Tab Ends and Trees – Rubbish on the Streets of Birkenhead

Grange Road

Picture : Mercury Press & Media

We understand from that customers at one of Birkenhead’s more interesting and sophisticated shops were witness to a rather unfortunate incident. From our description you will all know we are not talking about a shop in Grange Road and to all you readers who’ve been in touch about the Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) ‘s idea of what constitutes a Christmas tree we won’t disappoint you and let this other unfortunate incident pass without comment . It comes to something when a ‘newspaper’ better known for lowest common denominator stories and littering Merseytravel trains sees fit to feature  Birkenhead’s ,er ,’tree’. The comments in the Metro article are priceless but the most telling for us is from ‘Lesley Thompson, 52’

‘Awful, isn’t it? Says it all doesn’t it for Birkenhead now. There’s hardly any shops now are there?

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2018/12/06/town-slams-waste-space-christmas-tree-looks-like-scaffolding-8216112/?ito=cbshare

There isn’t even ‘a Christmas tree’ there now either as vandals have helped put the Meccano metal monstrosity out of it’s misery. Whilst we’re not advocating vandalism , perhaps it was for the best, as scrap metal outside an empty shop somehow doesn’t scream ‘the spirit of Christmas’ to us.

However back to our main story which concerns a customer who was merrily browsing the stock in the shop we mentioned at the start . What is then described to us as a ‘uniformed ‘WBC’ litter monitor’ came in to the shop and started harassing him for allegedly dropping a cigarette end on the pavement outside. Apparently as this was disturbing for other customers they were asked to stop arguing or take their argument outside. The customer stayed, the litter monitor left saying he would be calling the police and waited outside the shop with another ‘uniformed litter monitor’. When the customer claimed sanctuary in the shop and didn’t leave the ‘uniformed WBC litter monitor’  reluctantly got in their car and drove away. Whilst the customers were willing to accept that a discarded tab end is littering they were aghast at the belligerent tactics that were being used.

The shop owner was apparently unable to tell shocked customers whether the ‘WBC litter monitor’ was from Kingdom Security or whether they were being funded from the Birkenhead Improvement District  (BID) levy. If anyone knows the answer please let us know. All we can say is that we can only imagine that it’s hard enough getting customers in through the door without them being harassed when they get in…

 

Tales From The Chamber : Chapter 1 – ‘The Elephant in the Lift’

BID pic

We understand that Wirral Council’s ‘Witchfinder General’ and Deputy CEO David Armstrong has been making less than discreet enquiries about who has leaking information to us .  So let’s help him with his enquiries and let him know it’s ‘Spartacus’. The thing he (and other local powerbrokers) need to understand is that when toxic and dysfunctional organisations treat people badly then those people who have inside knowledge as to what goes on within these organisations will sometimes seek an outlet to bear witness to what they’ve seen and heard . It was how Wirral Leaks came to be and we are honoured and privileged that people come to us ,  as where else would they go?

Whilst we have been receiving information about the Wirral Chamber of Commerce  (WCoC) from various sources for some time often people are reluctant for us to publish their compelling stories merely because they recognise the power of the local connections that WCoC have (and particularly with Wirral Council). That in itself is a damning indictment of the corrosive, insular culture’ that has been created on Wirral.  So as an antidote to last night’s meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee and the anodyne news in the Constituency Manager’s report about litterpicks and skip hire we provide an insight into what lies behind jargon such as this :

3.4 Birkenhead First Activity Update: 2018 Since May 2018, we have had two of our Town Hosts leave the team, this has opened up an opportunity for us to re-evaluate the strengths of the team and review where our strategic focus needs to be aligned in terms of moving the BID forward

Read full report here : Birkenhead Constituency report

Whilst the information should be of particular interest to Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) levy payers we also think that there is a significant public interest element to the first anthology of Chamber tales we’ve compiled below :

I will offer you some interesting facts. Why isn’t the expenditure of the levy money made public ? Why aren’t the accounts available to be scrutinised? Simply because it’s mis- managed. Ask the question – why was Mark Barrow ( Campaign Manager) paid his salary out of the levy money? Why have the Chamber paid £25,000 to The Hive to be a Patron ? Who paid for the lights within the gardens of Hamilton Square?  Who is behind the creation of the CIC Food village at Woodside ? Who are the board members and associates? – I’m sure you can guess! There is only ONE host remaining at Birkenhead – considering there was 4 – ask the question about a public document that was put out by the BID after their first year – in it states about extra cops in the town – think from memory it said 37 extra cops – a simple question where’s the paper trail of how those cops were paid for? How was it accounted for? Simple answer is ,  it’s a number plucked from the air . PP (‘Princess’ Paula Basnett – WCoC CEO) took it to (Wirral Council) cabinet and stood up and quoted it as fact.

The BID  money is about £370,000 per year. The first two years nothing was spent on the town other than planters and some money for alley gates near Sally Army. So where did the money go?  It went to prop up and pay for the Chamber – and its staff

Quite funny you should mention about PPs salary-  at some point PP and her chums salaries details were given out by mistake to staff. I think PP was on a substantial salary . Big red faces and emails directing people not to disclose.

Around mid 2017 the BID produced its annual report. Within that report was mentioned what the BID had done over the last 12 months – by and large most of it is inaccurate and misleading. This document was taken by PP to (Wirral Council)  Cabinet – who painted a picture of how great things were. Like all things official – it’s about showing to the public and in this case more appropriately the businesses in the BID area that there is credibility in the BID.

A system was believed to be in use to record Town Host activities. It was a system used by (Wirral) Council to track maintenance but it was used as a way by the BID to record activity. It would have been useful for councillors to ask the question as to which areas were subject of the 70 clean ups as stated in the published yearly report and ask WCoC to   produce the records of those clean ups.Who was involved? What was cleaned up? Where was cleaned up?

37 extra cops in the area? Ask the question as I’ve mentioned previously – it costs around £600 a day for a Police Officer – you pay not only for the officer but the supporting infrastructure. Ask PP to disclose the costs – I’m sure it would be recorded somewhere. NOT. To produce an Annual Statement that features inaccurate and misleading information surely can’t be right and should be brought into the public domain. As an organisation (WCoC) that advises new and existing business they run their own business in such a shambolic way. Disclosures that over 20 people have left over the last 18 months or more – if it’s that good, why do people leave. Do you know about the elephant in the lift at Pacific Road? More wasted money. Paid for by PP at a charity auction at Oxton cricket club. It’s a huge almost life size model of an elephant made of copper or something similar. But since all the work at Pacific Road it sits in the lift .And has done for some time. Cost of lights in Hamilton Sq gardens was about £50,000. I’m sure BID  levy payers in Oxton Road would see the benefit of that money being spent.

The four original priorities of the BID are falling short. Budget £100,000 – Safety and Security. Budget £75,000 – Marketing and Promotion. Budget £110,000 – Clean and Attractive. Budget £50,000 – Supporting Business. As can be seen in the Annual report this was the budget for each of the BID’s priorities. Once again ask the question – how is the money spent ? Surely as an organisation that advises and supports new and old business they keep ACCURATE records !!!! All this will show that the BID does not have any credibility. It needs to be brought out into the public domain – ie via your website/ social media platforms.

My final comment at the end of this extensive piece is that within the UK there are over 200 BIDs operating. As far as I’m aware there are NO BIDs that are set up like the Wirral BID – most if not all are stand alone companies. They invoice out and record all their expenditure – they are more likely to operate independently without any of the money being diverted to support another organisation. In this case the WCoC. The levy money is there to make a difference to the local business community – above and beyond what is already provided. But it’s clearly not.

I have to say there is a huge amount of good people in the chamber but sadly really, really badly led …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operation Sparkle

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again and that some things on Wirral are beyond satire or parody.  Take for example this announcement :

Operation Sparkle, organised by Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) team, aims to ensure that a local area is tidied, made cleaner and attractive for all.

Full story here : Operation Sparkle

Yes, you read that right Operation Sparkle. What bright spark at the Wirral Chamber of Commerce offshoot BID (for it is they) who come up with that shiny euphemism for turdpolishing? Could it have been ‘one of the leading figures on Wirral’  BID head, Gemma ‘Who She’ Nichols who says  :

By tackling issues of fly-tipping, litter and graffiti we are making places more attractive by planting flowers, painting street furniture, lampposts and improving shop frontages. We will continue visiting areas in need of this support, the BID is here to make a difference and this is something we are all very committed to continue in making a real difference to Birkenhead.

We work with closely with voluntary groups, Birkenhead Constituency, the Probation Service and many businesses to pinpoint key target areas and also involve the community in making Birkenhead a better place to live, work and visit.

The reaction has been very positive to the changes made and we are very determined that Operation Sparkle, and our other initiatives are productive.

Might we suggest a more likely source is Wirral Chamber of Commerce CEO  ‘Princess’ Paula Basnett who inevitably chips in :

I would certainly urge people to help in in whatever way they can by volunteering just a few hours of their time to get involved and make Operation Sparkle a lasting success.

Coincidentally the pictures that accompany this blog post were sent to us last week and suggest Operation Sparkle needs to wave its magic wand. The pictures came with the following comments :

It’s like a shantytown you couldn’t make it up!
If I operated a business that was charged a levy on top of its business rates which in turn is handed to the Chamber outfit, I’d be far from happy

We appreciate that some people may criticise our sneerin’ and a snipin’ from the sidelines about volunteers who just want to make Birkenhead a better place.We’re quite happy to own that criticism  (much like how we used to own Egerton House, Pacific Rd, The Lauries etc;etc;). Moreover we’ll slither off the chaise longue and be on the next flight from Nice airport to deal with other people’s detritus the day that Princess Paula dons the sequinned hi-vis and marabou-trimmed Marigolds and gets down and dirty on the mean streets of Birkenhead. Her Ladyship thinks that such an act of selfless volunteering  would be something akin to the time that hissy-fit fashionista Naomi Campbell did Community Service… and watching this report we see what she means . Operation Sparkle indeed!

 

The Wirral Chamber of Commerce Comedy Show

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When it comes to Wirral Chamber of Commerce we’re waiting for someone to let us in on the joke… or tell us what they actually achieve other than holding awards ceremonies, acquiring public buildings and the relentless self promoting.

The Chamber of Horrors are, of course, better known as ‘Nepotism Central’ – the leading repository for Wirral Council rejects . CEO Paula Basnett has found more positions for ex-public servants than she has for her own family and friends – and that’s really saying something!

However we at least owe them for the endless comedic opportunities they provide us. They are truly beyond parody. A case in point and a cause of much hilarity for some of our readers was this press release on their website titled :

Woodside Ferry Village Set To Turn Wirral Waterfront Into Major Visitor Attraction

Woodside Ferry Village? – huh? Yeah, you know that well known cultural and historical landmark. And it gets better :

Located in the heart of Birkenhead’s waterfront, the food concept venue will take residence within the terminal, inspired by the success and rising trend for food-markets in a number of cosmopolitan locations, which includes Lisbon, Barcelona, Brixton, Liverpool, London and Altrincham.

Food concept venue??  What’s one of those when its at home? A foodbank with falafels and ‘artisan’ bread? And since when has been Altrincham been a ‘cosmopolitan location’? Has Man Utd’s latest signing moved in?

And on it goes :

The Woodside Ferry Village project, which is looking to open for business during Autumn 2018, is already gaining support from leading figures in Wirral, including Head of Business Improvement District (BID), Gemma Nichols who said: “This project is both exciting and adventurous…”

Apparently Gemma Nichols is one of the leading figures in Wirral – who knew??? Well if Woodside Ferry Village has Gemma’s support it’s bound to be the gastronomic centre of the universe. A leading figure in Wirral ? what an accolade for cashing the cheque each month for heading up another hapless and misconceived Chamber ‘initiative’ under the BID banner.

However no joke is complete without a punchline and who better to provide that than Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies , who must have a hotline bling to Basnett’s Swarovski crystal-encrusted phone (she looks the type doesn’t she?) asking for favours (and not just about off- loading Wirral Council waste) .

“We have exciting plans coming forward from Wirral Growth Company to redevelop Birkenhead and to create a real destination here on our Mersey waterfront. It is important to make people ‘think again’ about Birkenhead and initiatives and temporary attractions like Woodside Ferry Village will help attract curious visitors and residents from across Liverpool City Region and beyond to come and see what is going on in Birkenhead.”

Curious visitors…to come and see what is going on in Birkenhead???? Presumably those who always wanted to be an extra in a zombie movie!

However the Chamber’s latest appointment is truly inspirational. Via the medium of a selfie (what else?) we see ex Wirral councillor Warren Ward introducing himself and asking you to book a 1:1 with a member.

So now Ward will be imparting his wisdom of being a ‘Decision Maker’ in the Civil Service to advise people on how to start up their own business. So where exactly was this gig advertised? In the window of one of the few businesses still open in New Ferry?

However cyncism aside we accept that Ward must’ve been the only man for the job  – after all he’s worked his way up from the bottom…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent Farewell 2 – Twin Towns in Hell

Tour - Nuremburg

Be it Wirral and Sandwell , how did we get to the point where Tour adjudicated on other people’s lives/careers or indeed anything of any importance. Frightening. Pic courtesy @CrowMultimedia 

Ghost of Christmas Past and Christmas Present 

It was three years ago we commented on the Wirral Council delegation that was whoring itself out in Reno desperate to hook up with somewhere that had even less attractive features than itself.

Consequently recent events tell us that our Big Guns in Tiny Town post needs re-posting in full here :

Following our earlier story about the beano in Reno Verity has been doing some further research into other towns who have had the dubious honour of being twinned with Wirral.  Apparently Wirral has been rather wanton with it’s unique charms and has previously wooed (in no particular order) Gennevilliers (France) ,Lorient (France) ,Latina (Italy) and Midland (Texas ,USA not the Black Country).
Then of course there was the Eurowirral office in Brussels which achieved er, well nothing much at all really.

As we’ve said before it seems to us at Leaky Towers that never has so much public money been spent on air miles by so many globetrotting councillors and officers to achieve so very little………

Of course the Twin Town debate is something that has concerned the great and the ghoul of Wirral for sometime.
Leaky Towers have always maintained we should be twinned with Jericho in recognition of our local whistleblowing community whilst Frankenfield seems to think that Birkenhead should be twinned with Beirut!.

However it seems to us that Wirral is behaving like a desperate divorcee on a dating website – posting flattering pictures to prospective partners in the hope of finding true love and salvation. The Reno hook-up seems particularly dodgy – apparently the fact that “The Chamber of Commerce had a contact over in Reno with a guy who used to work in Liverpool in the video gaming industry….” was enough for the Wirral posse to metaphorically put on the lippy ,reach for the Wonderbra and fly down to Reno on a wing and a prayer.

Finally we’d particularly love to know what clean living local Councillor Paul “Danceaway” Doughty thinks about twinning with Reno – famous for gambling and quickie divorces.

Let’s just hope if we get a delegation from Reno visiting that Wirral tops up the Botox to prevent “The Biggest Little City in The World” seeking a quickie divorce…….

It would appear that the Reno beano has finally come up trumps (no pun intended) with the announcement, in the form of a leaflet distributed with the Wirral Globe ,that a ‘gentleman’s club’ is opening up in Birkenhead.  On hearing this news Her Ladyship commented : ” But there’s always been a gentleman’s club in Birkenhead. It’s called the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP)”

I had to rudely interject and inform Her Ladyship that ‘Peachez’ was certainly not the kind of gentleman’s club that fine upstanding, God-fearing Birkenhead MP Frank Field would frequent – although we had to admit we’re not so sure about his less enlightened acolytes. For any avoidance of doubt we’re talking about Foulkesy. Just sayin’.

Peachez 016.JPG

We also queried as to where this fitted with the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and their Birkenhead Improvement District (BID). Although we’re sure that that one of their prominent ‘ members’ ( pun intended) would approve. For any avoidance of doubt we’re talking about Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley.  Just sayin’.

So can we just say in our public service role that Wirral Council should instead lower their sights and twin with the Black Country paradise that is Sandwell (aka Sadwell).

As we commented previously when Surjit Tour escaped there in his personalised number plated car to Sandwell Council that it was very much a case of  To Sandwell in a Handcart . And as Her Ladyship declared on his locally celebrated departure :

” There’s goes a man with low self -esteem issues. And never have they been more justified.” 

So let’s justify for you why we think Sandwell is a better fit for twinship with Wirral than previous speculative suggestions by referencing the superb local blog The Sandwell Skidder which makes Wirral Leaks seem like Wirral View. And that is very much a compliment.

Read for yourself here : http://thesandwellskidder.blogspot.co.uk/

Meanwhile consider this Sandwell Skidder comment as an example :

The bent Labour Council in Sandwell (aka Sadwell) have, as we have seen many times, appointed weak and feeble characters to the top echelons of the paid service in the benighted Borough. Head honcho, the pathetic Jan Britton, had a very thin CV but was appointed as Chief Executive. A selection of weirdos formed the second tier – like now-disgraced “Head of Legal” Neeraj Sharma who already had a record of  dismal failure at Walsall Council.

Sound familiar? – simply insert the name Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson in place of Jan Britton and Neeraj Sharma with Surjit Tour and you have Wirral Council.

Wirral and Sandwell – twin towns in hell who both have had Surjit Tour as the head of their legal departments. Just sayin’.

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Paula NWT 009

Paula Basnett : Primus inter pares in action

 

In the aftermath of the New Ferry explosion over the weekend it was reassuring to see the emergency services, the local community and indeed Wirral Council working together to help the stricken people affected by the devastating event.
Also helping out were the Wirral Chamber of Commerce in the shape of their CEO Paula Basnett  who ‘popped up’ on last night’s edition of North West Tonight to tell us that the Chamber was looking for ‘pop up spaces’ for displaced local traders.
All we can say is that with all the properties the Chamber of Horrors have at their disposal ,which they’ve been gifted or are paying peppercorn rent for, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem!
However it would seem that this charitable largesse on the part of  the Basnett clan doesn’t extend to charities themselves. We’ve been contacted by Jim Barrington from local charity Wiser Solutions Ltd
Jim not only provides us with a fascinating update on a story we covered earlier in the year concerning a local business initative  co-ordinated by Wirral Chamber of Commerce known as the Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) aka ‘Birkenhead First’ , but also with a frightening insight into ‘how things work’ round here.
Here we witness the increasingly unhealthy symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce and the political manoeuvrings of local politicians  and powerbrokers that we don’t see on TV :
Wirral Chamber of Commerce is taking charities and not for profit companies to a criminal court after introducing a BID Levy in Birkenhead then rejected appeals to exempt those affected who exist for the benefit of the community. Affected businesses are told they have to pay 1.5% of the rateable value of their property.
 
The BID Levy was introduced following a vote by firms in Birkenhead after they were told it would listen to their needs and campaign on their behalf to improve the area. In reality however it has refused to listen and change their decision not to exempt charitable firms, despite the BID Regulations allowing it and precedent already being set to by HMRC, Customs and Excise and even Wirral Council who all exempt or reduce the financial obligations of charities and not for profits regarding levies and taxes.
The BID Levy is being collected on behalf of Wirral Chamber of Commerce by Wirral Council. However this contradicts Wirral Council’s own policies and commitments to support not for profits. The small business rates relief ensures the majority of rates are paid by a contribution from the Government and Wirral Council provide a discretionary exemption for qualifying charitable firms which takes care of the rest. However Wirral Chamber of Commerce insist no exemption applies to charities and not for profits, even where they cannot afford to pay. Instead they have insisted on pursuing them through the Magistrates Court in order to obtain a liability order so they can gain access to charitable funds. The use of Magistrates Court is particularly troubling since they are predominantly used for criminal matters and even Wirral Council have admitted this is a civil matter which are usually dealt with in County Court.
Even more troubling is the fact Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce are adding £95.00 in court fees before liability has even been established in court, yet cannot provide a full and proper breakdown of how these costs have been arrived at. It is unlawful for any council to make a profit from court fees so one would expect them to be able to say exactly what it costs to take an individual or business to court. Instead however they appear to have been obstructive by providing a spreadsheet which lists the annual costs to run the entire council tax and revenues department. When asked for a per capita breakdown which takes into account economies of scale (i.e. they are taking a lot of people to court for not paying council tax and non-domestic rates on the same day and they batch process them all, plus the BID Levy collection is tagged onto the end of these), they sent the same annual totals for running their entire department. When asked again and told the costs breakdown must be BID specific they refused to send any further information.
An example of these costs would be the cost of filing fees (circa £3.00 per summons) and say an allocation of £2.00 towards staff time and other costs. An explanation therefore of what the remaining £90 costs is for has not been forthcoming. Requests to move things to the County Court, which is the proper setting for civil matters, have been ignored by Council Officers. 
Frank Field was contacted for help at least three weeks for the summons date. He responded at 5:00pm the evening before the court appearance to say his office had contacted Phil Davies who in turn had contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce and they had refused to change their decision, despite his personal feelings and views to the contrary. So the MP for Birkenhead and the leader of Wirral Council are both being dictated to by officers at Wirral Chamber of Commerce. 
Clearly this suggests Paula Basnett, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid who run Wirral Chamber of Commerce are also in charge of Wirral Council. Worse still is the fact Wirral Chamber have stated they and Birkenhead BID Company (Birkenhead First) are not subject to Freedom of Information legislation so can claim everything they do is commercially sensitive and confidential. No transparency there then.
Even the officers at Wirral Council who are collecting the BID Levy do not seem to agree with the decision to criminalise charitable firms. They contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce asking them to change their position but they were also told the it would not be changed. The attitude appears to be it is only 1.5% of the rateable value of a property so Wirral Chamber cannot understand what the fuss is about. It seems to have escaped their attention charitable firms, by definition of what they do, may have large properties on peppercorn rents and very little money, most of which is from funding or donations and some modest earned income. Which is why they have taxes reduced or are exempted entirely. But Wirral Chamber of Commerce insists everyone must pay.
The Birkenhead BID Levy purports to be there to help support firms in the Birkenhead BID district but some have argued it is instead a way to pay the high salaries of staff who, until recently had worked for Wirral Council. It claims to be there to listen to and represent business owners in the Birkenhead BID Levy District, however there is no formal complaints procedure and minutes of meetings are confidential. Clearly they are not doing a very good job of listening since they are insisting on dragging charitable firms into Magistrates Court to pay for a Levy which did not exist until recently.
To be fair, Birkenhead has been declining for years and business owners are struggling to stay afloat. But cleaning up Birkenhead is the job of the council. 
This is why people pay business rates. The BID appears to be a stealth tax method of increasing business rates without actually increasing the business rates which is the same argument successfully used by Esther McVey when the council attempted to place a levy on wheelie bins and which forced them to hastily back away and reconsider their position.
Wirral Chamber have recently released a wonderful glossy document which makes bold claims about the achievements of the Birkenhead Bid company (also known as Birkenhead First). However the majority of these are things Wirral Council would do anyway as part of their obligations to Business Rates Payers. So it seems the suggestion the BID Levy is supporting the over bloated salaries of former council employees may have some foundation.
Also since this is clearly a civil matter, why is there such a reluctance to transfer proceedings to the County Court? Clearly civil matters fall under contract law and County Court is the proper setting. The costs are similar and certainly can be itemised easier. This suggests a worrying symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Magistrates Court where proceedings are being led by Wirral Council and not the local Magistrates.
The subject of costs and lack of transparency surrounding these certainly raises more questions than answers and this spills over to affect every council tax payer, business rates payer and now BID Levy payer who has ever been summonsed to Magistrates Court and had liability order costs imposed. Whilst clearly Council Tax is a criminal matter, the BID Levy certainly is not and belongs in County Court not the criminal courts.
It has also been suggested the BID Levy and demands for payment would not stand up to scrutiny under contract law. This has never been tested but would certainly be in the public interest. Taking charities and not for profit firms to court in an attempt to access charitable funds is not. It does not matter if the BID Levy is a small token amount. It is still immoral. It is also grossly unfair. For example there is no way to spread the cost monthly, no refund mechanism if firms move out of the area part way through the year, no contract and no control or input on how money is spent. In short it represents an unfair contract under civil law and threats of heavy penalties and costs, bailiffs and similar from Wirral Council are tactics which could be viewed as extortion and threats in public office. Whilst we are not suggesting this is the case, it certainly could be viewed as such. All the more reason for the matter to be placed in its proper setting in the County Court and not the Magistrates Court.
Even more worrying is the notion if Wirral Chamber is not challenged, this could be the first of many BID Levy districts in Wirral and more struggling business owners and charitable firms will find themselves subject to this new stealth tax with no opt out clause, no appeal and no transparency over how their money is spent.

The Power Abusers

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Wirral Leaks regulars Wirral Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive  ‘ Princess’ Paula Basnett and Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies clearly see themselves as local power brokers. Unfortunately we’ve been around too long and seen too much that troubles us  and which leads us to conclude they’re more aptly described as power abusers.

This view is reinforced by  a couple of stories that have come our way over the weekend. Firstly the frightening news that Pip ‘urgently’ needs to appoint an ‘Investor Development Manager’ on £80K  – like you do when it appears you can do what the bloody hell you like with public money . Talk about out of the blue and into the red!

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15022687.Wirral_Council_in_rush_to_create_new___80k_management_job___with_no_questions_asked_/

So what’s the problem with this we hear you cry ?  – well , firstly the fact that opposition councillors are being prevented from asking any awkward questions (or in Wirral Council – speak ‘the call in’ procedure should be waived) and more significantly from what we hear that the main name in the frame for this personal appointment is current ‘policy advisor’ Martin Liptrot aka Liptrotsky . This would make sense as Liptrotsky  now needs to supplement his measly £45K for two days ‘work’ at Wirral Council after Mayor Joe Anderson failed to get the Metro Mayor gig . We ‘ll be particularly interested  to see how this ‘politically restricted post’ plays out and whether this insider tip -off actually comes to pass.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50038434/Delivering%20Growth%20in%2Wirral%20-%20Securing%20Investment.pdf

Meanwhile over at the Wirral Chamber of Commerce – although let’s be honest Wirral Council /Wirral Chamber of Commerce are virtually indivisible – there has been some troubling developments with what are described as ‘Sheriff of Nottingham tax gathering methods’.

A request for not for profit/charitable organisations to be exempt from the ‘Birkenhead Improvement District’ (BID)  levy has hit a brick wall . This is a 1.5% levy on top of business rates for local businesses to fund what we think is an expensive window dressing exercise administered by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

However it seems charitable organisations who do not pay the levy face a summons with extra £100 in charges added. The legality and validity of this alleged summons is highly questionable along with the fact that  Wirral Council are acting as the ‘collecting agent’ in this matter using all powers available to them to secure payments . Apparently whilst Wirral Council agree it is a civil matter they are issuing summonses in the Magistrates Court which is a criminal court. These summonses are batch processed and cost an estimated £6 maximum but then they want to charge circa £100 in costs! So it’s win/win for both Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce! What is even more bizarre is that  Wirral Council have previously agreed 100% rate relief to qualifying not for profit organisations whilst at the same time they are prepared  to act as collection and enforcing agent for the BID.

Petitions to Wirral Chamber / Birkenhead First to exempt charitable organisations or to access a robust appeal procedure have not been successful. Charitable organisations which should be exempt and very small businesses who should be able to appeal are being denied the opportunity to opt out. Apparently a vote was taken of all affected businesses in the BID area and whilst the majority voted of introducing a BID those who voted against still have to pay the levy.

Attempts to get to the bottom of decision making on the imposition of the BID levy and arrangements between Wirral Chamber of Commerce/ Wirral Council via Freedom of Information requests have faltered on the grounds that Wirral Chamber of Commerce claim to be exempt from FOI legislation.

So whilst Wirral Chamber of Commerce  seem quite happy to take public money and acquire public property they’re not quite so keen on public accountability…… somewhat like Wirral Council !

 

Chamber of Horrors

 

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As we’re still waiting the arrival of Wirral View  we had to console ourselves with the cut out and keep Wirral Chamber of Commerce supplement in this week’s Wirral Globe.

Blimey! – there’s Paula rockin’ the tan enhancing white outfit again . You can sense the middle aged desperation from here. Then there’s some hapless handsome chappy roped in for publicity purposes and Kevin “Addled” Adderley giving us his best death stare. Get over it Kev – Emma never loved you. Either get some counselling or console yourself with the fact you screwed Wirral Council for a bit fat cheque and even as a desperate hasbeen you can still have a sly fag out the back of Egerton House.

We also get the announcement that the Business Improvement District (BID) managed by Wirral Chamber of Commerce won the Place Marketing – Small Location in the BID Awards 2016. Apparently this was due to July’s inaugural ‘Be in Birkenhead Summer Festival’ held in Hamilton Square. Jeezus – there must be so many places on earth that someone would  want to spend summer other than Birkenhead . As Her Ladyship said : ” Book me a flight to Kabul, Aleppo, the Death Valley. Anywhere but bloody Birkenhead in summer “.

No doubt the special attractions of the Birkenhead Summer Festival featured the ‘Smack Shack’ , the ‘Methadone Marquee’ and the ‘Heroin Haven’. They must have come in droves.

After being privy to this good news we are also treated to a list of forthcoming events at  ‘The Lauries Centre’ – which has also now been annexed by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

At which point we hand over to one of our many insightful contributors who says :

I see that WBC have picked up an award for ‘Birkenhead First’, a recent regeneration scheme. I mean, do me a favour! What regeneration is this? Each day Birkenhead fills with more homeless beggars, more junkies using Hamilton Square as a toilet, more shops shuttered up, more piles of rubbish in the overpriced car parks in Grange Rd West, more public drinking along Borough Rd. And that’s not to mention the row of boarded up shops which have been there longer than my memory. Charing Cross is a delightful place now it has been regenerated, the boarded up pubs, the all night kebab shops and drinking dens, the crowds of morons spoiling for a fight…a true tourists delight. Did the 6,500 extra visitors enjoy their experience? How does this council get an award for all this?

To which we replied :We think it must be a misprint and the award was for DE- generation.

Our correspondent responded : And now the Wine Lodge is up for sale, I bet that gets boarded up after Xmas. WBC could offer tours to firms of boarder uppers to show them how to shut down and board up an entire town, Charing Cross, the centre of old Birkenhead. I remember the xmas tree on the roundabout as was. Look at it now, criminal……….

Over to you Paula  “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” Basnett – will you be ordering a double Aussie White from Yatesy’s as a bit of Christmas cheer?. We suspect only if someone else is buying and preferably someone with a big chequebook from Wirral Council!.