Defending the Empire

Empire

Before we reveal the answers to our ‘Men of Mystery ‘ quiz we’d  like to maintain the suspense for slightly longer and mention a couple of Wirral Leaks regulars.

Firstly we ruefully note that ,  Asif ‘Massive’ Hamid ,Chair of Wirral Chamber of Commerce and CEO of The Contact Company has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

How appropriate that someone who specialises in empire building has been awarded an MBE! – even more so when you consider the Wirral Chamber of Horrors seems to specialise in giving awards.

Needless to say as we’re the proud recipients of a hereditary title we do have a tendency to be a bit sneery about such awards dispensed to the so-called great and the good. However our main objection is that such awards seem to serve as a defence to any  criticism-  ‘I have been honoured by the Queen ergo I am a good person’  

I’m sure all us ‘unworthies’  could name a ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ or a recipient of a lesser honour who makes us want to shake our head in despair that these people are considered to be ‘worthies’.

Talking of worthies and unworthies the Wirral Council  Standards Panel involving complaints made against Cllr Louise Reecejones did take place this week.

At least John Brace was given the honour and the privilege of being allowed to film the first part of the meeting where it was decided that he should be unceremoniously chucked out for the rest of it!

This is more than be said for last year’s  farce of a Standards Panel / Cover-Up meeting where the doors were barricaded against Brace to prevent him filming Foulkesy’s shame.

As you can see from the footage it’s the same cast from Wirral Council playing their usual roles . Cllr Chris Blakeley – the British bulldog , Cllr Moira McLaughlin  – the stern matron and Cllr Phil Gilchrist – well ,being a Lib Dem, sitting on the fence and voting to exclude the public. And of course we don’t have to tell you what the  Head of Law Surjit Tour advised do we?

Cllr Gilchrist stated that this was part of an attempt to maintain ‘public confidence in our system’ .

Really? – based on the operation of the last two Standards Panel hearings and the totally ineffectual  and self serving  Councillor’s Code of Conduct we have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE in Wirral Council’s system of protecting the powerful. Indeed when we questioned a member of the Standards and Constitutional Committee last year about the Foulkesy  ‘slap on the wrist’  They replied :

The ‘sanctions’ able to be applied are limited to just a few courses of action

As we responded :

Yes and who decided that? You guys did!. 

Utterly feeble. Should be with police and you know it.
Thankfully we know people much braver and committed to public accountability than you guys and we’ll be supporting them 100%…………. 
Whilst at the moment we don’t know the full extent of the allegations made against Cllr Reecejones – although we are promised a redacted investigator’s report shortly- it wouldn’t really matter what she (or any other councillor) had been up to as they  have neatly devised and cynically approved a policy that will forever protect the powerful to defend their political empires.

Year of the Chicken

foghorn-leghorn

A special Chinese New Year of the Chicken message to Power Boy Pip from Looney Tunes legend Foghorn Leghorn

Chinese New Year isn’t until February but you won’t be surprised to hear that Stella Shiu won’t be around to wish Wirral Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies : ‘Kung Hei Fat Choi’  as we enter the Year of the Chicken.

It should come as no surprise to Wirral Leaks watchers and anyone with an IQ that reaches double figures that Shiu will not be appearing on the shores of the River Mersey laden with fortune cookies – not this year, Chinese New Year or any other year.

And so after all the photo-ops , press statements, Liverpool Echo exclusives, artist’s impressions , false promises , foreign delegations and the portrait of Stella hanging up in the waiting room next to the Wirral Council Chief Executive’s office it’s finally time to put this seemingly elaborate – if not particularly convincing – hoax to (the river) bed.

You may remember that after the failure to secure investors for the International Trade Centre at Wirral Waters  that Shiu was invited to move operations down river to some Godforsaken wasteland  (attractively described as former Ministry of Defence land situated on ‘a surburban industrial estate behind Port Sunlight Tennis Club’ ). We exclusively reported this locally in November 2015 after a story appeared in the Financial Times and presciently asked the question   : So we’d like to know whether this is a suitable site for an International Trade Centre or merely a very expensive and financially risky way to save face over the Stella Shiu affair?”

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/chinese-takeaway-1st-dibs-2nd-course/

Now it would appear we finally have the answer courtesy of yet another question , this time asked at the Wirral Council meeting on 19th December by Cllr Phil Gilchrist:

pg-question-014

We wonder whether we’ll see the news that ‘ The International Trade Centre is not progressing because the project sponsor cannot confirm funding for the project at this time’ on the front page of Wirral View or with a centre spread in the Liverpool Echo under the headline  ‘ Shiu’d off ! – Stella Dupes Wirral Fellas’ or ‘ Due Diligence? – Don’t Make Us Laugh!’ accompanied by a picture of Power Boy Pip looking like a sad-faced emoji ?

Don’t hold your breath people of Wirral – this is the kind of ‘information deficit’ that Wirral Council have no intention of ever addressing because it doesn’t fit with their bogus ,happy-clappy narrative. Especially when Power Boy Pip and his political ilk of all parties are chicken – with an inability to say they’d been had, never admit when they are wrong or acknowledge that they’re big on promises and short on delivery .

And before we finish let’s remember it wasn’t just Pip that Shiu strung along. Here’s Stella  with Lindsey Ashworth from the Peel Group and Wirral Council Tory group leader Jeff Green wishing us a suitable Looney Tunes farewell:

green-shiu-ashworth

That’s all folks!

As You Were

As You Were

Now that we’ve had to time to reflect on yesterday’s local election our first comment has to be that with a 35% turnout the big winner on the night was voter apathy.

The ever deluded Wirral Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies somehow sees the results as a “vote of confidence” and a “mandate” and we fear that we’ll be hearing these words quite regularly over the coming months along with “leadership” “pledges” and “moving forward”.

However taking our lead from Power Boy Pip (which is a first – it’s usually him belatedly responding to what we publish) we thought we’d adopt his Pollyanna approach and be illogically optimistic about Wirral’s political status quo.

Firstly – we note the return of Tories Ian “Hokey Cokey” Lewis  and Chris “Bulldog” Blakeley and Lib Dems Phil “Persistent” Gilchrist and Stuart “Give It Some Welly” Kelly who whatever your political outlook have historically seemed to be some of the few councillors willing to effectively challenge the Wirral Council cabal (including both officers and councillors). We think that now is the time for Tory leader Jeff “Who?” Green to decide whether he actually wants to mount some effective opposition or he’s just content to sit back and be “kindred” (©Cllr  Steve Foulkes ) and watch the allowances and expenses roll in.

Secondly – we noticed that building on their success in Birkenhead & Tranmere with the previous election of Pat Cleary the Green Party  came very close to toppling Labour veteran Jean Stapleton . Ironically it seems the UKIP vote may have saved her this time. So clearly the Greens are having some impact in Labour heartlands (which means the Greens must be giving Birkenhead MP Frankenfield the palpitations again!).

Thirdly  – we noticed a few more references to “Wirralgate” in the mainstream media in the election run up . How long before the whispers turn to screams and the truth will out and voters will finally find out exactly what kind of councillors they’ve voted for ?.

Fourthly  – we were most amused by the triumph of Labour’s teen sensation Warren Ward in the Bromborough ward mainly because he defeated into second place former Lib Dem/Labour/Independent/Whatever Steve “Catweazle” Niblock .

We dug out this pic from a couple of years ago when Niblock was a Labour councillor and Warren was a budding politician and we’re minded to recall the film “All About Eve”  where the ambitious understudy plots to oust the leading lady.

Niblock and Ward

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY  – Dear Warren , Don’t let them turn you into the picture on the left.

If the film is anything to go by Cllr  Ward is destined for high office , awards and accolades. Now all he has to do is decide whether he does it on his own terms or falls in with the corrupt cabal currently running the show. Fasten your seatbelt Warren it’s going to be a bumpy ride !.

Finally , and although only indirectly related to the local elections it seems that following our story about the unseemly public spat between “Sir” Philip Green and Birkenhead MP (and de facto Wirral Council leader) Frank Field that things have got even uglier – which is probably inevitable considering the protagonists. Frankenfield has continued his “prejudiced” public criticism about Green’s role in the collapse of BHS and  Green has now hit back and called for him to resign from the Work and Pensions Committee which is tasked with getting to the bottom of the business dealings which led to the demise of the high street store. Frankenfield has since called Green a “bully” (!) and appointed two of Green’s bitterest rivals to the House of Commons Committee because as we well know -for better ,though usually worse – that’s how  Frank rolls!

As for calls for resignations we feel that the only thing that would shake up the moribund local political scene on Wirral would be for Frankenfield to go . Until such time we fear it’s always going to be a case of as you were………………………

 

Same old

Justified & Ancient

Tammy wynette

We don’t know what veteran councillor Phil Gilchrist is on but can we have some?.He’s proving himself to be just about the only councillor who seems to be questioning the complete and utter madness engulfing Wallasey Town Hall and exclaiming :

” WTAF is going on here”.

Obviously that’s not a direct quote as Cuddly Phil would never express himself in such vulgar terms as his recent letter to Wirral Council CEO Eric “Feeble” Robinson demonstrates.This letter (see below) has inevitably winged its way to Leaky Towers.

As we can see  Phil riffs on previous Wirral Leaks exclusives about the Kevin “Addled” Adderley quarter of a million pound bung.Here he proves to be the Tammy Wynette  of Wirral politics – he’s justified and he’s ancient (though not as ancient as previous Lib Dem leader Tom Harney) and seemingly he’s our only hope when it comes to local accountability .

Meanwhile last night Wirral Council Cabinet wrung their hands over closing respite services for disabled people – you know the ones they allegedly care so much about.

We ask once again – when are people going to realise that essential services are lost because those in control at Wirral Council think that those running the show are so much more worthy than the people who actually pay their wages and can therefore justify obscene payments to no-marks who know too much.

 

Gilchrist 006

Gilchrist 007

 

 

Lip Service

Matrix to the rescue

Matrix to the rescue

It comes to something when local councillors are quoting Wirral Leaks as a means of getting to the bottom of the curious Martin Liptrot(sky) situation. 

Firstly see this mealymouthed Wirral Council “response” to this Freedom of Information request :

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/executive_policy_officer?unfold=1#incoming-723801

However there are a couple of interesting snippets to be had confirming the news that Liptrotsky was the only candidate interviewed for the Power Boy Pip Davies special knit-your-own-post and that he will allegedly be line managed by highly paid flunky Joe Blott – once again , no sniggering at the back.

However there doesn’t appear to be confirmation that a Politically Restricted Post declaration (see below) has been signed by Liptrotsky himself.

Meanwhile the increasingly less cuddly Lib Dem councillor Phil Gilchrist is reduced to asking Wirral Council’s SirGit Tour whether he’s read Wirral Leaks lately. Cllr Gilchrist’s queries and SirGit’s replies are set out below  :

” I have noted an article on the ‘Wirralleaks’ site which gives an account of the work being undertaken by Mr Martin Liptrot. (20th October) .

The article ‘Busybody Liptrot and his silent partners’

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/busybody-liptrot-and-his-silent-partners/

Three issues are mentioned…

(1)  ‘We’ve also followed up enquiries from our ever increasing readership and been informed that Liptrotsky works just TWO DAYS A WEEK for Wirral Council for his £45,000 ‘

(2)  ‘We also understand that Liptrotsky also does the same PR job for – wait for it – Power Boy Pip Davies’ arch City Region rival Mayor Joe Anderson, despite the fact Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip hate each other’ guts. Conflict of interest, anyone?.

(3)Astonishingly Liptrotsky is ALSO looking after communications for Knowsley Borough Council AND Wirral Chamber of Commerce!. That’s some political busy body in the local body politic , eh folks?. And presumably well recompensed by the taxpayer’.

Whilst I believe the appointment is ill advised and questionable I am assuming there is a contract which sets out the ‘work’ and gives guidance on conflicts of interest.

What arrangements are in place to establish or monitor what ‘work’ is being undertaken for Wirral MBC? What assurances are that the other suggested arrangements do not eat into time being paid for by Wirral council taxpayers?

RESPONSE: There is an agency agreement in place for the appointment which is governed by our Matrix Contractual arrangements. The contract allows for work to be undertaken up to 36 hours per week. The Council only pays for work undertaken for and on behalf of the Council. The Council will not therefore be paying for any other work undertaken by Mr Liptrot under another arrangement he may or has entered into.

Joe Blott has/will have regular meetings with Mr Liptrot to discuss his planned and completed work over a 4 weekly period. Other meetings and discussions will be had as required. Mr Liptrot is required to submit timesheets and his work will be reviewed before the timesheets are approved for payment. As with other agency arrangements, this contract will be kept under review to ensure that it is operating as planned and meeting the identified business need. Should any issues and matters be brought to senior management’s attention concerning the role/work of Mr Liptrot then they will be considered/addressed properly and expeditiously.

Thus my second question is –

As the employee is an ‘agency’ worker how are ‘conflicts of interest’ recorded?

An officer would be required to list these and their ‘interests’

RESPONSE: Mr Liptrot has been asked to confirm whether there is any arrangement(s) in place involving him that gives rise to a conflict of interest. Mr Liptrot has confirmed that he is not aware of any such arrangement. Mr Liptrot has been advised of his obligations to ensure he keeps this issue in mind and that he must notify the Council immediately should a conflict of interest involving the Council arise. Of course, should a conflict of interest be alleged by a third party, the Council will investigate any such matter immediately.

And so demonstrating the kind of evidential rigour that you would expect of the Council’s top legal advisor SirGit  seemingly pops his head round Liptrotsky’s office and asks him whether he’s aware  of any conflict of interest. Liptrotsky says no  – so that’s alright then!.

When it comes to Liptrot’s service it seems it is the usual lip service paid to accountability ,scrutiny and transparency.Cllr Gilchrist ,being much more polite than us calls the appointment questionable and ill advised – we’d call it abuse of power and a bloody disgrace.

However there are LOLZ  galore to be had in the Tour/Gilchrist exchange though. For instance we love the fact that Gilchrist has placed inverted commas round the word ‘work’ , that Liptrotsky is an ‘agency’ worker for Matrix and that Wirral council’s senior management could ever be said to address any concerns “immediately”, “properly” or “expeditiously.”

But oh we did chortle at the phrase about Liptrotsky “meeting the identified business, need” of Wirral Council – a definition of exactly what that “business need ” is would be most illuminating!.
We suspect it would simply read  : ” Getting Pip out of the shit.”
Indeed has Liptrotsky made Pip’s mind up yet whether he’s for or against the idea of a City Region Metro Mayor?.Put it this way we suspect Liptrotsky would be in favour if Pip was in line for the gig – a proposition which doesn’t bear thinking about.
We’re still left wondering at Leaky Towers how Liptrotsky squares his political activities openly discussed on social media with the following provisions of the Politically Restricted Post to which he has been appointed (the full provisions can be found in the FOI request above) :

Politically Restricted Posts (PoRPs) (source: Local Government Association)
The main provisions regarding PoRPs are set out in Part I of the Local Government 
They are also restricted from:
· canvassing on behalf of a political party or a person who is or seeks to be a candidate (Reg 3, Sched Part I, para 5 LGO(PR)R 1990)
· speaking to the public at large or publishing any written or artistic work that could give the impression that they are advocating support for a political party (Reg 3, Sched Pt II, LGO(PR)R 1990).
The cumulative effect of these restrictions is to limit the holders of ‘PoRPs to bare membership of political parties, with no active participation within the party permitted.

We’d be particularly interested to know how Liptrotsky’s ongoing work with Wirral West Labour MP Margaret Greenwood fits with these provisions as we know he managed her general election campaign – and what an ugly campaign it was too – and no , we don’t mean John Prescott’s appearance on West Kirby beach.

Perhaps Liptrotsky could clarify this for us and add us to his media distribution list as shown here on this post from his public Facebook page. Here we found him in between “advocating support for a political party” – the Labour Party to be precise (although he’s apparently not a fan of Jezza Corbyn) finding time to gripe about his Wallasey Town Hall office and ” the Tories”.

 Liptrot's office
Here’s the luxury office suite the Tories are so agitated about… @livechonews @wirralglobe

Members expressed their sadness at the impending departure of Mr Adderley…..

Throwing money

………whilst members of the public express their horror at the eye-watering sums of public money paid out to someone who voluntarily asks to leave Wirral Council!.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=30488

Hot off the press and dwarfing the estimate of Wirral Council’s Degeneration boss Kevin Adderley’s severance payment in this weeks Private Eye , the newly published minutes of this weeks Employment & Appointments Committee reveals that Wirral Council agreed (at least) £256,000 of public money to be paid to Addled as “there were other opportunities he wished to pursue”.

Lucky Kev!

Which begs the question if that’s the case why did Wirral Council have to pick up the humungous tab?.

The break down of the payment is as follows:

£49,057 severance (based on past service and 3 months salary) PLUS  £207,000 pension (paid to Merseyside Pension Fund).

And surely no-one but no-one is buying that total bullshit from Council leader Power Boy Pip and CEO Eric Feeble who tried to justify this shameful arrangement by talking in terms of a  “management saving” or a “business case” or a new “operating/delivery model”.

Confirmation , if it were needed, that the both of them hold the people of Wirral in complete contempt.

Seemingly the only councillor willing to (politely) challenge this arrangement was Lib Dem leader Phil Gilchrist.

Kudos to him – but we give fair warning that the forthcoming in – depth response from Leaky Towers will be somewhat less than diplomatic.

We think the time has come that we counted the true cost of the failure by Wirral Council officials to properly confront conduct unbecoming of some of its most senior officers.