Plots and Plans

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The run up to the local elections is monsoon season when it comes to leaks and we’re currently soaking wet. However to be totally accurate this post is a leak about a leak. You may remember our Eric Sees Red Over Green Belt  story and if you don’t you really must try and keep up! However to recap last week we saw selective leaking of meetings from sources assumed to be close to the Labour group during the local election campaign. These leaks were designed to benefit Labour candidates but this now seems to have back fired now that full details are emerging. Labour politicians (most prominently  Cllr Phill ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore) were all over the local press and simultaneously showing  up the Local Plan ‘consultation’ process for what it was – completely bogus – and trying  to make political capital out of closely guarded information during the purdah period and declare the local Labour group as the belated saviours of Green Belt sites listed for development. Then we had a further leaked email written by Eric Robinson commenting:

This list went out to public consultation and remains unchanged and no sites have been removed from the list. 

Well, there have been further developments on this story and it is even more sinister than we first realised.  And we use the word ‘sinister’ advisedly. It doesn’t just mean something bad is about to happen it comes from the Italian word, sinistra – meaning left.

Whilst ‘left-leaning’ politicians is something we can get with – well, if they stick to their principles and not to the power trip anyway, ‘left leaning’ flag of convenience council officials on six figure salaries is another thing altogether. Aren’t they meant to be politically neutral? Just like Martin Liptrot!

Whilst we only know the officers (and not the councillors) involved in the following exchanges it is apparent that we have council officers who have a decidedly unhealthy twisted symbiotic relationship with the current ruling Labour administration. But then we’ve long known that but it is ,yes, sinister, to see it in action.

The plot is a bit convoluted but bear with:

An unnamed councillor attempts to get a copy of the documents information contained on a set of slides which formed the basis of last week’s leak resulting in ‘Labour Saves the Green Belt’ articles:

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Despite the fact the document had already been leaked to us and the world and her husband seems to have access to it Paul Satoor the man currently responsible for cobbling a Local Plan together for the first time in 14 years replies on behalf of the elusive Wirral Council CEO ‘Stressed’ Eric Robinson :

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The anonymous councillor persists :

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The political hot potato gets passed to Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt who proves equally evasive:

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The anonymous councillor persists:

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It would appear that our intrepid councillor eventually acquires information they were requesting from another source and offers his thoughts on the tortuous process .

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It is interesting to note the the timing of the meetings referred to in the leaked information coincides with the departure of Brian Bailey in November 2018. Bailey was formerly the senior officer responsible for all things to do with the ‘Local Plan’. Perhaps he wasn’t prepared to follow the ‘Wirral Way’ of doing things – wrongly obvs! Or after his Lottery win he just thought ‘sod this for a game of soldiers’…

We think that the public interest in these leaks lies in revealing the process of extracting information from PUBLIC servants who don’t want the PUBLIC to know what’s going on .

Oh btw if anyone would like us to publish more of the leaked information (some interesting extracts are provided below) just let us know as it would appear it’s OK for certain councillors to share them if there is political advantage to be gained .Therefore as far as we’re concerned it’s open season as the Local Plan ‘consultation’ entered into in good faith by 2,700 people has already been fatally compromised by a behind closed doors decision making process organised between senior council officers and the Labour cabinet…

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EXCLUSIVE : What’s in a Name? – Is this the real reason the controversial, high profile Stewart/Stuart Halliday appointment was suddenly dropped by Wirral Council?

We have been made aware that the attached four invoices (see below) , each referring to Forge House Associates Ltd and including an amount claimed for VAT, were dated AFTER the company was compulsorily dissolved by Companies House (first Gazette notice 10 July 2018; final Gazette notice 25 September 2018).
The invoices relates to work to support the “Wirral Growth Company” and includes the company number 10306493.
  • 21 October: £16,189.50
  • 16 November 2018: £15,152.63
  • 14 December 2018: £16,333.30
  • 11 January 2019: £9,600

So far, so familiar – for as we know from the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods debacle Wirral Council don’t seem to concern themselves with the status or personnel of companies when it comes to distributing public money.

So what’s the big deal here?

Well it may interest you to know that there were 2 directors of Forge House Associates, an Elizabeth Stead and one… Stuart Halliday.

 

On 3rd October 2018 a new company, “Forge House Associates Lincs” was incorporated, this time with just Elizabeth Stead as the sole director, although Stuart Halliday owns 50% shares in the company (Company number 11602174).

However the now dissolved Forge House Associates continued to invoice the Council up until January 2019 when the “financial irregularities” were brought to the attention of the Council. Could this have been the route via which Halliday’s consultancy fees ( circa £4K a week!) were paid prior to his short lived appointment as the new Director of Housing and Economic Growth?

We understand that the HMRC and Companies House are now investigating and under the circumstances we think it is reasonable to assume that this could be the reason that Stewart / Stuart was dropped by the Council .

After persistent rumours we have also been made aware that Martin Liptrot – from ‘Wirral Well Made’ , which from what we can gather is the PR arm of the Wirral Growth Company – has also allegedly been removed from his post with immediate effect. As Wirral Council are currently on lockdown about this alleged departure we don’t know if the two matters are related.  However when we get more information – and we will – we’ll let you know.

And so with the departure of Brian Bailey, and now Stewart Halliday, this will result in yet  further delays to Wirral’s beleaguered and long overdue Local Plan. Surely now we could have hoped that the Council would bring in a new Director of Housing and Economic Growth who would have a strong background in, well, housing and economic growth and, as he is the man to bring forward the Local Plan,  a thorough understanding of national planning policy. Apparently the man to now take forward the Local Plan is to be Paul Satoor a man who has a “strong background in organisational transformation, human resources and organisational development”.

http://www.bringitonwirral.co.uk/the-senior-team/

All of which leaves us fearing that this may not turn out well for the likes of the Local Plan ,Wirral Waters or the Green Belt but it will certainly continue to keep us in business !

Please note we have edited the bank and personal contact details of company director from the following invoices (and apologies for the wonky screenshots – it’s a late night for us!) :

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Halliday Money : The Rising Son of York

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Hooray! Hooray! It’s a Halli-Halliday ?…

You may recall that we brought you the news of the appointment  and resignation of Brian Bailey, Wirral Council’s Corporate Director for Economic and Housing Growth  , a significant role which includes overseeing the production of Wirral’s non-existant Local Plan.

We’ll give you one guess as to his successor…

Good guess. But no, sorry it wasn’t Martin Liptrot . As you know some CCTV footage may have put paid to his meteoric – and  Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies -assisted – rise through the Wirral Council ranks …

Have another go .Yes, that’s right, it the other one. Stewart Halliday, the rising son of York. The man who arrived with a chequered past from over the Pennines and the adventures of whom Wirral Leaks have chronicled for the past couple of years.

Here are a selection of Halliday’s (and our) greatest hits :

Wirral Council – Where Transformation Means More Of The Same

Reference Point

Happy Halliday

Secret Chamber

We may never know what Halliday did (or didn’t ) get up to in York but from the reaction we’ve received from contacts in City of York Council they’re not best pleased at the appointment :

After pocketing around £300k for 21 months ‘work’? as a consultant at Wirral …, he’s now been made a Director by this LA….
It stinks !!!!
Meanwhile as far as we can see not a peep from Wirral Council or its councillors , Wirral View or the local press on the prestigious and highly remunerated new appointment. Shall we await a big media splash or will the powers that be not want to cause any waves or muddy the (Wirral Waters) about their fishing in the shallow end of the local government talent pool? …
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Wirral Waters and That Sinking Feeling

FOOD BANK and 500 apartments for Seacombe

As previewed last week in Place North West  Council’s prime chronicler of  all things Wirral Waters/Wirral Waters One/Whatever last night’s  Planning Committee approved plans for 500 apartments :

A reserved matters application for Wirral Waters One, a 500-home project at East Float Dock in Peel’s Wirral Waters will be considered at planning committee next Thursday, with a recommendation for approval.

Along with an application for 430,000 sq ft of offices in a mixed-use creative industries quarter at Vittoria Studios East, the scheme was submitted in May for reserved matters, the two applications meeting the condition set at the granting of outline consent in 2012 over the phasing of development.

The apartment scheme is proposed by Peel Land & Property and Legacy, a company founded by footballers Rio Ferdinand, Mark Noble and Bobby Zamora. The JV said in October that it intends to start work on the Glenn Howells Architects-designed scheme next summer. Comprising a mix of 256 one-bedroom and 280 two-bedroom apartments, 20% of the scheme will be classed as affordable dwellings.

Turley’s planning statement said that is design terms, “the building façades utilise a mix of materials including corrugated sheet cladding and a pre-cast construction which will provide identity and character. Bold colours will complement the existing maritime environment.”

The project is funded by Aviva and also counts the council as a partner, Wirral having agreed a business case for the project at a cabinet meeting on 1 October.

Wirral Waters Apartments Set For Approval

As you can see on the webcast below Planning Committee Chair and serial liar Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  (what could possibly go wrong? ) seems to be conceding that any idea that Wirral Waters is about business development has been thrown into the River Mersey with the International Trade Centre. It’s all about investment opportunities for second home owners now – but as we’ve asked before who is going to live in these so called ‘luxury’ apartments ?

Wirral Waters Planning Committee

The day after all this was approved it was announced that Chief council officer quits £115,000 post after just a few months . The Chief Officer in question being Brian Bailey , who is someone we brought to your attention when he was appointed in our  Peel, Pillow Talk & Forked Tongues post. We are left wondering whether Bailey’s decision to quit has anything to do with developments (or non-developments) or he’s been in touch with his old mucker from Blackburn & Darwen Council and former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess? – ” What’s that you say Bri, Foulkesy is chair of the Planning Committee and  George Davies is the Cabinet member responsible all this ? They and their protector Frank Field were my undoing . My advice would be to get out before they’re out to get you!”

We also ask ourselves whether there could be another clue in the Place North West Wirral Waters promo :

No major issues with the proposal are highlighted by statutory consultees, with the only potential sticking point being a notification from the council’s housing officer that depending on level of occupation, some apartments could fall below the threshold of the Nationally Described Space Standards, although Wirral has in any case not yet adopted NDSS.

So basically can we deduce that Wirral Waters is to be reduced to rabbit hutches offering high yield returns for rich investors – if they can get anyone to live in them!

 

 

 

Peel, Pillow Talk and Forked Tongues

As a follow up to yesterday’s Peel group story and as promised we bring you news of a significant appointment at Wirral Council which has surprisingly gone unheralded.

So ladies and gentleman we proudly present to you , Brian Bailey , who from last month has been Wirral Council’s Corporate Director for Economic and Housing Growth  Brian Bailey 015

As you can see he has a very familiar profile to the unlamented former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess. Indeed they would have worked together at Blackburn with Darwen Council as Bailey was there between 2001-18 .

We can only surmise his former CEO and mentor at Blackburn with Darwen Council must have given him some sage advice. Something along the lines of : ” Fill yer boots. Just don’t get too big for’em or Frank’ll have you out in a flash”

So how was Bailey’s appointment greeted by long suffering staff at Wallasey Town Hall? This is typical of the correspondence received by Wirral Leaks but is particularly interesting in the light of recent press coverage as it reveals a significant connection to Peel Group:

Hello —

See attached the Google search for Delyse Bailey, the wife of Wirral Council’s new regen and economic chief Brian Bailey. Weirdly (or not so weirdly) the LinkedIn profile in question has now been deleted. The council has deals with Peel — and the new guy in charge of the councils relationship will be liaising directly with his wife! It comes at a time when MPs in the borough are launching scathing attacks on Peel for land banking (see Angela Eagle article published on the Globe online). Councillors like Angie Davies have also waded in.
Was Brian’s appointment a Conflict of Interest? Was due diligence even done for this £120k plus role? It stinks. We lower-ranking officers are sick of the incompetency at the top, it emanates from Eric Robinson.
Question surely is what’s going on at an officer level in Wallasey Town Hall? Incompetency, incompetency, incompetency.
This info needs to come out.
Yours,
Wallasey Town Hall insider
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We just wonder whether Brian and Delyse might have had a little chinwag over the breakfast table or indulged in some pillow talk about Peel Group’s plans for Wirral Waters which somehow didn’t filter their way through to the leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies?
Meanwhile current Wirral CEO Eric Robinson is given a platform at a conference held in Manchester to spout the usual bollocks about Wirral Council’s Local Plan ( i.e. they don’t have one and haven’t had one for years):

Wirral’s Local Plan

Wirral Council chief executive Robinson opened the event with a presentation outlining the upcoming opportunities in the borough as it looks to put in place its Local Plan.

  • Wirral is one of three authorities in the country that does not have a Local Plan, but is now proposing a major review of green belt land, which will see the proportion of green belt in the borough drop from 46% to 32%
  • The “big thing” for the plan was to transform Birkenhead, with a “fantastic opportunity” in place to reverse the decline that has impacted the area for nearly 50 years
  • He said the area needed a “younger, more vibrant offer” particularly around Hamilton Square, with options around Birkenhead including a new civic centre, leisure centre, offices, and residential, as part of the Wirral Growth Company’s plans being delivered in partnership with Muse
  • Reflecting on the area’s relationship with Liverpool, Robinson said: “Birkenhead should be Brooklyn, not another Manhattan”
  • However, Robinson said the Local Plan would look to adopt a “brownfield-first” approach to development, and would look to benefit “the whole of Wirral”
  • The chief executive, who has been in post since 2015, said the council had become “much more commercial and business-like in its approach” following changes at the top, and had taken steps to improve skills within the council including doubling its planning team

Full story here : Meet the Authorities: Public-Private Partnerships

Whilst it was bizarrely reassuring to find that Eric Feeble finally acknowledged that Birkenhead had been in decline for half a century we have a horrible vision of him, Bailey and growing horde of ‘transformers’ and ‘planners’ in t-shirts emblazoned with the message :

BIRKENHEAD SHOULD BE BROOKLYN, NOT ANOTHER MANHATTAN