“We are not going to haul anyone over the coals for this…” – Eric Robinson

arse cover

Many of our readers have asked us to comment on this week’s Wirral Council meeting of the Audit & Risk Management Committee which discussed the fall out from the Stewart Halliday scandal , the full gory story you can read in our Halliday Archive.

To be honest we couldn’t bring ourselves to watch the webcast or read the ‘Journo-Come-Lately’ local press reports because as we commented in our Wirral Leaks : Past,Present,Future post this is perhaps the story that frustrates us more than any other we have covered. Is it the most compelling and appalling case of institutional corruption at Wirral Council ? No, that’ll be ‘Wirralgate’ episode.  Nevertheless it has been the one story more than any other story that makes us want to repeatedly do this :

bang head

However you kept plying us with excerpts and quotes and  like the moth’s great imperfection we find ourselves succumbing to the fatal charm of the Wirral Council flame. The quote we were particularly drawn to was the title of the post uttered by Wirral CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson. And what a quote it is – somehow summing up the well, ‘feebleness’ , of Wirral Council ‘management’ team and elected member ‘scrutiny’.

Robinson’s sly blaming of ‘junior staff’ for a situation where someone like Halliday can nearly QUADRUPLE his income at Wirral Council having left his previous employer not so much under a cloud but a tornado of unanswered questions and evasions of responsibility was a new low in the cowardly history of Wirral Council. Especially when Wirral Leaks readers will know our very own City of York correspondent, the indomitable Charles Nunn, had written to Stressed Eric appraising him of the genuine concerns about Halliday that were emerging from across the Pennines. Remember this wasn’t an employer/employee relationship where termination of employment is fraught with legal complications. Halliday was initially employed as a (highly paid) consultant. When failures of due diligence became apparent it would have been legitimate to tell Halliday ‘off you pop’ – but no this is Wirral Council where throwing good money after bad has been turned into an art form. Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson misses the point by a country  mile when he says the infamous episode has caused him and Wirral Council ’embarrassment’. Robinson seems to think that ‘taking responsibility’ is the same as ‘accountability’.

No, sweetheart what happened here (and which was completely avoidable) cost Wirral council taxpayers a shedload of money. But then again it’s not your money so what’s a little ’embarrassment’ between you and your bank account?!

Memo to Eric: The reason you get paid big bucks (£200K plus substantial Returning Officer top ups) is that the BUCK STOPS WITH YOU!…

Do we want people ‘hauled over the coals’? Not necessarily – but what we don’t want is failure to be rewarded with hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money again and again and again…

Eric Gut

Dear Eric , Now about this Halliday guy…

Our commentator in yesterday’s Halliday and Our Last Hurrah! post gave a shout out to Lib Dem Cllr Phil Gilchrist which prompted us to scurrying to our leaks archive to retrieve an email sent by Gilchrist to hapless and hopeless CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson raising concerns about the Stewart Halliday appointment .

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 12.48.58

 

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 13.11.48

Screen Shot 2019-03-14 at 12.50.32

So along with esteemed Wirral citizen and friend of Wirral Leaks ,Charles Nunn, who also dared raise the same concerns with Stressed Eric  (after all he does pay the guy’s over-inflated salary) – only to be labelled ‘vexatious’  – might we suggest that Wirral Council’s CEO needs to get out from under his armour-plated desk and be held publicly accountable for this debacle ?

Here’s Stressed Eric’s response and our comment which we published here on April 28 2017 – two days before Gilchrist also contacted him – coincidence much?

Indomitable local resident Charles Nunn is particularly aggrieved that his Council Tax and that of many other Wirral tax payers appears to be being spent on a series of snake oil salesmen and has pursued this matter with Wirral Council CEO (the ‘O’ seemingly standing for ostrich) Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson. Stressed Eric provided the following response:

Dear Mr Nunn

Thank you for your email  dated 13 March 2017 and follow up email on 26 March 2017.

The Council’s Human Resources Team has confirmed the following:

Mr Halliday is engaged via an agency through the Council’s contract with Matrix Ltd.  Under the process, Matrix require supplying agencies to supply references for the previous two years employment history.

These references were sent directly to the line manager recruiting the worker.  There is no requirement for our Human Resources Team to be involved in all such engagements.  The line manager also elected to seek an additional reference from the former Chief Executive of York Council and subsequently a further reference was provided to the agency by the Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods still currently working at York.

We have been advised by Mr Halliday that he refutes all the allegations which are matter of ongoing dispute between him and his previous employer. It is not appropriate for Wirral Council to comment any further on these allegations.

Regards

Eric Robinson
Chief Executive
Wirral Council

And to think for his trouble Wirral Council were having Nunn of it and resorted to tried and tested tactics which we reported here

What better way of avoiding scrutiny and accountability by pulling the ‘vexatious’ card from the bottom of the pack. The latest target of this dubious tactic is our old friend Charles Nunn – who has been denied information about consultant Stewart Halliday’s ongoing (?) inflated remuneration because he might say mean things on social media. Wirral Council solicitor Rosemary Lyon , who must be a delicate little flower ,  is also upset by Charles’ ‘tone’ and writes:

I consider that you as a third party are pursuing a legitimate interest.
However I consider that that legitimate interest has been lessened by the
tone of your request in asking the Council to confirm whether “there will
be no further contract extension for this man?”

I have had regard to the guidance issued by the ICO “Dealing with
vexatious requests (Section 14) 20151218 Version 1.3. Paragraph 56 states
that “The context and history in which a request is made will often be a
major factor in determining whether the request is vexatious.” Having
regard to your previous requests about the same individual and also having
regard to comments you have made in the public domain concerning this
individual, I consider that the tone of part of this request for
information is potentially vexatious.

I consider that the processing of personal data ie the release of personal
data in respect of  Mr Halliday is unwarranted  by reason of prejudice to
the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of him as the data
subject………..I consider that disclosure of the requested information would be
unwarranted having regard to the prejudice that would be caused to the
rights and legitimate interests of Stewart Halliday. 

For full details : Stewart Halliday FOI Request

Wirral Leaks is left wondering ‘Whatever happened to Ms Lyon ?’ and whether in the light of subsequent events she is now regretting her classic  ‘I was only following orders’ response along with her collusive role in other matters which we fully intend to come to before we shut up shop…

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #4

WW1

WW1 : Artist’s impression # 256

                                                                   WW1

As far as ‘Wirral Waters’ press releases goes this really is the best one yet. You can almost smell the desperation.  Note how the quietly abandoned ‘Wirral Waters’ scheme has suddenly and mysteriously been ‘transformed’ into ‘Wirral Waters One’ . Whoever thought of that new branding needs shooting – say it out loud , it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it? Can we also point out that when it comes to acronyms WW1 has already been taken? Just sayin’

Apparently Wirral Council’s Cabinet will announce tomorrow that a massive (! )£100,000 will ‘kick start’ a £90,000,000 residential development in ‘Wirral Waters One’ !

The proposal is a joint venture between the council and landowners Peel Holdings, and includes the Legacy Foundation – an investment fund established by former Tranmere Rovers player Aaron Cresswell………..The Legacy Foundation will provide £100,000 of funding in the first year to be invested in community activities. Full story : Wirral Waters One

We don’t get a breakdown of the total investment between Peel Holdings/ Wirral Council/Legacy Foundation but you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be Wirral Council (or more accurately Wirral council taxpayers) who will be putting their hands the deepest into their pockets when it comes to ‘kick starting’ this proposal. Nor do we get an explanation as to what is meant by ‘community activities’

Instead stepping up to take credit for the momentous investment was Birkenhead MP Frank Field  (huh?)

“An idea bringing the largest programme of new housing to Wirral in living memory, announced today, is the brainchild of Andrew Forsey who is the head of my Parliamentary office.Through his work in making contact with footballers interested in making long term investments from their pensions. Andrew helped to persuade a crop of current and former Premier League players – including Aaron Cresswell, who was a Tranmere Rovers player and now plays for West Ham – to see whether it would be possible for his investment fund to begin work in Wirral Waters.”

Is it just us ? – or is is there something vaguely nauseating about poverty tourist Frank Field’s parliamentary office brainstorming about the ‘loadsamonies’ who they can approach with the begging bowl without considering whether it’s morally right that footballers and the like can earn such huge sums of money or question as to whether as a society we’ve got our values all wrong? Nevertheless it is interesting to discover that Wirral’s ‘largest programme of new housing’ is somehow the responsibility of Frank Field’s Parliamentary office isn’t it?!

NUMBER – CRUNCHING   – Aaron Cresswell’s  current fortnightly salary at West Ham Utd  = £100,000 ! (well fancy that!)  See here : West Ham Utd Salaries 2018

So what we’d like tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting to do is finally come clean and announce that ‘Wirral Waters One’ and indeed the ‘ Hoylake Golf Resort’ proposal are merely opportunistic housing developments and quit the soft soap.

 

                                                              Vexatious , Moi?

Wirral Council seemed to have backed off the desperate claim that Wirral Council taxpayer Charles Nunn is ‘vexatious’ for asking pertinent questions about the continuing employment of highly paid consultant Stewart Halliday . See their latest response here : Halliday FOI

Mr Nunn comments :

At last a part reply to my F.of Information request.
Halliday has had his contract extended for a further SIX MONTHS from 1st. January, 2018.
Another £90,000 odd from the Wirral Council Tax payer.
It may be worth a mention in your esteemed publication.
Charles

                           

                                           CGL:  “……and nobody seemed to care “

Many thanks to those who keep us appraised of national charity Change,Grow Live who are the grateful recipient of Wirral’s largest ( £7 million +) Public Health contract. Their latest mishap involves them in a massive data breach involving abandoned files found in an empty Tameside office  containing highly personal details about the lives of vulnerable young people – including abuse survivors. Once again we fear we have seen the future of health and social care. Be afraid, be very afraid.

CGL- Tameside

 

                                                     Posted Truth

A source writes :

By way of obscure and tenuous response to you excellent ‘Post Truth’ contribution/blog

… I am sending you this ‘Posted Truth’ image… I reckon you could say it is both a statement of fact…. and a protest. (Which I obviously feel to be a good thing).

Posted Truth

 

 

                                                       De-Stressed Eric 

A local barfly informs us :

Eric (Robinson) was recently seen in a pub in Liverpool when he should have been working – the pub being ‘Brew Dog’ dressed in casuals.
The council is no better than when we had the other 3 – it’s probably worse.

Now we can’t confirm whether Stressed Eric was on council duty or not whilst allegedly quaffing the craft ale – but we have to ask as to whether anyone would notice the difference ? Plus we simply don’t want to think about him dressed in his ‘casuals’.

Having said that we don’t need convincing that Wirral Council is worse than ever under his , ahem, ‘leadership’  As for ‘the other 3’ – whoever could they mean?!

       

                                               A Cautionary Tale

In Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2 we commented on recent developments where Mayor Joe Anderson was interviewed  by Merseyside Police ‘under caution’ in relation to the ongoing fraud probe involving Liverpool City Council CEO Ged Fitzgerald and others. We now hear of someone closer to home who it is alleged was also interviewed under caution by Merseyside Police in relation to an altogether different matter. However such are the extreme sensitivities surrounding this particular case we are precluded from reporting any further. Nevertheless we will be following developments with interest….

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #1

Following on from last week’s post and with our readers continuing to send us dispatches of despair from dystopia we thought we’d instigate a weekly foreign exchange. Be warned – it might not be weekly. We’ll be treating these titbits like we’re shopping in the local market – keeping it fresh,seasonal and whatever catches our eye.

Tag Hag 

Several of you have been in touch to tell us that Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram plans to fudge a mayoral election pledge to ‘slash’ Mersey Tunnel toll charges . It now transpires he wants to reduce tolls for off-peak fast tag users but to raise charges to £1.80 for everyone else ! We believe the word for this type of manoeuvre is sophistry. However all we can say on the matter is that the £1.70 we paid to get out of Wirral and onward to Liverpool John Lennon Airport for a flight to Nice was the best £1.70 we’ve ever spent. Just sayin’!

What’s in a Name?

We have been sent a very sad story about the death of a young man named Mark Potter –  Wirral Man,32, who died in his sleep was very much loved   

Mr Potter’s family attended the inquest and they repeatedly quizzed mental health workers about how their son would know how to access their services.

Mr Potter’s dad asked Marion Blackburn, from Wirral Ways To Recovery: “Since 2015, how many people have died in your care?

She replied: “We have learnt things and [we’re] to make changes to make things better for people.”

Mr Potter said: “How do we [the public] know you are there?

“People are falling down the cracks. I hope you’re sorting that organisation out because people like Mark might be dying all over the place.”

Needless to say we’ve long raised the same concerns about Wirral Ways To Recovery and particularly the services that operate under the Change Grow Live  (CGL) banner. This of course led to an investigation which concluded the high mortality rate associated with the takeover by CGL of services previously provided by NHS was due to an ageing population. We’re still not convinced.

Public Health england brought in to investigate concerns first raised by Wirral Leaks

Wirral Council are having Nunn of it !

What better way of avoiding scrutiny and accountability by pulling the ‘vexatious’ card from the bottom of the pack. The latest target of this dubious tactic is our old friend Charles Nunn – who has been denied information about consultant Stewart Halliday’s ongoing (?) inflated remuneration because he might say mean things on social media. Wirral Council solicitor Rosemary Lyon , who must be a delicate little flower ,  is also upset by Charles’ ‘tone’ and writes:

I consider that you as a third party are pursuing a legitimate interest.
However I consider that that legitimate interest has been lessened by the
tone of your request in asking the Council to confirm whether “there will
be no further contract extension for this man?”

I have had regard to the guidance issued by the ICO “Dealing with
vexatious requests (Section 14) 20151218 Version 1.3. Paragraph 56 states
that “The context and history in which a request is made will often be a
major factor in determining whether the request is vexatious.” Having
regard to your previous requests about the same individual and also having
regard to comments you have made in the public domain concerning this
individual, I consider that the tone of part of this request for
information is potentially vexatious.

I consider that the processing of personal data ie the release of personal
data in respect of  Mr Halliday is unwarranted  by reason of prejudice to
the rights and freedoms or legitimate interests of him as the data
subject………..I consider that disclosure of the requested information would be
unwarranted having regard to the prejudice that would be caused to the
rights and legitimate interests of Stewart Halliday. 

For full details : Stewart Halliday FOI Request

Ms Lyon appears to have cut and paste her response from various other FOI cases she’s been involved with and one in particular which she suddenly withdrew from. Now that would be a really interesting FOI request for someone to make . The Lyon sleeps tonight? – might we suggest she’ll sleep soundly if she’s got her own solicitor to back her up in case she suffers any detriment for refusing to front a case for Wirral Council that is riddled with corruption. We can only hope the tone of that particular comment doesn’t upset Little Miss Snowflake too much!

All’s not well in Sandwell  

If Rosie Snowflake thinks she’s got it bad she needs to spare a thought for her old boss Surjit Tour who we know she admired immensely. As we’ve previously reported Tour is now fitting in nicely at Sandwell Council . We know this because we have been sent details of a threatening missive he sent last week to the magnificent local blog The Sandwell Skidder . Tour’s full hilarious rant including the immortal phrase ‘ excitable language’ can be read below, but we have to say that we’re a tad disappointed that we never received such a threat of legal action from Tour when he was at Wirral . Hmmmmm- why was that we wonder? He certainly wasn’t averse to issuing such threats as local blogger John Brace can testify. If he would have had the gonads to send such a threat to us we guarantee he would have got the same response from this Julian as he did from The Sandwell Skidder‘s very own Julian Saunders  :  

Dear Mr Saunders

Sandwell Skidder (“the Blog”)

Allegation of Harassment

I am writing to you on behalf of the Council.

The Council considers that your behaviour and conduct over the past few years cannot be left unchallenged any longer. Whilst it had hoped that your activities would die down over time it is clear that that has not happened and instead they have only increased. In addition to using your blog to attack Councillors and employees you are targeting the same individuals on Twitter and other social media sites. You are regularly seen outside of the Council offices seeking to obtain information.

The Council fully accepts that, as a body, it must be subject to criticism but as an employer it has a duty to its staff to ensure that they can work in peace and are not harassed and targeted, and a duty to Council tax-payers to ensure that their needs are not neglected whilst having to expend considerable time and effort trying to dealing with a persistent and vexatious individual such as yourself.

Whilst the Council has carefully considered whether there would be any merit in trying to engage in dialogue with you again unfortunately it does not seem to be possible or be likely to achieve any measure of success. Only today, 25th January 2018, you have posted a witness statement in a blog entitled “The Statement Sandwell don’t want you to see!” that was produced for a quasi-judicial standards hearing that was held on 24th January 2018. You were put on notice that the Council objected to the content of this statement yesterday. You have nonetheless gone ahead and not only published your statement but presented a skewed account of what took place.

The excitable language you use on your website is indicative of a motive to do damage. Unlike newspapers or news websites you fling out with abandon accusations of corruption and criminality against individuals. Nor do you appear to verify your accusations. Your persistent publication of a photograph of the Council leader with the captions on it, is designed to harass him. That is why you are doing it.

We would ask you to go through your blog and consider carefully the appropriateness of the accusations you are making and the language you are using.  The council requests that you remove all unfounded abusive/offensive remarks and images immediately.

We consider that when you do you should recognise that the language is excessive and much of the content inappropriate and together it is harassing of individuals and is unacceptable.

To that end, we are engaging specialist Counsel to assist us with this matter but would hope that you will take steps to ensure that no further action is in fact necessary.

For the avoidance of doubt, if action is taken by the Council, we will comply with the relevant pre-action protocols. At this stage, we hope you will act to ensure that there is no need to proceed any further.

If necessary, we reserve the right to show this letter to the court.

Yours sincerely

AND HERE IS MY REPLY:

To: Surjit Tour <Surjit_Tour@sandwell.gov.uk>
THIS IS NOT A PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL COMMUNICATION

My reply is – you are well out of order and can fuck off.

For the full response : An Exchange of Correspondence with Surjit Tour

 

Comfortably Dumb

This Bitch be Trippin'

Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our trans -pennine correspondent Charles Nunn is most definitely on the Stewart Halliday case ( even if our local public servants haven’t been -or more accurately- don’t want to be).

Charlie Boy tells us :

As you probably know Mark Warters submitted a F.of I. request to York to try and establish whether, or not there was a conversation between Robinson and their C.E.O. about Halliday`s contract extension.

You may recall my request to Wirral told me that Robinson was “comfortable” with it.
This is what Cllr Warters sent to City of Council York’s FOI bod Cath Murray:

Dear Cath,

I understand that former CYC employee Mr S. Halliday currently employed by Wirral Council has had his contract/placement recently extended to the end of the year there and a conversation took place between the Wirral Chief Executive and the CYC Chief Executive that led to Wirral Council concluding that “there is no impediment to Stewart Halliday’s continued appointment with Wirral Council”

I would like to submit a FOI act request for the following;

(i) Confirmation that the conversation (s) took place and if emails were exchanged copies of the correspondence.

(ii) Copies of all correspondence between CYC and Wirral Council in relation to Mr Halliday’s employment.

Thank you for your assistance.

Regards,

Cllr. Mark Warters

As you can see from our pic below Cllr Warters perfectly reasonable request met with institutional obstruction and inevitably foundered on the grounds of  ‘ personal data’.
CYC 020
Charles tells us :
As I suspected. Refused on the grounds of “confidentiality” although it may well have cost the Wirral Council Tax payers over £200,000 in total for taking on a shyster.
How frequently we get that response from Councils.
How indeed – but then when we get ‘public servants’  who appear to be prepared to sacrifice their professional integrity for the price of the opportunity to peruse the Boden catalogue at their leisure what are we to expect?
Time to wake up and realise that this is how it works folks – private phone calls between CEOs on the public purse. Massive public expenditure all done on a nod and a wink.
Know your place serfs – you’re just there to pay for the executive lifestyles. Leave our betters to get through Monday to Friday with the least possible effort. Please allow them to have comfortable lives at our expense. It’s the least they deserve.
Although it should be said we all deserve somewhat better.

Police and Peeves

Noughts 011

Somebody call the fashion police. Anyone for a game of noughts and crosses ?   

There has been an interesting exchange in the Wirral Globe letters page over the past couple of weeks. Firstly ,  we had Wirral Leaks regular Charles Nunn who wrote in to say:

The announcement that the Merseyside Police and crime commissioner, Jane Kennedy, a former Labour MP, has appointed a female Labour councillor – the third such appointment in succession – as her deputy should come as no surprise.

When the Conservative Government announced the new appointments in 2012 it was met with total apathy by the voters but great enthusiasm by the political classes of all parties who hijacked the proceedings.

They saw it as a lucrative post with salaries up to £100,000 a year and probably generous expenses

The opportunities for empire-building and political patronage were no doubt an additional incentive. Many candidates were former MPs, with some resigning their seats in order to stand.

In the first elections in November 2012 the total turn out across the country was a paltry 13%.

In the second in May 2016 only 300,000 voters from the whole of Merseyside were prepared to cast their votes.

Ms Kennedy’s first task after her election with a salary of £85,000 was to appoint a deputy from the Labour Party ranks at a salary of £31,800 for a three-day week.

The latest appointment of yet another Labour councillor would appear to suggest the recruitment net is cast no further than the political party which dominates Merseyside.

The published letter can be found here

This elicited the following response the next week from David Burgess-Joyce , Conservative councillor for Greasby , Frankby and Irby

Your correspondent Charles Nunn (Mailbox, September 27) makes some very interesting comments regarding the police and crime commissioner’s appointment of a new deputy as yet another Labour Party internal placement.

In reality he should not be surprised because in the socialist Republic of Merseyside no alternative voices will be accepted other than those of comrade Rotherham, his acolytes and their Corbynite activists.

Having more than 30 years’ experience in Merseyside Police, including senior roles in the National Crime Squad and Serious Organised Crime Agency, I stood for the post of police and crime commissioner last year.  I was runner-up, but because I am so supportive of local policing I decided to apply for this allegedly non-political post of deputy PCC.

Having worked with Jane Kennedy previously I knew we could make a good team in delivering outstanding policing.

Given the “experience” of the successful applicant you will be unsurprised to learn I was not even given the courtesy of an interview, proving yet again Labour’s lack of transparency.

It is good to know 1980s Liverpool is waiting just around the corner!

The published letter can be found here

What Burgess-Joyce , or B-J as we like to call him, fails to mention is the brouhaha that surrounded his hapless candidacy for the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) role. Read the full story here : A Fair Cop

As you can see not only did we raise the question as to why allegations that B-J was ‘sacked’ from his job with the National Crime Agency – now known as Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in 2013 were suddenly reported in the Liverpool Echo a few days before the election in May 2016 , we also pointed out :

Even more interestingly we have Liverpool Council’s Mayor Joe Anderson calling for B-J’s  resignation as a Wirral Councillor and surprisingly not Wirral Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies.

Although this appears to be a rare show of comradely solidarity  between Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip , we think that this was just another case of  Pip getting someone else to do his dirty work for him.

As it turned out B-J  was not so much a runner-up as a distant second in the PCC election. However, as we’ve commented before about B-J , this most self-regarding and pompous of councillors is now further peeved that he didn’t get the opportunity to be Commissioner Kennedy’s number two.

Whilst we do think that B-J nicked the ‘Socialist Republic of Merseyside’ line from us we do still have concerns that a red hegemony is potentially not a good thing in terms of public accountability. Political patronage and policing policy – what could possibly go wrong? Let’s just hope that local Labour politicians have been behaving themselves – we wouldn’t want Commissioner Kennedy or her Deputy to be politically compromised now would we?

Local Government Association – Hand In Glove With The Glove Puppets

Glove Puppet
Today we have decided take the Trans-Pennine Express and visit our friends in York. Not only to update you all on Stewart Halliday affair but to enable us to vent about local government in general and the Local  Government Association (LGA) in particular.
Firstly we’d like to thank the excellent website York Mix for providing comprehensive coverage of the bounteous beneficence bestowed from Stewart to Stuart aka  ‘ The Goulden Showers’.
For those who can’t decipher this code might we suggest you read an introduction here : Transparency v Secrecy
Here you will find independent City of York (CYC) councillor Mark Warters showing up our supine Wirral councillors for the waste of space that they are and daring to ask pertnent questions in a CYC Audit & Governance meeting about a draft LGA report into the Halliday affair that has been with the council for some time :

 

“And according to the people who really run the council – the senior officers – this report, even after it has been sanitised between the council’s HR department and the LGA, is to remain secret. Are you as a committee willing to condone this state of affairs? He said the committee should insist on seeing the “full, unsanitised draft report”. Otherwise it would confirm the scenario “that elected members are merely the glove puppets of the senior officers riding the local authority gravy train”.

Further understanding on how things work in York, in local government and indeed closer to home can be found in the following report on the Supply Management website:

The Local Government Association (LGA) was called in to review procurement at the council in the wake of controversy over how consultancy services were acquired in the past.

The LGA said procurement was held in high regard internally, with “many solid achievements” and delivering “good quality services”, but it was “subject to heightened scrutiny in York due to past internal control issues”.

“There remains a negative external perception of council procurement, including among members of the public,” said the report. “This negative perception needs to be addressed if the council is to secure public confidence in its procurement processes and the wider corporate governance arrangements.”

A previous audit report by Veritau in November 2016 focused on the appointment of a communications consultant and their associated company between 2013 and 2016. One particular chief officer, who no longer works for the council, was found to be mainly responsible for employing and making payments to the consultant and the company. These totalled more than £174,000.

The audit could find no material to back up claims contract procedures were followed. “At best this represents a failure to be transparent and to retain all relevant procurement documentation,” said the report. “However, it seems likely that there was a failure to follow proper procurement processes, including obtaining written quotations, ensuring sufficient potential suppliers were approached and agreeing a formal contract.”

The LGA review, carried out in June 2017, said it was “reassured to find that the council has a good corporate procurement function and that the compliance issues are being addressed”.

“However, as the council itself recognises, there is more to do in regard to procurement’s enabling role within the council’s developing commissioning framework and to address the residual negative perceptions of historical procurement issues.”

Full article can be read here : Negative Public Image
Doesn’t the excruciating, bureaucratic language of the LGA make ya wanna puke? Unfortunately this wretched organisation is stuffed to the gills with highly paid nonentities who think that what goes on in local government can be anonymised, rationalised and sanitised as long as it involves one of their own.
Fortunately for the truth -seekers out there we understand that after the meeting Cllr Warters collared the LGA representative giving the public report into procurement at City of York Council (CYC) as he left the meeting and left him in no doubt that the Halliday/Goulden business will end up with the police.
Now this is the kind of local representation we are crying out for and reinforces our long held view that INDEPENDENT candidates are the way to go and that DIVISIVE PARTY POLITICS HAS NO PLACE IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT and that the LGA ARE HAND IN GLOVE WITH THE GLOVE PUPPETS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT .
Even closer to home we are grateful that local resident Charles Nunn understands the issues at stake and comprehends that someone with apparently no understanding of even the most basic concepts of public procurement can wangle a near cool £200K + gig from long suffering Wirral Council tax payers :
I find it somewhat ironic that the major political upheaval in York is over dodgy contracts worth £175,000. Halliday, courtesy of the ever benevolent Wirral Council Tax payer, will be bunged about £50k more than that as a result of his contract extension.
Read it and weep.

Consultant Insults – Continued

£

The long running saga involving Wirral Council’s love of costly external consultants continues.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/consultant-insults/

As following on from our interims story – The £Million Interims – we understand that there are full details knocking about of consultants performing an interim role for Wirral Council.

However the people who actually pick up the DAILY tab of £8,404 – that’s us folks! – apparently aren’t allowed to know who we are paying, what we’re paying and what we’re paying them for – go figure!

This is because Wirral Council consider the information to be confidential and the poor downtrodden consultants that are not directly employed by the Council will have confidentiality preserved when it comes to cold hard cash.

Huh ?! – not at Wirral Council it won’t, especially when much of the information is rightly already in the public domain. We think that whoever  made up this diktat on the hoof realises that someone who does work for a local authority and is paid with Council taxpayers money somehow has a right to keep their paypacket a secret is not a particularly convincing argument.

That might explain why they usually throw in ‘commercial confidentiality’ as an additional back up as to why the Council need to keep a lid on the gory details of their expensive consultancy habit.  Apparently it could inhibit the Council from recruiting future interims. Whaaaat?! – can we therefore assume that the remuneration listed on recruitment sites will just henceforth state : ‘ Fill yer boots !’

It’s such a shame that the information about the 18 interims that are currently on the Council payroll is not more readily available as we’re sure that Wirral Council taxpayers would find it most illuminating/infuriating . Indeed we’re sure that one of Wirral Leaks’ regular contributors , Charles Nunn, will be particularly pleased to hear that we understand that Stewart Halliday’s contract , at a daily rate of £705 , and which was due to end in August has now been extended to the end of 2017.

However it should be noted that ‘Happy’ Halliday is not the highest paid interim on the list. We understand that accolade goes to Surjit Tour’s replacement . Philip McCourt ,the interim Assistant Director – Law & Governance has to get by on a mere £800 a day …….making him pro rata , at £200K + per annum, on more than Wirral Council’s CEO, Eric Robinson.

Wirral Council watchers may find some consolation in knowing that one of the 5 ‘transformers’ on the list , Martin Liptrot, finds himself ranked 16th out of the 18 interims listed in terms of his day rate – a paltry £350!

And finally before we go we’d just like to inform our readers that we’ll be taking a long overdue summer break throughout August – unless of course THAT story breaks . In the interim (!) we’ll  be considering how we co-ordinate the ‘managed decline’ of Wirral Leaks when we return in the autumn.

img_0312_-_copy

Another Blank Halliday

Tranformers 1

Lord Leaky’s Bullshit Detector is fully engaged.

Wirral Council workers must be breathing a huge sigh of relief as the second long weekend of May beckons. Shame it’s going to piss down tomorrow . But hey folks ! – at least you’re not in work on Monday.

We thought we’d leave this story for this weekend as it neatly book-ends the first May bank holiday story we ran and because that’s how we roll at Leaky Towers !

Blank Halliday

Accordingly this follow up is prompted by indomitable Wirral citizen Charles Nunn who’s still on the Stewart Halliday case. A Freedom of Information request about who exactly has the power to sign off a £188,000 employment contract whilst leaving the background checks to a recruitment agency  Matrix , who it would seem believe everything that’s written on a CV but don’t know how the interweb thingy works. This means they didn’t spot that the transformation guru had a chequered past with his previous employer – City of York Council (CYC) –  before hotfooting over the Pennines for a high chequed future in the desperado haven that is Wirral Council.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/who_authorised_the_appointment_o?nocache=incoming-980522#incoming-980522

Needless to say Wirral Council rather sneakily failed to answer Charles’ seemingly simple question . He asked who ‘authorised’ the shameful Halliday appointment. However they answered who had ‘overseen’ the appointment and , of course, failed to provide a name. Because we can’t upset Wirral council most senior snowflakes – after all we’re just here to pay their wages!

Consequently Charles asked us if we knew who could be the ‘ Council’s Senior Manager Transformation & Resources’  , but to be honest there are so many blighters with ‘Transformation’ in the title it could be any number of them. They’re like the ‘Transformers’ movie franchise but without the benefit of Megan Fox astride a motorbike. Children’s Services may not be able to recruit and retain staff but the ‘Transformers’ are everywhere.

We’d pin our money someone called Michele Duerden being Halliday’s authorisee as she is described as ‘Senior Manager Transformation and Improvement’ but we could be wrong . It could easily be Stephen Butterworth or Alan Evans . However we do note that Ms Duerden has just finished recruiting for a ‘Programme Manager ‘ ,  a post which is described thus:

This is an exciting new opportunity for an experienced programme manager to play a central role in delivering Transformation within Wirral Council. We have committed to the modernisation of services, and the delivery of improved operational efficiency and effectiveness. We are investing in digital infrastructure and capability to support business transformation as well as establishing a new change and business improvement capability.

The post-holder will be accountable for the management and development of programmes ensuring agreed outputs and outcomes are delivered. The role will ensure quality levels of delivery in line with the standards developed by the Programme Management Office (PMO).

As a PRINCE2 Practitioner you will drive an integrated, consolidated and consistent Council-wide approach to programme management, supported by the appropriate governance arrangements, processes and stakeholder engagement.

https://ww3.wirral.gov.uk/jobs/jobdetail.asp?VacancyID=7794&Other=

After reading that BS we’re no clearer as to what a Transformation ‘ Programme Manager’ actually does. Just as our friend Charles is none the wiser who’s signing the cheques for this latest expensive exercise in Emperor’s New Clothes. But hey ! – let’s not forget it keeps a lot of middle class no marks in gainful employment ……..and yet at the same time it’s everything that’s wrong with local government!

 

Blank Halliday

Blank Halliday 011

Wirral Council – experts in blanking the people who pay their wages/expenses/allowances

As the denizens of Wallasey Town Hall breath a sigh of relief that they’ve survived another week (well those not on long term sick leave anyway) and can look forward to a bank holiday weekend we provide an update on the Stewart Halliday situation.

Readers will remember Stuey ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ Halliday is the recipient of a humongous salary courtesy of Wirral Council taxpayers despite leaving his previous employer City of York Council (CYC) with questions to ask about his rather casual approach to contracting arrangements.  

Indomitable local resident Charles Nunn is particularly aggrieved that his Council Tax and that of many other Wirral tax payers appears to be being spent on a series of snake oil salesmen and has pursued this matter with Wirral Council CEO (the ‘O’ seemingly standing for ostrich) Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson. Stressed Eric provided the following response:

Dear Mr Nunn

Thank you for your email  dated 13 March 2017 and follow up email on 26 March 2017.

The Council’s Human Resources Team has confirmed the following:

Mr Halliday is engaged via an agency through the Council’s contract with Matrix Ltd.  Under the process, Matrix require supplying agencies to supply references for the previous two years employment history.

These references were sent directly to the line manager recruiting the worker.  There is no requirement for our Human Resources Team to be involved in all such engagements.  The line manager also elected to seek an additional reference from the former Chief Executive of York Council and subsequently a further reference was provided to the agency by the Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods still currently working at York.

We have been advised by Mr Halliday that he refutes all the allegations which are matter of ongoing dispute between him and his previous employer. It is not appropriate for Wirral Council to comment any further on these allegations.

Regards

Eric Robinson
Chief Executive
Wirral Council

Charles tells us that in his opinion , of the three statements made in Robinson’s response, which is presumably based on from information supplied by Halliday, ‘one at least is certainly untrue, one probably untrue and another open to conjecture……’
He added further :
‘Halliday may “refute” the allegations but anyone who has read the damning report from York will scratch their heads in wonder  at such a statement………..
That the CURRENT holder of the exalted title of Director of Communities and Neighbourhood at York would not have supplied a reference and indeed the post holder would not have been the right person so to do as Halliday did not report to that person.
I have suggested that Robinson must be very embarrassed (I doubt it to be so) at passing on duff information and await his reply with interest.
I should also have asked why a Line Manager has the authority to dish out such highly paid posts.’
Charles has based his assertions on information he has received from contacts in York. Most notably CYC Cllr Mark Warters who was rather more robust in his enquiries than our very own Stressed Eric.
A blameless CYC  underling contacted Cllr Warters to explain :
‘Mary (Weastall – CYC CEO) asked me to apologise for the delay in responding but to confirm,  as far as the council is concerned we do not have a dispute with Stewart Halliday’
Indeed councillors seem to be made of sterner stuff than our own when it comes to questioning what’s has been going on with taxpayer’s money and now that the Local Government Association (LGA) has been called in to carry out a ‘peer review of the Council’s approach to procurement, including governance’ Cllr Warters remains undaunted by the  LGA’s dilly-dallying  to ‘identify suitably qualified and experienced people who could investigate specific issues and events at CYC.’   Which as Wirralians know means appointing a ‘safe pair of hands ‘ such as the likes of  LGA alumna Dr Gill Taylor  or Joyce Redfearn who shake their heads, give a slap on the wrists, take the money and run to another lucrative gig……..and make NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER.
Cllr Warters asks of LGA  : ‘Without knowing the answers to the questions I posed to you it is hard to assess whether waiting for your investigation to conclude is reason to hold off any longer taking the matter to the police.’
Isn’t it a shame that our own dear councillors don’t take this more rigorous approach and report what we regard to be much more serious concerns to the local police ?
%d bloggers like this: