Pip Pops Off : A Wirral Leaks Tribute

Before we provide you with our post local election reflections we need to commemorate that a week ago today the Annual Meeting of Wirral Council saw the  end of an era (pronounced error) as Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ tenure as council ‘leader’ officially ceased.

Here at Wirral Leaks we couldn’t let the momentous event pass without providing our own fitting tribute to a ‘man’ who given the choice between right and wrong would always choose the latter option . In our opinion this didn’t make him a political game player it just made him weak. A man who always seemed uncomfortable with ‘leadership’ being thrust upon him after the ignominious fall from grace of that consummate political game player Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  in 2012, in the aftermath of a series of damning reports. This is how we commented on his ascendancy to the top of Wirral Council’s greasy pole:

Screen Shot 2019-05-19 at 19.21.10

As we were to subsequently find out if Power Boy Pip (as he was to become known to Wirral Leaks readers) excelled at anything it was ‘denial’. At this point we’d like to take a leaf out of Kipling’s ‘Just So’ stories and pose the question : ‘How did ‘Power Boy Pip’ get his name?’ Well, thereby hangs a tale from 2013 which you can read here where we mocked how Pip invested in himself ‘Strong leader powers’ and a Cabinet system that screamed weakness. A council criticised for its secrecy becomes less open and transparent,  a council criticised for its lack of accountability concentrates its power in someone who abuses it ,  a council criticised for the conduct of its elected members lets its councillors run amok  as George Davies, Louise Reecejones, Jim Crabtee and Steve Foulkes show their contempt for their ‘leader’ with their out of control conduct and yet somehow Pip only publicly criticises Reecejones – go figure .

We nailed it in our We Leak, Pip Squeaks  post when we wrote :

Of course we believe that ultimately what what will do for Power Boy Pip is his failure to rein in Cllrs  Steve Foulkes and George Davies and to stand up to Birkenhead MP Frank Field over the Wirralgate scandal. These are not the actions of a leader – this is a man out of his depth clutching onto a red flag of convenience and not waving but drowning………………

Pip was never a leader but always the ‘front man’ –  a turd-polishing pollyanna . The pinnacle of this ‘achievement’ being Local Government Chronicle’s ‘ Most Improved Council’ Award in 2015.

a-prick

Needless to say Pip took his cue from the ne plus ultra of local political game players, Frank Field, who as we know , has spent 4 decades surrounding himself with ugly bullies and useful idiots . Conveniently Pip was to find many of both, not only in his own party but in the paid ranks of public servants at Wirral Council. However where Pip really began to become unstuck was the alliance made in hell (via West Kirby) with his infamous appointment of politically motivated spin doctor Martin Liptrot to whatever job ‘Liptrotsky’ wanted. The pitiful correspondence from Liptrot to the Council ‘leader’ dictating terms of his  grace and (political) favour employment was pitiful to behold and further evidence of Pip’s reliance on others to sustain him in power. This episode and further details of this disastrous appointment can be read in The Liptrot Mystery.

This reliance on the bad will of others has meant that the past 7 years have been one one long pay off party for some really horrible senior council officers . The routine seemed to be –  Inept? Here’s a cheque. Inept and knowing –  here’s a bigger cheque. Inept , knowing and prepared to do Pip’s dirty work (Hey, Joe  name your price!…)

Compare and contrast that with the fact that throughout his tenure as ‘leader’ (and even before that…) there wasn’t a Wirral Council whistleblower he wasn’t prepared to screw over. Except, of course, the one set of  bogus , so called Wirralgate ‘whistleblowers’ who had him over a barrel and could shaft him at the drop of a tape recording. Luckily for him he had those ‘special leader powers’ to get him out of a deeply corrupt hole of his own making by deciding to bring the Highways contract back in house and give Gary’s Gang what they wanted all along.  Obviously when the hired hands with their hands on the ‘record’ button it’s time to go visit your grandkids in Canada. For more details read here

So many unanswered questions and it shames councillors of all parties that Pip was allowed to quietly depart without them ever being asked. We never did hear the end of the Wirralgate saga did we ? The one that led to front page news stories, and an ‘independent’ investigation that has never seen the light of day ? But oh, believe us before we go you will dear reader!…

Typically, Pip isn’t around to see whether any of the 20 pledges in his much lauded 20/20 Vision thing are ever realised in 2020. Funny how we don’t hear about the pledges anymore isn’t it? There was a time when it seemed that every Labour councillor had to preface every utterance with reference to ‘pledges’ . Could it be that it was all complete bollocks and another reason Pip bailed out before the 20/20 Vision was, to mix a metaphor with a bit of the Bard,  proven to be the usual smoke and mirrors signifying nothing?

However whilst Pip will be gone he will not forgotten as the last ever Leaky Awards will be known as Pip Memorial Awards for Public Dishonour – winners to be announced in a glittering awards ceremony hosted by Pip beneficiaries – the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

With our nasty head on (do we have any other? ) we were going to wish Pip a very short retirement but we suspect that as he merrily frolics with the Davies clan in Canada and he’s finally free of a position to which he was manifestly unsuited that the red suffused face ( part high blood pressure/part embarrassment) will be replaced by the rosy glow of contentment of knowing that he managed to blag it for so long.

Finally …do we have an extradition treaty with Canada ? Askin’ for a friend!

Masterplantastic

 

Masterplan 2

We sincerely hope it’s not the last hurrah from long time Wirral Leaks contributor Dr Robert Smith. But if it is – what a way to go. The ‘Good Doctor’ shows ‘His Lordship’ up for the flâneur that he truly is.

Now whilst we all would like to live in those alluring artist’s impressions this the harsh reality – expertly and forensically laid bare :

Wirral, Wirral Council, and the development of the ‘Masterplan’ over the last 30 years.

Given that Wirral Waters is a 30-year programme of regeneration of derelict docklands, and a number of now-senior councillors in 2018 have been Wirral Councillors for a similar period, I have been taking a look at the history of ‘Masterplanning’ in Wirral and searched for the successes of the last 30 years. With a few exceptions, the greatest success of the last 30 years of Wirral Masterplanning appears to be a huge growth industry in ‘artist’s impressions’, and very little else.

Masterplanning, as opposed to planning or even developing a scheme (remember them?), appears to come into its own in local authorities, with the adoption of quasi-military and business terminology such as ‘strategic planning’, ‘resource development’, and ‘business case’ justifications in the early 1990s, to demonstrate coherent planning, business-like operations and efficient use of resources. Followed swiftly by ‘blue-sky thinking’, ‘thinking outside the box’, ‘joined-up thinking’, ‘picking the low-hanging fruit’ and ‘going on a journey’, etc., etc.; management-speak jargon, as like what it is frequently spoke…

As multiple regeneration funding sources were amalgamated to form the Single Regeneration Budget in the 1990s, and European funding sources and Objective One status came to Merseyside, a more integrated approach to planning and regeneration was required to achieve external funding support. Wirral Council officers were good at that in the 1990s.

After extensive research of Wirral Council and other partners’ efforts at planning across a wide range of services, facilities or developments, it appears that those who claim regularly to have ‘vision’ are proven by results to be the least well-equipped to hold such a self-aggrandising view.

Wirral Council whose motto may as well be ‘Lectiones sunt didici, sed nihil mutare non’ (‘lessons have been learned, but nothing will change’) is an organisation that does not learn from experience, either its own, or that of others. Now there is neither innovation nor inspiration, just copy and pasting of others’ ideas, there is little public ‘buy-in’ due to imposition, and that is why it mostly doesn’t work. And that lack of truly innovative thinking with genuine public consultation generally leads nowhere, except to bitter resentment. Wirral is never now the first to generate and implement an idea (what Wirral used to be famous for, ferries, town planning, trams, guide dogs, ship building, and lots more), but this mediocrity and endless consultancies creates exactly the pattern that has produced Masterplan after Masterplan after Masterplan, few of which have been fully or partly realised.

The pattern of Wirral Council Masterplanning is this: –

Aspiration (‘I have a vision’) – Perspiration (usually other people’s to promote the ‘vision’) – Degeneration (ongoing decline through delay during ‘visioning’) – Desperation (produce another Masterplan) …eat, sleep, rave, repeat…ad infinitum…

It is notable that Cllr Phil Davies, elected as a councillor in 1991, was having a 2020 Vision for Birkenhead in 2001, but only having a 2020 Vision for Wirral in 2015.

Also worthy of note is that between 1990 and 2008 the regeneration programmes of Wirral CityLands, Hamilton Quarter Project, New Wallasey, Lairdside, New Opportunities for Wirral and Wirral Waterfront, represent a collective investment in excess of £500,000,000. The greater part of it spent in Birkenhead. The Council was the accountable body with ultimate responsibility for the programmes and their continuation. Just to note that there has always been a £1bn investment opportunity in Wirral…why not just add more noughts nowadays to look impressive in the media?

However, in recent times when Wirral Council states that is going to be more ‘business-like’ (shouldn’t this have always been the case?) ‘with a private sector head but with a public-sector heart’ as stated by Cllr Ann McLachlan – when a council spokesperson states that Wirral Council collecting statutory Council Tax and Business Rates is business enterprise representing commercial success of the Council, we should know we are really in trouble.

I took more of an interest in the non-statutory range of Masterplans produced by and for Wirral Council (there is a lot of statutory masterplanning as well, such as in 2017 when Ofsted rated Wirral’s Children’s Services “inadequate” after “widespread and serious failures” were found. This is one element of council core business).

When you fail to deliver a number of crucial core public services (the local authority raison d’etre), you’ve ‘taken your eye off the ball’ for far too long. You then descend into the realms of ‘reputation management’ often similar to propaganda, and create the smokescreen of column inches and artists’ impressions, or even local media allies and an in-house ‘newspaper’ to control publicly available information.

But, I digress, the list below is indicative rather than definitive, and focusses mainly towards the north of the borough, as that is where the Council has chosen to concentrate its efforts. I have included relevant media quotes as appropriate.

 

30+ ‘Masterplans’ in 30 years…that really is Masterplantastic!!

 

1990-1997 Wirral CityLands April 24th, 1997 Wirral Globe. Council Leader Dave Jackson writes “The work done on Birkenhead town centre is an achievement, but it has also given the impetus to make further commercial development possible.”

1995-2002 Hamilton Quarter Project – £82m to create a cultural and creative industries quarter, rebalance the local residential demographic, and develop attractions. The programme centred on Hamilton Square with a brief to unify the Woodside/Hamilton Square link to the retail centre. Also, to continue the ‘Heritage Trail’ museums package initiated by MDC. “Deputy Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies believes the success of the Hamilton Quarter Project, which has completely rejuvenated this part of Birkenhead, has shown what can be achieved.” (Mike Hornby 11th Jan 2002, Daily Post)

1998-2003 New Wallasey – “More than £9m had been allotted to carry out work in New Brighton and Wallasey, and, at the time, it included ambitious plans to build a Merseyside Imperial War Museum. But many of the hopes fell by the wayside and the scheme came in for much criticism when one of its lasting legacies was the New Brighton clown – a sculpture welcoming people to the town.” Mar 31, 2005 Daily Post

1996-2003 Lairdside – reclamation of derelict land and buildings for re-development and creation of Tranmere Urban Village.

1998-2004 New Opportunities for Wirral – A 6-year scheme aiming to tackle social exclusion and reduce poverty in the Pathways areas on the Wirral.

2000-2008 Wirral Waterfront – £144m programme to implement a comprehensive physical and social regeneration strategy for the Wirral Waterfront from New Brighton taking in Seacombe, pathway areas in Birkenhead, Tranmere and Rock Ferry.

2001-2008 LOBO Loans financial strategy – £137m borrowed from private banks at 6% pa; interest payable £8m pa. Total repayable in excess of £500,000,000 finally to be paid off in 2078; expensive exit penalties making it super-expensive to get out of the loans.

2001-2020 Birkenhead Town Centre 2020 Vision and Strategy January 11th, 2002 Liverpool Daily Post – Deputy Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies added: “This is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved over the next 20 years. The document sets up a framework which we will use to attract additional investment and create jobs. It is something which will benefit the whole of the borough, not just Birkenhead, and will enable us to compete with places such as Liverpool and Cheshire Oaks.”

2002 Enriching Our Lives – Wirral’s first Cultural Strategy, never properly promoted, understood or implemented.

2002 Birkenhead Park £11.3m HLF restoration (completed 2007) a successful project undermined by the Council’s cavalier attitude to the agreed management plan, park maintenance and security.

2004 West Wirral Hoylake & West Kirby Masterplan designed to raise the profile of coastal towns Hoylake and West Kirby,. Consultants brought in by Wirral Council submitted their ideas in 2004. (Shelved 2014)

2006 Woodside Masterplan by Building Design Partnership (BDP) 28th February 2007The first phase of works will include the creation of a ‘development spine’ running from the Woodside Ferry Terminal up to Hamilton Square Station”. (Shelved)

2006 Wirral Waters 14th December 2009 Wirral Globe Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes said: “This is a significant step in our vision to regenerate Wirral.” Plans for a £200m International Trade Centre (ITC) in Birkenhead that could provide up to 3,000 new jobs have been approved by councillors. The centre, planned for the West Float former docks site, makes up part of the £4.5bn Wirral Waters regeneration scheme planned by developer Peel. 21 September 2011 BBC News

2007 Peach Developments/Neptune Woodside Masterplan May 2007. “The exclusivity agreement between Merseytravel and Neptune Developments and Peach Developments means ambitious plans to redevelop the Woodside area of the Wirral waterfront will go ahead”. Liverpool Echo. Martin Lowe, who runs Peach Developments, said: “I first took the drawings to the council four years ago, and when they saw them, they could see the potential for developing the area, so asked me to work with them. Since then, others have come on board, but the Woodside Hotel remains the lynchpin in the development.”

2007 Brand New Brighton – Neptune Developments scheme to redevelop the Floral Pavilion Theatre, and to develop Marine Point. 2nd September 2013 “New Brighton finally reaps rewards as successful revamp takes off” Wirral Globe. Except that Wirral Council has tried to strangle it at birth by introducing parking charges.

2008 Wirral Council Strategic Asset Review – Epic fail https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieDecisionDetails.aspx?Id=607

2011 Wirral Heritage Strategy 2011-2014 ‘Making Our Heritage Matter’ Private Eye writes… “that a fire at historic buildings in Wirral is often followed by demolition.” Liscard Hall, Birkenhead Market, ESWA Sports and Social Club, Central Hotel, British Leather Tannery, Woodside Hotel…

2013 Wirral Council and Neptune (later Ion) Development Limited – £30m redevelopment of Birkenhead town centre. The project was due to regenerate the town’s market and rebuild the Europa Pools leisure centre, with restaurants, a food court and a hotel also proposed.

2015 Wirral Council £1.1m Hamilton Square traffic plan – The plans were revised after criticism from businesses, residents and Birkenhead councillor Pat Cleary – who called it a “giant waste of public funds” – and they have now been shelved altogether. Liverpool Echo

2015 Wirral Council and Neptune (later Ion) Development Limited 27 October 2016 BBC News – Cllr Davies said the council continued to have “huge ambitions” for Birkenhead and believed it could be a “fantastic destination”. (Ion, previously Neptune Developments 2013 agreement scrapped 2016 – Council leader Phil Davies said the decision was linked to “more ambitious” development opportunities.)

2015 Wirral Council 2020 Vision (see 2001) – 20 ‘Pledges’. In his own words, Cllr Phil Davies to be held accountable by Wirral public.

2015 Wirral Partnership to pool £2bn public sector budgets by 2020 17th September 2015 Wirral Globe Cllr Phil Davies states “It is our ultimate aim to have a pooled budget by the end of the five-year plan.” Never going to happen.

2015 Hoylake Golf Resort Masterplan 7th December 2017 Wirral Globe Cllr Phil Davies states “This is another example of Wirral Council being commercial, ambitious and innovative.”

2016 Downtown Birkenhead CH41 25th Jan 2016 Liverpool Echo Cllr Phil Davies “This is the biggest regeneration plan I have ever been involved with.”

2016 Wirral’s Culture Strategy – would you know there was one? Not Wirral’s first Cultural Strategy, and will never be properly promoted, understood or implemented.

2016 Wirral Healthcare Masterplan STP – is WBC in or out and for or against, as a Wirral NHS CCG ’partner’…who knows?

2016 Wirral Growth Plan – is this a school project? https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/gallery/new-images-1bn-wirral-growth-13173369

2017 Wirral Growth Company – “The prospect of bringing thousands of new jobs, hundreds of millions of pounds of new investment, into the borough will be life-changing for many of our residents who look to us as a council to set these ambitious visions.”; states Cllr Phil Davies. Wirral Council Chief Executive states it is ‘asset rich, but cash poor’. However, it will transfer publicly-owned assets to the Wirral Growth Company, a private company with its own board. The Council will buy more assets (Birkenhead Market £??, parcels of land £??, Europa Building £8.4m) for which it will borrow many millions to buy. It will then take additional multi-millions in loans to lend to the developers, who presumably won’t be credit-worthy enough in their own right? More interest payments, even asset-richer, loadsa-cash poorer, is the likely outcome for Wirral’s public finances. The financial risk assessment must make for interesting reading.

2017 New plans to turn Birkenhead Town Hall into boutique hotel – Councillor Phil Davies, Leader of the Council, said: “Driving regeneration, creating jobs and ensuring sustainable, long-term growth in our economy is vitally important”.

2017 Birkenhead Market Masterplan – “Birkenhead market could become such a foodie paradise that even celebrity chef Paul Hollywood could be tempted back to Wirral” states Cllr Phil Davies – maybe if Paul Hollywood (celebrity baker, duh) lives long enough….

2018 Wirral Waters1 WW1 – Wirral Waters £175m “International Trade Centre” sunk without trace, and diluted more with a splash of Urban Splash (modular) prefabs…what chance will all the Wirral Met College apprentice brickies have before their retirement?

AS WE COME UP TO DATE FROM CLLR DAVE JACKSONS QUOTE (1997) FROM CITYLANDS (started 1990), I THINK OF THE ‘LOST GENERATIONS’ OF WIRRAL, AND BIRKENHEAD IN PARTICULAR…it looks to me as if another generation will be ‘lost’ to ‘visions’, Wirral residents will be ignored, whilst crucial public services ‘wither on the vine’ due to neglect.

Here are 2 quotes from 2001 and 2017…

2017 Wirral Council Strategic Regeneration Framework Cllr Phil Davies states – “We have not been standing still in recent years, much has been achieved, but we look forward to working together with greater drive and pace in order to realise our shared vision for the borough”.

…and in 2001 Birkenhead Town Centre 2020 Vision – Wirral Council deputy leader Cllr Phil Davies says of the 20-year plan: “After consultations with businesses and the public what has emerged is an exciting vision which shows how Birkenhead can be developed and improved.”

Vision…? …nah…same old, same old…it’s now obviously delusion…

Masterplan 1

New Term at St.Frank’s Academy

DUNCE

September always has an air of ‘back to school’ about it and so it is that after the summer break the cycle of Wirral Council meetings resumed this week.

Things kicked off with a meeting of Cabinet on Monday at 10 am . All the better to ensure it gets less coverage than Tom Daley’s swimming trunks and the prying eyes of the public are kept away. Although to be honest these meetings are more stage managed than a Busby Berkeley production number. It’s usually a case of  Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies handing over to  deputy Cllr Ann McLachlan  who recounts how everything on Planet Wirral is “going forward” despite the “Tory cuts” . Then assorted cabinet members chime in with gushing good news stories about their portfolios whilst using either the words “Wirral Plan” “20/20 Vision” or “Pledges” (they haven’t quite co-ordinated a consistent approach yet).

However we understand that an absentee from yesterday’s meeting was Cllr George Davies as it was left to Power Boy Pip to reveal Davies’ grand plan for the Lyndale School site. Yes  – what a surprise it’s going to be a property developer’s  paradise. And so it came to pass  with cruel circularity and sickening similarity to the Wirralgate story as George finishes off what Foulkesy started with the former drawing up the final plans for the disposal of Lyndale School after the latter chaired the original “consultation” meeting proposing the closure.

One councillor that did manage to turn up and nod approvingly at everything that was said was Cllr Stuart Whittingham who will be attending  an event “The impact of congestion on bus passengers” in London on 14 September 2016. Although a) you would think Cllr Whittingham, as a bus driver with Arriva, would know this already… and b) the only congestion to be experienced on Wirral is when there’s badly co-ordinated roadworks as recently experienced by the poor people of Hoylake and West Kirby.

Also worth noting at this meeting was the rubber -stamping of the Public Health ‘commissioning intentions’ which included a £7,709,379 contract with with  drug and alcohol support provider ‘Change, Grow , Live’  – no questions asked.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50036101/APPENDIX%20ONE%20-%20PUBLIC%20HEALTH%20COMMISSIONING%20INTENTIONS.pdf

A meeting to look out for later this week is the “People  Overview and Scrutiny Committee”

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=760&MId=5758

Curiously for a committee which pays so much attention to inclusivity it is surprising to see an exempt item on the agenda. Could it be another report that the the people on the People Committee don’t want the people of Wirral to know about?……

 

 

 

A Re-Imagining of Wirral Council

Re-imagine

Set out below is a tender recently issued by Wirral Council looking for yet another consultant to ” Reimagine  Leisure, Cultural and other Selected Services”.

We don’t know whether 150000 refers to the contract value. However we have a few observations to make from Leaky Towers and it appears to us that after Anna Klonowski’s monumental failure to “Refresh & Renew” the organisational culture of Wirral Council with her highly renumerated and totally ineffectual reports it seems they’re throwing good money after bad by employing another fly by night and moneygrabbing consultant to “Reimagine” Wirral Council instead.

Needless to say Wirral Plan, 20 Pledges and  2020 vision all get a mandatory mention in the tender blurb. Whilst the paragraph which reads “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” makes us want to bang our head against the wall or better still bang the head of the person who wrote this BS against the wall – repeatedly and with great force.

No wonder Wirral Council are having to – yet again- pay through the nose for  “external expertise” if this cut and paste  council-speak job is all their own staff can come up with . Although of course we all know that ” Reimagine” is just a manipulative weasel word which really means ” Privatise” and “Outsource” . There’s obviously a good living to be made by some staff selling their colleagues livelihoods and careers down the River Mersey.

We’re left wondering here as to what is the consultant going to ” Reimagine” Williamson Art Gallery as  ? – The Louvre ?. ….and the Floral Pavilion as the Eiffel Tower maybe?.

Meanwhile we’d like to “Reimagine”  Wirral Council as a fully functioning, open and transparent ethical organisation that understood it was a public service employing public servants to serve the public but we understand we’d have to do a shedload of heavy duty mindbending drugs to achieve that particular vision.   

Hold your breath, make a wish, count to three……….

Professional Services to Reimagine Leisure, Cultural and other Selected Services

150000 – Consultancy

The Wirral Plan sets out a vision for Wirral: a set of 20 Pledges which will be achieved over the next five years to improve the lives of Wirral residents. In order to achieve these ambitions, the Council needs to modernise and work in a completely different way, and ensure it has the right culture, abilities, skills and approach to deliver the 2020 vision for Wirral. In order to deliver this plan we committed to delivering a modern public service and are developing a transformation programme to take this forward. It is vital the Council is able to deliver change at pace whilst continuing to deliver positive outcomes to improve the quality of life for Wirral residents. 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. Wirral Council is now looking to make fundamental changes to the way in which it currently provides Selected Services such as Leisure facilities, Parks & Gardens; Arts and Culture (including the Williamson and the Floral Pavilion) and Libraries. We are seeking external expertise to establish how these assets and the businesses within them can be re-imagined to make them more effective and carry a lower cost burden for the council, whilst maintaining their focus on public needs and outcomes.

 

Cartoons and Puppets

PuppetMaster

We were treated this week to what Wirral Council are calling their “annual health check”. I asked Her Ladyship if we were to give an assessment what might it be ?.

” Do Not Resuscitate” she drawled.

However undaunted by our barbs Council “leader” Power Boy Pip Davies demonstrates his unlimited capacity for delusion by jauntily declaring :

“When we agreed the Wirral Plan in July 2015, we identified 20 Pledges to outline our ambition for Wirral.  Reporting our progress is an important part of being an open, transparent and accountable local authority.”

No laughing at the back please. Open , transparent and accountable ? – when each and every week we report the fact that Wirral Council is anything but. Oh how we long for the day when they actually are open,transparent and accountable and His Lordship and Ladyship can finally retire to their villa in the south of France.

Meanwhile for buzzword bingo lovers ( Empowering Locally – Leading Collectively , Acting Regionally- Organising Internally etc; etc; ) the Wirral Plan report is here :

https://www.wirral.gov.uk/sites/default/files/all/About%20the%20council/Wirral%20Plan/Wirral%20Plan%202020%20Annual%20Report%202015%20-%202016.pdf

However joy was unconfined at Leaky Towers when we learned we were also being treated to a movie double bill to accompany the launch of the report. It took us back to the days when nanny would take us to the Plaza on Borough Road in Birkenhead .There would always be a cartoon before the main feature . And so it is here with a  U-rated childishly patronising  animation before leading man Power Boy Pip takes to the screen like a matinee idol on the skids.

You can find an animation detailing our progress here

You can find a video of Cllr Phil Davies talking about our progress here

The animated feature is not for anyone on a New Year/New Me diet as its reliance on pie charts might be a bit subliminal. However suffice to say all the usual suspects are here – dodgy statistics , golf resort , potholes, streetlights , litter , dog crap etc; . There are also the usual bogus claims about “Wirral Waters” – a Department of Education funded college campus and allowing Asif “Massive” Hamid to throw up a contact centre at the back of Egerton House with no opposition from the  organisation running Egerton House – the Wirral Chamber of Commerce who’s Chairman just happens to be one  Asif Hamid – does not “Wirral Waters” make.

However the undoubted highlight is the performance of Power Boy Pip starring in his very own video. To our , admittedly jaundiced eyes , he has all the gravitas of a Spitting Image puppet made flesh – all foam-faced insincerity whilst reading unconvincingly from a teleprompter . We could almost see Frankenfield pulling the strings.

We’d like to pitch a  suggestion for Wirral Council’s next video  where they finally demonstrate that they do indeed take openness , transparency and accountability seriously.They could show  that they have finally dealt appropriately with some errant councillors of ill repute and  in which case  the video be a case of suspended animation!.

Taking the Biscuit

Due to austerity measures chocolate hobnobs will no longer be served at Chief Officer meetings

Due to austerity measures chocolate Hobnobs will no longer be served at Chief Officer meetings

It’s a first on Wirral Leaks as we publish a media release in full .The particular motivation for doing so was primarily because we were amused by the Freudian slip punchline in this Conservative Party missive which we received today.

As we reported last week  Martin Lipsync ,sorry Liptrot  has been appointed in a completely politically neutral capacity (yeah right !) as Wirral Council’s public relations and reputation management guru.

Oh and we understand that what we previously described as his “audition ” for the role was in fact devising the council’s 20/20 Vision plan.

Which always struck us as typical Wirral Council arse about face planning by which we mean some consultant who’s never worked for the council before thinks up 20 pledges off the top of his head and the poor saps who work for the council then have to go away and make their departmental plans meet the pledges.

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/news/30-06-2015/wirral-council-leader-pledges-2020-vision

However what caused the wry amusement at Leaky Towers was that although the media statement lists Martin Lemsip’s sorry Liptrot’ s  salary at £45,737 by the final line the figure is quoted as £48,000 .

Ah! it’s that magical figure of £48,000 again which was so closely associated with Martin Tiptop , sorry Liptrot’s predecessor Emma Degg .

We just hope he doesn’t follow his predecessors Rocket Dog/Ugg footsteps too closely…..as frankly that doesn’t bear thinking about!.

However we’re getting a serious case of deja vu here – as with the appointment of former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess it seems that council leader Power Boy Pip is so desperate for someone to get the council (and particularly the Labour group) out of a hole of it’s own making that he’ll give in to demands and provide inducements.Is the lavish refurbishment and extension of Liptrot’s office at a time when everyone else in the council is being asked to cut their coat according to their cloth really sending out the right message?.

And anyway why does his office need an extension anyway ?  – to accommodate his ego?.

Seems to us that Martin Tiptop ,sorry Liptrot is , by hobnobbing in the room next to the council leader , shaping up to be a low rent (but high cost) Wirral Council version of notorious Labour spinmeister Alastair Campbell.

Meanwhile here’s the press release for your delectation:

Council Leader’s Pal gets office extension paid for by Council Taxpayers

Starts

Following the recent revelation that Labour campaigner Martin Liptrot has been recruited to ‘provide in-depth support to the Leader of Wirral Council’ on £45,737 information has come to light that Taxpayers are about to fund an office extension to accommodate him.

It would appear that the room Mr. Liptrot has been using for over 6 months, while campaigning for the Labour Group, is no longer big enough now he has come onto the Council’s payroll. The work is scheduled to commence on Tuesday 13th October as not to disturb the Council meeting scheduled for 12th October.

Town Hall officials claim there is no other suitable accommodation within the Wallasey complex and the work is being undertaken at the request of the Leader, Councillor Phil Davies.Cllr. Green said: “This really does take the biscuit! I’ve been told this is a 12 month appointment  so I’ve taken a walk around Wallasey Town Hall today and found two suitable empty offices on the ground floor and in excess of 10 ‘hot desks’. Why is this unnecessary work taking place? Just so Martin Liptrot can be in bigger room next to the Leader of the Council.

He continued: “I urge everyone to remember the next time Councillor Davies blames the Government for austerity and cuts in services he found £48,000 to accommodate a political ally.”

Ends

Pie Chart in The Sky

Power Boy Pip : “People of Wirral – look at these lovely pie charts and all the pretty colours and tell me which colour should I paint the bar in Wallasey Town Hall?”

Thanks to the Wirral Globe for the pretty picture above and the accompanying story about the Wirral Council’s pledges attached to their 20/20 vision which is described as an “extraordinary step (that) has been taken in the battle against Government austerity with leaders of Wirral’s major public services agreeing to pool their budgets to form a massive £2bn fund.It is believed to be the first time in the UK that such a move has been attempted.The unusual proposal will have to overcome potential legal hurdles – and it is estimated it could take up to five years to complete.”

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/13766115.Wirral_public_sector_services_set_to_pool_their_budgets_to_create_massive___2bn_fund/?action=success#comment_14630436

Five years?.We think there is about as much chance of this happening as Stella Shiu flying in from Reno on a prize winning pumpkin to open an underwater golf resort on Wirral Waters !.

“There may be some legalities and rules we will have to get around, but I am confident it can be done.” pipes up Council “leader” Power Boy Pip Davies.

Oh we bet you are Pip – let’s face it Wirral Council have had plenty of practice getting round legalities and rules!.And anyway if this is about public services agreeing to pool their budgets what is Paula Basnett the CEO from Wirral Chamber of Horrors , sorry Chamber of Commerce doing there and what exactly did she bring to the party?.

Pip helpfully explains : ” …the plan is not entirely focused on funding and for it to be successful public and private sector bodies need to “come out of their silos” to work together for the common good”

We presume that in Wirral Council’s case that’ll be one of those “silos” filled with farmyard slurry.But back to Ms.Basnett – someone who has still has questions to answer about the Wirral Biz debacle and who’s organisation is increasingly being brought to our attention – and not in a good way!.Indeed former Wirral Council employee Ms.Basnett seems to be creating a mini-Wirral Council all of her own – right down to the nepotism.Indeed it has been suggested to us that the Wirral Chamber of Commerce seems to have been recruited from Paula’s “Friends & Family” list on her BT telephone bill – “ Hi Shazza it’s me Paula – do you fancy a job?”.

Reports from disgruntled people at Egerton House , which is now under the auspices of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce , are becoming louder and more frequent.Wirral Leaks readers will no doubt remember the start of the empire building which led to the Chamber of Commerce acquiring the Pacific Road venue at a peppercorn rent :

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/to-have-and-have-not/

Talking of empire building we are also being asked how on earth did Chamber of Commerce chair Asif Hamid get planning permission for a contact call centre in a prime position at the back of Egerton House?.

Search us ! – perhaps it was part of the ongoing charade that something was actually happening with Wirral Waters.

And talking of prime position the Wirral Chamber of Commerce will no doubt be the grateful recipient of Labour -controlled Wirral Council’s largesse as it continues to enthusiastically outsource and privatise public services.

There is nothing that infuriates us more at Leaky Towers than to listen to the continual self-righteous bleating about government cuts from Pip & co when it is they who so enthusiastically embrace Tory policy and ideology.Of which Wirral Council’s approach to the dreaded Bedroom Tax is perhaps the most heinous and shameful example.

Moreover it is no secret that Wirral Council have long wanted to outsource as much of their public services to private companies as they can.

And no wonder! –  it sounds like a Wirral Council wet dream.Just think – no troublesome staff whistleblowing and no pesky members of the public making Freedom of Information requests .It can only be a matter of time before Wirral Council becomes “Eric Feeble’s Commissioning (EFC) Hub” consisting of CEO Stressed Eric choosing essential services for the people of Wirral from a drop down menu on his laptop!.

But then they do say that part of Wirral Council’s problem that it has long been run by an EFC Hub !.