There were raised eyebrows at Leaky Towers at the moral outrage and shock ! horror! report titled Wirral bar that saw vicious attack had ‘strong link’ to organised crime gangs where we found out that the licence for Sherlocks , a classy joint in downtown Birkenhead where apparently rival organised crime gangs like to beat seven shades of shite out of each other, had been revoked after appeals by Merseyside Police to Wirral Council.
Funny that, we thought to ourselves, Merseyside Police weren’t quite so agitated when it came to organised crime gangs threatening to beat vulnerable people in the care of Wirral Council with baseball bats. Where were the cries from Merseyside Police to close down so called ‘care homes’ then? Could it be that both they and Wirral Council were compromised by the fact that the ‘care’ company as reported in Private Eye was owned by Peter and Jane Spencer, ex Merseyside CID ? Just sayin’
For further information read the the full horror story here where you will discover how Merseyside Police and Wirral Council colluded with an Organised Crime Group – even when it meant the death of a vulnerable adult – all in the name of reputation management. It’s still the most shocking report that we’ve ever read in relation to Wirral Council – just think about that for a moment and then weep copious tears.
From time to time we like to catch up on the local government garbage that have drained public resources on Wirral like a gold-plated sewage pipe.
You may have your own favourite receptacle of filthy lucre (Adderley? Norman? – the list is endless!) You know the type – everyone knew they were rubbish, they failed spectacularly, cashed the Wirral Council cheque and yet they still managed to pick up another gig with a gullible/desperate council elsewhere or if they were really,really bad and/or a particularly good bullshitter they could always go and get a job with the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.
We have kept track of some of the most infamous Wirral Council cases in our occasional ‘Where Are They Know?’ updates. Someone who has featured in a couple of these updates has been Anna ‘Cash Cow’ Klonowski . Read more here .
Admittedly Klonowski was never directly employed by Wirral Council but nevertheless made a cool quarter of a million for achieving the square root of fuck all when brought in to confirm what everyone knew then and still knows now – that Wirral Council is run by bullying,dishonest incompetents.
Klonowski went on to successfully cash in on the Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) scandal in Rochdale before rocking up at Bristol City Council and lasting about five minutes as their Chief Executive. We now understand from the wonderful ‘TheBristolian’ blog that Bristol City Council Mayor ‘the Reverend’ Marvin Rees knows how things work in concentric council circles :
News is also in, courtesy of the council’s external auditors, that the £100k the Reverend handed to departing Chief Exec Anna “Big Wedge” Klonowski last year was a GENEROUS PERSONAL GIFT with public money from the Reverend and not a legally required pay off for her notice period as he claimed.
Perhaps Klonowski picked this little trick up from her time at Wirral Council where they bestowed £100K + GENEROUS PERSONAL GIFTS which were not legally required to bullying, dishonest incompetents Mike Fowler and Maura Noone, prior to the publication of Klonowski’s “Independent Review ‘ in 2012. Needless to say as you can read here this didn’t adversely their future career prospects – because local authorities have targets when it comes recycling trash and unfortunately we’re the ones that pay…
Such is the sage advice we receive on a daily basis we really should do a ‘ Wirral Leaks’ self help book.
Chapter 1 would be about the ruling administration at Wirral Council taking themselves down the steps at the back of Wallasey Town Hall and throwing themselves into the River Mersey. If this is a hate crime we are proud to say we are guilty as charged.
However in the mean time we publish the recent contributions we have received that we feel the need to share in the public interest.
I have as well as many other businesses received a letter stating that I will be fined if I do not process my business waste via their channels.
I urge all businesses to send the letter back minus their name and address to the sender of the letter stating that in future we do not want their waste!
Next up we have some advice from down south (not a euphemism) as we know when something is kicking off when we get loads of hits on a long lost post.On this particular occasion it is our updates on the progress of infamous local government cheque collector Anna Klonowski . You know the one , she flew in to Wirral ,made a killing telling us what we already knew that Wirral Council was a basket case and offering absolutely nothing to rectify the situation she moved on to her next lucrative gig ticking the boxes of mutual mediocrity along the way – for cold hard cash of course.
However it has been revealed that another pay-off of almost £100,000 made by Bristol City Council to its former chief executive ‘the Blessed Anna’ was not a contractual obligation, according to auditors.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees insisted Anna Klonowski was entitled to the cash when she left in September 2017.
So can we advise when Wirral Council wants to pay off the likes of Webb, Noone, Fowler, Maddox, Coleman, Wilkie,Adderley ,Burgess, Degg ( we always put these 3 together – we can’t think why!) , Fish, Hassall, Blott, Norman, Lyon etc; etc; they need to act in the public interest and remember the words :
However we’ll leave the last word to ‘our betters ‘ at Wirral Chamber of Commerce and particularly their Chair, Sandra Kirkham aka ‘Our San’, who advises us lesser mortals in a Tweet from last month:
Whilst is looks as though San has also attended the ‘Sybil Fawlty School of Statin’ The Bleedin’ Obvious’, along with Anna Klonowski, it would also appear her message about skills and what we do in schools is somewhat undermined by the fact that she (or whoever writes Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s tweets) doesn’t seem to know the difference between ARE and OUR…
Courted and feted : McCourt enters ‘The Inner Ring’
And so after a previous meeting behind closed doors of the Employment and Appointments Committee it would appear that full Council on Monday 19th March will rubber stamp the permanent appointment of current interim Assistant Director : Law and Governance Philip McCourt to the new post of Director – Governance & Assurance (Monitoring Officer)
We have to doff our coronet to McCourt on this one. He sat back as Wirral Council struggled to appoint to this poisoned chalice of a post and watched gimlet-eyed as they had to bump up the pay (funny how there’s always money to be found for the upper echelons of local government isn’t it?) and upgrade the post from Assistant Director to Director enabling McCourt to sit at the top table of council chief officers. And from what we understand there was none of that tiresome psychometric testing or bothersome interview process for such a high profile post. Oh no it was a shoo-in for fêted Phil.
Canny McCourt has cleverly manoeuvred himself into a strong position by getting the lowdown – and boy do we mean lowdown – on Wirral Council. This was not only on the job – when he could fit Wirral Council business in around his other consultancy commitments that is. Checking out his LinkedIn profile this included not only work for solicitors Weightmans LLP , where no doubt he would have encountered former Wirral Council legal alumni Morris Hill and Simon Goacher, but also during a stint at Bristol City Council in 2016 where he would have compared cheques with Anna Klonowski – author of damning Independent Review and Corporate Governance reports about his latest employer. The man who took over from McCourt at Milton Keynes Council in May 2013 was a Stephen Gerrard (no, not that one) . Coincidentally enough Gerrard was Interim Head of Legal and Member Services at Wirral Council October 2012 -May 2013 during the then permanent head, Bill Norman’s suspension (Norman later went on to become involved in all kinds of shenanigans at Hereford and Cheshire East councils) . Gerrard also left somewhat hastily , whether it was because he and his deputy Surjit Tour were not the best of buddies we can only speculate. However ,as we know, Tour was later to make the most of an unguarded (and racist) comment from Deputy Leader of Wirral Council Cllr George Davies and astonishingly ascend to the top legal job at Wirral Council before escaping back to Sandwell Council. We don’t know about you but this local government merry go round makes us dizzy (and slightly nauseous).
Whether McCourt will prove to be as controversial appointment as Norman and Tour only time will tell but we do know he’s inherited some very thorny legal issues and knowing his political paymasters as we do there will no doubt be more to come. As ever the real test for a head of law at Wirral Council will be how they reconcile protecting powerful politicians with protecting the public purse and the public interest. We shall be particularly interested to see whether McCourt follows the path of least resistance trodden by his predecessors and favours the former over the latter.
Join us for the second part of our journey down the red carpet to hell.
“Five years ago, we were a local authority in crisis: focused on cuts and on the verge of government intervention. Since then, we’ve been recognised as the Local Government Chronicle’s ‘Most Improved Council’, experiencing the fastest turnaround of any council in the UK. So what’s changed? In a nutshell, we refuse to give up; we never stop moving. Our pragmatic, innovative and bold plan, ‘2020 Vision’ will ensure that we’re getting the basics right; that we’re achieving more; that we’re changing the way we do things. In this role, you’ll take us to the next level and create a legacy for yourself in the process.” – Wirral Council advert to recruit a new Director of Finance will make you laugh , vomit or both.
“They don’t seem to realise I’m at the top of the peckingorder ” and referring to the investigator :“She doesn’t scare me and a little councillor involved might just shut her up.” – Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) texts used as evidence against her during Standards Panel Code of Conduct investigation. LRJ describing herself as top of the pecking order brings visions of an Animal Farm hen coop in desperate need of a cock. The cock in question being Foghorn Leghorn!
” ‘Sustainable’ = slashed budgets and services.· ‘Transformed’ = cut, demoralised and damaged beyond recognition. ‘Partnership’ = developed in secret, operating in secret, condemned by local councils, a total lack of public/patient consultation, and the only happy partners are Richard Branson and a series of US ‘healthcos’. ” Defend Our NHS provide a definition of STP (Sustainability & Transformation Plans)
“An economic value below the legalminimum wage……..(would help employers) to take on low-productivity disabled workers.” – Frank Field ,Birkenhead MP demonstrates his deep understanding of disability and equality rights .
“For anyone in this day and age to hold those views, and especially someone in Frank Field’s position, is abominable. It is exactly the same sort of thinking as the Nazi ‘useless eaters’ rhetoric.” Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) responds to Field’s comments
“The right to equal treatment and equality are human rights. Human rights are not privileges. That’s why they are called rights. I suggest Mr Field goes back to the drawing board. His comments are a disgrace and he should now apologise. Furthermore, if the Labour Party wishes to prove that it has truly changed its tune, it will need to demonstrate that the New Labour old guard are no longer calling the shots and put the voices of disabled people first.The last time we looked, Mr Field was not a spokesperson for disabled people.” – John McArdle from campaign group Black Triangle also responds to Field’s comments. By the way people from Birkenhead , just a reminder, you are allowed to disagree with your MP.
“It had adversely affected the staff morale and the reputation of the authority and rebuilding trust and transparency is still ongoing” – Simon Cuerden – Corporate Business Support Manager, WirralCouncil comments on the conviction of Wallasey Town Hall petty cash thief who would have evaded justice if an attempted cover up by officials hadn’t been uncovered by Wirral Leaks
” Wirral is officially the happiest place to live in the North West”– Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies , ‘Leader’ of Wirral Council in peak Pollyanna mode latches onto a bogus Rightmove survey as if it somehow negates an Ofsted report deeming Children’s Services ‘inadequate’ and a Care Quality Commission assessment that over half of care homes on Wirral are inadequate or require improvement. Yeah, Pip, whatevs.
Comrades, “Now is the time” to stop acting like a “Party within a party” – and even like a “Momentum within Momentum”.
It is time to grasp that the mainstream (often called the “Left”) has won back the heart and soul of the Labour Party. I do not know of a single member of the Seacombe Branch who has not fully supported my own declarations for Corbyn on the two websites or who does not support him now. So why introduce friction where thereneed be none? Let’s try now to be a single Labour Party in Seacombe Ward.
Some comrades will remember that we also, for a while, held “Songs of the Labour Movement” musical evenings in the Park View Social Club – an opportunity for comrades to perform – or just listen and rub shoulders informally. But, since then, we have had the difficulty of the Party being suspended so long that many of us don’t even know eachother. – Cllr Adrian Jones keeps the red flag flying and addresses Wallasey CLP members seemingly in denial about the circumstances that led to the local branch being suspended by the Labour Party.
“To ensure the promotion of “professional curiosity” when vulnerable children seek advice” – The final recommendation made following the (unpublished) Serious Care Review report following the Rajenthiram Brothers Child Sexual Exploitation case. It comes to something when you have to ask those who get paid to protect vulnerable children to actually try and do their jobs properly!
“Wirral Council has to ensure every pound spent is wisely invested and we get the best value for our residents.This decision is the right decision at the right moment – the contract with BAM Nuttall was coming to an end and we believe we can deliver this service more effectively by taking direct control.”– Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies announces the surprise return of highways services to council control which is in the opposite direction of all other council services. There are suggestions this decision was influenced not by best value but by personal and political interests.
” Just goes to show what’s goingon out there .We live in a sheltered world . We’re all too good for our owngood“– Cllr Ron Abbey comments on the conduct of councillors in other councils clearly demonstrating he’s in denial and utterly deluded.
” I’ve always bought my houses, I’ve never inherited them……”Frank Field , MP bitch slaps fellow Labour MP Hilary Benn and manages to unite all members of the House of Commons in condemnation of his comment.
“The darkness around us is very deep” – Cllr Tony ‘Tight-fit’ Norbury reads a poem urging elected members to ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ whilst every single Wirral councillor appears to be oblivious to the darkness around them.
“Basically, it is the same thing over and over and over: incompetence, very poor communication (with me, but also with other agencies and between themselves), rudeness, poor or non-existent note-taking, people leaving at short notice and with no proper explanation, etc etc. It just goes on and on.
When the Klonowski enquiry produced its damning report, I briefly hoped that the people found to be grossly incompetent (and, in some cases, corrupt) would be removed. Disheartening, to say the least, to see people like Steve Foulkes still in place. Where is the accountability? There simply is none.
It beggars belief that Wirral Council has not been placed in special measures. I daresay the reasons behind that are political. The Tories asking for it are being hypocritical because part of the problem is chronic underfunding from central govt but I do think that being placed in special measures would be the best thing. The only thing, actually, that would give people like me and my son the chance at least of a semi-decent service. I know special measures are not a panacea but they would be our best chance.” – ACarer contacts us to describe her experience of trying to get a much needed service for her disabled son.
“As the Labour member on the (Standards) Panel it was very difficult for me to hear that a Labour councillor had used her position as a councillor to damage the reputation and the livelihoods of other people. It goes without saying that people who come into this council were elected to serve the residents of the borough and not to use our position to do damage to them………”Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin proves to be another councillor in denial and conveniently forgets her role and that of other Labour councillors in damaging reputations and livelihoods of various former council officers who dared challenge them.
“Phil’s Folly “– Cllr Gerry Ellis proving there’s life in the old dog yet at a standing room only public meeting where he described Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil Davies and his plans for development of the Hoylake Golf Resort.
Two Deputy Lieutenants of Merseyside are of one mind.
From time to time we like to check up on the progress on some of the Wirral Council charlatans and chancers that have (dis)graced our pages over the years in our special ‘ Where Are They Now?’ feature.
Whilst we readily acknowledge that we featured former Wirral Council CEO Steve ‘ Mad Dog’ Maddox in such a post earlier this year we feel the original post needs enhancing mainly because we believe that in many ways it is most instructive on the ways of Wirral.
If ever there was an example of how to evade accountability and manage your reputation then Maddox is the ultimate case study. He saw the writing was on the wall when so called independent investigator Anna Klonowski was brought in by the Tories to find out what whistleblower Martin Morton was blathering on about . On the very day Maddox was due to meet with Klonowski , Maddox took the coward’s way out and suddenly announced he was going to spend more time with his long suffering family. This followed over two years of Wirral Council senior management covering his expansive arse . Of course Maddox didn’t even need to work his 3 month notice period and swiftly pissed off to the golf course with additional pension payments made up to when he would have retired – about which we can only ask – why?
The panicked leader of Wirral Council at the time Cllr Steve Foulkes provided this farewell quote :
“Steve is essentially a self effacing and modest man who probably has no idea of the very real and extensive legacy he will be leaving behind.We know, and are grateful for it. I wish him all the best for the future and hope that he will continue to be involved with the people of Wirral, for whom he has always been an eloquent and passionate advocate.” Steve 2 Steve
This translates as Maddox did as he was told and his greatest quality is that he could go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on . But oh what a legacy he left behind! Whilst Maddox secured himself a tidy six figure bung , collected the Freedom of the Borough of Wirral to add to his OBE and was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside to stand alongside Birkenhead MP Frank Field, his swift departure meant his hapless and hopeless sidekick Jim ‘Wee Willie’ Wilkie was to reap the wild wind of what his former boss had created – a toxic,corrosive culture of bullying,incompetence and deceit which was soon to be (partly) revealed in the Independent Review in January 2012 . Needless to say shortly after Wilkie ended up being escorted from Wallasey Town Hall premises a broken man.
What’s more when the furore over the Independent Review had died down Maddox reappeared on the local scene and within the year was appointed as a Director of mental health organisation Wirral Mind in December 2012 .
This appointment has always intrigued us , primarily because it is with some irony that Wirral Mind were seemingly gifted the management of the learning disability service that was a significant feature of Morton whistleblowing case that led to the Independent Review that in turn was the impetus for Maddox’s ‘retirement’ !
It has long been thought that Wirral Mind, with no significant track record of supporting people with learning disabilities, were rewarded the contract for keeping a lid on the unlawful charging scandal when they were appointed as advocates on behalf of those who couldn’t speak up for themselves when the scandal blew up . Unfortunately this ‘advocacy’ service didn’t actually extend to advocating on behalf of those who had been financially abused. An appalled Wirral Leaks reader once recalled attending a Wirral Council meeting where Sandra Gilbert Wirral Mind CEO , said that the tenants who had been financially abused ‘lived in the lap of luxury’ . Perhaps if we put aside the issue of illegality and equality Ms Gilbert might appreciate that if she had £100 + a WEEK taken out of her salary over a number of years she might have fought a bit harder on behalf of disabled people instead of leaving it to Morton and others.
All the Independent Review report had to say on the matter was that there was
” a need for the Council to refresh its contractual arrangements with (Wirral Mind) in the context of EU procurement requirements.”
Funny how Frank Field wasn’t jumping up and down about this proven case of Wirral Council flouting EU procurement regulations isn’t it ? Or getting Merseyside Police and the Serious Fraud Office involved as he did with the Highways contract complainants that apparently he is still ‘gallantly’ supporting 9 years after their alleged whistleblowing exploits !
Since our report we note that in August 2017 there was a cessation of Maddox being ‘a person with significant control’ of Wirral Mind August 2017. However he still remains a Director – presumably because of the lustre and prestige that someone with his impeccable track record brings to an organisation.
Today we thought we’d revisit a post from December 2011 which concerned itself with the then leader of Wirral Council Cllr Steve Foulkes’ big idea – ‘ Destination Excellence’ which was parodied in the ‘Destination Effluence’ video which we published earlier this week. This was Foulkesy’s ‘Christmas Message’ to council staff following the damning ‘Refresh & Renew’ corporate governance report which was published prior to the even more damning Independent Review which was to be published the following month. Foulkesy went all out for a utterly inane and patronising driving analogy that much like ‘ Destination Excellence’ itself was destined to crash and burn. We think the post serves as a timely reminder of how very little has changed at Wirral Council – replace ‘Destination Excellence’ for Wirral Council’s ’20/20 Vision’ and you have the same BS package ( ‘dream’ ‘journey’ , ‘vision’ , ‘bigger picture’ etc;) but in glossier,shinier wrapping paper.
Although it must be said that one aspect of ‘Destination Excellence’ that can be said to have impacted on Wirral Council is Foulkesy’s pledge “to make sure we dynamite anyobstacles out of the way” – yes, and usually in the form of public money to shut people up.
We asked the following question when we first published the leaked message :
What WBC Council leader sent to staff this Christmas… beyond parody really, and you have to ask the the question , what the hell have they been doing the last ten years ???????
Six years have since passed and under new leader Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies the question is just as pertinent.
Conversations with Steve Foulkes
Hi everyone! I know it’s getting close to Christmas and we’ve all got our minds on other things, but I did promise that I would be back to talk to you in more detail about changes that are happening in the Council, so this is the latest update.
On Monday night the Council agreed to send the Council’s revised Corporate Plan to Scrutiny Committees for debate. I want all of you to be involved as well because this is about making a real difference together to the place where we live and work but we need to sign up to making it happen, and I need to know you’re all on board with me.
Money is in short supply. There are fewer of us to meet the ever growing demands for services and sometimes it feels as if we’re just running to stand still. It’s important not to feel totally overwhelmed, so we need to have a very clear idea of where we are going, how we are going to get there and why that journey matters. And we need to understand how each one of us fits into the bigger picture.
The Corporate Plan sets out our destination, in a clear Vision for Wirral. It maps out how we are going to get there. It looks at ways in which we can travel safely (and cost effectively), it lays down the values that we all share, and then it sets out in more detail what that means in practice for all of us. The foreword I’ve written to the Corporate Plan explains this. You can find the Corporate Plan on the Council website. I would very much like you to find time to read it if you can. (It isn’t very long).
One of the things I really want you to understand, because it took me some time to get my head round this, is this phrase “Corporate Governance” which you’ll keep hearing because Wirral is undergoing a “Corporate Governance Review” at the moment. Frankly, it sounds pretty bureaucratic and boring and “nothing to do with us” as we struggle to meet the daily demands of our job. But it isn’t.
To me it’s like going back to the basics of learning to drive again.Remember studying the Highway Code? Learning how to change gears? Remember that moment when you thought you would never get the hang of it and that there were just too many things to think about all at once, and now, when you drive, you don’t think about it all and it all just happens automatically? Well, that’s what we’re aiming for – doing the right thing automatically all the time so we can get to where we want to go without any disasters, without unnecessary stress, and without paying more than we need to because we have made avoidable mistakes.
So here’s what we’ve decided to do to make sure we’re all working together.
§ We will have a couple of big “Meet the Staff” events where my deputy Phil Davies and I will be sharing with you what the Vision is and what we need to do together to achieve it.
§ We will be setting up a number of smaller focus groups in different areas where there’s space to discuss where we are going and hear what you have to say about it.
§ We will be contacting you individually with a short questionnaire to give you the opportunity to tell us what you think about the Council now, and where you think we should be going.
§ We will be setting up a confidential e-mail line where you can contact us with any fears you may have, or details of anything you think might be getting in the way of achieving our Vision, or behaviour which contradicts the values we are signing up to together.
§ We will be setting up special meetings with Cabinet members, so you can make an individual appointment to talk directly, in confidence, to the appropriate Cabinet member and raise anything that may be bothering you.
Basically, we’re doing two things. The first is to make sure we all know and agree where we are going and understand the way there and how to get there safely. The second is to make sure we dynamite any obstacles out of the way so we have a real, fighting chance of making a difference to Wirral we can all be proud of.
Just think, if we could really create a healthy and prosperous society, where people feel good and where the place you live and the amount you earn no longer effects how long you live, wouldn’t that be something? If we could wipe out the stark possibility that exists now of dying ten years earlier if you’re poor than someone who lives in a wealthy part of the borough?
Now that is something worth working for, something worth changing for.
This is the time of the year for endless repeats of heartwarming movie classics. The only difference is that our video excerpts below come with the Parental Advisory label. So those of a nervous disposition – you have been warned (though if you are of a nervous disposition we do have to wonder what you’re doing here) .
Movie buffs will recall the infamous “Downfall trilogy” classics were the work of Wirral Leaks collaborator Cecil B. De Mented and featured scripts penned by our own pottymouthed butler Eldritch.
DASS Bunker is concerned with the aftermath of the publication of the “Independent Review of Allegations Made by Martin Morton ( and Others)” aka the ‘Klonowski Report’ which did indeed lead to the then Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve Foulkes’ very own downfall when he was later ousted in a vote of no confidence.
The sequel Destination Effluence chronicles the short-lived hapless attempts of a ‘Turnaround Team’ to help Wirral Council on its ‘improvement journey’ under the title ‘Destination Excellence”. This was a classic case of Wirral Council being beyond satire and of the script writing itself.
All In It Together is the final instalment of the trilogy and covers a prominent episode that took place during Graham Burgess’s tenure as CEO of Wirral Council and is concerned with his Wallasey Town Hall bathing arrangements. Once again – you couldn’t make it up , although we did give an involuntary shudder at the thought.
Finally to end on a festive note , there is a Christmas special which celebrates Burgess’ s achievements during his tenure as CEO . It’s a very,very short film as he finds himself becoming not so much part of the solution but part of the Wirral Council problem.
Pass the popcorn and the port and join in with your favourite lines. But only when your elderly relatives are safely snoozing on the couch after their sherry and mince pie binge.
Now if there’s one area of council business we receive more complaints about than any other it’s social services (be it children’s or adult services and particularly the transition between the two). Of course this might be expected. It’s an important component of public services and is a difficult area of work as it involves the most vulnerable people in our community and the involvement of statutory services is often required at times of crisis and distress.
With the push towards more integrated working with the NHS , includes moves to create an All-Age Disability Service – which we hear is not going down too well with staff as it it as seen as another way of undermining professional expertise and status of social workers – we are left to pity the poor carers and service users out there who find themselves all at sea trying to deal with what are now called ‘care navigators’ .
Earlier this week at the Wirral Council Cabinet meeting we had councillors Christine Spriggs, Chris Jones and Phil Davies extolling the virtues of integrated working and how it would prevent carers telling their ‘story’ over and over again in an attempt to acquire a service to which they are legally entitled. Needless to say Cllr Bernie Mooney waded in to blame everything on Tory cuts but reassured everyone she had written to everyone she could think of to protest about how unfair it all was. This included a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May. You can imagine the consternation in 10 Downing Street can’t you? as a special adviser whispers in the PM’s ear : “Psst ! Theresa – you’d better drop the Brexit negotiations and forget about that bit of bother you’ve got with Priti and Boris and Damian and Michael and whoever the next errant Tory is – Cllr Bernie Mooney is on the warpath and you wouldn’t like it when she gets angry!”
So what we’d like to do here is to provide a case study which is typical of the many complaints we receive from carers and which suggest the problems that Wirral Council have are not just about money it is, as ever ,about the CULTURE of Wirral Council. How about they look more closely at why they can’t recruit and retain quality staff and have to spend a fortune on consultants and agency staff. Talking of which we hear a social services big hitter may soon be on their way out……we’ll bring you more when we get it.
Meanwhile read this never-ending story and weep :
I could fill a book about this but, in short, my severely autistic and learning-disabled son (aged 19) and I have just lost our second second social worker in 15 months.
Last August (2016) I got a call out of the blue from our social worker to say “I am going on secondment and I won’t be seeing you again.” 3 weeks earlier she had said, without prompting, that she would be “right beside you” for at least another year, as my son went through his last year at school and made crucial preparations for college and work placements. When I objected she said “Here’s the number of my immediate boss. Take up your concerns with him.” I kept phoning, over a good two weeks, only to get voice-mail. I left a message that wasn’t picked up, etc. Eventually it turns out that her immediate boss had already been on “indefinite sick leave” for quite a time already, something she must have known when she suggested I ring him.
My son still asks what happened to this social worker and wonders why she didn’t say goodbye.
A new social worker arrived from another borough in Sept 2016. (As did another person to replace the person who was on indefinite sick leave.) In January, the second of these two people gave a week’s notice and went back to South Wales, clearly defeated by Wirral Council’s complete inability to organise. . .anything. Our new social worker kept saying to me “We need to work with each other on the basis of trust.” I have tried for a year now to get my son’s respite dates guaranteed to me in writing by Wirral Social Services. I have been in contact with the MP about it, and she has tried repeatedly to be in contact with them. They are usually on voice-mail, or don’t respond to emails, hers or mine. I still have no written guarantee.
The social worker, after lots of meetings/phonecalls with me, assured me at the start of June that my son’s two work placements would start this September. September came: no work placements. It turns out that the work placements hadn’t received the necessary paperwork from the social worker to enable my son to start work; Social Worker insisted that they had the necessary paperwork. Then she and I and the work placement people (Wirral Evolutions) have a meeting in which it is agreed that my son needs one-to-one support at both of the placements. “Don’t worry, I’ll get these sorted” social worker tells me. This was at the end of September. Yesterday (November 3rd), having heard nothing, I phoned the social worker to ask what the delay is. I get a person on the phone who says “Social Worker doesn’t work for Wirral Council anymore. She left 2 weeks ago. Who are you?” This person was, apparently, a receptionist, someone I’d never dealt with before, left with the task of telling x number of people that they have been abandoned.
Wirral Council/Wirral Social Services are grossly incompetent. They are rude. They have no regard for their clients and their clients’ families. They don’t even show the most basic courtesies or consideration. In due course, I daresay I’ll get a call from whoever the replacement social worker is, and the replacement will say “We need to work with each other on the basis of trust.”
Basically, it is the same thing over and over and over: incompetence, very poor communication (with me, but also with other agencies and between themselves), rudeness, poor or non-existent note-taking, people leaving at short notice and with no proper explanation, etc etc. It just goes on and on.
When the Klonowski enquiry produced its damning report, I briefly hoped that the people found to be grossly incompetent (and, in some cases, corrupt) would be removed. Disheartening, to say the least, to see people like Steve Foulkes still in place. Where is the accountability? There simply is none.
It beggars belief that Wirral Council has not been placed in special measures. I daresay the reasons behind that are political. The Tories asking for it are being hypocritical because part of the problem is chronic underfunding from central govt but I do think that being placed in special measures would be the best thing. The only thing, actually, that would give people like me and my son the chance at least of a semi-decent service. I know special measures are not a panacea but they would be our best chance.
Apparently the new person to whom my son and I have been allotted is going to be in contact “in due course.” Big deal. The “leader” of the “integrated” (!) team for disabilities at Wirral Social Services since January is someone who clearly does not lead. When I told him at that point (no-one had told us the previous man had left, I found out by chance) that Wirral Social Services is a shambles, he replied with “But that’s just your opinion.” No-one with a shred of conscience can stay working with these people for any length of time: they either go off sick, having had some kind of breakdown, or they are “let go.” The people there for any significant length of time are, almost by definition, dead wood.
When my son is going to get his work placements is anyone’s guess. Ever? SW who has just gone was saying to me most of the past 12 months “It’s very important that your son gets a 5-day week”. .. I know, I had never suggested otherwise!”
We promised to revisit the Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) ‘It Has To Stop’ story with our considered views on the role of Wirral Council’s Standards Panel/ Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee and the measures they have taken to sanction LRJ. As we said :
We are not giving LRJ an out here – she deserves everything she gets but it is a matter of proven fact that she has been treated markedly differently than her Labour colleague Cllr Steve Foulkes by the Standards Panel. As far as we’re concerned councillors McLaughlin, Gilchrist and Blakeley have some explaining to do. This is something we will be analysing in a later post.
So let’s briefly recap what sanctions that LRJ faced for being a bad – but by means the worst – councillor at Wirral Council
suspension from the local Labour Group
The Labour Group ‘leader’ , Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies in a rare show of authority recommended permanent expulsion
referral to the Labour Party regional body ( Labour Northwest)
Labour Northwest ,who must be heartily sick to the back teeth of Wirral Labour Party careerists, sorry members, commuted the suspension to 6 months
removal of the Labour Party whip
Thus isolating LRJ from the ‘support’ of the local Labour Party machine. Although we have to say the Labour Party whip would have to have the skills of an ex-lion tamer with a whip and a chair to keep local Labour members under control
removal of LRJ representing Wirral Council on outside bodies
Although we’re not sure whether this involved any loss of remuneration (our money)
asked to make full apology to whistleblowers
And look how that went! LRJ came across as an obstreberous 6 year old stamping her feet and crossing her arms in protest at being found with her hands in the cookie jar
asked to make a full apology to all elected members at next full Wirral Council meeting
We won’t hold our breath waiting for LRJ to humbly apologise for her misdemeanours
As we all know the last councillor to face the Standards Panel prior to LRJ was ex- Wirral council leader and mayor Cllr Steve ‘ Don’t Mention Sorrento’ Foulkes. And what sanctions were imposed on him for being a serial liar?
asked to make an apology to the then Tory leader Cllr Jeff Green
Even though by his own admission Cllr Green WAS NOT THE COMPLAINANT!
Er, that’s it
Bit of a discrepancy don’t you think?, especially when the reason given by clapped out Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin for the local Labour group going after LRJ was her lack of ‘credibility’ and ‘reliability’ as a witness. We’re left wondering whether Matron should have been on the Standards Panel in the first place . She nearly came a cropper for declaring she put her personal friendship with Kevin Miller ,the former monumental failure of a Director of Adult Social Services, above her civic duties.
But then Matron isn’t the only errant councillor in this farrago. Where were the rest of the councillors of all parties when the first Patricia Thynne report was published and where Foulkesy said he couldn’t possibly have handed over a document attempting to smear Cllr Jeff Green to duplicitous journalist Liam Murphy because there would have to have been an adjournment of the Council meeting when it was alleged he had done so.
Apparently neither ‘investigator’ Thynne or any Wirral councillor bothered to check the minutes because they would have found out that there had indeed been an adjournment. This was one of the reasons that a second (costly) investigation took place and enabled several witnesses to later testify that they saw Foulkesy hand over the incriminating document to Murphy. Something which he had denied in the first investigation. The only explanation we think of for this particular lack of scrutiny is that councillors must have all just sat there and said : ” Well, it’s Foulkesy, innit, what do you expect?”
Clearly our expectations are out of step with our local elected members and until they realise they are accountable to us we’re afraid it will remain forever thus.
So when it comes to ‘credibility’ and ‘reliability’ as a witness we’re left thinking that Foulkesy is even more lacking than LRJ – and that’s really sayin’ somethin’ ! What it doesn’t do is explain the difference in the measures made against each respective councillor.
But then those who regularly read Wirral Leaks will know exactly what the explanation is…..
Meanwhile compare and contrast these respective investigators comments :