Who’s Resorting to Misleading Information? You Decide!

BEACON FOR TOURISM

Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies, the outgoing Wirral Council ‘leader’ has repeatedly stated that campaigners opposing the Hoylake Golf Resort have been spreading ‘misleading’ information. However, apparently when asked to meet with campaigners to clarify his accusation he went strangely quiet. If Pip and his Council cronies are so outraged about ‘misleading’ information, we wonder why they haven’t bothered to correct any of the ‘misleading’ information being put out by the developers for the Hoylake Golf Resort?

In recent media articles and on their website the Nicklaus Joint Venture Group (NJVG) have stated the building the luxury golf resort houses will mean that the Hoylake Golf Resort link road will not be funded by the public purse. This information is incorrect as the Golf Resort road WILL be funded from the public purse. This ‘misleading’ information was brought to the attention of Wirral Council officers in February, but no response was received.

We understand that at the last Wirral West Constituency Meeting on 14th March a member of the public asked David ‘Golf’ Ball, Assistant Director of Housing and Economic Growth, to clarify whether the NJVG were correct to state that the road would not be publicly funded.

David Ball responded:

I’m not quite sure why the Nickalaus Joint Venture Group have said there is no public money going in to the road because as we did report, as you have rightly said, to the last Cabinet meeting …the link road has an opportunity for a number of sources of funding, one could be through grant from the Liverpool City Region as a transport scheme or the other alternative approach is to recycle the capital receipt that the Council would receive from the golf resort project into part funding that road, and that is my understanding of the position at the present time, so I don’t know why the Nicklaus Joint Venture Group said there was no public money required for that because that’s not my understanding of the position

Responding to cries from the audience about people being misled Cllr Jeff ‘Yellow’ Green stated:

To be fair to David…David won’t be able to give an answer about why people are being misled by the Joint Ventures web site, but I am sure he will go back and speak to them and make sure that it is corrected, is that right?

to which David Ball gave a resounding:

Yes!

However at the time of this post, more than 6 weeks after the constituency meeting and 10 weeks after the ‘misleading information’ was first highlighted to Council officials, the incorrect information is still on the NJVG website.

Other misleading information which the NJVG is stating on their website is about the quality of the farmland that could be annexed by Hoylake Golf Resort. NJVG claim it is “poor quality grade 4 cultivated land”. The Wirral Society obtained further information from the Soil Association and Landis.org. They also sought the opinion of Cranfield University who produce the Soilscapes website and are sponsored by DEFRA. Rather than being poor farmland, the Soilscapes websites indicate that much of the land is productive, suitable for dairying or beef and some cereal or feed production. Cranfield University were also of the opinion that the soil could even be graded as ALC Class 1 if better irrigation was introduced. We don’t know exactly what that means but even we know that Class 1 sounds better than Grade 4.

https://www.wirralsociety.net/hoylake-golf-resort-agricultural-land-assessment/

Finally, we would like to highlight that one of the pages on the resort website says “Hoylake Resort will provide a beacon for tourism within Wirral” – accompanied by photos NOT of Wirral’s many fabulous tourist attractions and wonderful natural areas, but instead by photographs of the Liverpool skyline and bizarrely , Wallasey Town Hall. Not a green in sight! – which politically is just how Power Boy Pip and Co would like it!

Does this mean that the NJVG know what many already suspect – that despite what the top Council spinners may say about making Hoylake a “world class destination”, most golfers will finish their rounds of golf and disappear along the publicly funded road straight on to the motorway to go and visit the world class international attractions in Liverpool just 15 minutes away!…

Not that we’re suggesting that Wirral Council’s ruling administration would ever resort to misleading information. However we’d like to point out that in a recent Labour leaflet distributed in Birkenhead & Tranmere there was the usual ‘Vote Green Get Blue’ rhetoric and alleged evidence that  that Cllr Pat Cleary votes with the Tories. We are reliably informed that the image is being pointed out to residents on the doorstep.

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It is certainly a ‘misleading’ piece of editing but certainly not as technically proficient as piecing together the panoramic that shows the full vote that was occurring out of view which had six out of seven Labour Councillors with their hands up as well!

A Green Party leaflet exposes the ‘misleading  information’ here :

Transparency

Now that’s what we call evidence of ‘misleading information’.

Over to you Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies to evidence campaigners opposing the Hoylake Golf Resort have been spreading ‘misleading’ information.  Although no doubt he’ll be too busy counting the minutes until his leaving do to be held at Wallasey Town Hall on May 8th…

 

 

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The Genuine Article : Can you spot the difference between news headlines and political adverts?

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A number of our readers have been in touch with pictures of the Wirral Globe wraparound ‘Advertisement Feature’ promoted by Cllr Ian Lewis on behalf of Wirral Conservative Group which has caused pre-Purdah murder.

We remember having a pop at the Wirral Labour Group for pulling a similar stunt last time the local elections came around. However this particular production really is something else. Real lowest common denominator stuff – right down there with their infamous ‘baseball bats’ leaflet which ruthlessly exploited the fallout from the damning  ‘Independent Review’ of 2012 .

baseball bats

The problem we have is that whilst we acknowledge you’d have to be spectacularly dim to think that the wraparound contained genuine news stories and not exploitative electioneering on the part of the local Conservative Group the fact is a) it appears under the Wirral Globe masthead and b) there are an awful lot of spectacularly dim people out there .

The scaremongering cover star is hasbeen ‘Militant’ bogeyman Derek ‘Deggsy ‘ Hatton. The picture is so old it was taken when he still had a decent head of hair . Whilst this ‘hard left’ trope is not only used as means of highlighting  the power struggle within the local Labour Party it also tacitly supports the established Labour cabal which have wreaked so much havoc in Wirral over recent years!

The inside features  pro- Green Belt , anti-Kingdom Security votecatchers which hitch a ride on the work of local activists and campaigners . Elsewhere it’s a bit thin on the ground policy-wise. A less than detailed 6 point plan features such nebulous aims as ‘ Expose Council Waste’ and ‘Better Council Services’ . Perhaps if the local elections don’t go well as expected the author can take over the running of Wirral Leaks. The local Conservative Group  don’t seem to have learned their lesson from exploiting the  political fallout of the Independent Review . Once they unexpectedly got into power , their main policy initiative was a desperate Council Tax rebate – even that didn’t work and there wasn’t enough spectacularly dim people to keep Cllr Jeff Green in power as Leader of Wirral Council  and the Conservatives were ousted at the next election.

Finally , we’d like to comment on the back page of the ‘Advertisement Feature’  which features the welcome demise of litter enforcement louts Kingdom  Security. We can’t help feeling that there’s been a bit of ‘Leaksification’ when it comes to the hard-hitting picture. Well ,they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery…

Grave Injustice

Wirral Leaks 2012

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Wirral Globe 2019

Halliday and Our Last Hurrah!

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Halliday : The unacceptable face of local government

We’ve waited for the dust to settle and the hot air to dissipate following this Monday’s meeting of the Audit & Risk Management Committee. This meeting included an agenda item discussing the audit report into the Stewart Halliday/Wirral Council clusterfuck which we’d already given you the heads up about in these posts  : Heads up on Halliday and The Audit Report is out – but is Halliday? and The Halliday Report – Money for the few not the many…

Indeed we’d started giving you all the heads up about Halliday since 23 February 2017 and as you can read at your leisure here in dozens of posts since … but then why let facts get in the way of the Liverpool Echo/Wirral Globe report which can plagiarise a local blog and rewrite history to exclude all reference to the history of this latest Wirral Council debacle?

Wirral Leaks not only called this one way back , WE SHOUTED OUT LOUD – but it would appear that Wirral Council just don’t want to listen and the vast majority of people of Wirral just don’t get to hear…until the damage is done.

So true to our outsider ways (and for completeness) we’ll be taking an oblique view of the latest proceedings and thanking, yes thanking , Mr Halliday not only for the consistent high quality blog fodder he has provided us these past two years but how this case as a whole serves as an exemplar of how incompetence/greed/dishonesty/collusion  are seemingly not only deeply entrenched but endemic across our public institutions.

Of the many comments that winged their way to us from people who have observed the Wirral Council webcast this one succinctly nails the main issues raised :

If you haven’t watched/listened to Cllr Kathy Hodson’s comments, then you should…. she’s on the money. She pulls up that Halliday had no authority to procure/order services/contractors, yet had authorised payments by signing off invoices – she said that’s like marking your own homework (shame she didn’t use the ‘F’ word ?!!!!)
Another very important point was that she queries how his invoices are annotated when amounts invoiced are different ? She was making the point that if he invoiced different amounts how did that relate to the work he was doing?
Good to see/hear Jeff Green asking why CX  (Eric Robinson) and S151  (Shaer Halewood) didn’t get to know until 24th/25th Jan, when officers knew on 16th – it was very convenient that they didn’t (or say they didn’t) know, when the CX announced that Halliday was to be the Interim Director of Housing Growth etc on was it 24th Jan?
The S151 officer doesn’t come across as very bright, or am I being unfair ? She says some staff who weren’t senior and some who were, didn’t realise or think the matter was serious enough to be brought to the attention of the CX… ????? A consultant who had been paid £300k, and was to be appointed as a Director, was invoicing the council using a dissolved company which had an invalid vat number ? If that isn’t a serious matter, I don’t know what is…. They should have been told immediately! She says ‘it was an error on my part that my staff hadn’t informed me by that time’ ? How can it be an error on her part ? Maybe she was so friendly with Halliday that they didn’t want to risk being bollocked for spoiling the love in? Maybe she’s such a tyrant she would have shot the messenger ? Anyway, it’s an interesting choice of words, to say she was at fault ?!!!
Also good to hear Cllr Phil Gilchrist saying that he had (before Halliday’s original appointment) drawn to the attention of the CX what had happened at York, and referred to reports and A&G meetings etc. The CX said that he had spoken to the CX of York (presumably Kersten England), and she had said it was ok, and she even gave Halliday a reference. We all now why she did that, don’t we ?… She defended Halliday to stop him landing her in it !!! 
As an aside, did anyone notice the sub-titles ? Very poor interpretation.
halewood

Halewood : another unacceptable face

For what it’s worth here are our thoughts and observations  : Firstly, we were taken aback at the sheer gall of Finance Director Shaer Halewood who’s curious mea culpa seems to be more a case of wanting to have her cake,eat it and then throw it up all over less senior Wirral Council staff. All in the name of  protecting Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson.
We can see how Ms Halewood got the job can’t we ? A classic example of of the ‘Kiss Up/ Kick Down’ culture that still permeates the council . Meanwhile can we forget the distractions about who knew what when ? The simple fact is that HALLIDAY SHOULDN’T HAVE GOT A CONSULTANCY JOB AT WIRRAL COUNCIL IN THE FIRST PLACE ! Essentially everything that followed his engagement is a failure of due diligence and all roads (via York) lead back to Eric Robinson  …
Eric Gut

Robinson : unacceptable everything

Meanwhile for us at Wirral Leaks the Halliday case has proved to be the catalyst – if not the cause – of our decision to capitulate to corporate forces and pack it all in, which in some quarters will be seen as money well spent regardless of how much public money was lavished on Halliday.
More news on our last hurrah to follow…

The Twelve Days of Christmas : Day Five -More for Torus , Less for All of Us

Eastham Housing

There’s an interesting post on the Save Our Social Housing Facebook page which reads :

Torus Housing Association ( Magenta Living’s bedfellows in Bamboo) have lodged an application to build 28 homes on the Lyndale School site in Eastham. They will be a mixture of 2,3 and 4 bedroom homes to be sold under a shared ownership scheme with four being let at affordable/social rents. This is not good enough. Wirral Council must require more homes for genuine affordable rents as per Labour Party policy. They should follow the Islington Council example who won their case against a developer forcing them to build more social housing. The Lyndale site is/ was Council property, I say at least 14 of those homes should be genuinely affordable rents.

Talking of bedfellows Wirral Leaks readers will know of the Torus /Bamboo connection because the Torus Chair is none other than Graham Burgess  who was formerly the CEO of Wirral Council when the decision was made to close Lyndale School . But for those who are unfamiliar with the story you can catch up here  and also find out the links to Magenta Living ( Board members Cllr Steve Foulkes and Cllr Jeff Green). The full sorry story of the closure of Lyndale School and the role of Cllr Steve Foulkes can be read here
And so what was once public property now becomes part of the portfolio of a private company  headed up by a former self serving public servant who did very well for himself at Wirral Council and did absolutely nothing for the people of Wirral.
Isn’t it just wonderful how the plans seem to work out for people such as Burgess, Foulkes and their ilk ? We’re left wondering whether future plans were hatched as far back as October 2012 at ‘The Mayor’s Ball’ were you can see from this story on our old website there were some familiar names involved in the closure of Lyndale School and a very interesting seating arrangement :

Table 2 (9)

Mr & Mrs G Burgess

Mr & Mrs G Hodkinson

Ms Julia Hassall

Mr David Armstrong

Ms Fiona Johnstone

Mr Kevin Adderley

Mrs Emma Degg

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Let them have shared ownership and be grateful…

The Labour Smear Campaigners

Train Rage

Is Labour Uncut an anagram? Just askin’

The plot (and boy do we mean plot) thickens with the local Labour political in-fighting playing itself across Wirral and (thankfully) social media.

The latest sinister twist involves allegations that the Cllr Michael Sullivan resignation letter which first appeared on the Labour-lite website Labour Uncut which we informed you about yesterday was possibly authored by none other than Labour Party campaigner and star of CCTV  Martin Liptrot aka Liptrotsky . Liptrot is now, of course , nicely ensconced  in a well-paid Wirral Council non-job courtesy of his West Kirby neighbour , Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies.

However a very revealing post on The Skwawkbox website appears to evidence that the Sullivan resignation letter smearing Labour Party members as ‘parasites’ and ‘worms’ was not only authored by Liptrot but approved by Pip. Even more revealing are the attempts by The Skwawkbox to contact  Sullivan, Liptrot and Davies for an explanation of how this appeared in the properties of the Word document :

Liptrot 2

 

Read the full story here : EXCL: ‘AUTHOR’ OF COUNCILLOR’S ‘PARASITE’ RESIGNATION LETTER IS PR ALLY OF LABOUR COUNCIL LEADER

Of course Labour politicians and their collaborators are no strangers to smear campaigns. But at least their most notorious (failed) smear campaign was against Tory councillor Jeff Green. However it would now appear they’ve turned on their own in a grisly act of political autophagous.

The clearly amenable Labour Uncut website seems to be the perfect receptacle for the smear stories having coincidentally published a story the day before featuring Labour  ‘legend’ – no laughing at the back – Sheila Murphy, who was given the platform to launch an unsubstantiated attack on Wirral Labour Party members. We ask ourselves whether this could be the same Sheila Murphy who was in charge of Yvette Cooper’s (failed) bid to become Labour leader and if so might this explain part of her animosity towards local Corbynistas? What’s more ,when you realise that there is no doubt Liptrot and Murphy will know each other well from various Labour campaign trails you can appreciate how (with the help from a Labour centrist website) this particular campaign could’ve been orchestrated. Read more:  Labours past is killing its future

If Liptrot is found to be the author of the ‘The Sullivan Letter’ ( place your bets now as to whether Sullivan rescinds his resignation) surely this is a disciplinary matter. Remember this was the man who was warned about his political activities whilst occupying a politically restricted post in 2016 . A leaked email from the then Wirral Council head of law Surjit Tour read :

This matter has been discussed with the individual concerned and he has been reminded of the need to to observe the regulations  associated with occupying a politically restricted post

Read fully story here :  Red Carpeted

How many more times can Liptrot bring Wirral Council into disrepute? It would appear that if you’re of the right political persuasion and well connected you can do what the hell you like – and as their  smear campaigns demonstrate that’s exactly what the Wirral Labour ‘old guard’ are desperate to preserve at any cost.

LIPROT

Flippin eck!! – The Faux Outrage of Phony Tories

The above Tweets are concerned with an article published on the Labour Uncut website which is titled  Screaming,bullying,laziness and voting for the opposition : Welcome to Wirral Labour Party

If you read the link above you will understand why the pair are so animated as the post involves an interview with  “veteran Labour official and northern legend, Sheila Murphy”

Below are some highlights that Ms Murphy alleges to have encountered whilst campaigning for the Labour Party on Wirral

“I accept the left has have taken over. We’re a democratic party and I accept all that. I just think our electoral chances, both locally and nationally are at risk because of their behaviour,” she says.

What she means, it turns out, is a combination of bullying, extreme levels of micro-control and indolence from the hard left in her local party on the Wirral where she now lives, after retiring as the party’s former ‘super’ director covering the three northern regions…

…she wants to speak out after facing bullying herself by some of the new members. “We have a new hard core whose behaviour is nasty, vicious, and controlling,” she says. “It’s a return to the factionalism of the 1980s. And we all know how that worked out.”

One recent incident saw a local male councillor scream in Murphy’s face demanding to know who had “given her permission” to be out door knocking. One of the women activists Murphy was with was so distraught she had to be driven home.

She reports this kind of aggravation and centralising control is now commonplace, but her major gripe concerns the behaviour of the hard left during the last local elections. Murphy was asked by the leader of the council and the local candidate to lead the campaign in a target ward as they tried to oust a Green councillor.

They lost, narrowly, by 72 votes. “We managed to speak to 4,000 people during the campaign and it was clear that some of our new members were actually voting Green,” she says. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

“We were knocking on these people’s doors and they were openly telling us they were voting Green instead of Labour and even had Green posters in their window.  I reported them to the Local Campaign Forum and was told: ‘It’s their choice’.” For good measure, the local branch even posted on their Facebook page that the Greens were not the problem – their Labour council was.

Banned from attending the branch by officers to offer a de-brief on the campaign, she had her efforts dismissed as “crap” by the local chair. Undaunted, she organised a “thank you” letter to voters. This act of defiance saw the chair post another message on Facebook, warning local people that the group out campaigning, which included the leader of the council (in his own ward), were not representing the Labour party.

“Honestly, looking back I wonder why I bothered!” she says with a wry smile. “But this is my party and I’m not being put off by bullies. Especially when they’re not prepared to do the work that keeps the party alive. Incidentally, no campaigning has been done in this ward for three months since I stopped organising, but the Greens are out in force determined to win the second seat at the next elections in May.”

Her criticisms about the toxic culture in parts of her local party are specific…

Painting a picture of Momentum on the Wirral as an undisciplined militia rather than a professional army, Murphy reports the left returning to bad habits. “Branches, CLPs the LCF have gone back to tabling motions – mostly against their own council.”

There’s also a fear of widespread deselections as the process to choose council candidates begins. “Hard working councillors are telling me that their mental health is suffering as a result of the pressures from local party members. It’s one of the reasons I have decided to speak out. I know I’ll be vilified for having done so,” she says.

“It’s just so frustrating. We’re not discussing the key issues or standing up for real people,” she complains. “Housing and Universal Credit don’t get a look in when we can pass resolutions against the newly established NHS birthing unit, or demand the whip is removed from Frank Field, or oppose the proposal to build a golf resort – anything that attacks the Labour Council.”

The fate of local MPs inevitably comes up in the conversation, with reported moves to deselect Field, who represents nearby Birkenhead. “If they move against Frank and he stands as an independent they are seriously underestimating how loyal the voters are to him personally and many in the party think he will walk it and take members with him.”

So now you can understand as to why Green and Lewis have an opportunity to indulge in what Labour Councillor Matthew ‘Matty Patty’ Patrick  once memorably described as ‘faux outrage’. We’ll be eternally grateful to Matty Patty for that prissy putdown if nothing else. It may surprise you that we’re not sticking the boot in – but what galls us about all this is that the behaviours described are not the preserve of new members and should come as no surprise to either our readers or Tory councillors. We contend that the behaviours of the Labour ‘old guard’  which we have chronicled for years on this blog far exceed anything that Ms Murphy details. This presumably includes the unnamed councillor who it is alleged screamed in Murphy’s face who is clearly not a new Labour Party member . Unfortunately as far as we’re concerned Green and Lewis have colluded with these behaviours from the Labour ‘old guard’, the former passively the latter actively.  Whilst Lewis is currently concentrating on describing the poor viewing figures for Wirral Council’s webcasts and comparing them to Crossroads and Love Island – real lowest common denominator stuff –  not so much low hanging fruit as political windfall at the bottom of the barrel. Meanwhile might we suggest that what is alleged to go on behind closed doors has in fact been hidden in plain sight.

We are not expecting Lewis to kick at the door that is ajar , even when the local Labour Party’s woes have been further highlighted this evening by another  Labour Uncut  story headlined Wirral councillor quits party blaming hard left ‘parasites’ . The councillor involved being Michael Sullivan . All we ask is that Lewis , Green et al spare us the faux outrage – it worked for the Tories a few years back when they managed to gain control of Wirral Council with the aid of the Lib Dems in the aftermath of  a series of  shock horror reports which highlighted the toxic and dysfunctional nature of Wirral Council.Once in power under the leadership of Green they clearly didn’t know what to do with it and inevitably the power was handed back to a small group of Labour politicians who had previously abused this power and have been allowed to continue to do so. Tut-tutting at new Labour party members who challenge the ‘old guard’ is political cowardice  – you may not like their politics or the way they go about things but please remember some of the people they are challenging are simply unfit for public office and they are doing what opposition councillors have simply failed to do for years and that is hold Wirral Council’s ruling administration to account…

An Unsound Decision

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Did the powers that be (and shouldn’t be) at Wirral Council think that the week would pass without Wirral Leaks commenting on one of the most shameful days in Wirral Council’s history? Yes – just think about that evaluation for a moment. The occasion we are referring to is the latest meeting of the Audit & Risk Management Committee held on July 23rd . It is a date that should go down in Wirral Council infamy. And let’s face it considering their recent rap sheet that’s quite a feat!

Once again we have to thank our old friend John Brace for recording this ignominious occasion (we’ll stick with our old friend rather than link to the council’s own webcast if you don’t mind). We could only watch the first reel as we have a particularly weak gag reflex. However we anticipate that His Lordship will have much more to say on the matter when he returns from his golden slumbers.

 

Watch in complete contempt as Mark Smith – Strategic Commissioner for Environment (£93,783 p.a.) squirms in his own obsequiousness during Agenda item 3 trying to explain (very belatedly) how the highways contract is coming back ‘in house’ and in full Uriah Heep mode thanking Cllr Jeff Green for his ‘pertinent ‘ questions (yeah -right!).

We advise that from here on in you press the mute button to watch this farrago. Not only so you don’t have to hear the honking voice of Tory hypocrite Green . Instead watch the body language as in yet another spectacular failure of proper scrutiny we see furtive glances, the uncomfortable shuffling, the skirting round the issues, and the pity in the eyes of the councillors as they look at Smith in the knowledge that’s he’s the ‘poor’ sap having to front this duplicitous bullshit. Note particularly the repeated placing of hands over the mouths of most of the committee members (and particularly the representatives of external auditors Grant Thornton – £200K + p a. and counting ) which acts as a telling, involuntary gag. Note the crossed arms of Shaer Halewood (Director of Finance and Investments £104,642 p.a.) and the look on her face as if to say  : “What have I let myself in for?” and the inane grin of Chief Internal Auditor Mark Niblock (we don’t know what salary he’s on but whatever it is – it is far,far too much.) 

Whilst there were some mealymouthed  criticisms of the current highways maintenance contract holders BAM Nuttall made by elected members ,the fact is that the 25 staff who currently (mis) manage the filling of potholes and the replacement of streetlights and therefore responsible for the pisspoor performance will be the same staff welcomed back into the Wirral Council fold…..and BAM Nuttall will still potentially be able to tender for the £multi-million services that this motley crew won’t be undertaking!

So it’s a lose-lose situation all round for Wirral Council taxpayers as a result of this complicity and collusion with corruption (other c words are available).

Thankfully Assistant Chief Executive David Armstrong (£116,268 p.a.) was on hand to arrogantly explain that some of  those returning to Wirral Council previously worked for Wirral Council then Colas then BAM Nuttall. You don’t say! – and no -one , absolutely no-one, raised the issue as to whether those returning included those who actively participated in a smear campaign against Cllr Jeff Green and have been holding some leading local politicians by the short and curlies because they have the means to bring down the Council leadership courtesy of a covert recording  or whether the report into their treatment from nearly a decade ago and completed in October 2015 played any part in negotiations or why it took ten months to cobble together an explanation as to why Wirral council’leader’  Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies suddenly decided under his ‘special powers’ to bring highway maintenance back in house. Not a peep!

There wasn’t  even an explanation from Philip McCourt (Director : Governance and Assurance – are you having a laugh?) who, might we suggest, could’ve intervened to explain something along the lines of : ” I don’t know what Surjit Tour was doing agreeing that we could just pay them off and try and justify it with some bogus report supposedly written by one of Frank Field’s mates. Care to help me out with that one Mr Armstrong ? No thought not – but then you were at that meeting  when Frank tried to ,ahem , ‘compromise’ former CEO Graham Burgess about his , ahem, compromising positions weren’t you so,yes, you’re best keeping your head down and pretending like the rest of us that it’s all legit,whilst I try and clear up your mess and explain that as soon as we handed over any ‘compensation’ money to people who had no legal claim for ‘compensation’ we were all implicated so the best we could do was negotiate to give them what they wanted a decade ago if they buried the recording…”

Turn the sound back on and you can almost hear an audible sigh of  ” We just might have gotten away with that one…” as Mark Smith scuttles off and it’s on to the next agenda item. Meanwhile there’s the distant sound of a streetwise quartet sitting in a Birkenhead karaoke bar raucously singing along to the chorus of ‘Just What I’ve Always Wanted’

‘To be in charge of highways maintenance …..just what I’ve always wanted…’

 

 

Community Transport – Thrown Under The Bus ?

Thrown under the bus

Community Transport on Wirral may be in last chance saloon.
Word reaches His Lordship from a supremely well-informed source that the writing is on the wall for community transport services here on Wirral.  These are the trained drivers, escorts and specially kitted out vehicles that transport disabled and vulnerable service users to their day centres, care homes, Special Educational Needs schools, etc. day in, day out, all year round.
And we don’t bring you this news lightly.  We know it’s genuine because we’ve had the information checked and double-checked.  It impacts Wirral Council, goes right to the heart of central government, to the top of the EU, and it’s a thorny issue being discussed right now at the top transport committees in the UK.
Here is a link to the Community Transport parliamentary debate of 10th May this year:
https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/082b6e02-f4ba-46dd-a581-48202804c19f
A change in EU law, Directive EC 1071/2009 to be specific, was rolled out on the statute book in 2011 and appears to be done and dusted across Europe.  But there is a frantic panic back in Blighty because the Tory government ignored it when it emerged seven years ago.
So it’s now finally caught up with them, and under the new directive, the largest council contracted charity and not for profit operators with hundreds of vehicles, right down to the smallest with half a dozen, will in future be regarded as running a ‘commercial operation’.  This will entail these organisations applying for Operators’ Licences for the business, new licences for all drivers and 35 hours of training every five years for everybody who sets foot on a vehicle.
In other words, it involves big money ……….huge money.  Money they probably ain’t got.
The impact of this change threatens to be utterly catastrophic to the many community transport services that make up the majority of  the UK charity, not-for-profit market, and if the new rules are not modified, or their impact lessened, the sheer cost of meeting the requirements will force many of them to downsize massively or be forced out of business.

As is customary, the usual suspects at basket case Wirral Council seem to be busy making a bad situation even worse.
Transport Minister Chris Grayling wrote to all local authorities two weeks ago requesting that they bide their time, await his advice and do not remove any contracts from existing operators.  What have Wirral Council been doing?  Yep, removing contracts from existing operators.  Not only this, they are forcing them to apply for Operators’ Licences (O Licences) and to set up trading arms in order to be ready to act commercially.


Wirral Leaks readers will know that Wirral Council happens to operate its own transport service, mainly to private care homes because they will recall the young disabled girl a few weeks back, who was forgotten and left locked inside a vehicle alone for two and half hours in the council depot.  Read here : Transport Trauma
Where transport rules and regs are concerned, Wirral Council really should know better, because they have a former VOSA / DVSA expert on hand in the shape of Director of Transformation, Paul Satoor (and for good measure former Tory council leader Jeff Green).
But despite this inside source of knowledge, they appear to be immune to the rules.  Rules which they enjoy applying to everyone but themselves, as they flex their muscles, throw their weight around and community transport charities under the bus !
They’re even accusing their own charity operators on Wirral of “acting illegally” whilst taking payments from private care homes in return for transporting their residents.
This conduct is potentially illegal under what are known as Section 19 permits. These were originally set up to allow the community transport charities to operate, but which clearly stipulate “for hire or reward but without a view to profit nor incidentally to an activity that is itself carried on with a view to profit”.
In fact, this is like Wirral View all over again as they’re the only council in the land prepared to defy the government on this.  But this time it’s not just powderpuff guidance being swept aside.  It’s knowingly done, whilst forcing charities (but not themselves) down the O Licence route, and whilst secretly taking money and enriching themselves, but falsely accusing others of doing the same. So the council could be in breach of statutory law.

Merseycare are the largest operator on Wirral, providing a transport service for 3,000 vulnerable and disabled service users, and are based on the old Squibbs site in Leasowe.  They have 90 staff whose jobs are imminently threatened, many of whom are disabled themselves.
Before the May 2017 local elections, they invited former Leasowe Councillor Treena Johnson to come and have a chat about this subject and to have a look at what they do.  She said as she worked with disabled children, she would be delighted.  She asked if she could bring along a second Leasowe councillor, Anita Leech.
Interestingly, a professional body known as the Bus and Coach Organisation – whose members are made up of commercial operators – have been pressurising government for many years and quoting the above EU law in order to have them declare community transport contracts illegal and to have all such council business – the length and breadth of the UK – stripped from ‘law-breaking’ not for profit, charity operators.
Presumably, this is being done with the aim of stepping into the void to enable their Bus and Coach Organisation members to make a tidy profit out of the UK’s now stranded vulnerable and disabled service users.That third Leasowe Councillor by the way is Ron Abbey.  He is a former  bus driver for ‘the Corpy’.  We wonder if he might still retain undeclared links to the Bus & Coach Organisation? What an interesting coincidence that would be… perhaps somebody out there knows…?

Nevertheless, as Merseycare Transport waited, Councillors Treena Johnson and Anita Leach suddenly fell silent ….the kettle was on and everything, but they never even turned up at the Merseycare offices. Johnson jacked it in as a councillor  before the last local elections and presumably the other two were ordered to toe the party line.

We can safely assume from Wirral Council’s pioneering activities in being the only local authority to remove contracts from charity operators that they are keen to embrace a new future – where no doubt the lowest bidders with the least experience will be transporting vulnerable people – and they want to be at the forefront of creating it. And you only have to look at the railways to see how that works out!
We’re wondering…. where does Wirral Council’s statutory obligation to look out for the wellbeing of vulnerable and disabled people within their jurisdiction figure in all of this? Notice how time and again they pay lip service and mouth the mantra ‘ protecting vulnerable people’ – but the reality is something else altogether.

When approached, Angela Eagle, the Wallasey MP who covers Leasowe seemed like a possible way forward with this issue.
However Eagle, who did nothing publicly for her own disabled constituents when they had £736,756.97 removed unlawfully from their bank accounts over 9 years by Wirral Council, once again fell in behind the council position, preferring to ignore the looming threat to her disabled constituents, and to protect her party-political friends instead.
Whereas in Wirral West, Margaret Greenwood MP has many constituents who will be adversely affected and has taken the issue up. Watch this (disabled parking) space.

 

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #19

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HAVE YOUR SAY ON PROPOSED PARKING CHARGES BEFORE JUNE 22

Derby Pool car park users have their say now its up to the rest of you to let Wirral Council know that drivers aren’t cash cows to fund fat cats.

ARTIST’S IMPRESSION OF THE WEEK

WW AI Latest 

Here’s the latest artist’s impression for Wirral Waters (are they still calling it that?)

Apparently so :

As well as creating a hub for marine ‘entrepreneurship, enterprise, skills and culture’, the complex will revamp the 1860s central hydraulic tower and engine house designed by Jesse Hartley as a copy of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. The Grade II-listed building was bombed during the Second World War and has remained largely derelict ever since.

Read more here : Wirral Waters Marine Complex

It wouldn’t surprise us that the next thing you know Wirral Council leader  Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies and the usual crew from the Wirral Chamber of Commerce will be jetting off to Italy to twin Birkenhead with Florence!

However it seems to us that Wirral Waters continues to progress with its opportunistic, ad hoc  developments. A dementia care village here, a marine complex there etc; etc ; – backed by a never ending portfolio of artist’s impressions . All very eyecatching – but not as eyecatching as the big red bridge in Tower Road that is still resolutely refusing to be put back in its place.

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Pic courtesy of Wirral Globe

BAMBOO HULLABALOO

From “Save Our Social Housing” Facebook group :

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Might we suggest that Labour Party members approach Wirral Councillors who sit on Magenta Living’s Board and particularly their Labour representatives Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes and Cllr Stuart ‘Witless’ Whittingham (or even Tory councillor  Jeff Green – after all he is Foulkesy’s ‘kindred’). Or perhaps not……

Magenta Living Board

AND FINALLY ……THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

Details of  latest Wirral councillors ‘Gifts and Hospitality’ register has been published . Needless to say we were particularly drawn to Council leader  Power Boy Pip’s entries. which are as follows :

Birkenhead and Tranmere leader of the council Cllr Phil Davies

March 11, 2018: Visit to New York for the City Leadership initiative – March 11 to 15, 2018, offered by Bloomberg Foundation.

Accepted.  

Value: unknown.

November 28, 2017: Meal and concert ticket at the Echo Arena, Liverpool offered by The Contact Company.

Accepted.

Value: unknown.

As our eyewitness source told us last November the latter was not just a meal and concert ticket- Pip  was in a private box….

 

….council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies , seen bopping away in a PRIVATE box in the Liverpool Echo Arena at last night’s Queen & Adam Lambert concert, paid for the dubious privilege or at least made an appropriate conflict of interest declaration. Just sayin’ …… Full story here : A Repulsive Exclusive

We thought at the time that Pip could have been enjoying the hospitality of the Liverpool Echo itself  but it now transpires that he was the beneficiary of Asif Hamid’s largesse (!) via The Contact Company . As far as we’re concerned this is considerably worse in terms of conflict of interest , especially when you consider that Hamid is the Chair of Wirral Chamber of Commerce who have been the beneficiaries of Wirral Council generosity when it comes to giving the Chamber  grace and favour properties – sometimes at peppercorn rent. We would’ve thought that it would have been prudent of Pip to think twice before accepting such a gift.

But then we suppose this is nothing new for Pip. After all he is used to dancing to an old Queen’s tune isn’t he?…….

The Repetitive Pains of Local Politics and the Lyndale School Tragedy

 

 

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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.