Double Dealers

Wirral Council closes in on double deal

Hey Eric, is that Asif Hamid in the background? Might we suggest you don’t introduce him to the Foulkes’s any time soon ? Just sayin’ !

Recent alleged racist events on the continent rather overtook us ( you may have noticed) so this particular post was relegated to the back burner. Nevertheless we think this story is interesting for several reasons. To understand what we mean read the following link:

Wirral Council Closes In On Double Deal

First of all doesn’t Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson look particularly smug? Wouldn’t you be on a near cool £200K of public money we hear you cry ! Well, yes but would you be him? , we shriek back in horror.

Apparently according to Inside Media :

Wirral Council is close to sealing two major land and property deals in Birkenhead totalling 200,000 sq ft.

The local authority has signalled its intention to acquire a number of strategic sites and buildings to support the work of Wirral Growth Company, a new joint venture company that it is creating with the private sector.

As part of this, the council has reported that it is close to concluding two acquisitions in central Birkenhead, while a further four potential deals are currently under negotiation. The objective is to unlock covenants and leases that are holding back redevelopment, and to provide new revenue streams to support local services where buildings are profitably occupied.

The exact details of the sites have not been disclosed.

Whilst it seems the usual Wirral Council story of Stressed Eric doing his dance of the seven veils like a superannuated local government (asset) stripper on their behalf – ‘signalled its intention’ , ‘close to concluding’ , ‘potential deals’, ‘currently under negotiation’ , ‘the exact details of the sites have not been disclosed’  –  we’re particularly intrigued as to why this major exclusive announcing the selling off of what remains of the Borough’s family silver was heralded on this particular (deservedly) obscure website.

We haven’t checked the Wirral View lately ( let’s face it – life’s too short) or other Wirral Council approved outlets to check whether this story was covered elsewhere but we’re astounded that Stressed Eric can , from the comfort of yet another costly and glamorous MIPIM event ,this time in London rather than the rather more louche Cannes, casually announce major plans for the redevelopment of Birkenhead.

Can somebody tell us how, without any local consultation or hysterical local press coverage replete with the requisite ‘artist’s impressions’ of schemes that will never come to fruition unless magic mushrooms are involved, that this ever went to press?

Answers on a postcard please ( or should that be a brown envelope ?)………….

 

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Purdah Palaver

Steve Rotheram 012

Apparently we are in ‘Purdah’ – the period prior to an election where public bodies are constrained when it comes to communications in case it adversely interferes with the democratic election process.

The ‘democratic process’ involved at this particular time is the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority ‘Metro Mayor’ election on Thursday 4th May.  We’ve had our poll cards posted through the letterbox at Leaky Towers and tossed it into the junk mail tray in acknowledgement of the sheer futility of voting in this particular political sideshow. Whilst it will provide cash-strapped Wirral Council Returning Officer Eric Robinson with another bumper payout it will be , as far as we’re concerned , just another stepping stone on the road to political oligarchy. The People’s Socialist Republic of Merseyside –  only not for the people and without the socialism obviously.

However ‘Purdah’ gives Wirral Council the excuse to be even less forthcoming with the public than they usually are. But it’s not all bad news – it means the publication of Wirral View has been suspended.  Which surely is a tacit admission that the truly terrible rag is indeed a political tool and was never intended to address anyone’s ‘information deficit’.

Talking of which – some of you may have had the privilege and honour of having the Labour Party leaflet in support of Labour candidate Steve Rotheram shoved through your letterbox.

As you can see from our above picture it tells you everything you need to know as to why a once great party is now appealing to the lowest common denominator.  Steve’s big selling point apparently is that he is a ‘brickie’ and therefore ‘one of us’. Although he’s not a brickie – he’s an ex-brickie and now very much part of the political elite. The only way being an ex-brickie is a selling point when it comes to being the ‘Metro Mayor’ is if Steve is going to personally help build new homes to meet government housing targets!

Sadly for us it’s a further demonstration that the once great Labour Party (and particularly some elements of the local party ) have become in the words of a memorable phrase we picked up this week ,  ‘the pitiers of the poor’.   Witness the evangelical zeal (and we use the term advisedly ) with which local foodbanks are promoted whilst one of their political leader jets off to Cannes and stays in £407 a night hotels. This one to be precise :

Marriott cannes 2

Of course Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ rationale would be that he’s there to ensure international investors will flock to the insular peninsula to ensure future prosperity of Wirralians forevermore.  However after the many past fruitless excursions around the world have resulted in rotten tomatoes we’d be forgiven for waiting until something actually comes to fruition. And then if it does why do we get the impression that the beneficiaries will be big business and the political / council officer elite setting themselves up nicely for when Wirral Council becomes merely a ‘local commissioning hub’ for the Liverpool City Region?

When I Get Older

Toilet door

Pity the poor rank and file staff at Wirral Council who have to encounter these utterly bizarre posters in the Wallasey Town Hall toilets after they’ve attempted to relieve themselves (by whatever means) from the endless bullshit they have to endure on a daily basis.

The first thing to say is we don’t understand the graphics ( we’d like to think that the IQ of  Wirral Council staff reaches double figures but we may be wrong if they’re quite happy to be patronised by these cartoon figures); and the second thing to say is we don’t understand the demographics. Who exactly is this poster supposed to appeal to ? – a turban -wearing, kiss-curled, impressively bearded individual wearing a lime green double breasted jacket?

Clearly any attempt to address the main public health issue on Wirral – the huge disparity in the mortality rates between east and west Wirral – is studiously avoided. Presumably because there’s a not a cartoon character who can make inequality, poverty and deprivation seem such multi-coloured FUN!!!

Having said all that, our explanation as to why the people on the wrong side of the M53 die early is very simple – it’s because they want to!

Moreover it is incredibly dispiriting to read the low expectations that Wirral Council have of Wirral’s older people. The self same people who have been the backbone of the community on Wirral for many years , paying their Council Tax and sustaining the unworthy in power are seemingly reduced to the following aspirations:

‘I still want to be able to do my own garden’

‘I still want to be able to walk my dog’

‘ I still want to be able to play with my grandkids’

‘I still want to be able to use the stairs’

Might we suggest that based on the older people (and their carers) that contact us that they’re more concerned about being left languishing in hospital as a result of intermediary care services not being available whilst at the same time they’re regarded as a drain on resources –  despite the fact they established, supported and paid for those resources over many years in the first place!

Moreover the emphasis on the potential physical frailty of Wirral ‘s older people is a complete cop-out. What they want is what we all want – to be treated with dignity and respect, be afforded the services which they deserve, to hold the public officers who’s wages they pay to account and not to be subject to condescending bullshit!

For the record, as far as His Lord and Ladyship is concerned, when we get older we want to be far,far away from Wirral. We we’re thinking about retiring to the South of France but based on last week’s events we’ve decided to can the Cannes. Instead we’ve signed a living will which includes a mutual agreement to be on standby with a smothering pillow.

 

The Hard Sell

Cannes Shah

Sitting in the shadow of Liverpool – here’s Wirral Council’s chief this week in Cannes.That’s him – the one in the blue shirt on the bottom right. Surely you didn’t think we meant that useless sack of potatoes top left?

It’s been the week of the Wirral hard sell.

The figure £1 billion has been bandied about about how much investment is heading to Wirral (or rather ,Birkenhead ,which is being branded ‘the capital of Wirral’) with slavish Liverpool Echo screaming headlines  ‘£1 BILLION VISION FOR WIRRAL’

Wirral’s ‘leaders’ touting their tawdry wares in the South of France and Downing Street and according to the newly launched ‘Wirral. Well made.’ ( who thought that branding was a good idea?) aspiring that Wirral become the ‘Brooklyn of the North West’ – is that to Liverpool’s Manhattan?- with the dullest promotional launch ever. This would appear to be the brainchild of Sally Shah who apparently is ‘Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment’ – so yes, yet another highly paid public asset stripper on the Wirral Council payroll.

And then we have the Peel Holdings (up) gegging in with its ‘university of the sea’ plans for Wirral Waters with hundreds of jobs and sunshine,lollipops and rainbows for everyone!- again accompanied with the obligatory artist’s impression and yet more Echo headlines

And it doesn’t end there here comes the ‘asset transformation strategy’ and the formation of the Wirral Growth Company.

Wirral Growth 011

The hard sell meets the big sell off.

That Riviera Touch

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Private Eye magazine tells us in the latest edition, and appropriately enough on the same page as their previously reported ‘Happy Halliday’ story, that ‘ Council bigwigs across the land can barely contain their excitement as they prepare to fly to Cannes (this) week for what is for many the highlight of the year – the international property bash , Marché International des Professsionels d’Immobilier , aka MIPIM.

Thousands of public officials from all over Europe to gather to be plied with drink for four days by property developers eager to get their hands on publicly owned assets. Aptly ,the event also attracts hundreds of prostitutes’ 

Now we know this spring break has been heavily pencilled in on the calendars of Wirral Council’s very own ‘bigwigs’ for quite some time.

A Cabinet meeting held on 8th December  2016 included a report written by one Stewart Halliday (who he?) and stated as follows :

‘It is imperative the council has an emerging proposition for investors by early 2017 and that by March 2017, when the MIPIM Conference takes place, is able to set out its offer to investors. This annual conference for investors is the key opportunity to meet and pitch to the world’s major development investors and banks’

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50038045/Delivering%20Wirrals%20Growth.pdf

Moreover as we reported  in  our An Extraordinary Council report Cabinet resolved at the meeting held on 16th January to create the post of ‘Investor Development Manager’ especially for Wirral Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ left hand man Martin Liptrot (aka Liptrotsky).

The justification for fast-tracking the appointment and waiving the call in process was as follows :

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

Subsequently a request for an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council was called by 24 opposition councillors as  ‘we believe that the creation of this post requires further scrutiny, to enable council to decide whether it is justified’.

However as we observed  :’ …… the Extraordinary Meeting has been called for 6th March – AFTER the appointment has been made! Which rather suggests to us that the matter was NOT ‘urgent’ in the first place and in fact the waiver was a means of preventing anyone asking any awkward questions as to why , at a time of cuts and punitive charging measures , that the council taxpayers of Wirral are being asked to fund Council leader Power Boy Pip’s special friend to hobnob in the South of France at their expense’

Unfortunately opposition councillors seem not to have kept their eye on the road and subsequently steered down a cul-de-sac , as the Extraordinary Meeting to discuss the Liptrot’s Investor Development Manager appointment was parked in favour of another Extraordinary Meeting concerning car parking charges.

We understand that Liptrotsky’s dodgy £350 a day gig will now be discussed next week:

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=123&MId=5937

This of course allows (presumably) Pip and Liptrotsky (and whoever else is in the Wirral entourage) to fly off this week to the French Riviera – no questions asked. No doubt this means that next week’s Extraordinary Meeting will now be all about the mega-deals that were struck as a result the Pip and Liptrotsky double act (somewhat like bungling Morecambe and Wise in that creaky comedy ‘That Riviera Touch’ only without the laughs). Shall we look forward to hearing that Wirral Waters will no longer be marketed as ‘Shanghai-On -The- Mersey’ but as ‘Côte d’Azur-On -The -Docks’ ?!

Meanwhile Wirral Leaks welcomes any news on Wirral Council’s entourage and hopes that Pip and Liptrotsky have taken a hat, as even at this time of the year, it can get very hot in Cannes……………………….

 

 

Pip’s Pay Pal – THAT Liptrot Appointment

MARTIN LIPTROTSKY AT WORK :

Dont’cha just lurve it when a plan comes together….

As more details emerge on the shameful appointment of Martin Liptrot (aka Liptrotsky) as Wirral Council’s International Schmoozer -in- Chief you may have noticed that whilst opposition councillors fulminate we are the only ones prepared to name him.

We stated yesterday that the ‘Interim Investment Lead’, as Liptrotsky will be more formally known , would be on an annual salary of approximately £127,000 . We just need to clarify that whilst this calculated a sum assuming a whole year appointment we now understand that ‘the successful candidate’ ( ha! ha! ha! ) will be paid a mere £350 per day and the contract is currently only for 4 months. However don’t be fooled  – council correspondence we have seen states that the 4 month contract is just to ensure the appointment ‘is within budget’.  The decision to extend the contract beyond 4 months is a mere formality or in Council-speak ‘The decision maker remains the Executive and the decision in question remains implementable.’ In other words neither councillors nor the council tax paying public get a say – it’s up to Power Boy Pip and Liptrotsky whether they want to squander more of your money.

Additionally might we suggest that this appointment will involve additional costs to the public purse. The day rate of £350 comes ‘with flexibility should we require it’  – and we all know that flexibility will probably involve more public money being spent rather than less. We also need to take into account that the post will involve  international flights and hotels , starting with an arduous spring trip to Cannes. Perhaps Pip and Liptrotsky , being West Kirby neighbours, can do a car share to Wallasey Town Hall to cut down on travel expenses!

As an aside we’d also like to know what happened to Liptrotsky’s ‘Policy Advisor’ post – have the costs been offset against his new appointment or is the £350 day rate in addition?

The apparent urgency to make this appointment , the circumventing of criticism about the post and the fact that details were selectively seeped out –rather than leaked out- last Friday in the knowledge that Liptrotsky will take up his new position tomorrow (20 February 2017), all suggest that the Labour administration know that in the current financial climate that this appointment is politically unpalatable. 

It will be interesting to see how Liptrotsky’s appointment will  be dealt with at tomorrow morning’s Cabinet meeting. No doubt the Labour group will put on a public display of hand-wringing over “savage government cuts” whilst picking our pockets to put Pip’s pal on the payroll.

 

The Uncanny and the Corrupt

transparency-014

Lib Dem councillor Stuart Kelly called it correctly last night when he posted the above tweet.

Of course what he didn’t do was go into detail – so as ever it’s up to us to fill in the blanks.

The blank space in this case being the appointment of Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies personal hand-holder Martin Liptrot (aka Liptrotsky) to the post of ‘Investment Development Manager’ on approximately £127K  pa (and not the previously reported £80K) . So the just-so-happens appointment comes just in time for Pip’s cheerleader to accompany him on a jaunt to Cannes – at our expense. Quelle surprise!

An Extraordinary Council

Needless to say (and what Cllr Kelly alludes to) is that we predicted this appointment way back in January when we reported:

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.

The Power Abusers

Inevitably it transpires that once again that what we predicted did come to pass. Now we’ve reported on some appalling Wirral Council machinations over the years but we can’t tell you how much we think this is absolutely disgusting – beyond nepotism and into the realms of corruption . Perhaps Power Boy Pip could explain the recruitment process to the people who fund his personal appointments ? But then we have to accept that this is Wirral – so what do you expect? It’s how things work round here!

PS – Oh by the way Cllr Kelly if we did have the lotto numbers the first thing we’d do is cash the cheque and get out of Wirral as fast as we could and we’d advise all decent, honest people to do the same.

LIPROT

Gambling with Other People’s Money

gambler-puzo

Not that we’ve had any official announcement but it would seem that hawking Wirral Council’s tawdry wares in the Far East seems to have sank without trace somewhat like a Chinese junk ship over-laden with marrows and Stella Shiu’s false promises.

We should be at least be grateful that Wirral Council’s latest speculative jaunt is closer to home as plans are made for a Wirral Council (and no doubt Wirral Chamber of Commerce) delegation to jet off to Cannes next month. Not that it should work out any cheaper as the South of France is notoriously expensive. But hey!, when you’re speculating with public money what’s the big deal? Shouldn’t we just be grateful that our betters get a spring break at our expense?

This then led us to reflect on gambling in general and jaunts to far flung places in particular and the curious twinning arrangement with Reno . If you remember, when we heard of the plans in December 2014 , we wrote :

‘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.’

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/big-guns-in-tiny-town/

As we said we at the time we couldn’t understand the hook up until we recently read a review on the EscapeHere website which decreed that just before the desperate Transatlantic jaunt that Reno was considered the third worst city to visit in the United States  :

‘Often referred to as Las Vegas’ poorer cousins , the ” biggest little city in the world” suffers some BIG issues when it comes to violent crime and unemployment. With the populous of 227,509, despite the luck ,lights and glamour promised to gambling tourists, Reno residents have suffered drops in housing prices, drastic cuts in public services, and layoffs. However ,despite the setbacks Reno is attempting to reinvent itself with revitalization projects like The River Walk , a water and sculpture path built in the middle of this once,seedy run down city center’

http://www.escapehere.com/destination/10-worst-cities-to-visit-in-the-united-states/

Sound familiar folks ? doesn’t it suddenly all make sense !

However (just like Wirral Council) we’re led to speculate that could the dubious attractions of Reno have had a more personal attraction for one of the Wirral delegation as we are led to believe that when in Reno he was ‘not a stranger to the tables!’

This is reinforced by another Wirral Council casualty closer to home who tells us rather more prosaically :

 ‘I was once in a planning meeting away from Wallasey Town Hall with him when a very tragic story emerged, involving the death of a small child in Wallasey, whilst the meeting was taking place requiring the said officer to give his immediate apologies and return to the Town Hall. I stayed for the duration of the meeting and was driving past a bookmakers a little bit later in Argyle Street en route back to Wallasey and happened to see the same officer inside the premises, obviously his priorities lay in his personal gain ahead of anything else.’

Forget everything we’ve ever written – we think that ‘His priorities lay in his personal gain ahead of anything else’ is perhaps the most insightful comment ever written about how Wirral Council operates.

gambling-2

 

An Extraordinary Council

an-extraordinary-council-010

An email has been sent to all Members of the Council concerning an extraordinary meeting to take place to discuss the urgent appointment to the soon to be notorious/infamous  ‘Investor Development Manager’ post

To all Members of the Council

Dear Councillor,

Would you please note that the Mayor has called an extraordinary meeting of the Council to be held on Monday, 6 March, 2017, at 5.30pm.

This extraordinary meeting has been called at the request of 24 Members, in accordance with Standing Order 1(4), to consider a Notice of Motion in respect of the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ (requisition notice attached).

This extraordinary meeting will precede the Budget Council meeting which will be held at 6.00pm, or upon the rising of the 5.30pm meeting, whichever is the later.

A summons for the meeting will be published nearer the time.

The story has already been reported here:

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15056994.Twist_in_the_tale_as_special_meeting_called_after_Wirral_councillors_are_banned_from_asking_questions_over_new_business_chief/

And previously a report to Cabinet on 16 January 2017  dealt with the appointment as follows…

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

A request for the extraordinary meeting of the Council was called by 24 opposition councillors as  ‘we believe that the creation of this post requires further scrutiny, to enable council to decide whether it is justified’.

However the extraordinary meeting has been called for 6th March – AFTER the appointment has been made! Which rather suggests to us that the matter was NOT ‘urgent’ in the first place and in fact the waiver was a means of preventing anyone asking any awkward questions as to why , at a time of cuts and punitive charging measures , that the council taxpayers of Wirral are being asked to fund Council leader Power Boy Pip’s special friend to hobnob in the South of France at their expense as apparently one of the ‘key events’ is described as follows : ‘MIPIM Cannes is the premier event in the European Real Estate calendar and has become Europe’s showcase for major cities, property developments, investment opportunities and international networking’

http://www.liverpoolvision.co.uk/MIPIM/

Nice work if you can get it and you can get it – even when it’s a politically restricted post and you’re part of a corrupt political cabal!

We’re also becoming increasingly concerned by the role of the Assistant Chief Executive David Armstrong’s enabling role and his very dodgy decision making in the absence of the Chief Executive  Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson. Stressed Eric seems to have abdicated all responsibility when it comes to decisions which may come back and bite him on his plushly upholstered backside. Meanwhile Armstrong seemingly sails serenely towards a sizeable pension pot and is quite happy to acquiesce to whatever his political paymasters ask of him. Witness also his decision to commission Nick Warren to stitch up the council taxpayers over the ‘Wirralgate’ scandal in the power/moral vacuum that followed Graham Burgess’s hasty departure and proceeded Stressed Eric’s appointment.

All of which leads us to conclude that ‘bureaucratic machinations’ doesn’t come close to describing how Wirral Council operates and what makes it  truly ‘ an extraordinary council’ for all the wrong reasons!