‘For Trees’ Feedback

Image result for for trees

Dear Tree Supporter,

Below is a summary of the meeting held at Wallasey Town Hall on 2nd July. You can view the meeting for yourself on:

WirralCouncilWebcasting; Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2.7.19. Last item on agenda presented to Cllr Chris Blakeley (chair) by Cllr Christina Muspratt :

Thank you to all the tree supporters who attended.

On 2 July 2019 Council Officer David Armstrong reported that the Council are “currently engaged in a programme of extensive backlog maintenance to do with trees” He stated: “I assure you we are just carrying out maintenance and we have got a lot of work to do”…”people are polarised, people who want it done and many who are absolutely opposed”…”this is having implications for people trying to carry out the works”…”I can understand why people are upset “. He then continued to emphasize the wish to move onto the tree removal from school grounds; Considering the ‘student strikes for climate’ this is a grotesque proposal; schools need to invest in cleaner air for which trees and dense vegetation around schools are essential. He referred to the policing which is needed increasingly as the public stand up against the felling; Yet the Aarhus Convention legally obliges us as members of the public to protect our natural environment.

The council has a responsibility to educate these “people who want it carried out” to understand the implications of habitat removal and destruction, now that we face the Climate Emergency. Of course the profiteers from the timber will be amongst this group; Beyond Mancoed; who are these profiteers?…What do they have to gain?….they have everything to lose, as do we all…

Now so many of us have paved gardens as car parks, we are all reliant on public trees being our oxygen banks.

The good news is; the ‘For Trees’ team have been working on a tree strategy/policy for Wirral and as an outcome of the above meeting there has been a ‘Tree Strategy Councillor Group’ set up to meet twice a year. Will this be sufficient and in time to save the trees ear-marked in the Council’s “workload backlog” ??!

Please relay to your three local Councillors that we need them to help save Wirral’s trees. And feel free to share your correspondence, anonymously or otherwise

Many thanks,

The ‘For Trees’ team

I attach a table of risk for your information to consider the disproportionate actions that Wirral Council are taking while destroying our natural environment;

Fatalities in ‘Daily or Normal Life’

The following table compares the calculated risks that are experienced in ‘daily or normal life’.

Annual risk of death Annual risk Annual risk per million
All causes, aged 45-64
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 190 5263
All causes, aged 30-44
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 940 1064
Accidents in the home, all ages
(England and Wales, 2004) (3)
1 in 17,000 59
Road accidents
(Great Britain, 2010) (2)
1 in 32,000 31
Injuries to all employees in different industries
(Great Britain, average 2001/02-2005/06) (4)
 

1 in 140,000

 

7

Insignificant or Trivial Risk (HSE) 1 in 1,000,000 1
Lightning (5) 1 in 19,000,000 0.05
Trees on public land (incl. tree surgeons and fellers; statistically the majority group) 1 in 20,000,000 0.05
  • Office for National Statistics Focus on Health
  • Department for Transport Road Casualties Great Britain: 2010
  • Office for National Statistics Mortality Statistics – Injury and poisoning
  • Health and Safety Commission Statistics of Fatal Injuries 2005/06
  • Deaths and injuries caused by lightning in the United Kingdom: analyses of two databases, D M Elsom, Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, 2000

Additional Reference: National Tree Safety Group-Common sense risk management

Highways : Against the Flow of Traffic

Flow of Traffic

We raised the issue (and our eyebrows) at the proposal to bring the highways contract back under Wirral Council control as part of our Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2

This particular story concerned a meeting of the Audit and Risk Management Committee (ARMC) where Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green wanted reassurance that the decision to bring the highways contract back in house wasn’t “written on the back of a fagpacket” . We also noted that :

Incidental dark comedic value is to be had from the ever oleaginous senior officer David Armstrong who promises a short report and ingratiating interm Monitoring officer Philip McCourt who says that the commissioning of highways contract is a ‘live project’ and that the report would be a ‘ partial measure’ – ain’t that the truth!

Needless to say council officers showed their usual contempt for opposition councillors by failing to produce a written report for yesterday’s ARMC follow up meeting. There were also no shows from McCourt and ARMC chair Cllr Adrian Jones . Consequently Deputy Chief Executive Armstrong was allowed by stand-in chair Cllr Angela Davies to hand the hot potato over to poor sap Mark Smith (Strategic Commissioner for Environment) to deliver a verbal report – all the better to hinder proper scrutiny when nothing is written down and there’s no report in the public domain for ‘ a particular website’ to pick (pot)holes. It was enough to give us an attack of the verbals.

As you can see from the John Brace footage of last night’s meeting Smith gives a tortuous explanation of ‘options appraisals’ and how the decision was reached. Although we have to say that as he’s on £90,532 p.a. our sympathy for his squirming is somewhat limited.

However the information that was eventually dragged out of Smith was most illuminating (and probably explains the lack of a written report) . It was revealed  that the current holders of the highways contract BAM Nuttall get £6 million p.a. from Wirral Council . Smith described it as an ‘unusual scenario’ that BAM Nuttall chose not to take advantage of a contract extension to which they were entitled. BAM Nuttall currently spend £5 million is spent on sub-contractors and £1 million on what Armstrong described as 28/29  ‘operatives’ . It is these ‘operatives’ who will be TUPE* transferred back to Wirral Council (if they wish) – and the sub-contracting from the private sector will continue.

* Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment ) Regulations.

We begrudgingly give him his due on this one (because he’s had a shadowy part in this shady story) but Cllr Green whipped out his calculator trying to deconstruct the £1 million cost of 28/29 operatives -which he calculated to be about £700,000 . Labour councillor Christina Muspratt attempted to explain the missing £300,000 as ‘on costs’ However it was eventually wheedled out of Smith that ‘operatives’ included both managers and back room staff (approximately half operational and half management) so it wasn’t just staff filling potholes and replacing streetlights.

Armstrong and Smith were particularly twitchy on the issue of TUPE transfers with the former interrupting through the chair to advise Cllr Muspratt  that there was a list of staff who were eligible and who can “TUPE if they wish”  to either BAM Nuttall or Wirral Council . Smith went on to say that ” it wouldn’t be appropriate to go into any further detail in this forum”

However might we suggest there remain pertinent questions that need to be asked :  a) are the managers subject to TUPE some of the same Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) managers from Wirral Council who failed to win the highways contract during a tendering exercise in 2008 and who’s contracts of employment  were TUPE transferred to Colas and then presumably BAM Nuttall in 2014 and who have been in dispute with Wirral Council for a decade ? b) did this ongoing dispute influence or play any part in the decision (under delegated powers) to return the highways contract to Wirral Council control and c) has this dispute been resolved – and if so – how? 

Whilst , like some of the councillors at ARMC  , we welcome the return of highways to Wirral Council control , we seem to be rather more enquiring as to the reasons why – especially when such a decision goes ‘against the flow of traffic’ when it comes to outsourcing council services.

The Leaky Awards 2016

leakys-2016

No disrespect to the local worthies who voluntarily undertake good deeds ,  but we have a natural aversion at Leaky Towers to honours and awards given to people who either have :  a)  made a lot of money ( well, it’s no trick to make a lot of money… if what you want to do is make a lot of money….) or b) achieved riches and recognition for doing something they love ( while everyone else tediously toils away in jobs they hate with people they loathe just so they don’t end up living on the street).

Patronage for peerages has brought the awards system into total disrepute and we doff our hereditary ermine trimmed coronet to the increasing number who have turned down the tawdry badge of dishonour that the New Year’s Honours List has become.

We have three words on the subject of honours: “Sir” Jimmy Savile.

We have three words on the subject of awards : Most Improved Council.

Therefore we consider the annual Leaky Awards the natural antidote to the sordid status quo and rejoice in the fact that the awards that we bestow at Wirral Leaks are much more representative of the charlatans who run the show than the complicit smiley celebrities and their gleaming gewgaws.

Awards Award – ….and the winner is the Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Awards ceremonies appear to be the entire rationale for this empire building, family-run organisation. Whilst it appears to be a mere excuse for pouting Paula Basnett to buy another frock and flaunt the spray tan we need to remember the public grants and public properties that come their way and ask ourselves do we really want the non-elected personal empire building Basnett clan running a never-ending awards show at public expense?

Labour Councillor of the Year – This is obviously an inaugural award as in previous years this would be an oxymoron (or in some cases – just moron) . However this year we’d like to offer the award jointly to  Cllr Anita Leech and Cllr Christina Muspratt for annoying  fellow Labour councillors Foulkesy and Matron McLaughlin respectively. The former did so by casting the deciding vote at a recent Planning Committee whilst a clearly agitated Foulkesy laid the foundation for a potential appeal by questioning the planning process (see Campaign of the Year below). This is staggering hypocrisy coming from someone who has regularly circumvented due process in the name of managing his (bad) reputation.But then Foulkesy has built an entire political  career on being hardfaced and shameless so this should come as no surprise to anyone. Meanwhile Muspratt was the inspiration behind a tetchy display from McLaughlin as the latter tried to shut down Muspratt for trying to hold council officers to account over their failure to appraise staff. However as we know this is not how the Matron rolls – personal loyalties to officers will always take precedence over public accountability.

Quote of the year  – “From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government” (Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council). Now we don’t know whether Stressed Eric has been buying some powerful hallucinogenics with his megabucks salary but this can surely be the only explanation for this ludicrous claim that Wirral Council is the pinnacle of local government. When it comes to public service peak performance we’re talking more Moel Famau than Mount Everest!

Runner-up : ” It might seem an unusual step to revert to a printed product, and even I queried this at first …….” (Eric Robinson talking about Wirral Council’s decision to publish Wirral View ) “Until I was told to get back under my desk ….”  he might of added to prove once again why he’s the perfect CEO for Wirral Council.

Publication of the year –  Wirral Council  yawn-fest Wirral View . Having seemingly failed to a) attract advertisers  b) sort out its distribution problems or c) address anyone’s ‘information deficit’ this award is in recognition of the fact that Wirral View could soon become a collector’s item .We advise those who’ve actually received a copy should retrieve it from the cat’s litter tray or the budgie’s cage , as with the threat of central government intervention hanging over it it may not be around for  much longer!

Runner up – Cllr Tony Jones’ (aka Tones) election publication which broke election rules by failing to show name of agent, candidate or printer on the leaflet.  As one of our eagle-eyed readers has pointed out Tones does not seem to have learned any lessons from this faux pas as strangely he is the only one of Wirral Council’s 66 councillors whose council email contact details are not included with the Council mugshots in Wirral View. Campaign Fail  

Campaign of the Year –  ‘Save our Greenbelt – Say NO to the Firestation’  campaign may, thanks ultimately to the casting vote of  Cllr Leech than the campaigning local Conservatives , halted plans to build a fire station on green belt land in Saughall Massie.

However it will be interesting to see if Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service submit an appeal whether this continuing fight ends up being thwarted by powerful interests as was the ill fated Save Girtell Court campaign.

Similar can be said of the Stop Hoylake Golf Resort campaign who are arguably up against even more powerful interests as Wirral Council attempt a ‘money no object’ bid to ensure even more Wirral green belt is sacrificed to enable a housing development in the guise of a ‘golf resort’ to go ahead.

We’ll be following both campaigns in 2017 with great interest.

Picture of the year

jeremy-corbyn-cooking-at-the-neo-community-cafe

There is so much going on in this picture than ‘Jezza Makes Pizza For Starving Mites’. The supporting cast – Frank Field MP , Cllr McLaughlin, Cllr Meaden , Margaret Greenwood MP makes for fascinating viewing if we consider the various political intrigues,allegiances and betrayals that occurred throughout 2016 . However what intrigues us most on the right of the picture , ‘recording’ events for posterity, is the presence of ‘Person C’ . Adding further intrigue to the local political scene we understand the former political editor of the Liverpool Echo and reluctant witness in the Wirralgate saga has, for reasons unknown, apparently ceased working for the council’s favoured external publication ……….

 

Staff Care

Chris meaden (allegedly)

Part of the pleasure of the winter solstice is the opportunity to stuff your face and catch up on videos you may have missed out on.

Consequently besides”Elf” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th St” we’ve been watching recent videos by John Brace.

We we’re particularly drawn to some tedious meeting where Labour councillor Christina Muspratt asked some searing questions of leading lame Human Resources yes man Tony Williams.

Her Ladyship commented :  ” I like the cut of the jib that woman” as Musky Muspratt asked perfectly reasonable questions as to why Wirral Council managers were not following procedures and were not undertaking appraisals of their own staff.

Our guess is because a) they can’t be arsed or b) they can’t spell apprayzal upraisal

Now we don’t know Tony Williams background but judging by his grovelling  Joe Blott-style apology we suspect he’s one of those retirees from the police/fire service who litter (and we use the term advisedly) upper management at Wirral Council and is therefore quite happy to act as you would expect a Wirral Council HR manager to act whilst he’s sitting on a comfortable pension for being a complete yes man.

Now we’d like to throw our £48,000 worth in here free of charge but somebody at Wirral Council needs to make the connection between a £ 2 million overspend ( yes that’s you again Department of Adult Social Services) , the lack of appraisals and sickness absences.

However it is reassuring to know that some Wirral councillors take their staff care responsibilities seriously.

One of our reputable sources informs us that a certain councillor  :

” Has been  making a lot of unrecorded visits to the council’s control room down in the vaults of Cheshire Lines.They do have a visitors book but she will leave no trace of her visits – strange she hasn’t noticed all of the cameras still positioned around the building.

These could be harmless visits to check on the well being of council workers or the role they are carrying out but the strange thing is the same person is always on shift alone when she makes her visits and I know councillors are quite committed but Friday and Saturday nights are beyond the call of duty.
It does help that the person she is visiting is familiar as he was once seconded to be the mayors chauffeur when she was the mayoress – just coincidence maybe but I can feel a big payout on the way.”
Now we can’t think why such such cynicism prevails but nevertheless we are quite happy to report it!.