EXCLUSIVE : A Clean Sweep for the New Momentum Broom in Birkenhead CLP

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… 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

Red Eye

Go South Young Man! – The Leaving of Cllr Matthew Patrick

Matty Patty 002

However let’s get back to the matter of who Frankenfield thinks should inherit his kingdom. Apparently Upton councillor Matthew Patrick (aka Matty Patty) is the nice young man that Field would like to succeed him as the MP for one of the safest parliamentary seats in the land. But then we suppose there isn’t a deep pool of talent to draw upon in Birkenhead is there? But what about Foulkesy? Georgie? Crabby?, Doughty? we hear you cry. All we can assume is that Frank would like someone more in keeping with the aspirational artist’s impressions of a future Birkenhead that have been knocking about all over the local press this week – Wirral Leaks February 2018 . Full story here

The expression ‘rats leaving a sinking ship’ comes to mind as we can barely keep up with the continuing departure of Labour councillors – admittedly not the ones we want but net would appear to be closing in…

The latest news concerns two of the minor players in our ongoing saga of Wirral’s political folk . Namely Cllr Matthew ‘Matty Patty’ Patrick and Cllr Paul ‘Danceaway’ Doughty . Whilst we’re elated to hear that Paul Doughty is dancing away to well deserved obscurity and will not be standing at the next local elections by far the most interesting is the announcement that chinless wonder Matty Patty is suddenly heading off to ‘that there London’  We wonder whether he’s hoping  to pursue a dazzling political career as a Special Advisor (SPAD)?   Let’s hope his political ambitions aren’t thwarted by his political past on Wirral catching up with him.

If , as a Cabinet member in the most corrupt Wirral Council administration ever known isn’t enough we also understand that Matty Patty’s hasty departure may have something to do about,yes you guessed it, allegations of bullying against a female party member! To be honest we didn’t know he had it in him! Up until now the most confrontational we’ve seen him was complaining about the ‘faux outrage’ of local Tories sounding like Birkenhead MP Frank Field at his prissiest . No wonder we had him marked down as a potential successor to the the MP for Birkenhead – who’s days are now surely numbered whether by his own hand or the hands of others wielding the knives remains to be seen.

However as The Skwawkbox reports departure of Matty Patty gets curiouser and curiouser :

Matthew Patrick, well known among in the area as a figure of the Labour right, has not yet announced his reasons for his resignation, which will become effective in October, but local members say they are expecting a fresh antisemitism claim as Mr Patrick is understood to be Jewish.

Sources in the borough have pointed out, however, that Patrick was facing a complaint regarding alleged bullying of a female party member.

The SKWAWKBOX called Mr Patrick for comment. He did not deny that there is a bullying complaint outstanding against him, but declined to answer any questions by phone. No answer has yet been received to a follow-up email asking:

– is your decision connected in any way with the outstanding complaint against you regarding alleged bullying of a female party member?
– why have you opted to take this step just before Labour’s conference in Liverpool?
– will you be publishing a resignation letter and when?

Full story here : New Twist in Wirral smear saga as councillor resigns facing bullying allegations

Whatever the reason for  Matty Patty’s sudden departure what a damning indictment of  life on Wirral. We can only ask all our promising young men and women to follow his lead and go north, south,east and west but whatever you do get the hell out of Wirral until the ship of fools currently running the show sinks to the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

Matty Patty Pic

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…

Further News from Frank Field’s Birkenhead Bunker

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Pic courtesy of The Skawkbox

Inevitably Wirral Globe publish an article providing Birkenhead MP Frank Field the usual platform for an apologia after Friday night’s Birkenhead CLP vote of no confidence bombshell.

Most of the whining to be found in the press release was retread of Frankenfield’s statements made over the weekend concerning his position on Brexit. By far the most interesting snippet as far as we’re concerned was this :

“This is an absurd suggestion that is being used as an excuse by certain people in the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party who are fixated on the idea of trying to get rid of me.They would have found some other excuse, had it not been this topic, as they’re already lining up their alternative candidate.

Read press release here

Whilst Frankenfield is absolutely right about this ,as ever he thinks his voting stance on Brexit is somehow ethically and morally superior to that of Birkenhead CLP members who want rid of him. He want’s rid of the EU , the CLP want rid of him . It’s called democracy, Frank . Your local autocracy  is over .We’re just intrigued who Birkenhead CLP have got lined up to replace him. However we think it’s safe to assume it’s not Cllr Matthew ‘seems like such a nice boy’ Patrick .

For a greater insight into what went on at Friday’s meeting we have to turn to  ‘new left media’ website The Skwawkbox . Here we discovered the fact that ,as predicted, Frankenfield did not turn up to the above Birkenhead CLP meeting and is apparently refusing to to do until he receives an apology for his photograph being taken at a previous meeting. Read full story here  Field boycotts CLP in strop over photo. CLP demands apology for S*n column.

Courtesy  of The Skawkbox we publish the offending photo above. For someone who likes his photo taken we’re surprised Frankenfield objected (and he’s wearing his favourite gingham shirt too!)  But then his left side isn’t his best is it ?

The next instalment of this saga will be if the national Labour Party back their members with their stance on Field and judging by his comments this evening on BBC North West Tonight it seems to us that Field is dropping the hint about a threat he made in 2015  to stand as an Independent in the Birkenhead constituency should he be deselected…watch here at about 11 mins :

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bcpgxn

Life’s a Beach

Another week, another U-turn (or should that be U-bend?) by an increasingly nervous Labour administration at Wirral Council .This time it’s about the right for pooches to poop on the beaches.

As you can see Cllr Matthew ‘Faux’ Patrick aka Matty Patty fronts – and boy do we mean ‘front – this response to Wirral Council’s ‘faux’ consultation concerning where Wirral dogs can or can’t defecate. This appears to be an phoney (and costly) exercise in ‘We listen, we care about what the people of Wirral tell us’…

However now that they’ve backtracked on the beaches , will Wirral Council be pulling out of their park proposals? …and can somebody tell us who keeps coming up with these dog-eared, madcap money making schemes?

PS Wirral Leaks welcomes entries in our caption competition to accompany the Matty Patty still above. Just keep it clean – this is about the Town Hall not the Townhouse!

Measure for Leisure

Shutter

Following on from our Pit of Despair story we first bring you the good news that a contractor has been out measuring up to install much needed safety measures at Woodchurch Leisure Centre . Indeed a letter from Margaret Greenwood to a local resident says : 

Further to your email last month, we have been informed that Wirral Council has made the decision to fit a rail and gates along the wall next to the drop at the side of the small pool. New signage has also been ordered to highlight the drop. 

This action is as a result of yourself and others raising concerns with the HSE and Wirral Council. In taking these steps, you have made the pool safer for other residents. 

Result ! You might saying to yourself. Well , yes and no. Whilst we received a tremendous response to our blog post from pool users who not only commented upon the long term non-compliance they also highlighted further safety issues.
Apparently when swimming sessions come to an end and all swimmers, young and old, move to the changing area shutters are required to be pulled down to stop access back to the pool area to prevent accidents and particularly drowning. Woodchurch Leisure Centre have not got any such measures despite the fact that we understand that this is a legal requirement. Moreover we understand that staff are supposed to stay in the pool area until the building is empty just in case a child or vulnerable person goes back into the pool area. Staff shortages can often mean that this ‘backstop’ safety measure is not possible and so members of the public are left even more unprotected.
We are reliably informed that all other leisure centres have these shutters but because of cost implications it’s not happened at Woodchurch . Once again it is a matter has been raised for a number of years and yet has never been resolved. This must be particularly stressful situation for leisure centre staff.
One can only wonder what were considered to be priorities when there was a 4 week closure of the leisure centre for ‘maintenance work ‘ only last year  . A lick of paint, grout a few tiles and steam clean the bogs and hope nobody notices the deadly drop at the side of the pool and that there are no shutters ?  Maintenance work – Woodchurch Leisure Centre
As one of our many sources said : “Cost of protection a few grand. It’s fine for the people of West Kirby and Bebington. Woodchurch gets no protection. And the council treat the law with contempt” 
We’re further left wondering what knowledge and involvement members of  Wirral Council’s infamous ‘Golf Club’ have had in all of this especially Health, Safety & Resilience(!) Manager , Mark Camborne  and Head of Recreation Damian Walsh ?
What needs questioning even more is the involvement or non-involvement of local councillors Matthew Patrick aka Matty Patty , Stuart ‘Witless’ Whittingham and Tony ‘Don’t mention Ofsted’ Smith  .
You’d think they’d be up in arms to hear about local residents -and especially children – in their ward being put at risk.  But not a peep ! Shame on them that it was left to concerned citizens to raise (and part- resolve) the long-standing issue. Could it be that Wirral Cabinet members , Cllr Patrick and Cllr Whittingham in particular, are less concerned about the safety of the public and causing their own staff stress than promoting the Wirral Growth Company – which was launched yesterday with the usual stage-managed dreary fanfare of backslapping BS – in the hope that this Joint Venture will pick up the tab not just at Woodchurch but at all the other leisure centres at a later date ?
Whilst we’re at it we’d like to raise the complicity of the utterly useless unions in all of this . Seemingly pacified by a small pay-rise for their members whilst oblivious to the gathering shitstorm . With early retirement being denied for some whilst others are told they’re going on less favourable terms there’s a lot of disgruntled Wirral Council staff around at the moment. But as always it’s the lowest paid and least powerful who are in the firing line.
As ever with Wirral Council there’s a bigger story which is not just about shutters and covers – it’s a case of shut ups and cover ups with staff too afraid to open their mouths , managers too busy covering their backsides…….. and politicians turning a blind eye.

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #5

More Money, More Troubles

This week’s Cabinet announcement concerning a council tax of 5.99% came as no surprise to anyone. Nor did Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies inevitably blaming ‘Tory cuts’ for such a hike. However where Pip outdid himself in his budget proposals was suddenly finding £20 million down the back of the metaphorical Town Hall settee  “to prevent Wirral’s young people becoming victims of Tory policies.”

Now whilst we readily acknowledge that cutting off funding streams to local authorities is very much part of a shameful central government strategy to dismantle public services – and which the Labour administration at Wirral Council seem more than happy to go along with – we baulked at the rewriting history that was going on here . The playing of party politics with children’s lives and taking no responsibility whatsoever for the dire state of Children’s Services on Wirral was a new low even for Pip . But then it’s so much easier for a Council leader, who is in a permanent state of denial, to lay bad management,  poor decision making , laziness, and incompetence on the part of public servants and poor governance on the part of local councillors at the door of  ‘Tory cuts’. It was all very reminiscent of the first edition of the Town Hall propaganda sheet Wirral View turning the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services into a good news item. We had the foresight to write : “The article on the damning Ofsted Inspection report is given more spin than Rapunzel on speed and has the title ” Children’s services to get major investment” ! Which we suspect will be the distorted shape of things to come. Full article here : First Glance at Wirral View

The October 2016 announcement of this ‘investment’ to recruit additional social workers ,improve training and management and provide more experienced, long-term leadership for children’s social care amounted to £2 million . Could it be a measure of just how much trouble Children’s Services are really in is that the required investment has increased TENFOLD ? ! 

The Emperor’s New Impose

However we do have a good news item to report and that is the retirement of Birkenhead MP Frank Field.  Well, that got your attention didn’t it! Unfortunately it’s not imminent , which is a shame – as anyone who witnessed his tetchy performance discussing Brexit on today’s Sunday Politics TV programme will testify . There he was all flush-faced and flapping hands as Stella Creasy the Labour MP for Walthamstow accused Frankenfield of “driving the Boris bus” . Which we can only hope wasn’t a lewd euphemism. Stella stood her ground and wasn’t having any of Frank’s passive aggressive nonsense telling him ” You can talk over me all you like Frank” . Full coverage here :  Frank v Stella

During the clash of handbags Frankenfield maintained that the public should have ” the right to every bit of information going”. Which is a change of tune from someone who once objected on Radio Merseyside about the Wirral public making Freedom of Information requests to Wirral Council . We just wonder whether this new found fondness for openness and transparency extends to persuading Wirral Council to finally publish a much heralded report dating back to 2015 which was written by Frank’s mate , Nick Warren. Frankenfield was whining to the local press as far back as July 2015 as to why the report hadn’t yet been published.  Now everyone involved -including Field – apparently wants to bury the report. What’s that all about?

However let’s get back to the matter of who Frankenfield thinks should inherit his kingdom. Apparently Upton councillor Matthew Patrick (aka Matty Patty) is the nice young man that Field would like to succeed him as the MP for one of the safest parliamentary seats in the land. But then we suppose there isn’t a deep pool of talent to draw upon in Birkenhead is there? But what about Foulkesy? Georgie? Crabby?, Doughty? we hear you cry. All we can assume is that Frank would like someone more in keeping with the aspirational artist’s impressions of a future Birkenhead that have been knocking about all over the local press this week.

Matty Patty 002

Artist’s impression of a possible future MP for Birkenhead

Speer’ of Destiny 

Talking of these artist’s impressions …..there were a slew of pretty pictures accompanying such headlines as Stunning new images of how Birkenhead could look in future as billion-pound deal is agreed’  concerning the Wirral Council/Muse Developments Joint Venture which includes potential plans for glossy new Council offices. Somehow a cheeky Wirral Leaks reader was suddenly minded to recall the work of the Third Reich’s architect , Albert Speer. 

We’re sure they’re not making comparisons with a power-crazed, progaganda-obsessed regime but rather just reminding us that the self-aggrandizing plans for a People’s Hall/Great Hall/Hall of Glory were never realized.

 

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

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