Secret Chamber

york-council-chamber-guildhall-updated

Above is a picture of the rather splendid council chamber at York Guildhall.  The admirable  York Mix website tells us that it will be here next week that a group of senior councillors are challenging City of York Council (CYC) leader Cllr David Carr to publish  a ‘secret report’.

Secret Report

Regular Wirral Leaks readers will know that our interest is piqued by the fact that we understand the report follows a Local Government Association (LGA) investigation into  what Stewart Halliday got up to before he landed a £200K +  ‘transformer’ gig at Wirral Council.

What also interests us is the sheer persistence of CYC councillors in pursuing this matter in the public interest. Can you imagine Wirral Council’s equivalent to CYC’s Audit & Governance Committee writing a cross- party letter to the leader of the Council asking for a report to published in the name of openness and transparency?

Indeed if they were doing their jobs properly there’s a particular ‘secret report’ that Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee should be asking to be published. The sad fact is that half of this committee don’t even know what report we’re referring to and the other half know exactly what report we are referring to and are choosing to sweep the matter under the Wallasey Town Hall carpet !

 

 

 

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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.

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.

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 ?

Reference Point 2 : A Halliday Hullabaloo!

Truth Sounds

There’s been yet another twist in the tale of the ‘Happy Halliday’ saga :

Happy Halliday  Nous Sommes Charlie Reference Point

Indomitable Wirral resident Charles Nunn has valiantly chased up queries about the appointment of controversial ex City of York Council (CYC) employee Stewart Halliday to Wirral Council and received this response from elusive (and gullible?) Wirral Council CEO Eric’ Feeble’ Robinson :

‘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.’
However  Charles ‘ trans-pennine contacts were having Nunn of it (geddit?).

Here’s a couple of responses from his contacts in York which have been judiciously edited , not that we doubt the veracity of some of the statements , but we know how delicate the sensibilities of our highly paid public servants are and we don’t want to prompt another outraged response from’Blotto’! . The first goes something like this :

‘I’m utterly gobsmacked at the response from the C.E.O. of Wirral Council, but, knowing how these organisations work, perhaps I shouldn’t be? ……….The Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods was Sally Burns at the time Halliday was there, but, she has also now left…..Judge for yourself – here are the dynamic duo in action (do try not to fall asleep whilst watching their spell-binding performance:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_C47mc1m1U

It is laughable, and outrageous that Halliday refutes the allegations…….

The front this man has, beggars belief…
Halliday hasn’t “refuted” anything.
He has “denied” it.
There is a big difference in the meaning of these words.
There is NO ongoing dispute twixt Halliday and CYC.’
The second comment is no less compromising :

‘The  current holder of the grandiose title of  Director of Communities and Neighbourhood did NOT provide a reference. I am certain, as are no doubt you, that it was a previous post holder Ms. Burns who, like (Kersten) England furnished a glowing testimonial.

In order to “refute” something one must put forward evidence and argument to conclusively demonstrate that the allegations are invalid.  Halliday has NOT done this.  Indeed he cannot. 
We know for an indisputable fact what the procurement rules are – and also for a fact that he has failed to comply with them.
Ergo – he is guilty as charged.
His denials are worthless; but he is hardly likely to openly admit wrongdoing is he?  Or accept responsibility for it all? ‘
In an attempt to resolve the matter CYC Councillor Mark Warters has waded in (geddit?) in an attempt to address the discrepancies seemingly raised in Stressed Eric’s email and has asked current CYC CEO Mary Weastall the following questions :
Dear Mary,
Following the receipt of an FOI response forwarded to me from a concerned Wirral resident penned by the Wirral Council CEO that Stewart Halliday is in “ongoing dispute” with CYC;
Please confirm that Mr. Halliday is in “dispute” with CYC and what the nature of the dispute is.
Please also confirm the origin of the second reference provided to Wirral Council from the Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods “still currently working at York”, I assume that was the former Director Sally Burns who departed under a reorganisation some time ago.
If this was the case why was the reference provided from this directorate as Mr Halliday was working for the Chief Executives Directorate.
I understand that a reference was obtained from former CYC CEO Kersten England, was a reference ever sought from the CYC CEO at the time, I assume that was Steve Stewart?
I look forward to the LGA investigation into the 22nd February A&G meeting and wonder in relation to the “ongoing dispute” with CYC if the LGA brief should be extended to cover all aspects of this sorry saga including the procurement fails at CYC, the relationships between CYC officers, including Mr. Halliday and the external communications ‘consultants’ and Mr. Halliday’s subsequent employment at Wirral Council.
I am sure the LGA would be keen to operate across two local authorities to get to the bottom of these matters if only to prevent further reputational risk to member local authorities.
Thank you in anticipation of your assistance in these matters.
To which we at Leaky Towers would’ve been ready to heartily cheer ‘here!,here!’,  if only the Local Government Association(LGA) were not involved!
However I’m sure we’d all like to know who’s telling the truth don’t we ? – place your bets now on the ‘Stewart Halliday Sweepstakes’. Which is a bit like this week’s upcoming ‘Grand National Sweepstakes’ which involves the public losing a lot of money on something that should have have put out to grass a long time ago.

Nous Sommes Charlie

Nous Sommes Charlie

This post predominately ( but not exclusively) celebrates the endeavours of redoubtable Wirral resident Charles Nunn.

Check out his latest Freedom of Information request here :

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/information_about_the_employment

Mr Nunn is a bona fide local legend who makes us look like the rank amateurs that we actually are.

Let it be known it was he who discovered the definitive Wirral Council remuneration of City of York Council incompetent Stewart Halliday and justifiably commented – because he comes from a generation who knows the difference between right and wrong:

So Halliday landed the top job of No: 1 Programme Manager at £188,192. which is about £30,000 more than the P.M. is paid.
It makes Liptrot`s salary look like mere petty cash!
So between August 2016 to September 2017 it can be confirmed that ‘Happy Halliday’ will cost us just over £188,000.
People of Wirral , just think about this statement for a minute  – a man who didn’t fulfil even the basic requirements of public service at City of York Council – and might we suggest his conduct borders on the criminal-  will be paid eye- watering and gut-wrenching amounts of public money by us! Because that is apparently what we deserve.
Unsurprisingly we have a recurring dream about putting Charles Nunn and Stewart Halliday in the same room and making the latter justify his salary to the former on our collective behalf.
Following on from the ‘Halliday Affair’ we had a tittylipped reply from someone who proudly proclaims themselves as ‘CYC Employee’  and who commented on our Reference Point story:
I think you will find this story is factually incorrect. I can tell you as a CYC employee …..who is sick of the York Trolls their lies and hatred of anyone who has ever said no to them…… that Halliday left in March 2016 before the new CEX started in June 2016. So it seems he started his new job after the Interim CEX had left….so as anyone would you would get your reference form your last line manager. CYC staff are sick and tired of Ms Swinburn
A message to ‘CYC Employee’ : The only thing that we were incorrect about is that Halliday is on even more than we originally reported ! Our bad ! Next thing you know ‘CYC Employee’ will be telling us Halliday’s referee , Ms Kersten England, knew nothing about his nefarious activities before she gave him a reference! Good luck with that one!
Note to ‘CYC Employee’, we’d have Ms Swinburn as a witness as to how City of York Council, and indeed how modern local government works, over anything you have to say any day of the week!
However we are grateful that the foolhardy ‘CYC Employee’ has provided us with a name , which will be from here on in , be the Wirral Leaks collective name for apologists of local government malpractice . I name thee :  ‘Brenda White’.
And just to remind the ‘Brenda Whites’ out there –  the good people of the world are not responsible for your mortgage payments just because you are prepared to defend the indefensible. Got that?
And finally, just to clarify – not only do we love Charlie , we also adore Gwen.
And indeed all those who say on our collective behalf who say :  ” NO!, this is not good enough”

Reference Point

 

Stewart halliday call

Reference busters : ‘Who ya gonna call? Call Kersten!’  pic courtesy York Press

The ‘Happy Halliday’ story certainly pushed a few buttons didn’t it?

Happy Halliday

Blotto?

Well we’ve got some news for you – the plot thickens or should that be sickens?

Subsequent to our posts you might have read that Wirral Globe reported that the following appointments had just been made by Wirral Council:

£188,192 for a programme manager.

£181,471 for a second programme manager.

£139,080 for an interim head of transformation.

£665,760 to management consulting company Capita.

£185,000 to two companies to provide economic and legal advice to set up a joint venture property company.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15145472.Wirral_Council_forks_out___1_3m_on_temporary_managers_and_consultants_amid_outcry_over_cuts/?ref=mr&lp=8

The first thing to say is that we wondered how long it would be before outsourcing carrion birds C(r)apita got in on the vulturine act of picking at the emaciated cadaver of Wirral Council.

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/11/21/report_into_mega_capita_outsourcing_deal_identifies_performance_issues/

However our immediate attention was drawn to some of the eyewatering sums involved. Under the circumstances it would seem an obvious choice to assign the post of interim head of transformation to our new found friend Stewart Halliday. However we have reason to believe that ‘Happy Halliday’ may have actually been appointed to the second programme manager post on £181, 471 ! Which would mean that he could have DOUBLED his salary since fleeing City of York Council under a charcoal-coloured cumulonimbus .

Of course our sources may be mistaken and if so we would welcome Wirral Council , in the name of openness and transparency ,to put the correct names in the frames . After all it must surely be in the public interest that we should know where our money is going and who it is going to!

However, there’s more to this fast moving story. Hence the title of this blog post. So, you may be asking yourselves what kind of reference did ‘Happy Halliday’ get from his previous employer? – well , apparently he didn’t get one!

Yes that’s right ,news reaches us that Halliday was provided with a reference from the Chief Executive of Bradford City Council , one Kersten England .

Eh? – well apparently Ms England was CEO of City of York Council before moving on to Bradford City Council in the summer of 2015. So despite there being two subsequent CEOs of CoYC since her departure –  the interim, Steve Stewart, and the current incumbent Mary Weastell –  both of whom could surely have provided a glowing reference for the wonderful work Halliday did for CoYC, he curiously chose to seek a reference from England, along with a reference from an agency ‘outlining’ two years of Halliday’s employment history.

This wouldn’t be so bad , after all everyone ( including the agency involved), wants to present themselves in the best light when a six figure gig is up for grabs , however we understand that, shamefully, it was Wirral Council who made NO DIRECT APPROACH to CoYC for a reference for Halliday. Which makes us to want to wish that the whole  of Wirral Council’s notoriously appalling Human Resources Department management team ,who’s motto seems to be ‘we were only following orders’, gets swallowed up and spat out into the gutter by C(r)apita at the earliest opportunity.

It’s all very reminiscent of the Stella Shiu debacle isn’t it? And look what happened there! It’s like the interweb thingy doesn’t exist for Wirral Council or perhaps there are darker forces at work which ensure that the current administration ‘get their man’ no matter what his credentials.

Might we suggest that whilst this situation may result in big money for Halliday it’s a kick in the holiday money for the long suffering council tax payers of Wirral!

 

 

Happy Halliday

 

Happy Halliday

Spookily, we were about to follow up our story about one of Wirral Council’s new ‘transformation’ gurus , Stewart Halliday,  when we were sent the above story from Private Eye with exactly the same title that this ‘excellent local blog’ was about to run with ( great minds etc;). We say ‘one of’ as we understand there have been two new highly paid ‘interim transformation ‘ council appointments to push through the further dismantling  of public services.

Astonishingly it has been suggested to us that ‘Happy Halliday’ could be in line for a significant  increase on the estimated £90K salary that he received at City of York Council despite leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.Talk about rewarding failure!

We’ve already reported on his previous involvement in a series of irregularities at City of York Council involving procurement and contract procedures and the use of consultants.  Among the allegations made against Halliday were that he failed to get proper tenders, quotes or contracts for £174K worth of work that he commissioned and he didn’t draw up business cases or monitor the work that was paid for.

Wirral Council – Where Transformation Means More Of The Same

Halliday had previously also been implicated in criticism that City of York Council had not been very good at publishing its data according to a report compiled by Spend Network, which forms part of the Spend Small campaign by the Centre for Entrepreneurs :.

“They ( City of York Council) are bad at publishing data that we could use to analyse what they are doing. It’s obvious they don’t think anyone is going to run the data against an algorithm. They have got dirty data, and manage it in a poor way. It’s not very helpful for people to use the data, and not helpful for people to read it as a human, it’s very hard to interpret.”

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/11463826.Council_criticised_over____dirty_data________report/

And so with Wirral Council pleading poverty at every turn and imposing a 4.99% rise in Council Tax it doesn’t sit well with us that they are potentially appointing two further people on six figure ‘interim’ contracts,one of whom at least , has a chequered past. This of course hasn’t prevented Halliday securing a big cheque future at the rogue’s paradise that is Wirral Council. As we know all too well Halliday follows a trail of local government garbage who have cleaned up at our expense.Who can forget Rob Vickers – the social care consultant who was paid £180K for 18 months ‘work’ which essentially involved helping to cover up two Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) scandals (‘the 4 week delay’ disgrace and, a thus far unreported, further unlawful overcharging of vulnerable people). And there have been plenty of others just like him, jumping on and off the endless money-go-round that is the Wirral Council consultant carousel.

We can only predict that one day we will look back and reflect that these were the darkest days in the history of public services – not just in terms of public finance, but in respect of the calibre of people who are running them and/or running them down.

 

smug-halliday

A compiler of an illustrated dictionary may find a use for this picture of Stewart Halliday next to the word ‘smug’.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glorious indeed!

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

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