Defending the Empire

Empire

Before we reveal the answers to our ‘Men of Mystery ‘ quiz we’d  like to maintain the suspense for slightly longer and mention a couple of Wirral Leaks regulars.

Firstly we ruefully note that ,  Asif ‘Massive’ Hamid ,Chair of Wirral Chamber of Commerce and CEO of The Contact Company has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

How appropriate that someone who specialises in empire building has been awarded an MBE! – even more so when you consider the Wirral Chamber of Horrors seems to specialise in giving awards.

Needless to say as we’re the proud recipients of a hereditary title we do have a tendency to be a bit sneery about such awards dispensed to the so-called great and the good. However our main objection is that such awards seem to serve as a defence to any  criticism-  ‘I have been honoured by the Queen ergo I am a good person’  

I’m sure all us ‘unworthies’  could name a ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ or a recipient of a lesser honour who makes us want to shake our head in despair that these people are considered to be ‘worthies’.

Talking of worthies and unworthies the Wirral Council  Standards Panel involving complaints made against Cllr Louise Reecejones did take place this week.

At least John Brace was given the honour and the privilege of being allowed to film the first part of the meeting where it was decided that he should be unceremoniously chucked out for the rest of it!

This is more than be said for last year’s  farce of a Standards Panel / Cover-Up meeting where the doors were barricaded against Brace to prevent him filming Foulkesy’s shame.

As you can see from the footage it’s the same cast from Wirral Council playing their usual roles . Cllr Chris Blakeley – the British bulldog , Cllr Moira McLaughlin  – the stern matron and Cllr Phil Gilchrist – well ,being a Lib Dem, sitting on the fence and voting to exclude the public. And of course we don’t have to tell you what the  Head of Law Surjit Tour advised do we?

Cllr Gilchrist stated that this was part of an attempt to maintain ‘public confidence in our system’ .

Really? – based on the operation of the last two Standards Panel hearings and the totally ineffectual  and self serving  Councillor’s Code of Conduct we have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE in Wirral Council’s system of protecting the powerful. Indeed when we questioned a member of the Standards and Constitutional Committee last year about the Foulkesy  ‘slap on the wrist’  They replied :

The ‘sanctions’ able to be applied are limited to just a few courses of action

As we responded :

Yes and who decided that? You guys did!. 

Utterly feeble. Should be with police and you know it.
Thankfully we know people much braver and committed to public accountability than you guys and we’ll be supporting them 100%…………. 
Whilst at the moment we don’t know the full extent of the allegations made against Cllr Reecejones – although we are promised a redacted investigator’s report shortly- it wouldn’t really matter what she (or any other councillor) had been up to as they  have neatly devised and cynically approved a policy that will forever protect the powerful to defend their political empires.

This Gun (Ain’t) For Hire

 

this-gun-for-hire

Our attention has been drawn to a number of interesting Facebook posts this week. This includes one posted yesterday by Conservative councillor Chris Blakeley which read :

Earlier this evening I was at Wallasey Town Hall for a special scrutiny meeting requisitioned by the Conservatives to look into the activity of Wirral Community Patrol and try to find out why it provides free security checks to private business and individuals.

The debate was interesting, with former Leader of the Council, Labour’s Steve Foulkes accusing the conservatives of trying to make political gain, and referring to me as ‘A hired Gun’. I must have done something right then!

Anyway at the end of the meeting and to try to be helpful i moved a motion that read:

‘Committee resolves to set up a Task and Finish group to carry out a full review of Wirral’s Community Patrol service and on completion of the review the findings be reported back to the Environment Committee.’

Now I thought, being an innocuous and non political motion that it would get all party support. How wrong was I with the Labour Councillors and the Lib Dem voting against. Just what have they got to hide?

First of all we see that the long running Blakeley v Foulkesy feud continues. Oh how Blakeley must’ve loved being at the Standards Panel earlier this year where Foulkesy’s serial mendacity was discussed ad nauseum. However the satisfaction must’ve been purely personal as Foulkesy staggeringly continues to be a councillor and therefore able to bait Bulldog Blakeley with his old standby about Conservatives trying to make ‘political gain’ by requisitioning pointless political point scoring meetings. As for ‘political gain’ how does Foulkesy reconcile this statement with asking his badly bequiffed bestie Cllr George Davies asking for a document smearing the Conservative group leader Jeff Green in exchange for cold, hard cash?.

However let’s get back to the political pantomime that is Blakeley v Foulkesy.  The respective Rottweilers of Wirral’s leading (and constantly) feuding political parties. Shame the pair of them were neutered a long time ago and this is purely for entertainment purposes with Blakeley keeping his powder dry and Foulkesy firing blanks.

Witness as Foulkesy  refers to Blakeley as a ” A hired Gun” (sic) – so tell us Foulkesy who is Blakeley hired by?. Meanwhile Blakeley asks the question about Labour and Lib Dem councillors :“Just what have they got to hide?” . So tell us Blakeley what exactly have they got to hide?

The fact is you’ve all got something to hide. As this missive to Leaky Towers seems to testify :

Councillor Blakeley posted on Facebook today that the conservative party has lodged an investigation into Wirral community patrol to the councils scrutiny committee.

The reason believed to be community patrol officers security checks on Angela Eagle’s headquarters in Liscard is just not a big deal at all.
They should be investigating how the Wirral Community Patrol Limited came about and what was the reasons for Atlas Fire and Security owner Mr Piggott branding this council service – illegal by the way.
Also ex – Wirral Community patrol manager John Kenny and his ex -Assistant manager Mike Collins setting up Atlas Security Patrol and then plundering over 40% of Wirral Community Patrols business using insider knowledge of their pricing structure.
This is well known by the head of the Wirral Conservative Party and Mr Blakeley but inspection of Facebook sites shows they are both friends with Mike Collins who is also a Conservative Party member who only last year ran in the Bromborough ward.They always protect their friends no matter what party.
Atlas Patrol are now part of the Wirral Chamber elite with their best mate Adderley – head honcho.  Watch this space…… 
We note that the former Conservative councillor Leah Fraser , who was the most prominent champion of the Community Patrol guys, is no longer a Conservative councillor. She follows on from Simon Mountney – the Conservative councillor who championed the notorious Martin Morton whistleblowing case. Seems to us that if you speak up for those treated unfairly by Wirral Council – you have no future with the local Conservative Party.

All this does from our perspective is to reiterate our clarion call to all the talented , intelligent , ambitious young people of personal integrity on Wirral and that is to get out of this incestuous, pernicious peninsula as fast as you can………..

Oh , and finally we don’t expect Cllr Blakeley to retweet or like this blog post on Facebook because we don’t and never will be seeking his or any other Wirral councillor’s approval. We ain’t for hire. EVER.

Closure and Non-Disclosure

                               ClosureDisclosure

We think a Facebook post by Save Girtrell Court posted a couple of days ago needs highlighting as it further demonstrates the way things work with Wirral Council.

We’ve commented before on their relentless and ruthless  privatisation of public services .We will be returning to  the matter in time for the grand opening of new respite facilities in Tollemache Road now that we know the battle to save Girtrell Court has been lost and Wirral Council will now surely be planning to make a nice capital receipt out of the land to add to the real estate bonanza that will follow the sale of the Lyndale School site.

We note how Eric “Feeble” Robinson has finally fitted in nicely having been well tutored in the use of spin as carers/campaigners claim that he has misrepresented them in statements to the press. We also note the continuing tactic of browbeating people into keeping quiet by shrieking “confidentiality!” and thereby not so much manage the message but control disclosure.

Therefore can we advise the named carer representatives not to hold their breath waiting for an apology or a retraction from Stressed Eric or a Wirral Council media spokesperson.

Once again – read it and weep.

To all Supporters of Girtrell Court

Various officers of Wirral Borough Council have tried in recent correspondence to claim that the closure decision was made “in partnership” and with the support of carers. This is simply untrue and a fine example of “spin”.

It is true that I and other carers contacted through the Wirral Carers Association have sought repeatedly to convince council officers that their policy on Girtrell is wrong and unnecessary but you are all aware of council intransigence – they simply will not listen to logic or social justice arguments.

When all of our pleading fell on closed ears, the only option was to salvage the best solution for all of our loved ones from this train wreck. To this end, we have assessed the options being pursued by the council and have rejected the most unsuitable ones. The only potentially credible offering was Tollemache Road (over which there are still unanswered service questions) and so we have, with great reluctance, made the best out of the proverbial bad job.

I am sorry if you disagree with our actions but we were unable to “go public” due to council commercial confidentiality requirements.

Equally, if you feel that I and others have let you down then I am content to accept your censure but I assure you that I could not have tried harder for the result we all wanted SAVE GIRTRELL COURT.

The text of the email to Chief Executive Eric Robinson follows to set the record straight :-

Dear Mr. Robinson,

You have recently replied to Councillor Blakely regarding the future of Girtrell Court and its possible replacement service.

Your response is a clear misrepresentation of the position and of the involvement of parent / carers since it clearly indicates that users of the current service are content and have willingly collaborated with the council and its officers in agreeing the privatisation and closure of Girtrell.

This interpretation of events would be considered too far-fetched even for an episode of Yes Minister. It is best likened to an executioner claiming that the deceased committed suicide when he opted for execution by lethal injection instead of the alternatives of being burnt at the stake or fed live to a pack of ravenous wolves.

• Not one of the current users of Girtrell Court wish to see the current service closed and privatised;

• Parents and carers have not consented to, colluded with or supported the council voluntarily but continue to oppose the closure of Girtrell Court;

• It is only the complete and unremitting obduracy of Wirral Borough Council in railroading through the closure of a vital and valued facility against the wishes of its users, their hard pressed carers and the general public which has forced carers with great reluctance to assess the credibility of a number of proposed replacement options;

• Our motives in making these assessments have not been to assist in, collude with, sanction or otherwise underwrite this unwanted and mean spirited closure.

Rather our motivation has been and remains solely to ensure that our loved ones on whom this change is being forced by an uncaring council end up with the least worst of the proposed replacements. Never has the term “making the best of a bad job” been more appropriate;

• We were clear in advising Council Officers that potentially suitable accommodation was only one aspect of a complete respite solution and that we would not and could not underwrite any replacement respite service until we had clarity on the complete package on offer. The package remains incomplete – there is no information regarding :-

o the term of the proposed contract,;
o the staffing ratios which will apply;
o the nature and extent of activities available to service users;
o the arrangements for safety of occupants of the first and second stories in the event of fire (when the proposed lift will be out of action);
o confirmation that service users will receive the same time allocation:

all of which are legitimate concerns for parents / carers when being asked to entrust their loved ones to a third party. Merely identifying a possible building does not address these qualitative issues and your officers responses to these issues are awaited.

You cannot justify your council’s wilful refusal to listen to carers, to respect our concerns and to deliver a service in which we have confidence by claiming us as your political cover.

That you should now represent our act of desperation as proactive support for the closure of Girtrell Court and the redundancy of its magnificent staff is truly unworthy of you and adds to a catalogue of shameful behaviour of the council in this matter. Your statement that you “can therefore confirm that the decision to close Girtrell Court has been taken in partnership with carers that use the service” is a blatant misrepresentation and has caused us significant reputational damage within the Girtrell Court carer community.

We hereby go on public record as totally rejecting these statements and inferences contained in your response to Councillor Blakeley and require both a retraction and your apology for the distress caused.

Signed by the following as volunteer carer representatives:-

Meriel Balshaw
Bernard Halley
Angela Harrison and
Peter Linnane

 

As You Were

As You Were

Now that we’ve had to time to reflect on yesterday’s local election our first comment has to be that with a 35% turnout the big winner on the night was voter apathy.

The ever deluded Wirral Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies somehow sees the results as a “vote of confidence” and a “mandate” and we fear that we’ll be hearing these words quite regularly over the coming months along with “leadership” “pledges” and “moving forward”.

However taking our lead from Power Boy Pip (which is a first – it’s usually him belatedly responding to what we publish) we thought we’d adopt his Pollyanna approach and be illogically optimistic about Wirral’s political status quo.

Firstly – we note the return of Tories Ian “Hokey Cokey” Lewis  and Chris “Bulldog” Blakeley and Lib Dems Phil “Persistent” Gilchrist and Stuart “Give It Some Welly” Kelly who whatever your political outlook have historically seemed to be some of the few councillors willing to effectively challenge the Wirral Council cabal (including both officers and councillors). We think that now is the time for Tory leader Jeff “Who?” Green to decide whether he actually wants to mount some effective opposition or he’s just content to sit back and be “kindred” (©Cllr  Steve Foulkes ) and watch the allowances and expenses roll in.

Secondly – we noticed that building on their success in Birkenhead & Tranmere with the previous election of Pat Cleary the Green Party  came very close to toppling Labour veteran Jean Stapleton . Ironically it seems the UKIP vote may have saved her this time. So clearly the Greens are having some impact in Labour heartlands (which means the Greens must be giving Birkenhead MP Frankenfield the palpitations again!).

Thirdly  – we noticed a few more references to “Wirralgate” in the mainstream media in the election run up . How long before the whispers turn to screams and the truth will out and voters will finally find out exactly what kind of councillors they’ve voted for ?.

Fourthly  – we were most amused by the triumph of Labour’s teen sensation Warren Ward in the Bromborough ward mainly because he defeated into second place former Lib Dem/Labour/Independent/Whatever Steve “Catweazle” Niblock .

We dug out this pic from a couple of years ago when Niblock was a Labour councillor and Warren was a budding politician and we’re minded to recall the film “All About Eve”  where the ambitious understudy plots to oust the leading lady.

Niblock and Ward

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY  – Dear Warren , Don’t let them turn you into the picture on the left.

If the film is anything to go by Cllr  Ward is destined for high office , awards and accolades. Now all he has to do is decide whether he does it on his own terms or falls in with the corrupt cabal currently running the show. Fasten your seatbelt Warren it’s going to be a bumpy ride !.

Finally , and although only indirectly related to the local elections it seems that following our story about the unseemly public spat between “Sir” Philip Green and Birkenhead MP (and de facto Wirral Council leader) Frank Field that things have got even uglier – which is probably inevitable considering the protagonists. Frankenfield has continued his “prejudiced” public criticism about Green’s role in the collapse of BHS and  Green has now hit back and called for him to resign from the Work and Pensions Committee which is tasked with getting to the bottom of the business dealings which led to the demise of the high street store. Frankenfield has since called Green a “bully” (!) and appointed two of Green’s bitterest rivals to the House of Commons Committee because as we well know -for better ,though usually worse – that’s how  Frank rolls!

As for calls for resignations we feel that the only thing that would shake up the moribund local political scene on Wirral would be for Frankenfield to go . Until such time we fear it’s always going to be a case of as you were………………………

 

Same old

No Debate ?

We leave this message / news story we received last night here without amendment/ further comment . In the interest of public debate we look forward to publishing a response from Wirral Council or any other interested parties :

MYSTERY PERSON GAGS GIRTRELL COURT CAMPAIGNERS

In a shock move, Monday’s vote on the future of Girtrell Court has been thrown into doubt after the Town Hall’s ‘Head of Legal Services’, Surjit Tour, invoked a clause in the Council’s Constitution to close down debate.

A formal ‘Notice of Motion’ had been submitted within the established legal timescales by Councillors Chris Blakeley and Bruce Berry (reproduced below).

Calling for a rethink on the closure plan, both councillors also requested that the future of Wirral Council’s last remaining respite centre to be decided in public.

Having been listed in the agenda for Monday’s council meeting as ‘to be debated’ (see this link: http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=123&MId=5138), the Head of Legal Services has now mounted a last-ditch attempt to prevent the debate.

Councillor Blakeley said: “This attempt to stop debate in public wouldn’t be out of place some tin pot dictatorship.

“In spite of the promises to be ‘open and transparent’, we are once again seeing how the closure of Girtrell Court is now so toxic for the Town Hall they don’t even want it debated.

“Ten days ago, the Head of Legal Services accepted our notice for debate as legal, accurate and within agreed timescales, under the Constitution.

“Yet, here we are, on the eve of a vote, and suddenly we are told that it can’t be debated.”

In an email on Friday to Councillor Blakeley, Mr Tour said he had ‘received a query’ as to whether the debate should go ahead.

Councillor Blakeley added: “Who is the unnamed mystery person who has queried this debate and who appears to have so much influence that the debate can be stopped? We must be told.

“Instead of scratching around the bowels of the Council for a way out of this mess, the Town Hall should accept they have got it wrong, misjudged public opinion and stop the closure. That would be fair to the families and would be supported by councillors, the staff and trade unions.”

  1. GIRTRELL COURT (to be debated)

Proposed by Cllr Chris Blakeley

Seconded by Cllr Bruce Berry  

Council notes that the Leader of the Council has previously stated that he wants his Administration to be open, transparent and fair with the people of Wirral. Council welcomes this approach.  

Council therefore believes that the future of Girtrell Court must be decided in public and not under delegation to the portfolio holder, in conjunction with the Director of Adult Social Services.  

Council further believes that the families of those using Girtrell Court, the staff, trade unions and residents and users must be given every opportunity to influence the future of Girtrell Court through a clear and transparent decision making process.

Low Standards , High Fives

Moral standardsWirral logo

Let’s get the credits rolling first. Thank you once again John Brace for sharing your video of last night’s Wirral Council’s Standards & Constitutional Committee meeting which proves once again that old adage that the camera never lies even though some of those being filmed do!.

Now if your idea of fun is watching someone picking their teeth, gurning and looking generally befuddled for 40 minutes we recommend you keep your eye on Committee chair  Cllr Bill Davies – “standards”  don’t even come into it !.

Her Ladyship turned her head away from the screen and cried despairingly :  “Oh for goodness sake get that man a toothpick and some lessons in etiquette.What is it with local councillors called Davies ? –  they appear to be social disgraces unacquainted with the social graces”

However knowing what we know of standards and conduct issues lurking behind the scenes we were looking forward to a thrilling show.Imagine our disappointment to witness some well rehearsed routines with Cllr Chris Blakeley as the bulldog chewing a wasp and Matron McLaughlin playing the diva  – the latter declaring an interest during a discussion about how standards complaints are dealt with or more accurately not dealt with by the Council and flouncing out of the meeting.” That’s the first time I’ve ever known the Matron take an interest in standards ” meowed Her Ladyship.

Meanwhile Super Duper Director Joe “Bless” Blott issued a grovelling apology about his “summary failure” to address a Standards complaint that still hadn’t been resolved after 12 months. We actually have a smidgeon of sympathy for the hapless patsy – as we well know that delays such as this are not always the doing of officers wanting to keep conduct complaints a “live issue” but of councilllors wanting complaints about themselves to be dead and buried !.

However we have no sympathy whatsoever for Surjit “Job for Life” Tour who really does seem to have thrown himself wholeheartedly into his new role as senior Town Hall apologist.

At about 5 minutes in on the video clip Tour proves to be (ef)-fluent in bullshit with talk of “context” and “turning the corner”  and how the case being discussed was “a slight blip”.

A slight blip – ?. Well there’s a leading contender for “Understatement of the Year” at the Leaky Awards 2015 – which will be like the Local Government Chronicle Awards without the deals done behind closed doors,the corporate crap and the self-delusion.

The double bind symbiotic relationship that Tour now seems to have with senior Wirral councillors is morbidly fascinating to watch but then it seems to us that a designated parking space and a personalised numberplate must be some compensation for having to live in Wolverhampton!.

Now if we’ve learned anything from recent history at Wirral Council it is that senior councillors will discard their officers like a ciggie butt out the back of Wallasey Town Hall if they don’t do as their told.So we’ll just wait and see how long the strange arrangement lasts if Tour fails to do his bit to ensure that the conduct of certain councillors remains forever hidden from public scrutiny………………….