To Sandwell In A Handcart

Colin as Surjit 009

Less than 5 years of dedicated public service at Wirral Council seem to have taken their toll on poor Surjit Tour  pic: courtesy of John Brace

We couldn’t bring ourselves to watch video footage last week’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting as we understand Power Boy Pip et al  gave outgoing Wirral Council law lord Surjit Tour a rousing round of applause as it was his last ever council meeting – yes , even from Cllr George Davies – but then the deputy leader of Wirral Council must be relieved to see the back of this particular chink in his armour.

The plaudits were all very reminiscent of the time when the subsequently convicted criminal Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree chaired the the Audit & Risk Management Committee  – yes we know ! – can you believe that actually happened ? – and led the handclapping for Audit Commission/Grant Thornton gobshite Mike Thomas. We suspect the applause for both was much for the same reason – keeping a lid on Wirral Council malpractice and getting paid well to do it.

Having said that Tour must be shooting off to his new gig at Sandwell Council like shit off a shovel. And it would appear he will be right at home. As a local source commented –‘Labour controlled and crooked forever’ 

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2016/10/10/sandwell-council-shake-up-fourth-senior-officer-leave-post/

We’re sure the six figure salary was particularly enticing for this status – conscious public servant. All we can say is that you can earn as much as you like but at the end of the day you’re still Surjit Tour.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/sandwell/2017/05/26/sandwell-council-looking-to-appoint-top-roles—one-earning-100k-pay-packet/

We’re just staggered that out of four candidates interviewed for Sandwell Council’s top legal job that Tour came out on top.  Isn’t it reassuring that our public services have such a deep well of talent to draw upon?

Sandwell Council  must be particularly dear to Tour’s heart as a legal case involving his new employer was brought to attention in 2016.  A Wirral Council whistleblower had told their senior managers that they weren’t complying with the law when it came to administrating Discretionary Housing Payments  (DHP)- which are what they say on the tin, discretionary payments made to people who are having trouble paying their rent for one reason or another and presumably some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Wirral Council seem particularly reluctant to promote this fund they have available to help people in need so we’re saying loud and clear if you find yourself struggling to pay your rent contact Wirral Council and ask about DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENTS!

Needless to say the public-spirited  whistleblower who identified that Wirral Council were acting unlawfully was cruelly hounded out of their job for showing up their managers for the bullying incompetents they were.  There will be much more to come on this story but changes to procedures and belated thanks from Tour doesn’t cut it when someone’s career is needlessly destroyed for,once again, wanting things done properly and dare we say LAWFULLY!

Is it just us who thinks that if we don’t speak up about such abuses we’re all going to hell in a handcart?

Subject: Re: Whistleblowing Matter (Case Ref: 22/2016)

Dear X

Further the above matter, I have now completed all requisite enquiries into this matter. I have received and considered the report prepared by XX (Senior Auditor) into the matter you raised in your confidential report [CRF1] dated 22nd February 2016.

The review conducted by XX showed that whilst an assessment of income was undertaken in respect of DHP applicant’s income, the assessments were not fully compliant with the post Sandwell case and revised DWP guidance (issued in August 2015) on such claims.

In light of this, supplementary guidance has issued and explained to all relevant members of the team at the Transaction Centre so that DHP claims are assessed in accordance with the Sandwell case and revised DWP Guidance. Moreover, changes to procedures have and are being implemented to ensure consistency and compliance with the Sandwell case and revised  DWP guidance.

May I take the opportunity to thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of the council.

Kind regards

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

and Monitoring Officer

Crabby v LRJ : The Feud Continues

jimcrabtree

Jim ‘ Crabby’ Crabtree proves once again that he’s the gift that keeps on giving in the ongoing Shakespearean feud between him and Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) .

Above is a screenshot of the latest ill-advised missive that Crabby has subsequently deleted from Facebook ( on the advice of his probation officer/solicitor?)

However we particularly like the fact that Crabby has a pop at Pip.  As as far as we’re concerned the Crabby v LRJ debacle needs to be laid at the door of the hopelessly ineffectual ‘leader’ of  Wirral Council, Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies. His failure to manage the internal strife within his own party has led to two suspensions by North West Labour and an ongoing, highly embarrassing,  spat played out on social media.

Perhaps Crabby should turn to an elder statesman of the local Labour group and all-round – and boy do we mean round-  man of integrity Cllr Steve Foulkes to guide him through the political turmoil.  However might we suggest that Foulkesy may need to alter his advice from ‘ Jumbo stay strong fella‘ to ‘ Step away from the keyboard/mobile – especially after you’ve had a few scoops’ 

But then again if Crabby really does hate liars perhaps Foulkesy isn’t the man to turn to !

Jumbo

As for expecting a ‘full apology’ from Pip, Crabby can whistle dixie as Pip knows only all too well that Crabby was probably up to even more no good than has already been disclosed.

However Pip proves once again what a coward he is when he finds it easier to allow a whistleblower to be bullied out of their job than address the concerns they raised about Crabby and the use of grant monies. And to think that Crabby still sees fit to have a pop at LRJ!  Indeed to us, it is simply astonishing , ASTONISHING !,  that this man was once the chair of  Wirral Council’s Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Meanwhile it would appear that this ongoing and long -running feud between Crabby and LRJ clearly has some way to run – and we intend to follow it every step of the way!

‘Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York…..’

 

That’s decided  – we’re moving to York!

We say this as we followed up our story Wirral Council – Where Transformation Means More Of The Same  by watching coverage of the City of York Council’s Audit & Governance Committee meeting held yesterday.

As you can see their meetings are webcast so that the people of York can see how the council makes its decisions. The aim is to promote openness and accountability, and to support greater participation in local democracy. ‘A Protocol for Webcasting, Filming and Recording of Council Meetings’  on City of York Council’s website usefully sets out the operating procedure for filming/webcasts. This includes the Chair , at the start of each meeting, making the following statement : – ” I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet and will be capable of repeated viewing.”

If Wirral Council wanted to promote openness, accountability and greater participation in local democracy surely they’d ditch Wirral View and look to how York conducts its business .But then again considering  openness,accountability and democracy have never been a top priority for Wirral Council we suspect that John Brace won’t be out of a job any time soon!

We suggest to our readers that they spend the duration of their favourite soap opera and watch the first half hour of the video. We think they will find it most instructive. However – call us sad- we watched the entire 3 hour + as it was morbidly fascinating and as described by one of the councillors , at times  ‘Kafkaesque’.

As you will surely witness as Wirral languishes metaphorically in the depths of winter , the councillors and citizens of York set out to prove that sunlight is indeed the best disinfectant .

We were sat here loudly applauding at Leaky Towers as councillors actually tried to hold slippery council officers to account and as concerned citizens asserted their democratic rights and reminded these callow council officers exactly who they were accountable to.

Glorious indeed!

They made our councillors ( of all political persuasion) look like the rank amateurs they are when it comes to scrutiny and reminded us how Wirral Council manage to get away with what they do because many local people are so politically disengaged. What we need are a few more Gwen Swinburns!

However we live in hope that ,like Storm Doris, it will pass and one day Wirral will get its day in the open and transparent sun . Meanwhile it would appear the council taxpayers of Wirral are still stuck in a nuclear winter of discontent when it comes to public accountability.

 

Dark Night of The Soul

dark night of the soul

 

And so yet another astonishing exchange of emails are leaked which shed further light on the heart of darkness within Wirral Council .

The full tawdry story is set out below but essentially it concerns a possibly tired and emotional soon to be ex- councillor  Jim “Crabby ” Crabtree sharing his views with valued Wirral Leaks contributor Dr. Robert Smith about the alleged refurbishment  of offices at Wallasey Town Hall (including apparently Liptrotsky’s).  As Crabby saw fit  to contact Dr.Robert at 2.35 in the morning to describe costs as “absolutely disgusting ” (like you do) we can only presume that the soon to be ousted councillor was having a “dark night of the soul”.

That’s if  Crabby does indeed have a soul. Which frankly based on what we know about the Faustian pacts that prevail at Wirral Council we rather doubt. Therefore forgive us for questioning the motivation behind the late night rant. As Dr. Robert comments in his eloquent response below that as the Chair of the Audit  & Risk Management Committee if Crabby had any concerns about excessive and unnecessary council expenditure he would’ve been in an ideal position to raise them before now and in a more appropriate way.

Whilst we can understand why Crabby might be bitter at being cast aside like a piece of trash as have been so many before him we are less than sympathetic as to his predicament as a) he brought it upon himself and b) was quite happy to be part of the poisonous culture at Wirral Council when it suited him.

However if you nest with vipers you must expect venom. And that remains the problem with Wirral Council . The opportunity to change the culture of Wirral Council  once and for all when they had their own organisational dark night of the soul  in 2012 was lost. Reputation management triumphed over redemption and with the support of corruptible consultants and the complicity of the Local Government Association seemingly nothing has changed.

For now anyway …… as it says above the dark night of the soul comes just before revelations. We believe those forthcoming revelations will indeed finally bring new life to Wirral Council and it is just what is needed for the good of everyone who lives on Wirral.

And based on the number of people who leaked the following email exchange to us you all know where to come for revelations !………………

On 2 March 2016 at 02:35, Crabtree, James A. (Councillor) <jamesacrabtree@wirral.gov.uk> wrote:

You need to ask how much it cost the council tax payer for the building work on the Members Room not just labour party members but tory and liberal members room for lip trots room refurbishing? absolutely disgusting

Dear Cllr Crabtree

Thank you very much for your email of 2.35am this morning, which I have just picked up. I fully understand the urgency of your request, and apologise for not dealing with it sooner.

The costs of this refurbishment is of great concern, as you say, notwithstanding the serious issues and costs regarding the process of recruiting and employing Mr Liptrot? However, I am willing to act as your Proxy in making this request for information on your behalf, and, as soon as I receive a detailed reply, I will send it on to you.

I am a little perplexed, however, as you are the ex-Chair of the Wirral Council Audit & Risk Committee, I would have thought that you would have that information to hand, or have raised it directly in your capacity as Chair/Councillor? But obviously not.

As a number of Senior Council staff, and the Leader should be suspended/awaiting dismissal for contravening any number of codes of conduct, I will make this request to ‘whoever is left’ ie All (remaining) Wirral Councillors, and whoever is covering the CEX, Strategic Director Joe Blott (Dep Monitoring Officer), Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer), Tony Williams (HR), Mr Liptrot’s and Cllr Phil Davies’ positions.

To Wirral Councillors and Officers

The question I have been asked to pose to Wirral Council as Proxy for Cllr Crabtree is as follows:-

“You need to ask how much it cost the council tax payer for the building work on the Members Room not just labour party members but tory and liberal members room for lip trots room refurbishing? absolutely disgusting” (Cllr Crabtree’s opinion, I act independently, but on this occasion, I have to agree)

I will be pleased to receive a detailed account of the cost to the public purse, in order to satisfy this request, as soon as possible, as I act on behalf of a Councillor. I assume also that due to the timing of the email (2.35am) that this information is required urgently, and is needed prior to the Council meeting tomorrow evening, or any investigation.

I look forward to hearing from somebody/anybody, asap.

Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith