Courting McCourt

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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)

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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.

 

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Leaky Awards 2017 – Quotes of the Year Part Two

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Join us for the second part of our journey down the red carpet to hell.

JULY

“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.

Full story : A LACK OF DISCRETION

“They don’t seem to realise I’m at the top of the pecking order ” 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!

Full story : AN LRJ REACTION

AUGUST

”  ‘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)

Full story : BANK HOLIDAY BULLETIN BOARD

SEPTEMBER

“An economic value below the legal minimum 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.

Full story : THE SKWARKING CANARY COMES HOME TO ROOST

“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, Wirral Council 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

Full story : EXCLUSIVE : THICK AS THIEVES UPDATE

OCTOBER

” 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.

Full story : HAPPY TALK

No laughing matter

Hotel Prestige ,Sorrento try to apologise to holidaymakers for alleged conduct unbecoming a former Wirral Council Mayor and his consort. 

Full story : SORRENTO SHAME 2 : NO LAUGHING MATTER

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 there need 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 each other. – 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. 

Full story : SONGS OF THE LABOUR MOVEMENT – TWO TRIBES

NOVEMBER

“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!

Full story :  A REPULSIVE EXCLUSIVE 

“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.

Full story : WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU SCAM

” Just goes to show what’s going on out there . We live in a sheltered world . We’re all too good for our own  good  Cllr Ron Abbey comments on the conduct of councillors in other councils clearly demonstrating he’s in denial and utterly deluded.

Full story : APOLOGIES AND APOLOGISTS

” 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.   

Full story : BIRKENHEAD MP’S BREXIT BITCHFEST BACKFIRES

“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.

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Full story : SHOW INAPPROPRIATE COMMENTS THE RED CARD

“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.” – A Carer contacts us to describe her experience of trying to get a much needed service for her disabled son.

Full story : THE NEVER-ENDING STORY

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Private Eye report of Wirral Leaks exclusive featuring some choice quotes.

Full story : INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

“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.

Full story : IT HAS TO STOP

DECEMBER

“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.

Full story : ADVENT FAREWELL 10 – QUESTION EVERYTHING

“LABOUR COUNCIL LISTEN TO THE PUBLIC!” – Wirral Needs campaigners repeated chant in the public gallery during last full Council meeting of 2017.

Full story : ADVENT FAREWELL 14 – WHY WIRRAL LEAKS SPEAKS IN PARABLES

Advent Farewell 9 – Out of Sight , Out of Mind

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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.

 

Advent Farewell 8 – A Christmas Dream Turns Nightmare

Foulkes L of A Message

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 any obstacles 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.

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Conversations with Steve Foulkes

Destination Excellence!

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.

It doesn’t have to be just a dream.

Happy Christmas.

Steve

Councillor Steve Foulkes

Leader of Wirral Council 

 

 

Advent Farewell 5 – Wirral Leaks Goes To The Movies

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.

 

 

 

The Never-ending Story

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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!”

Standards and Measures

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 :

LRJ v Foulkesy 017

LRJ v Foulkesy 019

 

 

 

Sorrento Shame 2 : No Laughing Matter

No laughing matter

Ordinarily our lead picture would be the Foulkes’ Sorrento holiday snap which features on social media and has been forwarded to us. However after further consideration of the ‘Sorrento Shame’ story we feel the need to take a more sober approach (no pun intended) . Now is not the time for satire, sarcasm or caption competitions.

As you can see from the picture above hotel management  tried to pacify a distraught couple who allege they were subject to racial abuse on holiday and hope that one day they will find it ‘something to laugh about’. On seeing this letter it suddenly struck us that it took people from outside Wirral to point out how unacceptable some behaviours are. They’ve held a mirror up to us all and it doesn’t reflect well on any of us.

We say this , as to us and to many people, none of the allegations that have surfaced will come as a surprise. We’ve been forwarded many stories over the years which people have asked us not to publish. Frankly we’d rather not know. It’s just such a shame that people locally haven’t been prepared to speak up before now. We’re calling it the ‘Weinstein Syndrome’ – where ‘everybody knew’ about certain attitudes and behaviours but chose to succumb to pay-offs , legal threats or went along with a different kind of abuse of power because it was advantageous to their career. Additionally we understand that some people are frightened to speak up against powerful and influential people especially when they are protected by other powerful and influential people. And look what happens to those who do speak up!

Doesn’t it make you proud to live on Wirral?   But then we’ve long held that there is a dark heart at the centre of the local Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) where racism , harassment and bullying and lying by a tiny minority of local councillors is apparently tolerated and/or condoned because they’re part of  Frank Field’s ‘Inner Ring’ .

But it’s not just the Birkenhead CLP who go along with it – it’s Wirral councillors of all political parties (with a couple of honourable exceptions) who thought it was OK for ‘Foulkesy’ to become Mayor of Wirral in 2014, two years after it was exposed he was the leader of a basket case council that was rife with bullying , nepotism , incompetence and dishonesty (but then everyone knew that as well!) Of course there was the opportunity to prevent this appointment in 2013 but an unholy alliance of middle class charlatans and working class chancers went along with it – all in the hope of career advancement, financial gain or a front page exclusive. We can’t think of anywhere else in the country where the Wirralgate cover up would have lasted this long.

Wirral councillors then went on to  (deliberately?) miss the point of the Patricia Thynne Wirralgate investigations by a country mile. Who gives a damn whether Foulkesy was part of a plot to ‘smear’  Tory collaborator Jeff Green? It was the fact that he’d lied through an investigation which necessitated a further investigation costing us £17K and throughout which he again continued to lie. Perhaps instead of an apology to the collusive Cllr Green ,  Foulkesy was instead denied the opportunity to be a Wirral Council representative on outside bodies this might have represented a meaningful sanction.

However as John Brace’s excellent blog points out ‘Foulkesy’ has this past week been allowed to vote himself an annual £10,108  pay rise  (this is not including his remuneration for sitting on the Magenta Living board alongside ………yes you guessed it, Cllr Jeff Green !)

Holiday money

But then the likes of the Local Government Association (LGA) and consultants like Anna Klonowski and Anna Hutchinson at Labour North West and Merseyside Police are no better – pussyfooting around power abusers is so much easier than confronting sordid and difficult realities.

And then there’s what we’re calling ‘Shite Privilege’  where  certain people are allowed to hold the most reprehensible views and behave in the most appalling manner because of their local connections . Of course the precedent here is the Jack Nolan case (Jack being Elaine Foulkes’ -nee Nolan’s- son ).  A classic case of the the apple not falling far from the tree. Suddenly doesn’t his assault and affray conviction at Birkenhead Magistrate’s Court in 2015 seem tragically inevitable? We could almost, but not quite, forgive him. However what we can’t forgive is the high profile protectors who turned up to provide character references at the trial. This inevitably included council leader Cllr  Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies, who’s moral compass appears to be permanently pointed to hell.

What A Load Of Testimonials!

Now we don’t know about you lot but we resent someone is allowed the opportunity to finance him and his missus’s holidays in the sun so he can allegedly stand by and watch the abuse of innocent bystanders at our expense.  We should not be funding more opportunities to ruin not just other people’s holidays but other people’ s careers and lives. This is no laughing matter.

 

 

 

 

The Gravy Train update – with special guests Anna and Bill

gravytrain

A round of applause for old Wirral Leaks favourites Anna Klonowski and Bill Norman as they make yet another guest appearance on our hallowed website.

You have to to hand it to Anna and Bill – never have such transparent blaggers made such a good living off the public purse. Needless to say their paths eventually crossed at Wirral Council –  the ground zero of local government corruption.

Having failed miserably to make a blind bit of difference to the culture of Wirral Council, whilst at the same time significantly enhancing their bank balances, we hold these particular fraudsters in complete contempt.

So what happened subsequently to these shysters? – that’s right they got found out.

Firstly – let’s deal with Anna and we reluctantly have to agree with a belligerent local Tory councillor on this one :

Blakeley - Klonowski

We noted at the time his deliberate typo ( ha! ha!ha!) but in the intervening 5 years this repugnant bulldog has just sniped from the sidelines and made NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER. Neither did Klonowski. She was too busy cashing her £250K cheque and then smugly sitting on the ‘Improvement Board’ and feeding off the blood, sweat and tears of whistleblowers like the local government parasite she is (put that on your LINKED IN profile why dontcha).

We need to thank the magnificent blog The Bristolian for keeping us up to date with Anna’s travels (or should that be be travails ? – either way she doesn’t care as long as she’s getting paid for it).

It seems that Anna picked up a few tips whilst working for the Wirral Council power elite – like paying off people to keep their mouths shut. As you can read here : Klonowski Gag

And not only that she picked up a few bullying tips from Foulkesy , who she strangely supported. Not strangely at all in retrospect – he paid her humongous bills. You can read all about her shameful progress here : Big Wedge’s Bully Shame

What we do admire is The Bristolian’s challenge to this gravy train gobshite and their rider :

NB. Any legal threats in relation to this article to the Bristolian’s email please.

Because as we know Anna is not averse to threatening people with legal action who dare to challenge her. As we’ve reported previously she set Martyn Scott from DLA Piper onto Wirral Council whistleblower Martin Morton, who let’s not forget made her a cool quarter of a million, because her dared question her as to why she didn’t do her job properly and fully expose , among other things , that Wirral Council and Merseyside Police were mixed up with drugs money launderers.

But let’s move on to Billyboy Norman .

And can we say we’re simply astonished that this piece of work has lasted as long as he has . What an inspiration to one and all – that no matter how corrupt,how incompetent, how damn ugly you are you can still trawl the country picking up cheques from people who are more corrupt, more incompetent and more ugly than you are.

Bill Norman – Police Probe

Anna Klonowski is no doubt taking notes and ready for her comeback.

NB. Any legal threats in relation to this article to Wirral Leaks email please.

 

 

Where Are They Now? Part 3 – Anna Klonowski (Update)

klonowski

It is with great pleasure we bring the news that karma seems to be a fully functioning phenomena as we understand the serial highly paid local government diva La Klonowski – infamous on Wirral for her highly remunerated (if ineffectual) reports has suddenly resigned her Chief Executive post at Bristol City Council .

We reported earlier this year that, staggeringly, Anna was appointed to the above post in January of this year.

Where Are They Now ? – Klonowski

It is no surprise to us that she didn’t last the year out . We’ve been keeping up with our local equivalent in Bristol The Bristolian and it’s clear they held her in the same contempt that we do  #cashcow

The Bristol City Council website declares that Anna Klonowski has resigned in order to focus on her role as primary carer for her parents.

http://news.bristol.gov.uk/chief_executive_resigns_from_bristol_city_council

All very laudable and dare we say unusual for such a serial careerist to put her family first. Might we suggest that her decision was influenced by her experience on Wirral? For would any respectable public servant want their parent’s dying days to be in the hands of drugs money launderer’s ?