you may have had the privilege and honour of having the Labour Party leaflet in support of Labour candidate Steve Rotheram shoved through your letterbox.

As you can see from our above picture it tells you everything you need to know as to why a once great party is now appealing to the lowest common denominator.  Steve’s big selling point apparently is that he is a ‘brickie’ and therefore ‘one of us’. Although he’s not a brickie – he’s an ex-brickie and now very much part of the political elite. The only way being an ex-brickie is a selling point when it comes to being the ‘Metro Mayor’ is if Steve is going to personally help build new homes to meet government housing targets!

Sadly for us it’s a further demonstration that the once great Labour Party (and particularly some elements of the local party ) have become in the words of a memorable phrase we picked up this week ,  ‘the pitiers of the poor’.   Witness the evangelical zeal (and we use the term advisedly ) with which local foodbanks are promoted whilst one of their political leader jets off to Cannes and stays in £407 a night hotels. This one to be precise :

Marriott cannes 2

Of course Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ rationale would be that he’s there to ensure international investors will flock to the insular peninsula to ensure future prosperity of Wirralians forevermore.  However after the many past fruitless excursions around the world have resulted in rotten tomatoes we’d be forgiven for waiting until something actually comes to fruition. And then if it does why do we get the impression that the beneficiaries will be big business and the political / council officer elite setting themselves up nicely for when Wirral Council becomes merely a ‘local commissioning hub’ for the Liverpool City Region?

Carry On Matron

Simon says : ‘Carry on Matron’  (clip courtesy John Brace)

Now we admit to being late to the party on this one but one of our keen followers brought to our attention an ‘epic fail’ by one of Wirral Leaks regulars Cllr Moira McLaughlin (aka ‘Matron’) at last week’s ‘People Overview and Scrutiny Committee’.

Whilst the supine members of this particular Committee were quite happy to sit back and accept that Matron knows what she’s actually talking about , we’ve scrutinised the John Brace video we were guided to – and blimey! – our source was right about our Cab Queen councillor – and it seems she’s still taking us all for a ride!

Carry On Cabby

This time it concerns what may seem to be a throwaway comment made at last week’s Committee meeting. Watch with incredulity as after a dreary presentation from Wirral Council’s Safeguarding Lead Simon Garner – God help us one and all – Matron McLaughlin chips in just after 26:00 and comments that after reading the latest Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board (SAPB)  ‘annual report’  –  well when they say ‘annual’ – there have been 2 ( count’em) since 2012 .

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50039668/SAPB%20Annual%20Report%202015%20-2016%20final%20version%20PS.pdf

Matron tells us that prior to reading the latest magnum opus she thought that the highest number of allegations about abuse would implicate family members and that the alleged abuse took place in the vulnerable person’s own home. She pitifully asks whether it’s “a shift , a change in information being gathered”

Well if you’ve been in a coma, maybe ! Really Matron ? you actually said that OUT LOUD and IN PUBLIC and none of the Committee members saw fit to challenge you and say ” WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? But then why have scrutiny when you can resort to that old standby – denial ! In fact we remember last time round the reason given for the rise in referrals about alleged abuse in care homes by care workers was because the SAPB were doing such a good job raising awareness about abuse!

Take a look at this graph from the ONLY previous Safeguarding Adult Partnership Board (SAPB) report (June 2014) :

SAPB 013

We’ll just leave it there for the Committee to have a look at . An expression using the words ‘elephant’ and ‘room’ springs to mind. However Director of Adult Social Services Graham Hodkinson chips in at 28.00 to tell us not to worry it’s all in the hands of his QA ( Quality Assurance?) Team – which based on their past history doesn’t exactly reassure us –  and asks the pertinent yet evasive question:

” What does that say about care home quality”

What the information tells us is that care services on Wirral are more than a bit of a worry. Whilst that shouldn’t come as a surprise to Wirral Leaks followers perhaps it will to sleepwalking members of the ‘People’ committee.We’ll spell it out for you Graham the quality of too many care homes on Wirral is S-H-I-T …..shit,crap,turdacious or whatever Care Quality Commission (CQC)  excrement scale you care to choose! Too ‘disasteful’ for you Mr Hobgoblinson?, try living in one of the care homes you’ve got a contract with at discounted rates even though there known ‘quality’ concerns and get back to us! Just sayin’ !

How prescient of us to write in anticipation of the latest SAPB report in February 2016 (!) :

Meanwhile we anticipate that in it’s long – awaited and much delayed report Wirral Council’s self – congratulatory Safeguarding Board will kiss its own arse and claims it is doing a good job protecting vulnerable people.

Retirement Home

As you can see from the above post the quality of Wirral’s ‘care’ providers is something we’ve been banging on about for years . Indeed from when the CQC told Wirral Council way back in 2010 they couldn’t safeguard a dead hamster to the calamitous Independent Review in 2012 that didn’t only tell the council they were safeguarding failures that they themselves were actually perpetrators of abuse!

This small detail was of course omitted from the only previous SAPB report

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/sites/default/files/all/Health%20and%20social%20care/adult%20social%20care/safeguarding%20adults/SAPB%20Annual%20Report%202012-14%20FINAL.pdf

Indeed we’re appalled to discover that they’ve resumed business with a particular organisation who were redacted out of the Independent Review – whilst some other So & So’s it was a case of carry on regardless  –  and yet we’re supposed to be as surprised as the Matron that vulnerable people are potentially at more at risk of being abused in care homes and the greatest number of allegations is against their ‘carers’!

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/shamed-carer-who-stole-4k-12153256

It might also explain why the Director of Services of this organisation has stopped contacting us to tell us how appalling Wirral Council are . Might also explain his reluctance to expose historical financial abuse of vulnerable people in his ‘care’ when he knows there are lucrative Wirral Council care contracts to be had if he keeps schtum about their mutual dirty little secret ( which we promise to get round to one day).

 

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Paula NWT 009

Paula Basnett : Primus inter pares in action

 

In the aftermath of the New Ferry explosion over the weekend it was reassuring to see the emergency services, the local community and indeed Wirral Council working together to help the stricken people affected by the devastating event.
Also helping out were the Wirral Chamber of Commerce in the shape of their CEO Paula Basnett  who ‘popped up’ on last night’s edition of North West Tonight to tell us that the Chamber was looking for ‘pop up spaces’ for displaced local traders.
All we can say is that with all the properties the Chamber of Horrors have at their disposal ,which they’ve been gifted or are paying peppercorn rent for, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem!
However it would seem that this charitable largesse on the part of  the Basnett clan doesn’t extend to charities themselves. We’ve been contacted by Jim Barrington from local charity Wiser Solutions Ltd
Jim not only provides us with a fascinating update on a story we covered earlier in the year concerning a local business initative  co-ordinated by Wirral Chamber of Commerce known as the Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) aka ‘Birkenhead First’ , but also with a frightening insight into ‘how things work’ round here.
Here we witness the increasingly unhealthy symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce and the political manoeuvrings of local politicians  and powerbrokers that we don’t see on TV :
Wirral Chamber of Commerce is taking charities and not for profit companies to a criminal court after introducing a BID Levy in Birkenhead then rejected appeals to exempt those affected who exist for the benefit of the community. Affected businesses are told they have to pay 1.5% of the rateable value of their property.
 
The BID Levy was introduced following a vote by firms in Birkenhead after they were told it would listen to their needs and campaign on their behalf to improve the area. In reality however it has refused to listen and change their decision not to exempt charitable firms, despite the BID Regulations allowing it and precedent already being set to by HMRC, Customs and Excise and even Wirral Council who all exempt or reduce the financial obligations of charities and not for profits regarding levies and taxes.
The BID Levy is being collected on behalf of Wirral Chamber of Commerce by Wirral Council. However this contradicts Wirral Council’s own policies and commitments to support not for profits. The small business rates relief ensures the majority of rates are paid by a contribution from the Government and Wirral Council provide a discretionary exemption for qualifying charitable firms which takes care of the rest. However Wirral Chamber of Commerce insist no exemption applies to charities and not for profits, even where they cannot afford to pay. Instead they have insisted on pursuing them through the Magistrates Court in order to obtain a liability order so they can gain access to charitable funds. The use of Magistrates Court is particularly troubling since they are predominantly used for criminal matters and even Wirral Council have admitted this is a civil matter which are usually dealt with in County Court.
Even more troubling is the fact Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce are adding £95.00 in court fees before liability has even been established in court, yet cannot provide a full and proper breakdown of how these costs have been arrived at. It is unlawful for any council to make a profit from court fees so one would expect them to be able to say exactly what it costs to take an individual or business to court. Instead however they appear to have been obstructive by providing a spreadsheet which lists the annual costs to run the entire council tax and revenues department. When asked for a per capita breakdown which takes into account economies of scale (i.e. they are taking a lot of people to court for not paying council tax and non-domestic rates on the same day and they batch process them all, plus the BID Levy collection is tagged onto the end of these), they sent the same annual totals for running their entire department. When asked again and told the costs breakdown must be BID specific they refused to send any further information.
An example of these costs would be the cost of filing fees (circa £3.00 per summons) and say an allocation of £2.00 towards staff time and other costs. An explanation therefore of what the remaining £90 costs is for has not been forthcoming. Requests to move things to the County Court, which is the proper setting for civil matters, have been ignored by Council Officers. 
Frank Field was contacted for help at least three weeks for the summons date. He responded at 5:00pm the evening before the court appearance to say his office had contacted Phil Davies who in turn had contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce and they had refused to change their decision, despite his personal feelings and views to the contrary. So the MP for Birkenhead and the leader of Wirral Council are both being dictated to by officers at Wirral Chamber of Commerce. 
Clearly this suggests Paula Basnett, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid who run Wirral Chamber of Commerce are also in charge of Wirral Council. Worse still is the fact Wirral Chamber have stated they and Birkenhead BID Company (Birkenhead First) are not subject to Freedom of Information legislation so can claim everything they do is commercially sensitive and confidential. No transparency there then.
Even the officers at Wirral Council who are collecting the BID Levy do not seem to agree with the decision to criminalise charitable firms. They contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce asking them to change their position but they were also told the it would not be changed. The attitude appears to be it is only 1.5% of the rateable value of a property so Wirral Chamber cannot understand what the fuss is about. It seems to have escaped their attention charitable firms, by definition of what they do, may have large properties on peppercorn rents and very little money, most of which is from funding or donations and some modest earned income. Which is why they have taxes reduced or are exempted entirely. But Wirral Chamber of Commerce insists everyone must pay.
The Birkenhead BID Levy purports to be there to help support firms in the Birkenhead BID district but some have argued it is instead a way to pay the high salaries of staff who, until recently had worked for Wirral Council. It claims to be there to listen to and represent business owners in the Birkenhead BID Levy District, however there is no formal complaints procedure and minutes of meetings are confidential. Clearly they are not doing a very good job of listening since they are insisting on dragging charitable firms into Magistrates Court to pay for a Levy which did not exist until recently.
To be fair, Birkenhead has been declining for years and business owners are struggling to stay afloat. But cleaning up Birkenhead is the job of the council. 
This is why people pay business rates. The BID appears to be a stealth tax method of increasing business rates without actually increasing the business rates which is the same argument successfully used by Esther McVey when the council attempted to place a levy on wheelie bins and which forced them to hastily back away and reconsider their position.
Wirral Chamber have recently released a wonderful glossy document which makes bold claims about the achievements of the Birkenhead Bid company (also known as Birkenhead First). However the majority of these are things Wirral Council would do anyway as part of their obligations to Business Rates Payers. So it seems the suggestion the BID Levy is supporting the over bloated salaries of former council employees may have some foundation.
Also since this is clearly a civil matter, why is there such a reluctance to transfer proceedings to the County Court? Clearly civil matters fall under contract law and County Court is the proper setting. The costs are similar and certainly can be itemised easier. This suggests a worrying symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Magistrates Court where proceedings are being led by Wirral Council and not the local Magistrates.
The subject of costs and lack of transparency surrounding these certainly raises more questions than answers and this spills over to affect every council tax payer, business rates payer and now BID Levy payer who has ever been summonsed to Magistrates Court and had liability order costs imposed. Whilst clearly Council Tax is a criminal matter, the BID Levy certainly is not and belongs in County Court not the criminal courts.
It has also been suggested the BID Levy and demands for payment would not stand up to scrutiny under contract law. This has never been tested but would certainly be in the public interest. Taking charities and not for profit firms to court in an attempt to access charitable funds is not. It does not matter if the BID Levy is a small token amount. It is still immoral. It is also grossly unfair. For example there is no way to spread the cost monthly, no refund mechanism if firms move out of the area part way through the year, no contract and no control or input on how money is spent. In short it represents an unfair contract under civil law and threats of heavy penalties and costs, bailiffs and similar from Wirral Council are tactics which could be viewed as extortion and threats in public office. Whilst we are not suggesting this is the case, it certainly could be viewed as such. All the more reason for the matter to be placed in its proper setting in the County Court and not the Magistrates Court.
Even more worrying is the notion if Wirral Chamber is not challenged, this could be the first of many BID Levy districts in Wirral and more struggling business owners and charitable firms will find themselves subject to this new stealth tax with no opt out clause, no appeal and no transparency over how their money is spent.

‘The Lauries’ Lingers

The lauries desperation

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.’

http://patcleary2.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/we-want-our-lauries-back.html

‘Progressed properly ?’– Good luck with that one, Pat!

The Liptrot Mystery

Evans

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 .

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15173137.Special_meeting_heats_up_as_Wirral_councillors_clash_over_controversial_new_job_for_Labour_s_policy_chief/

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?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/all-hail-the-new-king-of-spin/

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 ?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/a-political-mr-liptrot/

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.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14306240.Emails_give_extraordinary_insight_into_Wirral_Council_s_controversial_hiring_of_former_Labour_spin_doctor/

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!