Green ‘N’ Gone

 

Jeff Green

So farewell then Cllr Jeff Green as leader of the local Conservative group.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15272929.Wirral_Council_Conservative_group_has_a_new_leader___Jeff_Green_ousted_after_15_year_reign/

We won’t be shedding a tear as we were never a fan. We regularly made the observation that he was someone who seemed more comfortable being in impotent opposition than being in a position of power.

As we know Green briefly reaped the rewards of the Martin Morton whistleblowing scandal by getting the backing of the Lib Dems to oust Labour leader Steve Foulkes and to subsequently become the leader of Wirral Council.

However his tenure as leader was short lived and he seemed relieved to resume the position of a perpetual purveyor of “‘faux outrage” (to quote Labour councillor Matthew ‘Matty Patty’ Patrick) . Meanwhile the returning Labour administration, this time under Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies, went back to their bad old ways – cover ups, secrecy and cronyism – all in the name of rampant reputation management.

All of which meant that the seismic shockwaves that were supposed to result from a series of whistleblowing cases ended up being no more than mere tremors.

Of course Green should have read the writing on the wall ( or more accurately the writing in the first Patricia Thynne investigation into the Wirralgate scandal ) when Foulkesy described him as ‘kindred’.  As both are now ousted party leaders their bond can only be closer.

As far as we were concerned his apparent complicity with the Wirralgate scandal revealed in the second Thynne report is his biggest failure when it comes to trying to hold the Labour administration to account. His compliance resulted in the biggest scandal in Wirral Council’s history to be all neatly wrapped up in an unwarranted apology from Foulkesy to Green.

WIRRALGATE! – A Portrait in Green and Yellow

We shall wait and see as to whether Green’s successor as Tory leader , Cllr, Ian Lewis adopts the same collusive approach as Green and takes to winking at his oppo, Power Boy Pip, after declaring how ‘outraged’ he is about the latest Wirral Council cock up.

Distribution Solution

 

We can’t get enough of ‘Wirral View’ – well we would if we had actually received more than one copy at Leaky Towers . Yes , we know there’s an online edition but there’s nothing like the touch of newsprint and gazing lovingly on those precious words of wisdom that fill that empty void that was once our information deficit to make us be #thankful #grateful #blessed to be living in such interesting times as these.

So imagine how relieved, nay, overjoyed we were to hear that Wirral Council are addressing this pressing issue. We dare say we need to take some credit for this. For way back in November 2016 we identified what we called the ‘Distribution Deficit’ when it comes to this vital organ.

Distribution Deficit

Subsequent Wirral Leaks posts have highlighted the fact there is no point in producing a publication which nobody ever gets a copy of and when they do they get a copy they quickly come to the conclusion that there  is definitely no point in publishing Wirral View. 

A View To A Kill

Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe

Our distribution solution would be to chase Wirral View out of town once and for all. However belatedly it would appear that Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kev MacCallum is on the case – phew! . He once was lost and now is found and what would we do without him!

Apparently the distributors that were based in Liverpool have been dumped (much like their delivery methods) and been replaced by a Wirral firm , and er, Royal Mail. This may have led to an increase in costs but Kev reassuringly tells us that  ‘This additional expenditure will be accounted for through reducing the spend associated with copy writing and photography with more work being delivered in-house.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15200280.Cost_of_pushing_council_s_Wirral_View_newspaper_through_your_letterbox_soars_to___126_000_a_year/

We’re imagining this involves the Labour Cabinet writing good news stories  about foodbanks and passing round the crayons to draw pictures of tins of beans. The next edition promises to be all very Warholian.

The media onslaught continued with Cllr Matthew Patrick Cabinet member for Community Engagement and Communications appearing on Roger Phillips’ infuriating Radio Merseyside programme to extol the virtues of Wirral View. This was  somewhat in the vein of an enthusiastic sixth former who’s proud of their media project –  ‘this is information that has to get out there’ he implored as if he was talking about a World War 2 leaflet drop over enemy territory . We confess we did snigger but then we’re still guffawing at his use of the term ‘faux outrage’ at a recent Cabinet meeting. Matty Patty (© James Griffiths , Esq) went on to deny that Wirral View was trying to take advertising revenue from the likes of the Wirral Globe and that it was saving the Council money (although he was a bit sketchy on the details).

You can hear Matty Patty at 1hr 05.20 followed by Conservative Councillor Adam Sykes  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04x0r52

However the absolute highlight was ‘Kathy from New Brighton’  who at 1hr 20 put Roger right about Wirral Council’s intentions when it came to generating advertising revenue. Kathy told us that she ran an independent business and received an email from Wirral Council in September 2016 promoting a ‘new advertising opportunity’ .

Kathy declined this opportunity on the grounds that advertising costs were ‘extortionate’ and  ‘I support my free press’ . You tell ’em!

Roger seemed a bit miffed that he’d been wrongfooted about where the advertising in Wirral View was supposed to be emanating from. ‘I was told NHS ……that sort of advertising‘ he said forlornly.  Sorry , Rog , but you seem a bit slow on the uptake that the Wirral Council crew can sometimes be rather disengenous (and we’re being polite for a change). We just wish more people would get with the programme – but preferably not yours as we find it a frustrating experience over the years as you have consistently provided the Wirral Council power elite with a platform for their mendacious BS.  Who can forget the infamous Graham Burgess ‘ mistakes’ episode for starters?

Indeed listening to Roger Phillips always makes us want to storm the Radio Merseyside studios and reinact the famous scene from the movie ‘ Network ‘ and scream : ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore…’

 

Wirral Council’s Got A Brand New Organ

LGC 1

We take a break from the Wirralgate saga today to bring you the work of Dr. Robert  B.Smith who has undertaken some excellent research trying to discover how the currently unnamed Wirral Council newspaper stacks up. Firstly he considers the ideological /strategic/operational impetus behind the newspaper and secondly the financial and practical implications.

Meanwhile we consider the pictures – taken from the Management Journal – serve as a warning as to the shape of things to come when the newspaper is published. As you can see  “Stressed” Eric Robinson describes Wirral Council as going “from the brink of intervention to the pinnacle of local government” as he tries to lure  2 overpaid policy wonks to Wirral. Unfortunately we fear we are going to get much more of where that came from!…….

The burning question on everyone’s lips must be…”Why a newspaper?” When newspapers are folding (pardon the pun) and as technology and social media advances…”Why a newspaper”?. When the Council has what passes for a website with a ‘faceless’ homepage with ‘uber-cool tile icons’, but with inbuilt navigation problems, what does that say to visitors? Hardly welcoming when the world’s window on Wirral Council is obscured. It is like trying to see through thick fog, or into a room that has the blinds closed. But is that intentional?

Has anyone else noticed how much previous ‘archive’ stuff has not been moved on to the new, improved website, and, is it my imagination, or is it deliberately slow as well as being difficult to navigate? All subtle hurdles to frustrate the outside world seeking information.

Now Twitter…fantastic in the right hands…but you need to know your market, and how to use it, and Wirral Council has no idea.. Now, to Facebook…who doesn’t use Facebook nowadays? Not many people, but if you can squeeze the life out of a FB page, then Wirral Council is a success story. However, when Recycling is regularly recycling its own recycling information, that is the essence of recycling, captured on Facebook and when, by example, recycling comes into its own.

Wirral Council’s communication has always been poor, but maybe it suits Wirral Council for it to be poor? Not only might it suit for communication to be poor, but making what is available difficult to locate, or even understand, may that be part of a broader strategy?

But, back to the ‘newspaper’. The proposition made absolutely no sense to me on any level. Council services are being decimated, asset disposal underway, privatisation is a priority, and operational staff levels are being severely reduced. Girtrell Court has been closed, Lyndale School has been closed, both against massive public opposition or ‘the will of the people’. Consultants and chief officers are paid exorbitant salaries, and the council is failing as an organisation. However, council tax has increased, but budgets are reducing, and the best use of some of this increasingly scarce funding is…a monthly council NEWSPAPER!

If incompetence is going to be shrouded by smoke and mirrors, what better way to conceal incompetence than to be the sole source of information about your own organisation?. And here is the problem – for mandatory public notices, road closures, planning, etc., and other supporting council business editorial/copy, 4 quarterly editions will not be sufficient to influence public opinion, accommodate scheduling and deadlines for responses/objections, etc.

The ‘newspaper’ issue (pardon the pun) also brings a number of other questionable episodes of Wirral Council’s conduct into focus. Why does Wirral Council act in ways that indicate it thinks that it can flout its own policies, procedures, and codes of conduct, make many questionable decisions regarding legislative compliance, and actively ignore government guidelines, and not report a Minister’s critical letter in a report to Cabinet…or reveal the new staff posts?

The range of options for this ongoing ‘corporate behaviour’, given the range of dubious ‘episodes’, must start with stupidity at one end of the spectrum to knowledge of absolute impunity at the other. The question then being at which point in the spectrum is the reality?

And this is where the ‘bloody-minded pursuit’ of this ‘newspaper’ is such an important consideration.

Government guidelines regarding the issuing of a council newsletter/newspaper are very clear. Nobody needs to spend £1,400 of public money for legal advice regarding the number of issues that can be produced. You just need to be able to read (and understand). But why put the Council in a position of direct conflict with government regarding 12 monthly issues of this ‘newspaper’? In my opinion, it is the need for total control of council information from a council in crisis.

The Ipsos Mori ‘resident survey’ result which led to this ‘rude awakening’ for the Council and ‘a critical response from the public’ is totally at odds with many other ‘critical concerns of the public’ which have been passed over, or systematically bulldozed out of the way.

I have undertaken my own research into the costs of producing this Council ‘organ’ and requested some additional information from Mr MacManus, who was very helpful during the Ipsos Mori survey. It made a refreshing change from FOI requests, and that is how things should be, for an accountable Council. Not everything contains commercially sensitive information, an impression created continually in certain quarters of WBC.

Your readers may wish to examine Wirral Council’s latest organ specification, and make their own estimates. The environmental impact assessment I have undertaken is rather scary as well. Maybe the Council hasn’t done one…?

The financial and environmental costs will be significant, and far in excess of the estimates. More service reductions then…except in Legal, the Press Office, and Recycling maybe…didn’t someone mention ‘jobs for life’ somewhere along the way?

WIRRAL COUNCIL proposed ‘NEWSPAPER’ – all estimated budget figures from Wirral Council Cabinet report, or directly from Wirral Council.

Year           Full Cost

                  Re-directed
current
advertising spend                    Income         Net Cost

2016-17*  £118,980                                            £39,000            £79,980

2017-18     £237,960                                           £85,800            £152,160

2018-19    £237,960                                            £94,380            £143,580

2019-20   £237,960                                            £103,818           £134,142
* 6 editions are planned and budgeted for in 2016-17.

“The publication will be delivered to all 147,000 Wirral households, all 7,500 Wirral businesses and see an additional 15,000 copies distributed to high-footfall locations such as supermarkets, hospitals and train/bus stations. We will additionally develop a new website to carry similar information as well as make better use of social media and other digital channels”.
Facts
…council expenditure and income estimates; print run; distribution; pagination range
…total no of copies per edition 169,500
…total number of editions 12
…first full financial year – 2017- 2018 base estimates used
Assumptions
… to estimate the overall cost an average of 32 pages per edition is the datum
…finished to A5 is not an option as a newspaper/newsletter carrying paid-for advertising promoting a council
…advertising rates are pro rata from full page advertising cost – and advertising may be distributed throughout the edition
…to estimate the quantity of stock (paper) required, the reference sizes are finished A4, and finished A3
…to estimate the total weight of paper required, an average of 80g/sq.m is used.
Assessment
12 monthly issues – total 2,034,000 units printed in 2017 – 2018
2017-18 Full year cost £237,960
Income £85,800
Net cost £152,160
Unit cost 7.5p including promoting and securing advertising, setting, printing, collating, finishing, delivery and distribution, plus presumably, additional ‘lifecycle/environmental costs’ of disposal/collection and recycling.

2017-18 – Advertising income total for full year £85,800 (£7,150 per edition)
2 pages of adverts 16 eighth page @ £446.88 per eighth page
8 quarter page @ £893.75 per quarter page
4 half page @ £1787 per half page
2 full page @ £3,575 per full page
…or the above in combination, and distributed throughout

4 pages of adverts 32 eighth page @ £223.44 per eighth page
16 quarter page @ £446.87 per quarter page
8 half page @ £893.75 per half page
4 full page @ £1,787.50 per full page
…or the above in combination, and distributed throughout

12 editions create 65,088,000 pages whatever size format is used @32 pages per copy
A4 finished size is A3 folded; 4 A4 pages per sheet of A3; 8 sheets of A3 provide 32 x A4 pages.
A4 finished ‘newspaper’ @ 80gm/sqm – total unit weight = 80g
A3 finished size is A2 folded; 4 A3 pages per sheet of A2; 8 sheets of A2 provide 32 pages.
A3 finished ‘newspaper’ @ 80gm/sqm – total unit weight = 160g

Annual weight of ‘news’paper to be produced, delivered, set, printed, finished, distributed and discarded/collected and recycled is:-
A4 finished size – 162,720 Kg (358,736 Imperial lbs, or just over 160 Imperial tons of paper)
A3 finished size – 325,440 Kg (717,472 Imperial pounds, or just over 320 Imperial tons of paper)
Considerations
Given the estimated unit cost it will not be Royal Mail, or an equivalent, delivering to every household, business, or ‘pick up a copy’ distribution ‘hub’.
It will not be sent out in the Wirral Globe or equivalent, as it has been stated they do not deliver to a significant number of areas.
If household and business delivery factors in a ‘minimum’ wage, or ‘living wage’ element for individual distribution of copies, what will be the average delivery time in rural Wirral v urban Wirral for complete distribution?
Further to my independent ‘review’ of the proposal, this ‘newspaper’ cannot possibly be produced, printed and distributed to in excess of 154,500 individual addresses, (and disposed of?) for 7.5p per copy.

For info – stock paper sizes and area (apologies to all who know this already!).
A0 has an area of one square metre.
Divide it in 2 you get 2 A1,
divide again you get 4 A2,
once more 8 A3,
and again 16 A4,
and finally 32 A5

IMG_20160808_130501

Spewing News ( Regurgitated)

Pravda 2

As ever we get a sense of deja vu when it comes to Wirral Council and following yesterday’s story about their plans for a monthly publication we recall a story we ran in March 2014 .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/the-devil-reads-pravda/

As you can see the story recounted the Birkenhead Constituency Committee’s plan to publish a quarterly newsletter. We can recall they subsequently published a really woeful effort but the interesting aspect was at the time the Council’s Head of Legal Surjit Poor, sorry Tour  was a bit jittery about the proposal to publish 4 newsletters.

Minutes of the meeting state:

“The Constituency Manager updated the Committee on the latest position in relation to the newsletter for Birkenhead and indicated that there may be some legal implications that needed to be further explored prior to publication and circulation. 

The Head of Legal and Member Services advised the Committee that there was a need to ensure that the newsletter would not breech (sic) any aspects of the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity (the Code) and suggested that the decision on this be deferred and brought back to the next meeting of the Committee”

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=26264

The position seems to be that originally, Tour questioned such a publication from a legal standpoint, but has since come over to backing it (hmmm …..  we wonder why?) and not just a quarterly publication but one which comes out every month.We understand that he was just one of a number of council officers who knew they were on dodgy ground on this one but as ever caved in to “he who must be obeyed” – Frank Field, the Chair of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee.

The Code that Tour refer to permits 4 publications per year.  So has Tour now signed off on a report going to Cabinet on Monday that is either unlawful or at the very least against government policy?. If 4 publications was a bit dodgy how does 12 publications a year stack up?.

Under the circumstances might we suggest there’s another Code that Tour should be re-acquainting himself with. Just sayin’.

Further confirmation that Wirral Council (and particularly Tour) know they’re on dodgy ground is confirmed in the Cabinet report fronted by Councillor Matthew Patrick (who’s picture at the front of the report makes Labour’s teen sensation Councillor Warren Ward look positively aged and decrepit) . Here you can read how councillors and council officers tie themselves in legal knots trying  to define the newsletter/newspaper/newssheet they are calling “Wirral Life”– yes, that’s the genius title that they want to call it – and of course we’re already calling it “Wirral Lies” so it suits us fine.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50034625/CABINET%20REPORT%20-%20Keeping%20Residents%20Informed%2027%20June%202016%20FINAL.pdf

Their justification for the publication is as follows :

What that review indicates is that having regard to a code or guidance does not mean that it has to be followed, but if an authority is to depart from it, then it needs to recognise that that is what it is doing, and to have formulated reasons for doing so. The extent to which those reasons need merely be ones that are Wednesbury reasonable on the one hand, or must attain a certain standard of cogency or convincingness on the other, depends in part upon how fundamental is the departure from the guidance, and in part upon the statutory context (e.g. whether the subject-matter of the guidance deals with fundamental matters such as personal liberty, and whether its content has the approval of Parliament). 

Whilst we laughed out loud at the line “must attain a certain standard  of cogency or convincingness” – seriously how much do they get paid to write this bilge?- we think the reference to Wednesbury is particularly telling. As we suggested in yesterday’s post Wirral Council could be heading for a legal challenge in the form of a  Judicial Review as the test for the Wednesbury Principle is that “the decision -maker came to a conclusion so unreasonable that no reasonable authority could ever have come to it” .

And if that isn’t a desccription of Wirral Council’s modus operandi we don’t know what is!. Having said all that local media insiders aren’t sweating on this one and think the proposal could well be following in the footsteps of Wirral Council’s  Manager for Communications and Marketing  Kevin MacCallum by performing a disappearing act.

 

 

Cabinet of Curiosities

Cabinet of Curiosities

Following the local elections Wirral Council “leader” Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies has had a Cabinet reshuffle. But let’s face it judged by his awkward public performances he’s always fiddling with his drawers.

However – out goes Welsh windbag Cllr Adrian Jones having mainly served his purpose of pretending to support whistleblowers and giving his former Cabinet colleagues the heads up about where the next bombshell might be  coming. He must be so proud.

Also tossed aside is Cllr Chris Meaden , who as we commented this week seems to have been thrown under the bus by Power Boy Pip over the Passport for Life leisure pass fiasco . Her (personal) involvement in the Control Room debacle probably didn’t help either….

So what are we left with when it comes to the big decision makers affecting the quality of life for people on Wirral ?.

Read this and weep:

“Leader” , Strategic Economic Development , Finance & Devolution – Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies

You know what they say about a man with a big portfolio don’t you?. Yes! –  that’s right he’s hiding behind important titles to make him sound “bigger” than he is.

Deputy Leader of the Labour Group , Transformation , Leisure & Culture – Ann McLachlan

Talk about one trick pony. If this woman says “moving forward” one more time she’s going to blow the turret off Leaky Towers (and no that isn’t a euphemism). As for “culture” – somebody needs to tell her that doesn’t mean drinking a pro-biotic yoghurt every morning.

Deputy Leader of The Council, Housing & Community Safety – George Davies 

Well,well ,well. No Cabinet would be complete without Georgie-boy would it?. Old faithful. The runaround. The go-between.The fixer.

We look forward to the day when Power Boy Pip  is indisposed and Gorgeous George has to command the authority of the Council chamber without putting on his glasses and reading from his notes (written in crayon).

Adult Social Care – Chris Jones

Sadly as her husband has been ousted from the cabinet Welsh Windbag-ess Chris Jones will no longer be able to regale us with her rendition of Amy Winehouse’s classic ” Me & Mr.Jones”.

However her continuing appointment as a cabinet member after the Girtrell Court still has us singing “what kind of fuckery is this?”.

Children & Family Services – Tony Smith

Love the Irish lilt. Hate his role in the closure of Lyndale School. He probably does too. But he’s still in the cabinet. These are the choices people make in life. Again , he must be so proud.

Highways & Infrastructure – Stuart Whittingham 

The big question is whether Stuart “Witless” Whittingham knows what “infrastructure” means. Remember this is guy who spawned a jokes about streetlights and how many people does it take a change a lightbulb on Wirral.

Answer : lots of them and and great cost and only after being highlighted (pun intended) on this blog and elsewhere.

Environment – Bernie Mooney 

Bernie sees it as her personal duty to be publicly affronted by absolutely everything from the Tory government to fly-tipping to litter to dog crap.

But mainly dog crap. Because that’s where the votes are.

Public Health – Janette Williamson

Congrats to Janette “Milly Tant” Williamson at getting a cabinet seat for being gushingly enthusiastic about absolutely everything Wirral Council does.

There is the added advantage she can advise on matters related to the elderly – such as euthanising members of the royal family and in the case of money owed to the council Jan would have no trouble recommending sending in the bailiffs mainly because that’s who she used to “work” for. So much for being a champion of the poor and oppressed!.

Community Engagement & Communications  – Matthew Patrick    Martin Liptrot

Enough said.