The Repetitive Pains of Local Politics and the Lyndale School Tragedy

 

 

What You Allow 4

Let’s face it as soon as Julia Hassall stated from the outset of the consultation that Wirral Council was “minded” to close Lyndale School it was a done deal.

What we don’t understand that if “economic considerations” were the reason for the closure why don’t the sums add up?
Are the “economic considerations” more to do with a future potential capital receipt for the land we ask ourselves? – Wirral Leaks, December 2014

Crushed – The Closing of Lyndale School 

Oh here we go it’s the Tories turn for the electioneering and political posturing  as Wirral Council Tory leader Ian Lewis wades in (shame it’s going on for being nearly 4 years too late) on the Lyndale School tragedy/travesty as the former school is set to be demolished and the site used for housing. Read here : Bulldoze Backlash

As for Julia Hassall the poor, no sorry, well paid, patsy who fronted this debacle ,we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again , for all their qualifications and fancy job titles it must be galling for the likes of Hassall, Burgess, Adderley, Degg ,Blott  etc etc etc – INSERT NAME HERE  – to be tossed aside like trash after having served their political paymaster’s purpose.  Somebody needs to get litter Hitlers Kingdom Security on the case, they’d make a bloody fortune! You never know it would probably pay for all the golden handshakes ! All those self serving, self aggrandizing , self absorbed serfs who played the corporate game and then became the metaphorical game for the cowardly lions we call the Wirral Council cabal.

On Wirral – the officers they may come and they may go but the politicians stay the same and its the docile electorate who vote for them who unfortunately give them the political legitimacy to do what they like – such as closing Lyndale School

It’s the same politicians ,some of whom – INSERT NAME HERE – who should not be in  a position to be making decisions about anything, let alone vulnerable people’s lives. Political legitimacy is one thing  but the moral authority – and at times – the legal authority is another. Cllr Lewis may want to discuss with his predecessor Cllr Jeff Green how he enabled such politicians to remain in office before he takes the moral high ground on this one.

However at times such as these we can only turn to the wise words uttered recently by the less than revered elected member Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes

“Having been a young man growing up in Birkenhead, you see the same faces, and it can get very repetitive.”  Read here : Student Flats

Can’t it just Foulkesy!

Which leaves to re – post in full the summary of our coverage and commentary on the Mystic Wirral Leaks and the Tragic Tale of Lyndale School

Way back in March 2014 we implored Wirral Council to “Tread Softly” when it came to the proposed closure of Lyndale  School.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/tread-softly/

And sure enough we learn today that in true Wirral Council style they took this advice on board and now plan to demolish Lyndale School and sell the land. Read Here : Demolish and sell

Sadly this should come as no surprise to those who read another Wirral Leaks post    prophetically titled “Crushed – The Closing of Lyndale School” where we asked the following questions:

What we don’t understand that if “economic considerations” were the reason for the closure why don’t the sums add up?
Are the “economic considerations” more to do with a future potential capital receipt for the land we ask ourselves?

Seems that was the case all along – from the day Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall declared that she was ‘minded’ to close Lyndale School in November 2013 to the sham of a consultation to the demolition and sale of the site.

Lyndale parent Zoe Anderson displayed a firm grasp of how Wirral Council conduct such matters when she said: “We have always believed it is a foregone conclusion but we are glad that we got to say our bit and give our opinions in public.

“We are also pleased that the concerns we had about the consultation being open and transparent have actually been received and reassurances given to ensure that is the case.”

And who exactly gave Ms.Anderson reassurances about openness and transparency?.
Why none other than the chair of the meeting  who instigated the closure of Lyndale School – Councillor Steve Foulkes aka “Foulksey” – the former Leader of the Council whose lack of personal integrity when it comes to openness,transparency and truthfulness has recently been laid bare for all to see.Read here : Foulkesy the Fibber

Once again we commented with the foresight of a mystic seer  : “However we have to say we have to admire the sheer gall  – as earlier in the meeting he expressed the hope that the forum wouldn’t be used for “political points scoring” knowing what we know might we suggest that “Foulksey” needs to tread very,very carefully on the matter of “political points scoring” …. Read HereCold and Bureaucratic

Reading the posts back we presciently called out Foulkesy then and his sickening role in this tragic tale when we said :

Finally  we implore you to remember the names of the Cabinet members making the decision to close Lyndale School and particularly the one Councillor who we feel is simply not fit to hold public office , let alone make a decision significantly affecting the lives of people who he clearly regards merely as a means to pay his Council expenses.

We hope the people of Wirral are finally beginning to realise  where Wirral Council’s priorities  are – protecting the powerful whilst demolishing the dreams of the vulnerable.

 

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Bamboo- zled – The Future of Social Housing?

We received a cryptic reply to our House of Bamboo post from someone called ‘Frank’ ( ha! ha! ) who asked :

Are you bored? 

And to which we replied :

More weltschmerz than ennui.

Why do you ask?

We used the word weltschmerz because it is a feeling that emerges from the realisation that things could be and should be better. This feeling is particularly aroused when it comes to  housing ,and specifically social housing on Wirral . For the moment we’ll  resist commenting on Wirral Waters and the Hoylake Golf Resort when it comes to Wirral Council’s approach to affordable housing and return to the worrying story of Bamboo Lettings.

Fortunately we’re not the only ones who regard the annexing of social housing for profit and personal gain to be deeply concerning. What makes it worse for us is that it involves some Wirral Leaks old timers who would no doubt justify their actions when it comes to social responsibility and just like Wirral Council blame ” Tory cuts”. Once again ,if only it were as simple as that…………….

Firstly our thanks go to Chelsea Guy who reveals on her Facebook page :

Bamboo Chelsea

Magenta Living’s attempt to “explain” Bamboo in their Spring 2018 magazine.

“In order to help fund existing services and build new affordable housing we looked at other ways to bring income in to meet the shortfall” – so essentially, denying people suitable housing when they’re in need of it, in order to build new “affordable” housing, to then pass it on to Bamboo and charge twice the rent in comparison to AFFORDABLE SOCIAL HOUSING.“Properties are spread across Wirral”.. but they fail to mention it’s only the more affluent areas, three properties in Eastham alone in the last 4 weeks. Along side the fact they take what should be SOCIAL HOUSING and make it; no housing benefit, working tenants only, and slap on all the fees like admin fees, application fees.Let’s just remember that Magenta own 50% of Bamboo and bring in 50% of all profits, yet fail to tend to issues their own tenants are having such as the mould in my property.Seems like a bit of a coincidence that a fuss was kicked up about Bamboo and now it’s featured in their magazine.

Isn’t it just Chelsea?

For an even more in depth analysis of what’s going on we once again guide you towards Joe Halewood’s peerless SPeye blog . The title of his latest post is  No DSS in council housing and social cleansing approved by Labour councils     where he writes :

In summary Labour councillors in Wirral – which includes the constituencies of Frank Field as the chair of the all party parliamentary working group on DWP matters and the new Labour Shadow DWP Minister in Margaret Greenwood – have voted for a policy of No DSS and a policy of social cleansing to take place by Magenta who have around 70% of all social housing in Wirral.

Even Tories in Wirral voted against this and even Tory voters would be ashamed of this social cleansing that the Labour council voted to allow.

In housing terms we see Magenta, Torus and by extension Liverpool Mutual Homes being the antithesis of the social landlords they repeatedly claim to be and then again we can add Liverpool City Council itself to that list as they are too setting up their own private sector landlord company called Foundations which will rent out at affordable rents and full market rent levels and without irony or shame called this an Ethical housing landlord!

It’s an SPeye opener!

So with so many outstanding questions and with Wirral Council’s representatives on Magenta Housing board  – Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Jeff Green and Cllr Stuart Whittingham –  either unwilling or unable to ask them and with the various bodies below being exempt from the provisions of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) we thought we’d publicly pose the following questions :

a) Three years after Golden Gates Housing and Helena Housing formed the Torus group are senior managers planning on collapsing the group and merging with Liverpool Mutual Homes?
b) Will this see the end of local companies Golden Gates and Helena Housing?
c) Will the customers who own Golden Gates and Helena Housing be asked to vote to see if they agree with these changes ?
c) Will the control of Torus pass to the senior managers in Liverpool Mutual Homes?
d) Will the plan be good news for only a small number of people such as Rob Young CEO of Torus (and former Assistant Director of Housing at Wirral Council) who could retire with an enhanced pension package just as the CEO of Golden Gates did when Torus was formed three years ago?
e) Will the plan also be good news for the CEO of Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) and his senior team who will take over a much bigger Torus with a huge pay rise just as Mr Young did when Torus was formed three years ago?
f) Will the current CEO of LMH be appointed not because he is the best candidate for the job after a rigorous selection process but because his company was selected by his old friends Rob Young and Graham Burgess?
g) Will it be good news for Graham Burgess Chair of the Torus Board who having ‘retired’ as CEO from Wirral Council once again becomes a big player in the Liverpool City region?
For everyone else – social housing tenants and staff included – the answers to these questions may not be so good . Meanwhile it’s all very reminiscent of that Carl Sagan quote we’ve used before : “One of the saddest lessons of history is this : If we’ve been bamboozled long enough we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth . The bamboozle has captured us…”

 

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.

His Lordship’s Thoughts From Abroad : ‘Post -Truth’

” The way they lied, those days have to be over……”

As we promised we would from time-to-time provide our thoughts from abroad as we adjusted to our new surroundings and tried to make sense of our former life on Wirral.

Now that we lead a Wilde life of ‘cultivated leisure—which, and not labour, is the aim of man—or making beautiful things, or reading beautiful things, or simply contemplating the world with admiration and delight’ we have the time to indulge our passion for the arts and we have been able to see a couple of Oscar -nominated movies which particularly resonated with us.

The first of this movie review double bill is ‘The Post’ which we were drawn to as it tells the story of the Washington Post and the ‘Pentagon Papers’ . The leak of the Pentagon Papers – and as you all know we love a good leak – occurred during the Richard Nixon US presidency. Nixon recklessly embarked on a mega exercise in reputation management – to protect his presidency. In his eyes, the publication of the ‘Pentagon Papers’ would confirm the existence of a conspiracy whose purpose was to delegitimize him and topple the ruling administration .Nixon resolved to fight back with every tool at his disposal, making the fateful decision to break the law to achieve his ends. This led to the ‘Watergate’ which led to his downfall.  The plot should sound familiar to Wirral Leaks readers as from the very first time we broke the story we have likened to Wirralgate to the Watergate  scandal. Read here : Exclusive – Wirralgate!

SPOILER ALERT! –  ‘The Post’ is a dramatisation  of how Katharine Graham the publisher of The Washington Post came to publish the ‘Pentagon Papers’ even though it would be damaging to powerful politicians with whom she had close friendships. This in turn led to ‘Watergate’ – and whilst, yes we know, Wirral Globe or the Liverpool Echo aren’t the Washington Post our thoughts turned to how our local noble and principled press men from the Liverpool Echo and Wirral Globe dealt with the Wirralgate recording which would undoubtedly (and deservedly) bring down the current Wirral Council Labour administration if the contents were ever published.

Whilst we accept that it shouldn’t be the responsibility of the press to hold public authorities to account – there should be systems of public accountability in place to do that. However it would appear there simply isn’t the will or the way, especially when our public institutions seem to be set up to maintain the status quo – no matter how dysfunctional or corrupt .

So under those circumstances,what’s the best we can hope for from the local press? – is it too much to ask that those with the means to expose the biggest scandal in Wirral’s political history , but are unwilling or unable to do so , at least don’t collude with criminality and corruption for their own ends?

It is significant that both local news outlets refused to participate in either of the Thynne ‘Wirralgate’ investigations despite the second investigation report commenting that the Wirralgate recording was potentiality a criminal matter. This can’t be justified on the grounds of protecting sources especially when Liam Murphy ,the former political editor of the Liverpool Echo not only revealed the existence of the Wirralgate recording to then leader of the Wirral Council  group, Jeff Green  , he made his own covert recording and played it to Wirral Council’s head of communications, Emma Degg. And yet now we discover Murphy has secured himself a communications role within the local Labour ‘Inner Ring’ and as for the Wirral Globe – post -truth par excellence (see below) with regular columns from Birkenhead MP Frank Field and advertorial heaven from July 2017 – the date from which they had the ‘Wirralgate’ tape in their possession. So make your own mind up as to who’s interests are being served.

All we know is that it would seem that the days of the ‘W’ word rearing its ugly head in the local press is well and truly over. It is sad to reflect that in the run up to the series of elections held in 2016 Wirral Globe was asking ” Will controversial local issues influence Wirral Voters in Super Thursday ballot?” This included the following observation :

Another highly-controversial issue put on hold is the long-awaited report – believed to have been in studied in secret for many weeks at the town hall – into the co-called “Wirralgate” scandal has yet to be seen by anyone outside the inner circle.

Readers may remember this centres on allegations of a plot to “smear” a leading councillor by political rivals and has been the subject of TWO costly inquiries by an outside consultant

Full story here : Wirralgate – controversial issues

With Wirral’s politicians gearing up for another round of elections in May we guarantee that the ‘Wirralgate’ issue will not influence local voters as they will not be informed anything about it ! . This, despite there being yet ANOTHER investigation report into issues surrounding the scandal being concealed from public view and which we understand  is now subject to a high court challenge in that there London just before the local elections . Again, don’t expect to read about in the local papers!

Or in the words of  Wirral Globe columnist Peter Grant who wrote as far back as August 2016 :

Literary musings from Mr Shakespeare could come in handy for debates in Wallasey Town Hall, especially after the recent publication of the so-called “Wirralgate” report by Patricia Thynne. If the opposition parties want to complain they could always throw into the chamber pot such verbal attacks as: “Laughing stock”“For goodness sake” and, for the council leader: “The game is up”.Phil Davies could simply reply with: “The world’s mine oyster”.Whistleblowers would ask for “The naked truth” and demand that “The truth will out”.  But here’s my own favourite Bardism while I await any good local news always “With bated breath”.

Full story here : Wirralgate : Granty Goes Shakespeare

As it’s now February 2018 we advise Granty that breath holding whilst awaiting for any news on ‘Wirralgate’ is ill-advised  – as he’s likely to shuffle off  “this mortal coil”! 

After we’d watched the ‘ The Post’ with a mannered Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks being Tom Hanks not only did we assume the film fitted the ‘worthy but dull’ Academy Award category but we were also minded to recall the ‘Word of the Year 2016’ which was ‘post-truth’ an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.  Unfortunately it seems to us the local press operates in this post truth world of politician’s pet projects and pictures of pets. For further reading might we suggest the books ‘Post -Truth : How Bullshit Conquered the World’  by James Ball and ‘Post-Truth : The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back’ by Matthew D’Ancona . The latter investigates how we have got to where we are ,why quiet resignation is not an option and how we can and must fight back.

POST TRUTH

“The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”

 

House of Bamboo

bamboo lettings 2
It’s made of sticks.
Sticks and bricks,
But you can get your kicks
In the house of bamboo.
If you consider the ‘personalities’ involved and the issues it raises it might strike you as surprising that we’ve only just caught up the curious case of Bamboo Lettings. Furthermore if you ever wanted to know about how things work on Wirral and in the wider world of networking – here it is laid out for you in this deeply worrying story.
We were prompted to pursue this story by a recent correspondent who asked us:
Also can you advise re Magenta Living being a Social non profit org. starting up a subsidiary called Bamboo Lettings which is a joint venture with Torus Group (St Helens – Graham Burgess) which will increase the returns on some formerly social-rented stock by letting them at market rates for a period of five years.
At 31st March 2017, Magenta Living had transferred 5 properties into Bamboo Lettings, with the intention being that a further 95 properties will be transferred into Bamboo by the end of 2017-18. Magenta Annual Report 2016/17
It might be legal but who decides property A is Social – Property B next door is commercial and charges more? 100 now ,how many in future years? Still classed as a Charity? Stinks to high heaven……………..
However it should be noted it was a brave and curious Wirral resident who first raised the issue courtesy of a Freedom of Information request in May 2016 . You might be surprised to know this local housing development wasn’t lauded with a press release featuring fat felines grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. Maybe that’s because some deeply troubling questions might have been asked at the time – Bamboo Lettings – FOI request
It was left to Joe Halewood and his excellent welfare rights blog SPeye blog to pick up on the issues with this post in February 2017 where Joe writes :
Bamboo Lettings is owned by Magenta and Torus.  Magenta was the former council housing department of Wirral Borough Council, and Torus is the former council housing departments of Warrington and St Helens.  It has offices in Wirral and even its own Facebook page here and there you can see the strap line Bamboo Lettings is a private lettings company, with properties in Wirral, Warrington and St Helens.  Such contrived and opaque constructs are no longer needed reader!
Then belatedly, but God love him ,  Lib Dem Cllr Stuart Kelly tried to raise the profile of this dodgy development and introduced a Notice of Motion at a Wirral Council meeting in July 2017
LOSS OF SOCIAL HOUSING TO BAMBOO LETTINGS LLP (to be debated)
Proposed by Councillor Stuart Kelly
Seconded by Councillor Chris Carubia
Council notes the establishment of a private lettings company known as Bamboo
Lettings LLP between Magenta Living and a housing organisation called Torus.
Council notes that Magenta are planning to transfer under a lease arrangement up to100 social housing homes to Bamboo Lettings company for them to be let at full market rents.
Council notes that a three bedroom house offered for let by Bamboo in the
Woodchurch area will cost a prospective tenant £137 per week against the social
rent charged by Magenta of circa £97 per week in the same area (and against an
‘affordable’ rent level of £110).
In addition, Council is concerned that Bamboo Lettings also charge private sector
style ‘fees’; an example of these fees for a three bedroom house in the Woodchurch
area is:
 Application fee – £50
 Administration fee – £75
 Guarantor fee – £50
 Check out fee – £60
 Additional deposit for a pet – £100
Council believes that these fees are not linked to the service provided, are
unacceptable and extortionate and requests a justification for this regime.
Council notes the Cabinet Member for Housing has told Magenta that Wirral Council would not want to see larger 4 bedroom accommodation, those for older people and those adapted properties being transferred; and has highlighted to Magenta concerns about a number of disposals occurring in the same popular locations, thus reducing availability of social housing stock.
Council notes that there are currently 9643 people registered on the Choice Based
Lettings System, of which 2348 have a housing priority need.
Council has objections to the use of social housing in this way and requests (through the Council’s Managing Director for Delivery to Magenta Living) that the relationship with Torus/Bamboo be suspended to allow the Council the opportunity to fully investigate the use of social housing stock as de facto private rented houses https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50042720/Council%20NoMs%20-%2010-7-17.pdf8
Cllr Kelly elaborated further on his concerns about this development in this Wirral Globe article  – Councillor slams ‘unacceptable and extortionate transfer of former council houses’
Needless to say nobody took a blind bit of notice of the ‘Notice of Motion’ and that’s not just because Cllr Kelly is a Lib Dem with – let’s face it – no power or influence over Wirral Council whatsoever.
So let’s join the dots and explain why that might be the case and look at the interested parties who do have that kind of power and influence. First of all can we say that any joint venture between Magenta Living and Torus should have been called Red Bull(shit)- geddit?
First of all here’s the Torus Group Board or more accurately the Torus COMMON PURPOSE Board TORUS COMMON PURPOSE BOARD
We first highlighted the connections here : Where Are They Now? Part 4- Emma Degg
Torus 032
Wirral Leaks readers may recall the candy floss- haired one on the left is former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess who’s main claim to fame is that he once shared a hole at the ‘The Open’ with former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin Adderley when it was last held in Hoylake. The man on the right is Rob’ Narcissist’ Young – a former Assistant Director of Wirral Council’s Housing Department.
Although surprisingly for such egomaniacs they’re quite shy about their involvement in this money-making racket masquerading as Tory housing policy : Companies House Officers
See how this works yet ? If you don’t , you need to realise that Magenta Living Board includes such Wirral Council  luminaries as Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes , Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green and Cllr Stuart ‘Witless’ Whittingham Magenta Living Board
Which raises the question as to why they were appointed in the first place – could it be they are the last people who’d raise questions in the best interests of those who need social housing?  Ever felt you’ve been bamboozled by bureaucrats?

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2

Spot the deliberate mistake ! After this week’s prolific output a further Wirral Leaks post may seem like too much of a bad thing . It’s barely a month into 2018 and we’ve already had to concede that the announcement of our retirement was somewhat premature. But then as Wilde said : “To be premature is to be perfect” !

The thought of our departure to foreign shores has obviously stirred many Wirralians into action as we’ve been sent stories simply too good to pass up on (and what’s even better – where much of the work has already been done) .What’s more we have already noticed that campaigning for the May 2018 local elections has already started in earnest. But perhaps more than anything that explains our renewed impetus is further shocking information which has come our way and which needs exposing . Furthermore we guarantee the mainstream media will not touch it – but we’re keeping our powder dry on that one for now. However we’re left shaking our head in disbelief at the claims that are being made (and more importantly the damning evidence to back it up) . Meanwhile with the agreement with Her Ladyship  and support from Eldritch and Verity let’s all together plough on into oblivion ……….

Holiday Hypocrisy

Whilst we’re grateful that someone sent us the John Brace video posting of this week’s Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee meeting we faced a dilemma as we didn’t know who’s face deserved a slap more as they gazed over to Brace to make sure he captured their reactions to Cllr Steve Foulkes’ contribution to the Mersey tunnel toll debate – Cllr Jerry ‘The Mouse’ Williams , Cllr Ron ‘ Rude’ Abbey or Foulkesy himself . Truth be told (an alien concept for some of the parties concerned) but it was no contest really – Foulkesy every time .

Watch in disgust from 12 :00 as Foulkesy turns to our beloved Mr Brace , tries to take the moral high ground and resorts to his non existent ‘conscience’ .Whilst professing to respect Tory Cllr Les Rowlands he then proceeds to slag him off for planning a holiday to coincide with this particular meeting. Now we might know his political allegiances but we don’t profess to know Cllr Rowland’s personal proclivities but we’d like to think his holiday won’t result in allegations of  racist abuse.Just sayin’

Sorrento Shame : Holidaymakers claim they faced ‘racist abuse’ from ex – Wirral Mayoress

Self Serve 

We understand that internal vacancies at Wirral Council are accessed by ‘Self Serve’. You really couldn’t make this shit up! Why do they bother with such bureaucratic machinations when it would appear that cronyism/nepotism/favouritism is still the main route to promotion we can only hazard a guess. Unfortunately we can’t report on this particular aspect further as it would appear that another feature of Wirral Council’s modus operandi – the culture of fear – is still very much in operation.

Road to Hell

If the Merseytravel Committee video was infuriating the John Brace footage of the Audit and Risk Management Committee sent us into paroxysms of rage and fury. Witness how the utterly pathetic ex- Tory leader and Foulkesy’s ‘kindred’ Cllr Jeff Green meekly raises the issue of bringing the £multi-million highways contract back in house like Uriah Heep with a serious Woodbines habit. The Nigel Farage sound-a-like says something along the lines of : ” Bein’ ever so ‘umble . Can we have a bit of case study. I’m not ‘solutioneering’ (!) I just want to know that the decision to bring the highways contract back in house wasn’t written on the ‘back of  a fagpacket’, if you would so please, kind sir”.

Observe and despair from 8:25

Why so coy Cllr Green ? You know that the decision was made behind closed doors using Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ special ‘delegated powers’ and with Frank Field’s personal approval. They obviously want to minimise suspicion about unlawful compensation pay-offs to the Wirralgate complainants – so what’s the next best thing ? A token bung and then a cosy job for life for keeping their gobs shut.  But then you knew that didn’t you Cllr Green ?- shame you didn’t have the balls to say it. Incidental dark comedic value is to be had from the ever oleaginous senior officer David Armstrong who promises a short report and ingratiating interim Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt who says that the commissioning of highways contract is a ‘live project’ and that report would be a ‘ partial measure’ – ain’t that the truth ! Then suddenly  Cllr Ron ‘Rude’ Abbey has a “Don’t Mention The War” moment and can’t help himself saying something completely bogus about discussing TUPE ( Transfer of Undertakings – Protection of Employment) regulations . Which ,is of course, as ARMC and us know is what this is all about : ” Listen guys, we can’t give you a massive pay out you wanted without raising serious questions so we’ll give you the next best thing and you can be responsible for Wirral’s highways . Let’s face it you can’t do a worse job than Colas / BAM Nuttall ” 

As this image and comment proves :

image1 (4)

Dear Wirraleaks,

The attached photo shows a stretch of Mere Farm Road which was “repaired” by the Wirral Council contractors 6 months ago.

They clearly did such a magnificent and cost effective job that it needs much more repairing now.

When will they learn that doing a decent job first time round is more cost effective or do they just love throwing public money away to private sector mates ????

In response all we can say is  – buy cheap, pay twice!

All Wrapped Up

In the case of this particular Freedom of Information request all we can say is have Wirralgate tape, pay through the nose.

Full details :Wrap around FOI

Screenshot_20180130-101108

All wrapped in cosily in a symbiotic security blanket. Snug as a mug with a bug (that’s a reference to the Wirralgate recording obvs)

Patience is a Virtue 

Dear Mr Robinson

I received this assurance from you on 19th December 2016

On 19 December 2016 at 11:42, Robinson, Eric <ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk> wrote:

Dear Dr Smith

Thank you for your email below.Officers are considering the matters you have raised in your emails and I will respond to you fully in January.

Regards

Eric Robinson

Chief Executive

Wirral Council

Tel : 0151 691 8589

Email : ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk

You did not specify ‘responding to me fully’, by January 2017. 

However January 2018 has now passed, and I can only surmise that your ‘Officers’ have been completely occupied with Wirral Council’s 2016/2017 ongoing catalogue of disasters.

For your convenience, I attach a reply I sent to Cllr Walter Smith, who contacted me in May 2017 as you hadn’t, with his view of the ‘Most Improved Wirral Council’ (the absolute definition of an oxymoron given the events of 2016/2017)

Patience is a virtue. I look forward to receiving your ‘full response’ as assured.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson is increasingly making Howard Hughes seem outgoing and gregarious. A local government patsy drowning in a mire of his own incompetence and other people’s corruption.  Hey, Stressed Eric! – you really should have spoken to your predecessor before you took up post. Oh – but wait a minute your political paymasters didn’t allow it did they? Protecting themselves and setting you up to fail as you didn’t know what you were letting yourself in for. Oh but you know now don’t you? And you chose the side of the people who pay your obscene salary. We sincerely hope and pray that one day you will regret that choice. In fact we’re working on it day and night – you may have noticed.

Meet the Talent

Without any fanfare – we wonder why? – Dave Fergus is the man who has taken over running Wirral Evolutions from Chris Beyga the disgraced former Managing Director of this arms-length Wirral Council experiment that went horribly wrong mainly because Beyga (aka Rosa Klebb) thought she was running her own personal fiefdom.

Meet the Talent

You will note from his profile above (can somebody please provide a translation of local government BS? ) that there is absolutely no mention of disability rights. Just the person you want running a service where apparently the thick as mince managers think that somehow they’re doing a favour to the people who actually pay their wages. We’re wondering whether we’ll  get a comment on this latest appointment from Wirral Evolutions ‘ Independent’ Chair and professional disability rights ‘champion’ Carey Bamber or ‘Non -Executive Director’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy’ Pip’ Davies? We’re not holding our breath.

Crime Report

We note that this week Mayor Joe Anderson was taken in for questioning ‘under caution’ by Merseyside Police in relation to the fraud probe concerning Liverpool City Council CEO Ged Fitzgerald and others . Power Boy Pip, Stressed Eric and others will no doubt be observing developments with interest – as will we !

Proceed with caution

Holiday Hypocrisy Part 2

And finally we understand that someone is taking a particular interest in Wirral Leaks from their undeserved winter break in the Dominican Republic. Answers on a postcard please…….

 

The Leaky Awards – All Time Best Quotes

One of the most satisfying aspects of reviewing our past body of work is identifying the consistent thread of delusion and deceit associated with those from Wirral Council that weaves its way through our posts like words through a stick of rock

Wanker rock

To highlight this  we present the past winners of ‘Quote of the Year’ 2013-16

 2013 – ” No evidence was made available to the investigation to substantiate a serious allegation regarding inappropriate language” – Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies

Full story here: THE LEAKYS – WIRRAL LEAKS AWARDS 2013

2014 – ” (I was) played an excerpt of the recording (and) an adverse comment (was) made by a senior member (of the Labour group)” 

Powerboytrumpet

Power Boy Pip – a hearing impairment or a truth allergy? 

We’ve added some annotations (in bold) to the comments on our original post just to highlight the extent of the denial and deceit that’s going on here :

Wirral Leaks followers will recall that the Quote of the Year in the 2013 Leaky Awards came from Power Boy Pip and was in reference to the Wirralgate tape – ” No evidence was made available to the investigation to substantiate a serious allegation regarding inappropriate language” (This investigation will be the unheralded Peter Mackay investigation from October 2013 – about which much more in our upcoming Wirralgate For Dummies guide). Then having thought he’d cleverly boxed off that little local difficulty Pip’s plans were dashed after someone (that someone tipped off Tory leader Jefferson Green about the Wirralgate tape just before last Christmas and by the new year it suddenly appeared that Power Boy Pip had recovered from a bout of amnesia and suddenly recalled being “played an excerpt of the recording” and that “an adverse comment (was) made by the senior member” of the Labour group” !!!

We were more coy in those days. The ‘someone’ who tipped off Green was none other than Liam Murphy who at the time was working for the Liverpool Echo but as you all now know works for the local Labour group!

Oops! the “adverse comment” must’ve slipped Pip’s tiny mind during the Mackay investigation in October 2013.

So having been rumbled Pip was forced to concede that the Wirralgate tapes went from an “unsubstantiated rumour” to “inaudible” to him admitting that he was indeed “played an excerpt.”

What we find frustrating is that the then Tory leader Green or indeed any other councillor didn’t think to refer the matter to the Standards Panel as Pip had clearly lied to investigator and to elected members. But then they didn’t when Cllr Steve Foulkes had evidentially done the same during the first Thynne investigation and they were ALL witnesses!  

Is it any wonder that the runner up for Quote of the Year 2014 was this :

“We wanted justice but you wouldn’t give it to us”Whistleblower Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro speaking at Audit & Risk Management Committee in October whilst exposing Wirral Council’s inglorious record of thwarting whistleblowers by means of delay, obfuscation ,denial , minimisation and total lack of scrutiny or challenge from opposition councillors (see above).

Full story here : THE LEAKYS 2014

2015  – “You really don’t expect this sort of thing from a Labour Council.” –  Paddy Cleary ,Unison Branch Secretary commenting on proposals to close disabilities respite unit Girtrell Court , which we all know subsequently closed. Last time we heard carers weren’t happy with replacement services. 

As we said with such prescience at the time :  Is this what passes for “slamming” round here?.Seriously Paddy – where have you bloody been?. Oh !-  sitting in Wallasey Town Hall on the Council payroll !Memo to Paddy : This a Labour Council in name only and it is exactly the type of “thing” they’ve been doing for years. We deserve so much better and so do your members and until you all realise this your membership and influence will continue to dwindle. # UNISON #USELESS #FACEPALM 

Full story here : THE LEAKY AWARDS 2015

2016  From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government”  – Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council. 

As we said at the time : 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!

Of course this claim has gone from ludicrous to insulting as it was made before the publication of the damning Ofsted report which deemed local Children’s Services to be ‘inadequate’

Stressed Eric was also the runner up last year with this howler :

” 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.

 

EricERic v3

One of these is under the control of unseen hands and speaks other people’s words. The other one is a ventriloquist’s dummy.

THE LEAKY AWARDS 2016

And finally here’s a potential winner for  ‘Quote of the Year 2018’ from someone who doesn’t and has never worked for Wirral Council  but fortunately for her knows somebody who did and which provides further insight into ‘how things work’ these days.

“This year Emma Degg took over as CEO of the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT). Over the years , Emma had offered me various work experience placements to help me advance and develop my network. It’s through NWBLT that I found out about The Juice Academy ….” Emma Green

From Pub to Powerhouse

We ask ourselves could Emma Green be in any way related to former Wirral Council Tory group leader Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green who could often be seen having a fag with Emma Degg round the back of Wallasey Town Hall ? I think we all know the answer to that question don’t we boys and girls? But isn’t it nice to see those who have moved on to pastures new courtesy of nepotism, sorry ,’network’ is able to give the leg up to the daughter of the former leader of Wirral Council?

Wirral Life – But Not As We Know It!

 

 

Press release

No dissent and no discussion. Press releases and publicity shots only please.  

Before we go we’d like to comment on the local media scene of which we were a very minor part. All we can say is that we fear for the future availability of alternative views or political commentary (now matter how ‘caustic’ or ‘mischievous’).

With Wirral News having thankfully committed hari-kari (or happy dispatch) shortly after the launch of Wirral Council’s very own Wirral View other local news sources seem to have been well and truly annexed.

Of course the appalling Liverpool Echo has never been properly attuned to Wirral politics or indeed Wirral itself despite their half-arsed attempt at lamely calling the local edition Wirral Echo. It’s always been a mouthpiece for the gobshites at Wirral Council. And it surely won’t come as any surprise to anyone that we understand Liam Murphy , the former political editor of Liverpool Echo, is now working for the local Labour group and has been for some time. Murphy was welcomed into the local corrupt Labour fold a) despite refusing to publish the dodgy document given to him by Cllr Steve Foulkes aka Foulkesy intending to ‘smear’ former Tory group leader Jeff Green b) grassing Foulkesy and Cllr George Davies up to Jeff Green about the ‘Wirralgate’ conspiracy and then  c) playing  a covert recording of the ‘Wirralgate’ recording to Wirral Council communications czarina, Emma Degg! And to think this fine exemplar of journalistic integrity refused to take part in the Patricia Thynne ‘Wirralgate’ investigations citing the need to protect his sources!

However never did we think that Wirral Globe would succumb to the undoubted pressures exerted on them by Wirral Council and we’d be experiencing the dark side of the Globe – and it’s not just us who’ve noticed the puff pieces, press releases, avoidance of high profile controversial stories ( the Cllr Reecejones case, the resignation of WUTH  CEO David Allison etc; ) and advertorials for private healthcare – Varicose Veins and retail outlets –  Beds

All we will say is that the Wirralgate tape must be the most valuable recording since Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’  – what better way to fend off threats to your career or advertising revenue than being in possession of the recording (or more accurately Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies listening to a recording of the ‘Wirralgate’ tape ).

Talking of advertorials we have seen the future of ‘journalism’ on Wirral and it would seem to be Wirral Life. The latest edition is here

Happy , shiny, Wirral Chamber of Commerce seemingly on every page, the same Botoxed, permatanned faces of Wirral’s business and ‘cultural’ (ha! ha!) elite in every edition . It looks lovely in their world but we wouldn’t want to live there – which may explain why we’re leaving you all to it!

One curious reader of Wirral Life brought our attention the picture of  a restaurant manager by the name of ‘Michael’ featured in the latest edition. Not only does his restaurant get a launch feature ,it also gets a glowing review courtesy of Nicky & Si who’s job seems to be going around gobbling grub and giving glowing reviews. Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you’ve got the right connections- although needless to say we won’t be giving ‘Michael’ and his restaurant any free publicity even for a free kebab . However we would like to ask in this publication of publicity seekers why ‘Michael’ seems to be so modest ? Perhaps because he’s got a lot to be modest about ? Anyone able to provide the surname of this cheery chappy – as we understand he has a particularly interesting back story?

Mike Traynor 011

All we will say is always question how certain people get to where they are and exactly why they’re featured in the local media  – but exactly who’s going to do that questioning when we’ve gone?

Advent Farewell 19 – Girls On Top

Emma Ugg 019

As you know we don’t do Twitter but we do get alerts telling us about ‘our highlights’ . How former Wirral Council Tory group leader Cllr Jeff Green pops up on there we don’t know – but he does. And for once we’re grateful for his intervention because we are able to feature his old Wallasey Town Hall smoking companion , Ms Emma Degg, who as we’ve previously reported is now CEO of North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) – you and us both, we’ve never heard of them.

Whilst Nigel Farage sound-a-like Green tells us on Twitter that his ” views are strictly my own” – we don’t convincing Jeff as they’re usually dull. Very Dull. So dull in fact that sometimes he precedes his tweet with the introduction ” Interesting stuff….”

One such tweet was this one :

Emma Ugg 016

Isn’t it wonderful to see a former Leader of Wirral Council  – we know, frightening to think that actually happened- supporting the former doyenne of Wirral Council . We’re just surprised that the current leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies and other prominent Labour councillors didn’t want to support their former communications czarina on social media . Oh no sorry we’re not – relations between various parties all got a bit messy in the end didn’t they?

However back to Ms Degg’s rad-fem magnum opus. First thing to say – and call us puerile (guilty as charged) – but we lol’d at the headline. Having suppressed the fit of giggles and resisted the temptation to question the stats that suggest women in business can boost the bottom line and whether this should be known as Kardashian economics, we found we could get with the idea that there should be more representation from women and the LGBT+ in positions of power. Although by missing the + Degg scored a –

Read the full ‘opinion piece’ here: Bottom Line

As you know we’ve long questioned the male dominance within the Liverpool City Region and the lack of diversity in political representation generally. What’s more it’s always struck us that whilst Wirral Council has long been renowned for having a macho bullying culture there has never been one of them wielding power who had a scrotum – always hiding behind lawyers,(in) human resources , Frank Field and any number of arselicking lackeys. Forever the little boys lost in a big girl’s blouse.

What would have been instructive if Degg had told us about the techniques and strategies she used to get to the top and how her plans to be Deputy CEO of Wirral Council were thwarted. But this cautionary tale wouldn’t be just about ‘toxic masculinity’ – it would also be about female rivalry. For example the infamous ‘Ladies of Hebden Bridge’  weren’t exactly renowned for their sisterly feelings towards Degg . Which brings to us to one of the strangest episodes we’ve ever covered on Wirral Leaks –  the fact that council leaders were utterly in thrall to these phony soothsayers that they’d decamp – which is unusual for Hebden Bridge – for spiritual, strategic and political guidance . Now if ever there was a case of girls being on top – this was it – but the bottom line is that it wasn’t necessarily a good thing!

Emma Ugg 024

 

Standards and Measures

We promised to revisit the Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ)  ‘It Has To Stop’  story with our considered views on the role of Wirral Council’s Standards Panel/ Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee and the measures they have taken to sanction LRJ. As we said :

We are not giving LRJ an out here – she deserves everything she gets but it is a matter of proven fact that she has been treated markedly differently than her Labour colleague Cllr Steve Foulkes by the Standards Panel. As far as we’re concerned councillors McLaughlin, Gilchrist and Blakeley have some explaining to do. This is something we will be analysing in a later post.

So let’s briefly recap what sanctions that LRJ faced for being a bad – but by means the worst – councillor at Wirral Council

  •  suspension from the local Labour Group

The Labour Group ‘leader’ , Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies in a rare show of authority recommended permanent expulsion 

  •  referral to the Labour Party regional body ( Labour Northwest) 

Labour Northwest ,who must be heartily sick to the back teeth of Wirral Labour Party careerists, sorry members, commuted the suspension to 6 months 

  • removal of the Labour Party whip 

Thus isolating LRJ from the ‘support’ of the local Labour Party machine. Although we have to say the Labour Party whip would have to have the skills of an ex-lion tamer with a whip and a chair to keep local Labour members under control

  • removal of LRJ representing Wirral Council on outside bodies

Although we’re not sure whether this involved any loss of remuneration (our money)

  •  asked to make full apology to whistleblowers 

And look how that went! LRJ came across as an obstreberous 6 year old stamping her feet and crossing her arms in protest at being found with her hands in the cookie jar

  • asked to make a full apology to all elected members at next full Wirral Council meeting

We won’t hold our breath waiting for LRJ to humbly apologise for her misdemeanours 

As we all know the last councillor to face the Standards Panel prior to LRJ was ex- Wirral council leader and mayor Cllr Steve ‘ Don’t Mention Sorrento’ Foulkes. And what sanctions were imposed on him for being a serial liar?

  • asked to make an apology  to the then Tory leader Cllr Jeff Green

Even though by his own admission Cllr Green WAS NOT THE COMPLAINANT!

  • Er, that’s it  

Bit of a discrepancy don’t you think?, especially when the reason given by clapped out Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin for the local Labour group going after LRJ was her lack of ‘credibility’ and ‘reliability’ as a witness. We’re left wondering whether Matron should have been on the Standards Panel in the first place . She nearly came a cropper for declaring she put her personal friendship with Kevin Miller ,the former monumental failure of a Director of Adult Social Services, above her civic duties.

But then Matron isn’t the only errant councillor in this farrago. Where were the rest of the councillors of all parties when the first Patricia Thynne report was published and where Foulkesy said he couldn’t possibly have handed over a document attempting  to smear Cllr Jeff Green to duplicitous journalist Liam Murphy because there would have to have been an adjournment of the Council meeting when it was alleged he had done so.

Apparently neither ‘investigator’ Thynne or any Wirral councillor bothered to check the minutes because they would have found out that there had indeed been an adjournment. This was one of the reasons that a second (costly) investigation took place and enabled several witnesses to later testify that they saw Foulkesy hand over the incriminating document to Murphy. Something which he had denied in the first investigation. The only explanation we think of for this particular lack of scrutiny is that councillors must have all just sat there and said  : ”  Well, it’s Foulkesy, innit, what do you expect?”

Clearly our expectations are out of step with our local elected members and until they realise they are accountable to us we’re afraid it will remain forever thus.

So when it comes to ‘credibility’ and ‘reliability’ as a witness we’re left thinking that Foulkesy is even more lacking than LRJ – and that’s really sayin’ somethin’ ! What it doesn’t do is explain the difference in the measures made against each respective councillor.

But then those who regularly read Wirral Leaks will know exactly what the explanation is…..

Meanwhile compare and contrast these respective investigators comments :

LRJ v Foulkesy 017

LRJ v Foulkesy 019