Where’s Wally?

Denial

Hopefully readers will be pleased to hear that Dr Robert B Smith is still on Wirral Council’s case. This time he’s trying to elicit a response from their CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson to queries he made via email over 6 months ago. Dr Smith has contacted all 66 councillors in asking whether Stressed Eric’s conduct was a) acceptable or b) unacceptable.

As far as we know the only councillor to respond was Cllr Walter Smith. We’ll leave you to read his email and Dr Smith’s meticulously researched riposte. However we would comment that as far as we’re concerned it’s a case of  ‘Walter by name , Wally by nature’. Indeed Cllr Smith has recently been observed on the campaign trail wearing a red fleece with his name printed on the back. Presumably to help him remember who he is if he get’s lost.  However if we were ever asked the question –  ‘Where’s Wally ?’ we’d have to say  : ‘In denial’……..

Dear Dr Smith,

I presume that there must be a reason for a failure to respond to your request. I suggest that you involve your local councillor. By the way WBC has never been better run than it is today. The officers do a good job, and we councillors have received the award of ‘The Most Improved Council’.

Kind regards,

Walter Smith.

Dear Cllr Walter Smith

It was my intention to circulate all Wirral Councillors with the results of my earlier survey, and reply  to you individually. I only asked for ‘unacceptable’ or ‘acceptable’ as a response. However, given your more expansive response to me, it would seem apposite to circulate my response more broadly.

Firstly, given your response, and the fact that you are a collective employer, why don’t you ask Mr Robinson what is his ‘reason for a failure to respond’? My assessment would be that he is unable to put anything in writing that would not seriously compromise his position.

Shall we take the latest development in the appalling situation regarding the Wirral Safeguarding Board, as a starting point?

The Government’s intervention by installing Eleanor Brazil to endeavour to address the numerous failings, speaks volumes regarding capability. As does Mr Robinson’s claim in the Wirral Globe given his background;

Eric Robinson, chief executive, said: “We have made some changes in terms of social care and I will now work with Julia Hassall”.
“My background is in Children’s Services so I will oversee the work”. (Wirral Globe 20 Sep 2016
)

The press coverage of the sentencing of Brothers Vinothan and Ilavarasan Rajenthiram, jailed for 40 years for grooming and sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls in Wirral, included the following comment – “Over a five-year campaign Ilavarasan and Vinothan Rajenthiram groomed and sexually abused vulnerable young girls from Wirral, all known to Wirral Council”. That would go back to 2012 and doesn’t support the assertion of your 3rd sentence. Actually, it also blows a considerable hole ‘, in the claims made in your 4th sentence as well as in the credibility of the fantasy ‘The Most Improved Council 2015′ award.

Now, with regard to ‘The Most Improved Council’ award. I have discussed this award, and its credibility with Dr Gill Taylor of the Local Government Association (LGA). You will remember her from the ‘LGA Improvement Board’. I have also corresponded with the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) and Government Ministers. It was actually a Local Government Chronicle Award, one of a range of local government awards given by a local government subscription periodical. This ‘Most Improved’ award was apparently never awarded prior to 2015, and it has never been awarded since – too many burned sponsors fingers, I suspect.

You may remember Graham Burgess? Yes, he who breezed into the ‘Improvement Board’ in 2012/13 as a peer reviewer (at the request of the LGA and Michael Frater). At the time Graham Burgess was CEO of Blackburn & Darwen Council (which incidentally had won the LGC ‘Council of the Year’ award in 2011).

The recruitment of Graham Burgess as ‘interim’ CEO of Wirral Council was an ‘interesting’ process. And as for the permanent position – 8 applications…1 successful interviewee?

Quite like self-proclaimed Labour activist Mr Liptrot and his published email thread to Cllr Phil Davies. Not to mention Mr Liptrot’s numerous conflicts of interest. It was fortunate that Mr Tour felt absolutely compelled to ‘remind him about’ occupying a ‘politically restricted’ post whilst it was reported he had several contracts across Merseyside. With Wirral Council’s plummeting reputation, and no Joe Anderson metro-mayor bandwagon to ride on, it appears that a side-step to promote unattainable investment ‘opportunities’ matches a mythical skillset. So we witness a frenetic appointment ‘crucial’ before the Cannes visit to MIPIM. Expedience which truly stretches credulity.
But back to Graham Burgess.
Wirral Council’s own press release described him as a ‘leading light’ of the LGA. He was also a regular contributor to, and endorser of the LGC. For the 2015 ‘Most Improved’ award, the ‘live panel’ presentation was made by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies to assessors comprising mainly LGA member Chief Executives. (Doncaster Council, the 2015 award runner-up is an interesting study. Even more so if you add WBC, LGA, SOLACE, ex-WBC staff and very low interest loans into the mix.)

It is a shallow exercise in massaging political egos, and self-promotion for the LGA (and the LGC) to promote the ‘LGA Sector-led Improvement programme’ and the ‘peer review’ mechanism. If you achieve some supposed ‘improvement’, by some supposed ‘measure’ or ‘other’ and provide the tea and biscuits, the LGA will bask in the glory, and parade an individual (in Wirral’s case Cllr Phil Davies) around the country, as a ludicrous example, of a ‘success story’.

It is evident that aspiring to mediocrity underpins the peer review process, and serial under-achievement is the benchmark of ‘improvement’. This is displayed in pyrotechnic fashion in Wirral Council, where documents by both the LGA and Anna Klonowski quote wording proclaiming ‘…in her report, of 2012 Ms Klonowski highlights how at Wirral Council “the abnormal has become the norm”.’

That is 5 years ago. The ‘LGA Improvement Board’ covered the period March 2012 until November 2013 and then, its job done, disbanded. The LGA produced a glossy brochure detailing Wirral’s ‘improvement journey’. The summary introducing the document makes interesting reading and includes this claim.

Eighteen months after Wirral developed and implemented their action plan with the LGA, the Improvement Board that provided advice and oversight of Wirral’s improvement journey reported that sector-led improvement had “transformed” the Council to one that was “stable, well-led, open and far more inclusive.” If you don’t recognise that description, and I certainly don’t, here is the link. http://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/wirral-councils-sector-le-40f.pdf

An interesting comment in the Liverpool Echo published 8th May 2013 from Cllr Harney at the time of establishing the ‘LGA Improvement Board’ Cllr Harney said the council needs “a great deal more openness and much more rigorous performance management”.
He added: “People, councillors, senior managers and the public, have not been aware of what has been going on.”

One aspect of the withdrawal agreement with the Improvement Board, was that Opposition Councillors would occupy the Chairs of Scrutiny Committees. Is that still the case Cllr Smith? No of course it isn’t. All scrutiny committee chairs were taken by Labour councillors in 2014. That casting vote, as required to achieve the prescribed outcome, is crucial to driving unopposed decision-making, but also negates independent scrutiny, accountability and transparency.

Coupled with other constitutional changes giving sweeping new powers to Cabinet members, and a forthcoming fallow year for elections in 2017, any prescribed outcome is attainable. Add to that heady mix the ruling group en-bloc voting and abstention regimes, and what results? Mythical resident’s surveys aside, and resident ‘information deficit’, party-political voting which mostly ignores constituents’ wishes e.g. Girtrell Court and Lyndale School thrives. As you will know, these deliberate changes effectively create the situation where power rests solely with Cllr Phil Davies. How would you describe that model of administration?

Graham Burgess’ apparently effortless ‘soft-shoe shuffle’ into Wirral’s CEO position preceded the 2015 LGC ‘Award’. The Guardian newspaper published, on 10 Apr 2014, the 3rd in the series ‘Public Service Tango’ – Headlined ‘One leader, one chief executive – and a joint vision for their council’s future’ – a far from enlightening piece by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies. A good journalist would normally extract a ‘riveting quote’, or an ‘earth-shattering insight’ from the article to draw the reader into this revelatory discourse.

This must be the best available. “Wirral council’s leader and chief executive attend each other’s meetings and welcome ideas from all employees”. An absolutely breath-taking insight you must agree – but does it actually matter? Well yes, and, no.

Actually it doesn’t in this specific case as one learns nothing, but of more interest is this extract from a paragraph beneath the published article.
Phil Davies is leader of Wirral council; Graham Burgess is the council’s chief executive. This collection of articles on the relationship between public managers and politicians is supported by SOLACE and is running on the Guardian Public Leaders Network from March to June 2014.

I know that you will be on the edge of your seat by now, Cllr Smith, but what happens next? You will take solace from what happens next.

The very, very low-key publishing of the November 2015 ‘peer review’ follow-up, of Wirral Council, by the LGA. You may not know the then-Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, but you should. His name is Mark Rogers – http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-city-council-chief-executive-12625426

Mark Rogers was the CEO of Birmingham City Council, a member of the LGA and SOLACE, which if you don’t know is the Society Of Local Authority Chief Executives. It is most likely that Eric Robinson (from neighbouring Staffordshire) and Graham Burgess, and Cllr Phil Davies would know him. Not only was he a member of SOLACE (supporting the Guardian article), but he was its President until October 2016.

Birmingham CEO Mark Rogers (LGA member and SOLACE President) was one of the ‘experts’ who undertook the ‘peer review’ of 2015 which unlike the ‘sector-led improvement journey’, and the farcical ‘Most Improved Council 2015’ award, was unleashed on an unwitting public without fanfare and illustrates regression, not improvement. I would imagine that even Mark Rogers would struggle signing that review off, with his background in children’s social care?

Does that look familiar, given Eric Robinson’s previous employment?
At this point, the question for me is where do I stop ‘joining the dots’?
I have only scratched the surface of the machinations of Wirral Council above, but you will get a flavour of why I have some difficulty taking your response seriously.

Wirral Council ruling administration is in serious trouble, and using great swathes of public money to defend the indefensible, is actually indefensible.

I look forward to receiving your response,
Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

ps I would be making these observations and comments whatever the political colour of any Council administration conducting itself in this manner.

Blotto?

Smarmy Blott

Spot the dot ! :  Blott or not?

After yesterday’s blog post we had a most curious reply sent very early today.

Allegedly it was sent by Joe Blott – Wirral Council’s Managing Director for Delivery aka ‘The Man Who Never Gets Angry’ and read as follows :

Joe Blott on March 9, 2017 at 4:56 am said:

Get the facts right before spouting off about how Wirral does business; you can write all you like on here about past & present employees but take a second to think about how much harm this does to the families of these people and how this may impact them about dis tasteful comments about how people go about making a living. Your blog is a joke and you hide behind your keyboard due to the fact you probably haven’t got a real job and you vent your frustrations out due to being turned down for a role here at Wirral

So here is that fulsome and considered response. Firstly, can we say that after the Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kevin MacCallum had a Friday night entanglement with yours truly we’d’ve thought that senior managers from Wirral Council would exercise some caution when contacting us.Communicating with Kev-Continued.

However the curious aspect of the ‘Blotto’ response is that it seems so very out of character. Say what you want about this non-entity but he does know how to play the local government game. So we’re led to conclude that either we’ve really got under his skin or he didn’t send that email.

It is particularly curious as the message was sent from a wirral.gov.uk address.However the address is joe.blott@wirral.gov.uk  and we were led to believe his email address was joeblott@wirral.gov.uk

A dot can make a lot of difference and you have to get up very early to get anything past us and 4.56 am just isn’t early enough!

So we can only conclude that Blotto has  a) acquired a new email address (along with a scrotum) or b) someone is masquerading as him using a wirral.gov.uk address

Curiouser and curiouser!

So let’s break down the response from whoever it is as follows :

Get the facts right before spouting off about how Wirral does business

So tell us the facts ; We understand that ‘facts’ is an abstract concept as far as Wirral Council goes – but give it a go!

you can write all you like on here about past & present employees but take a second to think about how much harm this does to the families of these people and how this may impact them about dis tasteful comments about how people go about making a living

Yes, we can write what we like on here. And Wirral Council hate that don’t they? ,because they have absolutely no control over it . We could write Liptrot – approved puff -pieces but that would make us Wirral View – and ain’t nobody got time for that. Oh ,and when you talk about ‘past employees’ do you mean those currently taking a particular interest in our blog from their holiday home in Portugal? The stats don’t lie!

As for ‘dis tasteful’ – all we can say is that it must be a curse to be burdened with a delicate middle class sensibility! Just be thankful you don’t work for Bristol City Council under the leadership of Anna ‘Big Wedge’ Klonowski . Our equivalent there –‘ The Bristolian’ has a few choice words for your equivalents including the wonderful Anglo -Saxon expression ‘Whiny T**t’ and as for the Mayor of Bristol – let’s not go there!

https://thebristolian.net/2017/03/03/whiny-twat-seeks-private-sector-move/

We’ve got news for you – that deferential nonsense died a horrible death for many us a long time ago. Oh and don’t do that ‘think about the kiddiewinks’ malarkey. We’re totally immune to such manipulative shit , especially when the likes of you are earning a very good living for doing what exactly? We’d be happy to publish a list of your achievements so the people of Wirral know exactly what they’re getting for their £123K pa.

Your blog is a joke 

Which is why you get up at silly o’clock to respond to our joke of a blog when you could just be checking your bank statements and who’s arse you need to kiss today!

you hide behind your keyboard due to the fact you probably haven’t got a real job and you vent your frustrations out due to being turned down for a role here at Wirral

We love the way you kept the best ’til last. Nothing , but nothing would compel us and our increasing number of aggrieved ex-Wirral Council employees to subjugate ourselves like a brain dead wage slave before the likes of you and your ilk for a ‘role here at Wirral’ . Delusional doesn’t come close. Wirral Council is a sick organisation. Keep taking the tablets (or cashing the cheque),whatever works for you (if not for us).

If you feel the need to respond – whoever you are –  you know where we are : wirralleaks@gmail.com  – that’s wirralleaks and not wirral.leaks obviously.

Where Are They Now? Part 2 – Update

Tarby

Steve Maddox – out of sight and into Mind

As you will know our recent ‘Where Are They Know?’  post concerning public money magnet Anna Klonowski mentioned former Wirral Council CEO Steve Maddox.

Where Are They Now? Part 3 – Anna Klonowski

Wirral Leaks readers will appreciate that it was Maddox who personally set the tone for Wirral Council prior to the catalogue of governance and cultural failures that were later to be revealed , if not fully exposed , by Ms Klonowski in her two reports for Wirral Council which pocketed her a cool quarter of a million.

Apparently Maddox was willing to accept that being bullied by politicians was the norm and instead of resisting this, looked at his pay cheque and subjected his underlings to the same treatment and so did their subordinates and the cycle of abuse continued throughout the organisation…. with disastrous results for all of us.

Coincidentally it was Maddox who was the subject of the previous ‘Where Are They Know’ post where we asked whether anyone knew what Maddox was up to, other than playing golf , after his handsomely rewarded ‘retirement’.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/wirral-leaks-advent-calendar-16-where-are-they-now-part-2/

Well , prompted by our previous posts and our references to how local government failures later find themselves being beneficiaries of lucrative board appointments (see also Maddox’s successor Jim ‘ Wee Willie’ Wilkie and his Non -Executive Director post at the Countess of Chester hospital where he scrupulously and hilariously fails to mention he worked for Wirral Council) http://www.coch.nhs.uk/corporate-information/board-of-directors/non-executive-directors.aspx ) – one of our sources has contacted to tell us that Maddox has been ‘hidden in plain sight’ all along.

As after a short period of laying low after the publication of a series damning reports questioning his ‘leadership’ and , apparently without any shame , he subsequently popped up as a Director at mental health organisation Wirral Mind and remains as ‘a person of significant control’ to this day!

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/officers/11pyLG4lH-iPYRY0l59SdJ3JDWA/appointments

We’re left wondering whether Maddox was involved in the unlawful awarding of Wirral Mind, and their deeply ambitious CEO Sandra Gilbert , a contract to manage a learning disabilities service as a reward for keeping a lid on the overcharging scandal that rocked Wirral Council?

All we will say is that unfortunately for us having Maddox , as a former Wirral Council CEO with an OBE and a Freedom of the Borough as a Director , won’t hinder Wirral Mind’s chances of getting future lucrative contracts with Wirral Council – especially if they link up with WIRED and others muscling in on infrastructure monies. And that , once again unfortunately for us, is the compliant, non-threatening voluntary sector on Wirral boxed off nicely.

Remember – as ever – you read it here first.

Where Are They Now? Part 3 – Anna Klonowski

klonowski

A Valentine’s Day lament : Roses are red, Anna’s in blue,playing the game,cash she’ll accrue

We return to one of our occasional series. This particular one brings you news of the great and the good who have graced our blog with their presence. Sadly for us that has not hindered their progress towards high office and more importantly for them, the bank.

This blog post features the relentless progress of consultant Anna Klonowski . As we mentioned last month it is 5 years since the Independent Review of Allegations Made by Martin Morton & Others report landed with a bang in a blaze of bad publicity for Wirral Council and ended in November 2013 with a whimper that was the damp squib of a final meeting of the so-called ‘Improvement Board’ which purportedly was set up to address Wirral Council’s failings identified in the report.

We now hear that Ms Klonowski has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of Bristol City Council on £160K a pop.

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

As we know Klonowski started her investigations at Wirral Council in August 2010 and when scheduled to meet the then Chief Executive Steve Maddox he promptly announced he was retiring to spend more time with his long suffering golf clubs. Three years on and with cowardly circularity Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies similarly made a swift exit at the aforementioned Improvement Board when whistleblower Martin Morton stood up to speak .

Although it must be said Davies had every reason to have the squirts. Morton tells us he regrets not specifically mentioning that the misconduct of Labour councillors Steve Foulkes and George Davies was one of the main reasons why he could not return to work for Wirral Council as it might have saved him 3 years of stonewalling and cover up. Sorry Mart, but we have to disagree with you on this one – stonewalling and cover up is like breathing to these people.

We understand that during her ‘investigation’ Klonowski bemoaned the fact to Morton that local authority investigative work was drying up. We suggest that this might explain why the investigation took so long. Despite the fact that Klonowski was on the case from August 2010 to  January 2012 and handbagged a £250,000 pay cheque and cost Wirral Council another £150,000+ as a result of legal advice and putting up Anna in her own Aparthotel in Liverpool , she summarily failed to complete what she was commissioned to do, and that was to FULLY investigate the whistleblowing allegations brought to her attention.

With a background in CIPFA ( Chartered Institute of Public Finance) it was clear that Klonowski was way out of her depth when it came to tackling the more problematic social care issues that Morton ( & unnamed and redacted others told her about ).

Klonowski was much more at home discussing corporate governance issues which led to the ‘Refresh & Renew’ report which was published in October 2011 . It’s just such a shame that this was not her brief. She returned to the CIPFA comfort zone in the Independent Review report itself were there are pages and pages and pages of endless, tedious observations about Wirral Council’s Internal Audit.

This led to some shameful omissions on Klonowski’s part. Morton tells us his most significant whistleblow concerned the death of a vulnerable young man who died whilst the staff who should have been giving him his medication were allegedly at the bingo.This received a couple of lines in her report!

The staff involved worked for an organisation by the name of Assisted Living Services (ALS). This organisation had links to drugs money laundering and yet were owned by former Merseyside Police CID officers. Strange bedfellows – or perhaps not! It was left to a subsequent investigation to identify these connections so we can only presume Klonowski either couldn’t be arsed or was warned off by ‘interested parties’.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/corporate_governance_committee_m#outgoing-259991

As you can read no serious case review was undertaken into the death – instead Wirral Council saw fit to persecute Morton and respond to false allegations that he was in cahoots with disgruntled staff to bring down ALS. An investigation into the allegations against Morton led the investigator to declare them as ‘a crock of shit’.

Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) considering her background in finance Klonowski also failed to address further issues of financial mismanagement involving disabled people – claiming she’d run out of time and that despite all evidence to the contrary that Wirral Council could be trusted to sort it out and left them to it ! Needless to say they never did .This is a matter we have previewed but have not got round to publishing. However whilst it is complicated story it is a cautionary tale of how a cover up is coordinated (and supported by other agencies) and something we will get back to at a later date.

Instead Klonowski sought the advice of largest legal firm in the world (DLA Piper)-like you do when someone else is footing the bill!- to come up with a convoluted and frankly ludicrous attempt to deny disabled people a full reimbursement of monies that was unlawfully taken from them on the grounds that to charge disability benefits from disabled people and not from non-disabled people was somehow not disability discrimination ! Even the shameless Wirral Council weren’t prepared to sustain this unsustainable argument and conceded that £736,000 should be repaid , despite DLA Piper giving them a get out.

Is it us? – or it is entirely perplexing that someone so seemingly intent on maximising their own fees wants to minimise the repayment of unlawful charges to disabled people – or are they in any way related? I think we should be told!

You won’t be surprised to hear that Morton wanted to raise these omissions with La Klonowski herself. After an unanswered telephone call and one email Special K set the hounds of law on him . Yes! , you guessed it – DLA Piper!

dla-piper-010

Isn’t it funny that Klonowski had ‘no on-going obligations to liaise with interested parties’ and yet sat on Wirral Council’s Improvement Board during this time (reputedly for £1,000 a day) . Again we can only presume that ‘interested parties’ is defined by their ability to pay.

Even more damning we understand that she was quite happy to discuss her concerns about Wirral Council with opportunistic ‘complainant’ Gary Downey . Downey alleges that Klonowski disclosed to him during the first Wirral  Council vote of no confidence vote in the then current leader Steve Foulkes ( aka Foulkesy ) that she hoped he didn’t lose as she had no trust and confidence that Wirral Council Tory leader Jeff Green would do anything about Wirral Council’s toxic culture. Whilst she may have called that one correct it also means that she subscribes to the Martin Liptrot school of political neutrality. Either that or she was taken in by Foulkesy’s cheeky chappy persona and his ‘bible-like’ devotion to her recommendations for cash-money purposes.

Nevertheless in conclusion it would seem that it all worked out well for Klonowski in the end. For unemployed Morton and the long suffering council tax payers of Wirral – not so much !

Wirral Council Scoundrels : Five Years On

We couldn’t let this momentous day pass without mentioning it is the 5 year anniversary of the publication of  the ‘Independent Review of Allegations Made By Martin Morton ( & Others)’ aka AKA report .

We remember how in a blaze of bad publicity we all thought it was a bright new dawn for Wirral Council as the then council leader Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  went on TV to say he’d apologised to whistleblower Martin Morton for his appalling treatment for bravely pointing out that Wirral Council was a basket case. Investigator Anna Klonowski had recorded what Morton had told her (but strangely enough not the really damaging stuff) and pocketed £250,000 of public money for doing so . She proved to be  the first of many parasitic consultants who got paid for pointing out the bleedin’ obvious before pissing off back down south with a swag bag of public money.

Although it must be said Morton tells us he must have been in a coma at the time because he has no recollection of ever receiving an apology from ‘Foulkesy’. Which as far as we’re concerned kind of set the tone for Wirral Council for the next 5 years – shameless dishonesty over truth and media manipulation over a true reflection of how Wirral Council operates . No amount of bogus awards or the callow complicity of the Local Government Association or appointment of  so -called ‘policy advisors’ or publishing your own newspaper can disguise the dark,dark heart at the centre of Wirral Council.

This week’s  Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree court case provided but a brief glimpse into this heart of darkness. We have forthcoming tales of incompetence , bullying,pay-offs , fraud , thefts , dishonesty and seediness that prove to us that ‘no lessons have been learned’ in the past 5 years – other than you need to add several coats of expensive veneer if you want to fraudulently present yourself as the ‘Most Improved Council 2015′ . To which all we can say to Wirral Council is this : It’s 2017 now guys and nobody bought that shit then and they certainly ain’t buyin’ it now!

Indeed as a special request to commemorate this day we’ll leave the final word on the matter to the author C. S. Lewis who many years ago prophetically published this insight into how  ‘The Inner Ring’ at Wirral Council operates in a volume titled ‘ The Screwtape Letters’ ( not to be confused with  ‘The Wirralgate Tapes’!)  :

And the prophecy I make is this. To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”

And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.

The Morton ‘Incident’ – Revisited

overcharging-008

Whilst our focus was on the Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro question raised at the Wirral Council meeting on 19th December – and to which we presume he is still awaiting an answer from council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies – we missed this seemingly innocuous little question from Tory leader  Cllr Jeff Green.

As you can see he , all other councillors and the Strategic Leadership Team  were given an answer to his question about ‘overcharging for care services’ which was directed at the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Cllr Chris Jones earlier today.

Now we don’t know – yet anyway – what was behind Cllr Green’s question but we suspect he’ll be making a media statement shortly about how ‘outraged’ he is about a case of ‘overcharging for care services’ that has been brought to his attention.

We know he certainly knows of one already – as do many councillors and council officers who have chosen to cover up a quite scandalous case of overcharging.

We know this because we forwarded this email to Wirral Council whistleblower Martin Morton himself (and we were quite amused to hear he’d already received a copy !)

Morton must be so relieved that as he rots on the dole unable to find a job and with very little prospect of ever getting another job again his experience has now been redefined as an ‘incident’. That’s if you can call systemic bullying and harassment , cover ups , lies , £1 million pay offs,  £31 million toxic debts, the council  doing business with drugs money launderers, turning a blind eye to the abuse of vulnerable people , covering up of a death and the paying back of £736,000 to disabled people as an ‘incident’.

Morton maintains there is an outstanding case of over charging and that money was not paid back ‘as soon as possible’ as Cllr Jones claims or indeed at all. This allegation   follows the publication of the ‘Independent Review of Allegations Made by Martin Morton ( & Others)’ cobbled together by compromised consultant Anna Klonowski in 2012. Now we don’t know whether this is what Cllr Green is hinting at (and frankly we’re not that interested in his political point scoring) but we do have a mountain of material from Morton evidencing this further allegation of overcharging and which was not reported on his now sadly defunct blog.

We are currently working through this simply astonishing archive and will be bringing you all the tawdry details of this long running and ongoing cover up and the names of all those involved. From what we’ve seen already it makes a monumental lie of the claim that ‘lessons following the Martin Morton incident were learned and implemented’.

We will also be reflecting on the fact that almost exactly 5 years after its publication that the  so-called shockwave of Klonowski’s Independent Review can now be more accurately described as a slight tremor and failed miserably to drain the poison from the body politic on Wirral.

WIRRALGATE! – Protecting the Defectives

defective-by-design

This is the last instalment of our deconstruction of Patricia Thynne’s  Code of Conduct investigations.That is not to say that this will be the last you will hear about the Wirralgate scandal as our sources promise to keep spouting leaks.

This particular post concerns itself with the role of councillors. Not the specific councillors implicated in Wirralgate but the role of all councillors in protecting their own regardless of political affiliation.

It is infuriating to recount that in the light of the Independent Review published in 2012 that investigator Anna “BIG WEDGE” * Klonowski was instructed to keep any criticism of councillors out of her investigation and tried to get around this by publishing the cheerily titled ‘Refresh and Renew’ report prior to the publication of the Independent Review . This report told Wirral’s councillors , amongst other tedious procedural matters , that they’d created a ‘corrosive culture’ where the ‘abnormal was normal’.

However as a result Klonowski took her eye of her original brief which was to investigate the whistleblowing allegations of Martin Morton (and various unnamed others) . This meant that many of the issues brought to her attention have up until today neither been reported nor resolved. Consequently Wirral ‘s councillors received a metaphorical gentle slap on the wrist when what they required was a punch in the face.

And so with the abolition of Standards for  England and the introduction of the Localism Act 2011 councils were allowed to police themselves when it came to conduct issues involving elected members.

Wirral Council took full advantage of this void in accountability and almost the first thing they did after the publication of the Independent Review  was to ensure that councillors were protected no matter how many of The Seven Principles of Public Life they violated.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life–2

We think it is instructive to examine how Wirral Council’s Code of Conduct complaints procedure works in practice. Cllr Steve Foulkes  and  Cllr George Davies  were originally subject to an investigation following concerns raised as a result of rumours swirling around Wallasey Town Hall and which were ignited by Wirral Leaks . It is significant to recall Cllr Jeff Green , the so-called complainant , chose specifically not to pursue a Code of Conduct complaint. Which surely begs the question as to why not?.

However as we know Thynne’s first deeply flawed investigative report was completed on 20th June 2014 and published the following month by Wirral Council , as it was seemingly a classic  case “no  case to answer” . And that would have been that if it wasn’t for the fact that Foulkesy and Georgie Boy had lied and lied and lied to Thynne. It took an email sent to all 66 councillors in December 2104 from key witness  Martin Morton – the man who had initiated the Independent Review  – to bring the dishonesty and deceit to their attention.

However councillors just chose to simply ignore him and seemingly their own Code of Conduct too and no further investigation took place.

It wasn’t until May 2015 when former council communications czarina Emma Degg , having heard the Wirralgate tape , belatedly came forward for reasons known only to herself and confirmed Morton’s allegations.

Subsequently Thynne was appointed to revisit her original report soon thereafter . Significantly this was at the behest of  council officers and NOT councillors and as we can see Thynne handed in her second report on 6th  December 2015.

protecting-the-defectives-012

Readers may want to ask themselves why it took until 28th June 2015 before a Standards Panel considered Thynne’s findings. The answer is that councillors can delay with impunity. In Foulkesy’s case this included a right of reply (because his rights are so much more important than us mere mortals) and of course having additional time to brief his free legal representation about his misdemeanours (courtesy of the Association of Labour Councillors ).

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And after all this flagrant misconduct , what happens?. Nothing much!. An undeserved apology to an opportunistic councillor who hadn’t pursued a Code of Conduct complaint in the first place!. We note ruefully that Cllr  Jeff “Kindred” Green has failed to make that apology public.

We have to ask  whether it can be right that a public servant in the course of public duties publicly violates the principles of public life and yet is allowed to make a PRIVATE apology.

We did manage to squeeze a comment from a local councillor about this abuse of power and they replied :

“The ‘sanctions’ able to be applied are limited to just a few courses of action.”

To which we replied :

“Yes and who decided that? You guys did!. Utterly feeble. Should be with police and you know it. Thankfully we know people much braver and committed to public accountability than you guys and we’ll be supporting them 100%…………” 

It is sickening to reflect that for a local authority that failed to protect vulnerable adults and now has been found to failed to adequately protect vulnerable children finds the wherewithal to protect themselves from any kind of meaningful and appropriate sanction . In this respect Wirral Council are truly Defective By Design.org

 

And that is the most damning indictment of  Wirral Council’s elected members that we could ever make.

*http://thebristolian.net/tag/anna-klonowski/

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.

 

Party Games

One of the joys of the festive season is when our butler Eldritch retrieves the treasured games from behind my portrait and the embarrassing relatives we hide in the attic.

Her Ladyship stops picking sugared almonds from her teeth ( a la Cllr Bill  ” Gurn-Merchant” Davies ) , drags herself away from the scandal sheets ( and we’re not talking the beds at Mere Brook House) , adjusts her pince-nez glasses , deigns to join the servants in the parlour and it’s fun and frolics all the way.

However we can’t help being reminded of Wirral Council when we play our party games.

First of all there’s the classic game of Monopoly – because of course there’s so much fun to be had getting out of trouble using other people’s money

Boxing Day 008

Furthermore there’s nothing like mortgaging your integrity to some chancers on the make who’ve got something on you : Boxing Day 009

Talking of chancers – how many times have Wirral Council played this particular card!?.

It’s just a shame they sell their soul using our money to the highest bidder/ lowest of the low.

Get out Of jail Free 007

And then of course there’s the pieces that the powers that be move about the board as if they were Wirral Council staff facing redundancies.

Boxing Day 012

The Hat –  for pulling rabbits out of.In a spot of trouble ?,need someone to cover your corpulent,corporate backside?.Hire a consultant! – usually middle class compromisers enabling working class chancers to get off the hook.

The Thimble – for stitch ups (see above).

The Sportscar – the reward for indentured servitude.Some people sell their soul for a top of the range motor (preferably with personalised numberplates) or the chance to be driven around in a taxi at the council taxpayers expense or to be chauffeur driven in mayoral splendour.

The Boot – A funny kind of redundancy where the order of the boot comes at a high cost.

The Ship –  HMS Wirral Council has more leaks than the Titanic.They would do well to remember the World War 2 slogan: Loose lips sinks ships.

The Iron – for ironing out problems with one hand whilst wielding a Council chequebook in the other.

Which all leads to the following game :

Boxing Day 014

The Merry Game of Floundering – press releases,publicity shots and puff pieces.Is anyone taken in by the Most Improved Council in Britain tag?

Meanwhile we’ve passed many a happy hour playing Identity Kit – just who will be Wirral Council’s next Chief Executive (acting or otherwise) .From Maddox to Wilkie to Coleman to Frater to Armstrong to the current incumbent  Eric “Feeble” Robinson – monumental nonentities one and all.

Boxing Day 006

Then there’s always Funny Bunny (or should that be Funny Money?) – Might we suggest that “remove the carrots and watch the bunny drop” should be Wirral Council’s new executive incentive scheme . How about instead of rewarding failure by paying executives six figures worth of public money to disappear out the back door can we change the rules of the game and  hold them accountable instead ?.

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And finally we come to our favourite game at Leaky Towers :

Boxing Day 013

Thankfully there are an increasing number of  people wanting to play this game when it comes to challenging Wirral Council and this has led to some embarrassing recent climbdowns.

We all know the dice may be loaded but there are encouraging signs that Wirral Council’s luck may soon run out.

Here’s to fun and games in 2016!.

 

A V- sign 4 V4

eV4-VICTORY

Following on from our latest story about Wirral Council’s profligate spending on consultants darling Verity has been undertaking further research into the consultancy firm V4……….

SEE HERE

Readers will remember that  Cllr Chris “Cross” Meaden authorised  that V4 undertake a 50 grand job that eventually ended up costing Wirral council tax payers a whopping £260,000.

We can only ask ourselves whether you can get an internet connection in Meaden’s Rock Ferry ward as even the most basic search  would have set the alarm bells ringing like Quasimodo on Christmas Day.

Perhaps  “Cross” Chris just relied on the tried and tested “word of mouth” method which as we know is always a winner when it comes to public accountability!  Did she put her faith in elusive Super-Duper Director  Clare “Wet” Fish who we’ve been told used V4 when she was at Oldham Council or did she ask Comrade Burgesski’s fandango dancing wife as to whether V4 helped to put Warrington’s leisure services into a trust whilst slashing wages and staff?

However we have  been asked to focus our attention on a V4 consultant by the name of Peter Kilkenny who we understand was linked to the bumper pay-day consultancy work in Wirral.

SEE HERE

And it would appear from Verity’s research that Kilkenny has a bit of previous ……

Apparently he left his job with Rochdale Link4Life , the arms length organisation that runs council services last year , after allegations of credit card misuse.This included his boss Craig McAteer spending fourteen and a half grand in 12 months on his card including a holiday to Florida (all of the money was apparently paid back). Between the 2 of them they made 65 staff redundant whilst giving themselves massive pay rises.

SEE HERE

It is particularly noteworthy that Rochdale’s Labour MP Simon Danczuk has been extremely scathing of their work in his constituency :

“I am very much of the view that the bosses of this outfit, Craig McAteer and Peter Kilkenny, have been taking the taxpayer for a ride, and I publicly challenged their huge, unjustifiable salaries over a year ago.

So the story that appeared on the front page of the Observer last week, detailing how they had been inappropriately using company credit cards to buy, among other things, a holiday, came as no surprise to me.

This company seems happy to spend taxpayers’ money, yet does not want its spending scrutinised and deliberately avoids transparency. At a time when public spending is being seriously reined in, this culture cannot continue. Quite simply, McAteer and Kilkenny are making a mockery of public services. ..”

SEE HERE

Good call Cllr Meaden!…..a match made in Local Government Hell. Cash strapped and scandal ridden councils are clearly proving to be happy hunting grounds for some.

Coincidentally it should be noted that poor beleaguered Rochdale also deployed the services of Anna Klonowski of Independent Review infamy after North West Employers Organisation recommended her to undertake investigative work in relation to sexual exploitation in the borough – after they in turn had also undertaken work for Wirral Council!

Are people beginning to realise how this self-perpetuating money -making merry go round works yet ?!!

However although Rock Ferry may seem to be an internet dead zone other parts of Wirral have been able to access the above information. Particularly interested have been Wirral Council staff facing redundancy, some of whom, after decades of loyal service, now find their entire futures in the hands of cash-crazed consultants !

Way to go Wirral Council !…..