Power Boy Pip’s reflects on his political career and decides smashing the mirror is easier than doing something about the distorted image.
There are many curious aspects to Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ announcement that he was packing in politics – not least the fact we got to exclusively reveal the news from a leaked email . As much as we appreciate the leak we would have thought a more appropriate forum for this momentous news would have been the previous evening’s full Wirral Council meeting.
Whilst Liverpool Echo just did a hasty cut and paste job with archive photos shortly after we’d published the story , clearly other parts of local MSM were geared up for the announcement as WirralGlobemanaged to get the news into yesterday’s print edition. The Globe also managed to reference to Frank Field’s recent run-ins with the resurgent Labour left despite the fact that this did not feature in Pip’s epitaph for his political career.
We’ll be analysing both the resignation message and Power Boy Pip’s political career in a special commemorative,cut out and keep, full colour supplement on Sunday titled ‘ THE 30 INGLORIOUS YEARS OF PIP’ – but for now all we’ll say is the hackneyed comment about him wanting to spend time with his long suffering family’ was not only reminiscent of resignations of Wirral Council’s past ( ex-CEOs Maddox and Burgess spring immediately to mind) but is also the time honoured phrase used by politicians just before the proverbial hits the fan…and oh believe us, it’s about to…
There have been various theories sent to us about the sudden announcement and we believe it may be a combination of all of them. After Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes reign of terror came to an end in 2012 in an unprecedented vote of no confidence , Power Boy Pip had the chance to really ,really make a difference to the toxic culture of Wirral Council but instead chose the path of least resistance.
Ultimately it is a failure of Pip’s ‘leadership’ – the reliance on a handpicked spin doctor ,the failure to rein in out of control councillors ( Crabtree, Reecejones, Foulkes and George Davies for starters) ,the inability to say ‘NO!’ to Birkenhead MP Frank Field, the all consuming reputation management and the constant denial best exemplified by the fantasy (Local Government Chronicle ‘Most Improved Council award) taking precedence over the reality (an ‘Inadequate’ rating of Wirral’s Children’s Services by Ofsted).
However it is also what French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin titled the “Omega Point”: “Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! … For everything that rises must converge.”
It is about the rise of the Green Party in Birkenhead (the humiliation of defeat in next May’s local elections had become a reality for Pip) , it is about the rise of Labour left (being held to account by party members had never before been a reality for Pip) , it is about the rise of local blogs ( there is no hiding place for local politicians up to no good any more ) and it is about the rise of political activism from people of all political persuasions across Wirral (especially those defending the Green Belt and the NHS – the likes of which Wirral politicians have never experienced before) .
For everything that rises must converge and together we say that is what is responsible for Pip’s demise…
… but all is not as rosy as it may seem. For a start it would seem that former Wirral councillor Louise Reecejones (LRJ) – No. 6 in the above picture – is back in a position of power and influence as Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) ‘ Diversity Officer’ . Yes, the same LRJ who was as you can read here was removed as Secretary of Disability Labour earlier this year as Labour Party members had deemed her position had become ‘untenable and unworkable’.
However we leave the expert analysis to a Labour Party insider who attended the Birkenhead CLP Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Friday 28 September . Whilst we’ve always maintained that the only way that the local Labour Party could rehabilitate itself locally ,having been brought so low by a corrupt cabal , was by its own members holding them to account. The jury is out on whether these latest developments are the way forward. As you can see it’s a view that is shared by ‘Red Eye’ our eyewitness at the Birkenhead CLP AGM :
So, it was a clean sweep for the Left with the old guard well and truly swept aside.
Predictably there was much self-congratulation going around on the Left. Some of it deserved but perhaps satisfaction rather than congratulations was more appropriate.
There is no question that Corbyn has caused there to be a dramatic increase in
membership in Birkenhead; it has more than doubled. But this has not translated to increased attendance at meetings – to be fair not an uncommon feature across
England and Wales.
Friday’s success was claimed by John Maher, Birkenhead CLP Secretary, the self-styled leader of the purge, as a masterclass in organisation.
The real reason for Friday night’s success was not down to some Left-wing uprising but down to a dramatic collapse in the old guard/opposition to the Left when compared to the previous year. Last year the ‘old guard’ attracted 80-100 votes compared to around 70 for the Left. But on Friday whilst the Left’s vote was broadly unchanged from the previous year the old-guard’s vote fell to around 40 or so.
No doubt the direction of the Labour Party nationally has heartened local socialists.The truth is that the Wirral ‘old guard’ are in disarray. Disheartened Blairites, the old guard councillor club and St Frank Field fan club are waving the white flag. For them accountability is an ugly word and they would rather remain at arm’s length from the accountability that party activists are beginning to demand.
So, it seems we are at last beginning to a new broom sweeping through Labour locally. Perhaps that is no bad thing as there is surely many decent and earnest people are amongst them. But there are some warnings signs too and grumbles are beginning to emerge.
As reported recently in the national Press, John Maher, self-styled leader of the group has a somewhat chequered history of party allegiance and embrace of democracy. As Wirral Leaks reported in 2016 here Maher has his own way of doing things and isn’t best pleased if you disagree with him. The prize at stake in Birkenhead is of course the Parliamentary Candidature. The NEC has given the go ahead for Birkenhead to proceed with an open selection.
John Maher has made no secret that Cllr Tony Norbury is his man for the job. Cllr Norbury has been quick to defend Maher when accusations of bullying and intimidation have been made by old guard councillors in the national Press. They seem to be a formidable tag team. So, is it a forgone conclusion that Cllr Norbury will become the MP? Will anyone have the temerity to challenge the anointing of Norbury? Will the resurgent Left in Birkenhead have a democratic choice of socialist candidates or will they do as Maher tells them? The prize is indeed great. Let’s hope they choose wisely and from a wide field of worthy candidates
Above are some of the redacted comments that according to Frank Field friend and ally Mail on Sunday have appeared on social media in the wake of his resigning the whip and his comments about bullying,intimidation and anti-semitism in the Labour Party (and particularly the local Labour Party). Whilst undoubtedly it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience to be on the receiving end of such comments we have to ask ourselves what exactly does he expect when he labels people ‘thugs’ , ‘toerags’ (and worse) and then suddenly discovers that there are people without his power and influence who only have a PC and a pottymouth and aren’t afraid to use it! Is any of the above worse than referring to a council officer “a bloody useless Chink” as Field’s electoral agent once did ? No, it isn’t – because the people making the comments don’t have the power of Cllr George Davies ,Deputy Leader of Wirral Council, to directly prejudice or influence important political decisions.
What’s more according to former Wirral Labour councillor Louise Reecejones (LRJ) Field himself once advised her that she needed to “harden up ,bullying is part of politics”. Whilst we acknowledge that LRJ is not the most reliable of sources it is something we can well believe her on this one as it is the type of arrogant statement we can imagine him saying. LRJ made the claims in a ‘press release’ to the Daily Telegraph in the knowledge that they were going to publish a story which included damning comments from Field. In the interest of journalistic balance The Daily Telegraph chose not to print a word of LRJ’s statement in defence. Consequently LRJ has chosen to share it on social media and here it is . Please note : the typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes are LRJ’s own.
My press release to the telegraph who are publishing a negative story about me tomorrow thanks to Frank Field.
I am responding to this from Hospital, I have been poorly for over three years and spent most of this year in Hospital, proberly brought on by stress.Mr field and his supporters are fully aware I have been so poorly and not even been active in the party, and yet he continues to behave in this way.
The panel you refer to I am not even going to justify with an answer, because there are no words to describe the lengths people go to to discredit and try to break a person. There is also Franks friend ex Labour Cllr James Crabtree who was convicted after his threats against me following the murder of Jo Cox MP.
Frank field has publicly attempted to discredit me, and the charity I am involved for disabled children and their families, this is minuted in Birkenhead CLP. Frank field gave me advice that I need to harden up, bullying is part of politics, well I said it then and I say it now. Bullying has not place in a civilised society and as an MP I was shocked that was your view.Franks conduct speaks for its self, any MP who writes for the S@@ rag has no place in politics.I wish Frank well for the future and any other Councillor waiting to take the headlines over the coming weeks with resignations from Wirral Labour.
I fully support Jeremy Corbyn and have supported him before he was ever on a leadership ballot paper, he is a proud man with clear values and integrity. This is what our country needs and this is what some members don’t want. I am proud to be a socialist with a kind heart, always putting others first and working hard to make a difference.
Times have changed, Birkenhead CLP and the other three Wirral CLP’s are now pleasant, its an environment that I can now allow my children to attend without the fear of shouting and nastiness.We welcome all new members of all backgrounds abilities and ages for friendly, socialist debate.
Kind regards,Louise Reecejones
The Daily Telegraph‘s sister paper The Sunday Telegraph continued the saga of internal strife within the local Labour Party by including a tale re-told by long- time fawning Field acolyte Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin and a clash of handbags in the street between Labour councillors Angela Davies and Tony Norbury , this classy little incident apparently reduced two Labour Party members to tears – though presumably not McLaughlin, Davies and Norbury who would be well aware of Frank’s dictum that ‘bullying was part of politics’ Read full story here : Ghost of Militant Barges Through Birkenhead
All of which adds to the impression of a local party about to implode. However according to leaked emails we have received none of this should come as any surprise to North West Regional Director of Labour , Anna Hutchinson. The emails were sent to her in July and September 2016 and includes compelling evidence of allegations of misconduct by Labour politicians including Field, Cllr George Davies, former Labour leader Cllr Steve Foulkes and current Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil Davies .
We have agreed not to publish the correspondence for the time being but it has been agreed that we can publish the prophetic and telling statements which end both of the emails.
Email 1 : “You may choose to ignore these allegations but you can’t say you weren’t told …”
Email 2: “You have a problem with your politicians on Wirral – a real problem”
This week we were quite happy taking a sentimental journey round the septic isle until Dr Robert diagnosed us with ‘Sandie Shaw Syndrome’ . No , we’re not in the words of the barefoot singer’s Eurovision winner ‘Puppets On A String’ (we leave that to others). As fellow sufferers of the syndrome know : “There’s Always Something There To Remind Me” and it messes with your head.
So whilst it’s vaguely concerning/amusing/appalling that other local authorities are equally inept and corrupt, let’s be reminded of Wirral Council’s rap sheet courtesy of ‘The Good Doctor’. Although as we replied to our esteemed commentator the sleaze (there is no other word) that lies behind the bare reported facts doesn’t bear thinking about!
WIRRAL COUNCIL… WHERE PUBLIC SERVICE WENT TO DIE…
It is 2011, and Wirral Council is in serious trouble. It is on the brink of Government intervention and has received a damning report1 from consultant Anna Klonowski (AKA Associates). The report paints a graphic picture of Wirral Council’s corrosive and bullying corporate culture, failures in corporate governance, and of Wirral as ‘the insular peninsula’. The Council is vividly described as an inward-looking organisation where the abnormal had become normal. The Council Leader and Chief Executive unreservedly accept the devastating assessment, and all the consultant’s findings.
In April 2012 the ‘window dressing’ started. A politically-expedient decision reportedly taken by Frank Field MP and Eric Pickles (then-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government), established a Local Government Association (LGA) Wirral Council ‘Improvement Board’. Called ‘sector-led improvement’ by the LGA, a review of Wirral Council’s corporate governance was undertaken by an ‘expert’ (peer review) panel. Its role was to identify the embedded detrimental issues and agree a corporate improvement programme.
In November 2013 the ‘Improvement Board’ produced a 63-page draft report congratulating themselves for enabling ‘the fastest turnaround2 in local government history’. Its job deemed complete, Wirral Council was unleashed from supervision.
Once unleashed, Council Leader Phil Davies guaranteed the casting vote on all Council committees. Replacing all opposition-councillor committee Chairs with ruling group councillors was in direct contravention of the Improvement Board agreement. The Council and Cabinet has had no effective political opposition since.
November 2014 saw a presentation given by Cllr Phil Davies and Graham Burgess, who appeared to have moved seamlessly3 in 2013 from Improvement Board member to Wirral Council CEO. The judging panel for this presentation, comprising primarily LGA members, judged for the first and only time, the Local Government Chronicle’s (LGC) ‘Most Improved Council in Great Britain’ award. Never awarded before, never awarded since. Without warning, Mr Burgess, described as a ‘leading light’ of the LGA, ‘retired’ from Wirral Council at the end of 2014.
It was March 2015 when Wirral residents awoke to media headlines announcing “From ‘abnormal to inspirational’ – Wirral wins ‘Most Improved Council in Great Britain’ award4.” In Wirral the question on everyone’s lips… is it April 1st?
A new Wirral CEO5, Eric Robinson, a former social worker from Staffordshire CC, was appointed in April 2015. Cllr Phil Davies stated… “Eric is the ideal appointment to take us forward towards my ambition for Wirral to become an outstanding council.”
In 2012 Wirral Council had agreed with findings that it was an ‘inward-looking organisation’ where ‘the abnormal had become accepted as normal’. In November 2015 it still was, as a very low-key peer review revealed. That was, if you could find it.
Also in November 2015, almost absolute power lay in the hands of the Council Leader when Wirral Council Cabinet agreed constitutional changes6. Coupled with the ruling group en-bloc voting7 and abstention regime, any decision could be bulldozed through. This change effectively negated any political opposition and scrutiny, Ward, community8, or resident9 representation.
Political, individual and council organisational survival were now the priorities. Residents were paid lip-service with endless ‘consultations’, as infrastructure deteriorated10, and public services reduced dramatically.
As local criticism grew, Wirral Council Leader took to ‘reputation management’. Described in the media as ‘cronyism’, in February 2016 Martin Liptrot, a self-proclaimed ‘reputation manager’, was appointed. This elicited headlines such as “Emails give extraordinary insight into Wirral Council’s controversial hiring11 of former Labour spin doctor”.
In September 2016, CEO Eric Robinson described Wirral Council’s ‘improvement journey’ as moving from “from the brink of intervention to the pinnacle12 of local government”. With his background in Children’s Services, was all well at the pinnacle of all pinnacles?
‘Most Improved’ Wirral Council’s Children’s Services were rated ‘Inadequate’ by Ofsted in September 2016. Hidden away was a Serious Case Review into the grooming of teenage girls13 in Wirral Council care over a 5-year period. In a desperate attempt to deflect criticism and accountability, the oft-quoted ‘austerity-hit, cash-strapped’ Leader initially promised £2m additional funding. Then a promise of £10m. Then a promise of £20m, to ‘demonstrate Council commitment’.
With ‘Most Improved’ Wirral Council’s reputation in tatters, Martin Liptrot was then fast-tracked to ‘Investor Development Manager’ with ‘no questions asked’14, and immediately sent to Cannes to attend MIPIM, a ‘property market’, with the Council Leader, Council CEO and others.
…and it goes on…in November 2017 following the 2016 Serious Case Review, two brothers were jailed for a combined 40 years after being convicted of 27 sexual offences against girls as young as 14. The Children’s Services Improvement Board Chair, Eleanor Brazil, resigned15 citing Wirral Council’s “shoddy treatment” of Julia Hassall, the then Director of Children’s Services, and “…some significant corporate issues…”
… and on…Jim Crabtree, a (now ex-) Councillor and Chair of Audit & Risk committee was convicted in January 2017 of making death threats16 towards fellow Councillor Louise Reecejones, regarding an unidentified sum of £19,000. In March 2018 the threatened Councillor resigned to free herself from “the noose”17.
Without Local Government Commissioners’ intervention, ‘Most Improved’ Wirral Council is the graveyard of the 7 ‘Nolan Principles’18 of public life, viz. Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty & Leadership.
In Wirral you won’t hear the ghosts of the Nolan Principles wailing and roaming the streets at night. They left long ago.
We’re sorry to have to do this to you folks but it’s you lot who suddenly started sending us election stuff and which included the above picture from a clearly disillusioned potential voter. Therefore this week’s dispatch will mainly be an election special . However we’ll start off first with a follow up to last week’s Wallasey Town Hall carpet story :
BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK
A Wirral Leaks reader writes :
A shiny new black BMW Mayoral car floating about the Borough….is there no shame this local Labour council will stoop too? Had to do a double take in New Brighton tonight and yep it’s a new GERMAN BMW …..no chance of this upstanding gobshite of a council supporting struggling Vauxhall whose livelihood of about 1/4 of Wirral residents are hanging in the balance.
Am sure someone will supply pics of the car and the carpet!
POACHERS TURNED GAMEKEEPERS
Meanwhile we’ve been receiving news of former Wirral Council staff who fancy their chances when it comes to being councillors. Presumably on the grounds that they couldn’t be any worse than their former political paymasters!
One such candidate is this handsome chappy who is standing for the Conservatives in Pensby, Thingwall and Barnston :
Not sure it will go down too well with ex-Wirral Council staff who he screwed over. But it will certainly explain the hasty retreat by former and current Conservative councillors who feigned support for the ‘Control and Patrol’ staff who were shamefully made redundant.
However in the interest of political balance we’ve also been made aware of a Labour candidate who was previously an employee of the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) . This fact alone sets alarm bells ringing for us. However we’re reliably informed that this candidate is being cruelly indulged for their loyalty to the party than for any real prospect of victory. This would seem to be the case as they are contesting the Heswall ward which as we all know is a ‘Momentum’ hotbed. However our informant tells us that in the highly unlikely event that they succeed in getting elected then we all need to order the cyanide capsules (well you lot do anyway).
Shocking news arrives that current Pensby , Thingwall and Barnston councillor Louise Reecejones (LRJ) could be losing her mobility vehicle! #sadface
Fear not LRJ. Labour MP Frank Field loves to challenge this kind of injustice. Perhaps you can give him a tinkle (not a euphemism, obvs). Or perhaps not – you’re not part of the ‘Inner Ring’ are you? Have you got any compromising and incriminating recordings handy? That might help! Just sayin’!
We’ve been asked about our Wirral Leaks Election Selection – 1 week to go story and to justify the fact that Green Party councillor Pat Cleary appears to give an actual shit. The first thing we have to say is that we don’t have to justify anything we write. We just have to evidence it. Much as Cllr Cleary appears to have done. From what we can gather all councillors were required years ago to report problems in their own wards and submit all cases through Councillor.Net which is an internal Web portal for use only by councillors. What’s more any councillor who claims to be reporting stuff in other ways is ignoring official advice and increasing costs to the council because it is alleged that Councillor.Net is apparently very efficient – which let’s face it is a first for Wirral Council!
AND FINALLY …… WORD OF THE WEEK
Take your pick as to which Wirral councillor this quote applies to. All we will say for now is that the facinorous nature of some local election candidates (and their agents) will be revealed tomorrow in all its sordid glory on Wirral Leaks ………
LOCAL PLANS,WEDDING PLANS – IT’S ALL THE SAME TO THE PLANNING DEPARTMENT (NO F*CKS ARE GIVEN)
We think it’s fair to say it’s been a bad week for Wirral Council’s planning department. Just to cap it off there was a High Court ruling on the long running Thornton Manor story A Thornton Huff : Where once again ‘ignorance is bliss’ when it comes to the Green Belt . You won’t be surprised to hear that Mr Justice Kerr ruled that Wirral Council had allowed Thornton Manor to flout planning laws and erect three marquees on the Green Belt by mistakenly making the permission to do so ‘unconditional’. The council only spotted the blunder in March 2017 – SIX YEARS after permission was granted – like you do. In an unprecedented move Wirral Council apparently “confessed to its error “(!) which prompted the owners of nearby rival and Mayor’s Ball venue , Thornton Hall Hotel, to make a legal challenge. Press reports say that as Thornton Manor has made wedding bookings up until 2020 that up to 50,000 guests could be affected by the ruling. Mr Justice Kerr stated ” I do not think that the existence of these bookings should override the public interest in the integrity of theplanning process”. Little does he know that the public interest and integrity of the planning process seem to be alien concepts to Wirral Council!
We have to say the story reduced Her Ladyship to tears……..tears of laughter that is – as she read that blushing brides had been tempted to hire one of the marquees for their big day with a ‘Say I Do In Choo’ promo, where if they spent £3,950 – which struck us as a bit of a random figure – they would be entitled to a £500 voucher for Jimmy Choo shoes. Her Ladyship composed herself after her bout of schadenfreude and rather pointedly sniffed : ” I think that prospective brides will find that being Choo-less is the first of many disappointments when it comes to married life “
“DON’T LET THE S*N GO DOWN ON FRANK” PLEADS MATRON
Oo-er Matron! Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin tries to come to the rescue of her adored Frank Field as he came under fire at Friday night’s Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meeting for continuing to write for The S*n .
The Skwawkbox blog reports that a strongly-worded motion of censure was proposed by Birkenhead CLP’s Prenton branch which stated as follows :
Prenton Branch condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the decision of Frank Field to write for Murdoch’s S*n. This not only flies in the face of Birkenhead public opinion and a Wirral Labour Council boycott, it rides roughshod over the memory of those who died or survived the Hillsborough tragedy and were smeared by that rag. It also causes upset to friends and family of victims and survivors.
One Prenton member has cancelled his membership due to Frank’s involvement in the gutter press. The branch feels that this is a clear case of bringing our Party into disrepute.
We call on Frank, to give a clear, unambiguous, public apology, for the hurt caused and to provide an undertaking not to contribute in any way, in future.
“The writing was almost literally on the wall beyond him” – pic and caption courtesy The Skwawkbox
A Labour Party member who was present at the meeting told Skwawkbox :
Frank said that he would not be muzzled. He refused to give the requested commitment not to repeat the offence caused and stated that if members didn’t like it, they could deselect him.
He flounced out of the meeting, claiming that he was continuing his surgery at nearby Birkenhead Town Hall. Nobody believed that, as it was nearly 8 pm and his surgery started at 5 pm!
His parting shot was some snide comment about Jeremy Corbyn, but members shouted back at him “thanks for nominating him”, as Field provided the deciding vote, which secured JC’s place on the original ballot!
We remind him of that frequently. If he thought he was being clever at the time, and JC had no chance of winning, look how that turned out.
The flouncing , arrogance and snide comments of Frankenfield will be familiar to those who happen to get on the wrong side of the Birkenhead MP . All you have to do is simply not to agree that he is 100% right on EVERYTHING and fail to prostrate yourself in adoration before him and you’re a wild-eyed Trotskyite and/or a mad malcontent. Which brings us round to Matron who gallantly (and unusually) writes in support of her hero in the comments section (Frankenfield had himself had declined to comment to TheSkwawkbox) . There’s an interesting spat with local blogger Wirral In It Together. Matron loses – badly(and inevitably). One comment that particularly caught our eye was from Ian Campbell who wrote : “1984 N Wales Euro election Frank FIELDS (sic) signed a half page in all the 10 constituency newspapers to warn against Ian Campbell the official Labour Candidate LP general Secretary wrote to me to apologise adding Fields has the backing of the Catholic Church and is untouchable.”
This reminded us that we really must get round to that story about Anglican Field’s extensive local connections with the Catholic Church………
ALL WRAPPED UP
You’re telling us that the Wirral Growth Company news emanating from its PR arm Wirral Well Made is absolutely relentless. We understand that this week’s Wirral Globe featured yet another 4 page wrap around ‘advertising feature’ (costing £4K +). Why Wirral Council’s ruling Labour administration continues to publish their Wirral View and duplicate spending on exactly the same content in a local newspaper we can only assume is down to arrogance and contempt for council tax payers. Wirral Well Made ‘s Martin Liptrot must be Wirral well made up that having wanting to put the Wirral Globe out of business he now has the financial means to use it as just another Wirral Council media outlet Indeed Wirral Council now appear to have the local mainstream media all wrapped up. Indeed one reader has kindly sent us an artful representation of what it feels like to be subject to the ongoing media bombardment :
And what’s more it would appear that local opposition parties are not able to do anything about it. Whilst we understand the local Conservatives took out their own pre-purdah page in this week’s Wirral Globe (presumably paid for by local Tories and not by local council tax payers) to rerun the usual fare of complaints about consultants, Wirral View , Hoylake Golf Resort , bins and loans it seems to us that despite the high costs these are , politically-speaking , low ticket items :
The problem that opposition parties on Wirral now have (and particularly the Tories) is that as a result of their misplaced politesse the big ticket item of institutional corruption involving a small cabal of Labour councillors has allowed the latter to act with impunity . Consequently this cabal have grown in strength, increased their power and are now acting, somewhat like their mentor and spiritual leader Frankenfield , as though they are “untouchable” . And with a perpetually impotent opposition with few new ideas things can only get worse.
There were a few notable absentees ( including Cllr Louise Reecejones) and the announcement of a couple of retirements at this week’s full Wirral Council meeting. The latter included Cllr John Hale , a former Wirral Council leader from the last century (or was it the century before that?) and outgoing Mayor and former Deputy Leader of Wirral Council Cllr Ann ‘Moving Forward’ McLachlan. Cllr McLachlan always appeared to us to be in a permanent state of denial about the appalling conduct of some of her contemporaries be they Wirral councillors or council officers . Her mantra was always about ‘moving forward’ as if it made all that ‘unpleasantness’ suddenly disappear. Now that Cllr McLachlan is ‘moving forward’ into retirement from politics perhaps she will take time to reflect that sometimes silence is compliance.
Here we have a social media post from our old friend and correspondent Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ). We’ve omitted 2 paragraphs ( containing either personal details or plugs for her charity) , other than that all words , as far as we know, are LRJ’s own. We’ve decided to publish in the public interest mainly because it would appear that LRJ has “made the move to withdrawn (sic) from politics” and therefore surely the local electorate need to know exactly what this means:
Last night I made the move to withdrawn (sic) from politics due to the extreme stress the constant targeting I have faced personally that has put extreme pressure on my health , this is not stress from those residents that I have served as that has been an absolute pleasure.
I would like to thank the one Labour councillor who had wished me well ……., it shows there is at least one good person . I won’t name them as I wouldn’t want them targeted. (Although I believe they can hold their own)
I believe in Jeremy Corbyn and what Labour stands for , I have principles I will not push to one side in order to make friends , I will not stand by an watch bully’s (sic) at work and I will not keep quiet to stop myself being bullied as I was not brought up that way.
My purpose was to make change and make a difference to children and adults with disabilities. I don’t believe in the current climate that there is any intention to change things on Wirral. I see so many children and their families in crisis and more energy is given to try and discredit me through the press , than change a way of working xx
I’ve not gone anywhere and will be back stronger than ever ,just without the noose …
First thing to say is that we have no problem believing that some local Labour councillors ” can hold their own” – let’s face it many of them don’t have a choice! The second thing to say is that LRJ doesn’t paint a pretty picture of what it’s like being a local Labour councillor does she? However we don’t appear to have had any official confirmation from the local Labour group or Wirral Council that indeed LRJ no longer features among their ranks . Whilst LRJ is still listed on Wirral Council website as a councillor for the Pensby and Thingwall ward – and presumably still collecting her council allowances – she was a notable absentee from this week’s annual Wirral Council budget meeting held earlier this week.
The Nolan Principles in motion : Comrade LRJ putting on a show of solidarity with Comrade Foulkesy (mate of Comrade Crabby) – awks!
If she is true to her word we have to say we will be sad to see LRJ go ( pass us an onion) as she was such good source of stories for us if nothing else. Who could forget her epic feud with ex – Labour councillor Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree and how that ended up with him getting a criminal conviction ? LRJ then went from victim to victimiser and ended up falling foul of Wirral Council’s pisspoor ‘Standards’ ( ha!ha!) regime, refusing to apologise to either members of the public that she’d badmouthed on social media or councillors who feigned being ‘appalled’ at her conduct. Let’s face it the councillors were just miffed she didn’t meekly ‘ Do-a-Foulkesy’ and say she’d been very naughty and she wouldn’t do it again……..until the next time. She then threatened Wirral Council and former and current Monitoring Officer ( Surjit Tour and Philip McCourt respectively) with legal action. We also understand she made further allegations against another Labour councillor ( but respect and decorum prevents us from pursuing that particular story any further).
We have to say that from our first post that mentioned LRJ and which dealt with her original suspension by North West Labour Party in May 2015 we always thought her days were numbered. Therefore she appears to have done well to have lasted this long before apparently throwing in the towel. As we said at the time her only hope was to foster a friendship with Frank Field. He wasn’t keen and her fate was sealed. Read more here : Suspension Suspense
Whatever the situation we suspect that the local Labour group will want to keep very quiet on this one – at least until after the local elections in May. But will LRJ?
We’ve been forwarded the latest footage from the eye of the lens of our beloved Mr Brace by a number of people who thought it might be of interest.
Although Our Man Brace makes a guest appearance three minutes into Part 1 which was diverting especially when we clocked the facial expressions of Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee chair Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin who gives a whole new meaning to the expression clockwatching. However there were too many longueurs for our liking (that’s French for ‘boring bits’).
As usual it was a case of councillors skirting round the most pertinent issues with Matron reminding committee members that they “can get yourselves into a bit of amess “ if they don’t follow the Council’s guidance and protocols. You don’t say ! – care to give some examples? There then followed a prolonged session of speaking in tongues about ‘sanctions’ for errant councillors (or rather lack thereof) with everyone careful not to mention ‘The Councillor That Dare Not Speak It’s Name’ ( that’s Cllr Louise Reecejones aka LRJ ). Although we have to say that LRJ’s violations against the Council’s Code of Conduct are but nothing compared to the likes of Cllr Steve Foulkes and Cllr George Davies we feel as though we’ve done that one to death.
We were just about to turn off halfway through Part 2 when the issue of ‘whistleblowing’ was dismissed in the blink of an eye or rather a cold hard stare from the Matron as if to say “nobody better say another bloody word on this subject”
However we pricked up our ears at about 18 minutes as councillors struggled to understand the word ‘intimidation’ (after all it is more than two syllables ). There followed a particularly revealing exchange between Matron and Cllr Ron Abbey . Well when we say exchange poor Ron couldn’t get a word in as Matron seemed particularly agitated about this particular subject :
Matron : There isn’t actually a way of defining what intimidation (is). You might think that a particular website in the way that it talks about people and elected members…..
Abbey : I’m not talking about ……
Matron : No… I am , I am. I’m suggesting would that be intimidatory, could that be considered intimidatory if someone is regularly being insulted or allegations made that you can’t contradict……
Ron Abbey : The only way you can test that is in a court of law…..
Matron : Well so far some people have tried to have something done about a particular website that might use those sort of tactics and found that it’s not possible to do it.
What particular website could Matron possibly mean? If , for argument’s sake we take it to be Wirral Leaks we need to make ourselves very clear on this particular matter. Firstly , let’s us deal with the issue of defining ‘intimidation’ . Perhaps we can assist elected members where their acting head of law and governance Philip ‘Peachy-keen’ McCourt failed them. Might we suggest their discussion could have been better informed if they were aware that the government’s Committee on Standards in Public Office published a report in December 2017 titled : Intimidation in Public Life : A Review by the Committee on Standards in Public Life
As ever what was missing from the discussion was a failure to acknowledge the power dynamic between a public institution and a local website. What’s more we totally refute the idea that people are not given the opportunity to contradict any allegations that this particular website makes. All they have to do is contact us at email@example.com as well Matron knows as a member of her family has done so a couple of times. The trouble is that those who have contacted us usually come off second best ( Kevin MacCallum – Wirral Council’s head of communications springs to mind.)
As for the fact that some people have apparently ‘tried to have something done about a particular website’ for exercising its right to freedom of expression tells us everything we need to know about Wirral Council. Now if that isn’t a definition of ‘intimidation’ we don’t know what is!
Intimidation is all about power and control and getting people to do what you want by threatening them .Those people who try to control the public discourse are those who want to control everything.Wirral Council’s control freakery is out of control and they hate the fact they have no control over this particular website. We’re in no mood to apologise for our irreverent tone or our sarcasm or our satire or our cynicism or our expletives and certainly not our lack of deference for people for whom we have absolutely no respect – deference died a horrible death for us a long, long time a go. We are not Wirral View!
The Brendan Cox quote taken from the report that we reference above highlights the hypocrisies that surround the subject of intimidation. For those who don’t know , Cox is a former highflyer in the charity sector and the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox. Mr Cox, was forced to quit two charities he set up in her memory earlier this month after allegations of sexual assault were made public. This is the second time Mr Cox was forced to quit after similar allegations were made when he resigned from the Save the Children charity in 2015. If you read the lurid allegations made against Cox it would appear he himself was an expert in intimidation. The Intimidation in Public Life report is littered (and we use the term advisedly) with quotes from Mr Cox. A hypocrite pontificating about hypocrisy is something we do not need.
Similarly might we suggest that no representative of Wirral Council (Matron or otherwise) is any position to to accuse a particular website of intimidation when it actually REWARDS such conduct :
Add to holding an incriminating recording over the heads of Wirral’s top politicians like the Sword of Damocles , threatening councillors and council officers over the phone and in person , participating in a smear campaign and even ordering pizzas from Pizza Magic and sending them to a former councillor.
And what did the Wirralgate ‘Group’ get for such ‘intimidation’ ? – the most senior politicians and council officers on Wirral conspiring to enable them to receive ‘compensation’.
All those involved will be forever tainted with the accusation of hypocrisy (and worse) by a particular website and that is most definitely NOT intimidation.
And so we finally reach the grand finale of the Leaky Awards 2017 and taking our cue from the #TimesUp contingent at the Golden Globes we’ll be wearing black. The clock may been ticking down for us but may it also do the same on the abuse of power – wherever it takes place and in whatever form.
However we’ll spare you the dreary , self-righteous speeches – it’s on with the show and our first award of the evening…….
Campaign of the Year
Winner – Defend Our NHS (Wirral)
The local branch of the DONHS have throughout the year provided us with information about future plans for the NHS and particularly about Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) that should concern us all , especially as Wirral Council are a key strategic player via the Clinical Commissioning Group.
Runner Up – Wirral Needs
If only for the chant ” Labour Council listen to the people”. Our advice to them after 7 years of banging our head against a brick wall is that they won’t so you’ll have to make them ! The only way they will be forced to listen is at your local constituency party meetings and in the run up to the local elections this May. After that it’ll be the same old,same old – personal interest and political ambition taking precedence over the public interest. Don’t say we didn’t tell you!
Campaign Fail of the Year
Winner – Wirral Labour ‘Keep Wirral Green’ campaign
How Wirral Labour reconciled this campaign with proposals and developments for assaults on the Green Belt at Saughall Massie, Hoylake and Thornton Hough etc; we can only hazard a guess but full marks for the sheer PR chutzpah .
Runner up – Frank Field/Wirral Globe nurses car parking charges at Arrowe Park Hospital (aka Wirral University Teaching Hospital – WUTH )
Whilst it was undoubtedly a worthy campaign we noted how WUTH CEO David Allison received the petition from Field, gave some bland assurances and then promptly disappeared in a cloud of controversy.We suspect that any incoming CEO will have their work cut-out just keeping WUTH afloat and car parking charges won’t be a priority . Meanwhile we note that Field is strangely silent about more wide reaching proposals for car parking charges across Wirral that are set to be introduced by Wirral Council. And once again we have to ask is this the only income generation scheme that Wirral Council can come up with and is it even legal?
David Allison : Yeah whatevs Frank I don’t need this right now. But love your tank top .
Comeback of the Year
Winner Esther McVey, MP for Tatton
Back from the dead
The former MP for Wirral West returns to high office as Work and Pensions Secretary in this week’s Cabinet reshuffle . Somehow this cat on a hot tin roof always manages to land on her kitten heels . And for all her talk of female empowerment we think that McVey is the quintessential beneficiary of modern day political nepotism , where ambition exceeds talent . The only contribution of note to the local political scene when she was a Wirral West MP was when she hijacked the Martin Morton whistleblowing case for personal and political advantage at Prime Minister’s Questions (apparently Morton knew nothing about it) . What happened after she raised the issue with David Cameron is a particularly worrying episode but alas we won’t be able to do it justice here. Perhaps one day the full shameful tale will be told.
Runner Up Stewart Halliday – the economic migrant/consultant from York who crossed the Pennines escaping infamy to make his fortune on Wirral with his two consultancy stints earning him circa £200K. So will Wirral Council kindly tell us whether he’s still around and what exactly we got for our money?
This man can do a powerpoint presentation and bullshit at the same time ! Therefore Wirral Council must give him as much money as they can.
Comrades of the Year – Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) and Cllr Steve Foulkes (Foulkesy)
Were LRJ and Foulkesy separated at birth? Whilst they share so many characteristics none of them can be found in the Nolan Principles! See for yourself :
LRJ Standards Panel investigation report : The Panel found the evidence of Cllr Louise Reecejones to be inconsistent,vague and misleading. The Panel did not therefore find Cllr Reecejones to be credible.
Foulkesy Standards Panel investigation report : I found it difficult to get Cllr Foulkes to be precise or detailed . His responses were vague,inclined to be evasive and I found them ‘economical with the truth ‘ and unconvincing.
Yes, just the kind of low lifes we want making decisions about our lives,eh?
Accessories of the Year –
Winner – Paula Basnett ,CEO Wirral Chamber of Commerce for those shoes.
These understated little numbers were considered suitable daywear to shortlist nominees for yet another awards ceremony and did not in anyway reinforce our perception that Ms Basnett and her organisation are all about flash presentation and very little else.
Runner up All Wirral councillors wielding ‘Show Racism the Red Card’placards as a virtue signalling accessory. But especially the local Labour group who tolerate racists in their midst. But can anyone spot Deputy Leader Cllr George Davies in the picture?
Best Picture of Unwanted Copies of Wirral View
Whilst appropriately enough both pictures position copies of woeful Wirral View next to their final destination – a bin – we’d like to think the winner of this category contributed to the dumping (no pun intended) of the original Liverpool -based distributor of Wirral View. Unfortunately a £750,000 3 year print deal with Trinity Mirror means we’re burdened with this lumbering white elephant for the forseeable future. Compare and contrast with Wirral Leaks which has cost council taxpayers of Wirral £0 and we would argue has been more effective in addressing the ‘information deficit’ of local people, particularly when we’ve been providing information that Wirral Council don’t want you to know about!
Wirral’s annual entry in Rotten Boroughs Awards 2017
Winner Ex- Wirral councillor Jim Crabtree
Included in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs 2017 ‘Quotes of the Year’ is this fine example of ‘doublespeak’ from former Wirral Councillor Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree. It’s a year to the day that Crabtree pleading guilty to offences under the Communications Act 2003 and it’s frightening to think that his well deserved fall from grace might never have happened if his increasingly appalling conduct hadn’t been reported on Wirral Leaks. As a quote from one of our Labour sources testifies when they raised concerns about Crabtree’s fitness to be a councillor – “The comment from George Davies was ‘better the devil you know’ while Frank (Field) thinks he’s the best thing sinceslicedbread” – the local Labour group were reluctant to rein him in . Furthermore we understand that they failed to address allegations made by a whistleblower about grant monies which Crabtree allegedly should have paid back to Wirral Council.
Join us for the second part of our journey down the red carpet to hell.
“Five years ago, we were a local authority in crisis: focused on cuts and on the verge of government intervention. Since then, we’ve been recognised as the Local Government Chronicle’s ‘Most Improved Council’, experiencing the fastest turnaround of any council in the UK. So what’s changed? In a nutshell, we refuse to give up; we never stop moving. Our pragmatic, innovative and bold plan, ‘2020 Vision’ will ensure that we’re getting the basics right; that we’re achieving more; that we’re changing the way we do things. In this role, you’ll take us to the next level and create a legacy for yourself in the process.” – Wirral Council advert to recruit a new Director of Finance will make you laugh , vomit or both.
“They don’t seem to realise I’m at the top of the peckingorder ” and referring to the investigator :“She doesn’t scare me and a little councillor involved might just shut her up.” – Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) texts used as evidence against her during Standards Panel Code of Conduct investigation. LRJ describing herself as top of the pecking order brings visions of an Animal Farm hen coop in desperate need of a cock. The cock in question being Foghorn Leghorn!
” ‘Sustainable’ = slashed budgets and services.· ‘Transformed’ = cut, demoralised and damaged beyond recognition. ‘Partnership’ = developed in secret, operating in secret, condemned by local councils, a total lack of public/patient consultation, and the only happy partners are Richard Branson and a series of US ‘healthcos’. ” Defend Our NHS provide a definition of STP (Sustainability & Transformation Plans)
“An economic value below the legalminimum wage……..(would help employers) to take on low-productivity disabled workers.” – Frank Field ,Birkenhead MP demonstrates his deep understanding of disability and equality rights .
“For anyone in this day and age to hold those views, and especially someone in Frank Field’s position, is abominable. It is exactly the same sort of thinking as the Nazi ‘useless eaters’ rhetoric.” Linda Burnip from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) responds to Field’s comments
“The right to equal treatment and equality are human rights. Human rights are not privileges. That’s why they are called rights. I suggest Mr Field goes back to the drawing board. His comments are a disgrace and he should now apologise. Furthermore, if the Labour Party wishes to prove that it has truly changed its tune, it will need to demonstrate that the New Labour old guard are no longer calling the shots and put the voices of disabled people first.The last time we looked, Mr Field was not a spokesperson for disabled people.” – John McArdle from campaign group Black Triangle also responds to Field’s comments. By the way people from Birkenhead , just a reminder, you are allowed to disagree with your MP.
“It had adversely affected the staff morale and the reputation of the authority and rebuilding trust and transparency is still ongoing” – Simon Cuerden – Corporate Business Support Manager, WirralCouncil comments on the conviction of Wallasey Town Hall petty cash thief who would have evaded justice if an attempted cover up by officials hadn’t been uncovered by Wirral Leaks
” Wirral is officially the happiest place to live in the North West”– Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies , ‘Leader’ of Wirral Council in peak Pollyanna mode latches onto a bogus Rightmove survey as if it somehow negates an Ofsted report deeming Children’s Services ‘inadequate’ and a Care Quality Commission assessment that over half of care homes on Wirral are inadequate or require improvement. Yeah, Pip, whatevs.
Comrades, “Now is the time” to stop acting like a “Party within a party” – and even like a “Momentum within Momentum”.
It is time to grasp that the mainstream (often called the “Left”) has won back the heart and soul of the Labour Party. I do not know of a single member of the Seacombe Branch who has not fully supported my own declarations for Corbyn on the two websites or who does not support him now. So why introduce friction where thereneed be none? Let’s try now to be a single Labour Party in Seacombe Ward.
Some comrades will remember that we also, for a while, held “Songs of the Labour Movement” musical evenings in the Park View Social Club – an opportunity for comrades to perform – or just listen and rub shoulders informally. But, since then, we have had the difficulty of the Party being suspended so long that many of us don’t even know eachother. – Cllr Adrian Jones keeps the red flag flying and addresses Wallasey CLP members seemingly in denial about the circumstances that led to the local branch being suspended by the Labour Party.
“To ensure the promotion of “professional curiosity” when vulnerable children seek advice” – The final recommendation made following the (unpublished) Serious Care Review report following the Rajenthiram Brothers Child Sexual Exploitation case. It comes to something when you have to ask those who get paid to protect vulnerable children to actually try and do their jobs properly!
“Wirral Council has to ensure every pound spent is wisely invested and we get the best value for our residents.This decision is the right decision at the right moment – the contract with BAM Nuttall was coming to an end and we believe we can deliver this service more effectively by taking direct control.”– Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies announces the surprise return of highways services to council control which is in the opposite direction of all other council services. There are suggestions this decision was influenced not by best value but by personal and political interests.
” Just goes to show what’s goingon out there .We live in a sheltered world . We’re all too good for our owngood“– Cllr Ron Abbey comments on the conduct of councillors in other councils clearly demonstrating he’s in denial and utterly deluded.
” I’ve always bought my houses, I’ve never inherited them……”Frank Field , MP bitch slaps fellow Labour MP Hilary Benn and manages to unite all members of the House of Commons in condemnation of his comment.
“The darkness around us is very deep” – Cllr Tony ‘Tight-fit’ Norbury reads a poem urging elected members to ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ whilst every single Wirral councillor appears to be oblivious to the darkness around them.
“Basically, it is the same thing over and over and over: incompetence, very poor communication (with me, but also with other agencies and between themselves), rudeness, poor or non-existent note-taking, people leaving at short notice and with no proper explanation, etc etc. It just goes on and on.
When the Klonowski enquiry produced its damning report, I briefly hoped that the people found to be grossly incompetent (and, in some cases, corrupt) would be removed. Disheartening, to say the least, to see people like Steve Foulkes still in place. Where is the accountability? There simply is none.
It beggars belief that Wirral Council has not been placed in special measures. I daresay the reasons behind that are political. The Tories asking for it are being hypocritical because part of the problem is chronic underfunding from central govt but I do think that being placed in special measures would be the best thing. The only thing, actually, that would give people like me and my son the chance at least of a semi-decent service. I know special measures are not a panacea but they would be our best chance.” – ACarer contacts us to describe her experience of trying to get a much needed service for her disabled son.
“As the Labour member on the (Standards) Panel it was very difficult for me to hear that a Labour councillor had used her position as a councillor to damage the reputation and the livelihoods of other people. It goes without saying that people who come into this council were elected to serve the residents of the borough and not to use our position to do damage to them………”Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin proves to be another councillor in denial and conveniently forgets her role and that of other Labour councillors in damaging reputations and livelihoods of various former council officers who dared challenge them.
“Phil’s Folly “– Cllr Gerry Ellis proving there’s life in the old dog yet at a standing room only public meeting where he described Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil Davies and his plans for development of the Hoylake Golf Resort.