Election Anticipation Part 2 – Political Tricks in Pensby & Thingwall

A concerned voter from the Pensby & Thingwall ward has been in touch with us  about the sitting councillor Phill ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore and his rather casual approach to facts .They told us :

I am a resident in the Thingwall/Pensby ward. I recently received a leaflet through my door from Councillor Phillip Brightmore which stated that a leaked document from the council showed that the Green Belt land in his ward had been recommended for rejection, and he claimed that after much campaigning “we have been listened to”.
This strongly inferred that he was responsible for saving the Green Belt in his ward.
I have been in conversation via email with him for the past week, challenging him on this issue as the Green Belt review is still in progress, and his claims were not consistent with the council’s statement on the current situation. After many emails, on 28th April I received and email from him stating that “the council has made no decision, and those who tell you it has are incorrect”. We have come a full circle!!
The rather tetchy response that our source received is as follows:
Brightmore email-3
However as you can see from the original leaflet it would appear that Cllr Brightmore knows his own ‘political tricks’ best . Despite his best attempts at gaslighting  it is no wonder our source didn’t need to convince herself that he was, in his words, ‘lying’.
Brightmore Leaflet
The impression we get from all this is that, in a ward that promises to be  close call between Brightmore and former Wirral Council employee turned Tory politician Mike Collins, that the former has had to resort to the ‘political tricks’ exposed above . We just pity the poor voters of Pensby & Thingwall having to choose between these two.
However it would be a real shame for the Labour Party if Brightmore were to lose as he seems to have similar attributes of outgoing local Labour Group ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies when it comes to honesty,integrity,openness and transparency. As our readers will appreciate , that is not meant as a compliment or a recommendation.

Local Plan debacle : A Statement from Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces

Further insight from Defend Wirral’s Green Spaces into the ‘Local Plan’ electioneering plot which seems to have spectacularly backfired on the ruling Wirral Council administration. There are further extracts from the leaked documents at the centre of  the controversy / conspiracy and which contain some useful annotations from the campaign group and handily sum up the issues which are in dispute.

If anyone would like a full copy of the slides please contact wirralleaks@gmail.com

Leak Doc front cover

A “demonstration of media manipulation, blatant electioneering and political dissemblance” – What is ACTUALLY in the “leaked” document which is supposed to show that Green Belt sites are “safe”?

You may have seen recent reports in the Liverpool Echo that “leaked” documents show that 20 Wirral Green Belt sites will be “saved” from developers.

We have now been passed a copy of that “leaked” report and, unfortunately, it DOES NOT show that ANY Green Belt sites are safe.

We understand that on 12th November 2018 there was a meeting between Wirral Council’s (Labour) Cabinet and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT). This was a technical briefing by Council Officers about the Local Plan to explain how sites in the Green Belt Review would be ranked against criteria set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

However, at that meeting, the Cabinet Members indicated their “POLITICAL PREFERENCES” for the Green belt sites that they wished to save (rejected) and those that they preferred to be developed (accepted).

One week later, on the 19th November 2018, the Cabinet and the SLT met again and a “Local Plan Progress Update” document was presented which listed the Cabinet’s agreed POLITICAL preferences. This is the document that was leaked to the press.

Leaked Doc page 2

The Cabinet Members should have known that POLITICAL preferences CAN NOT decide which sites can be released for development and which can be “saved”. Sites can only be released for development following a thorough TECHNICAL ASESSMENT in accordance with Green Belt Criteria and Guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Sites can ONLY be released after due process when the public consultation process has been completed and they have been included in the adopted Local Plan.

Wirral’s Local Plan is not due to be formally adopted until the end of 2020. The public consultation process is still on-going. The deadline for the consultation on the “Sustainability Appraisal and Equalities Impact Assessment” is Wednesday 8 May 2019.

For the Government Local Plan Inspector to accept that the Local Plan is “sound”, it must be “positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the NPPF. Sites chosen by “Political Preference” would NOT stand up to scrutiny by the Local Plan Inspector and a Local Plan prepared on this basis would be found to be “un-sound”.

Therefore the “leaked” document CAN NOT and DOES NOT show which sites have been “saved” from Developers.

Following the Echo Article, the Chief Executive of the Council issued a statement which said:

“Wirral Local Plan process remains ongoing. The full list of Green Belt sites identified for potential release was agreed at Cabinet in July 2018. This list went out to public consultation and remains unchanged and no sites have been removed from the list. Any decision to amend the list of sites will be taken by Wirral’s Full Council in due course. We actively encourage all consultees and residents to take part in future consultations on the Local Plan.”

The Echo then amended their article.

It must be made clear that absolutely NO DECISION HAS BEEN TAKEN ABOUT ANY OF THE GREEN BELT SITES

Furthermore, Labour Councillor and Cabinet Member Phillip Brightmore is distributing leaflets in his Pensby and Thingwall Ward where he is standing for re-election in the Wirral’s most marginal seat. His leaflet refers to the “leaked” document and he infers that sites have been “rejected” because of his campaigning.

Not only are the sites that he refers to POLITICAL PREFERENCES ONLY ( which cannot influence the Local Plan ) but Councillor Brightmore is simply incorrect when he states that the “leaked” document reveals that all the “all the Green belt sites in Pensby, Thingwall, Irby, Heswall and Greasby were recommended for rejection”.

Indeed, the leaked document shows that some sites in Greasby / Franky and Irby Ward, Heswall and Pensby and Thingwall Ward HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN ACCEPTED by the Cabinet as preferred sites to be released for development.

One of the largest sites to be “Accepted” for development by the Cabinet (of which Councillor Brightmore is a member”) is the site East of Pensby which is in his own ward. The site termed “East of Pensby” is suitable for 1705 houses.

We can reveal that the following sites were listed in the “leaked” document as the Labour Cabinet’s POLITICAL PREFERENCE for sites to be ACCEPTED for release to developers for house building.

South of Peter Prices Lane Bebington 265 houses

East of Poulton Rd Clatterbridge 213 houses

West of Blakely Road, Raby Clatterbridge 50 houses

West of Raby Hall Clatterbridge 43 houses

West of Plymyard Dale Clatterbridge 834 houses

South of Mill Park Eastham 307 houses

West of Rivacre Road Eastham 592 houses

East of Ferry Road Eastham 29 houses

St David’s Road Eastham 32 houses

East of Rigby Drive Greasby / Frankby / Irby 311 houses

North of Whitehouse Lane Heswall 71 houses

Chester High Rd, Gayton Heswall 281 houses

13 Acres Rd, Meols Hoylake & Meols 8 houses

North of Greasby Rd Moreton / Saughall Massie 682 houses

Garden Hey Nursery Moreton / Saughall Massie 27 houses

North of Barnacre Lane Moreton / Saughall Massie 25 houses

North of Saughall Massie Moreton / Saughall Massie
193 houses

East of Garden Hey Road Moreton / Saughall Massie 47 houses

East of Pensby Pensby and Thingwall 1705 houses

West of Weybourne Close Upton 47 houses

West of Column Rd West Kirby 267 houses

“Maybe” Sites:

North of Poulton Hall Rd Clatterbridge 939 houses

West of Dibbinsdale Rd Clatterbridge 341 houses

We must reiterate that these sites are the POLITICAL PREFERENCES ONLY of the Labour Cabinet and may not bear any resemblance to the sites which may or may not be released when the Local Plan is adopted following due process, consultation and technical assessment.

However, THE LEAKED DOCUMENT MAKES A MOCKERY OF LABOURS CLAIM TO WANT A “BROWNFIELD FIRST” POLICY. THE LEAKED DOCUMENT SHOWS THAT WIRRAL’S LABOUR CABINET HAVE AGREED A PREFERENCE TO BUILD MORE THAN 6000 HOUSES ON THE GREEN BELT.

Interestingly, many of the sites which the “leak” showed had supposedly been saved were in the areas around some of the most marginal wards, where the current Councillors are in danger of losing their seats.

The “Wirralleaks” website has described the leak as a “demonstration of media manipulation, blatant electioneering and political dissemblance”.

This “fake news” was leaked by someone, just a few weeks before the local elections – you can make your own judgement as to who you think may have made the “leak” and why!

Please share this information to all your friends family and neighbours and ensure that when they vote in the upcoming local elections they are fully aware that, despite what Councillor Phillip Brightmore and others are saying, Green Belt sites on the Wirral HAVE NOT BEEN SAVED!…

Leaked Doc accepted 1
leaked doc accepted 2
leaked doc accepted 3

Plots and Plans

screen-shot-2019-04-15-at-17.51.10.png

The run up to the local elections is monsoon season when it comes to leaks and we’re currently soaking wet. However to be totally accurate this post is a leak about a leak. You may remember our Eric Sees Red Over Green Belt  story and if you don’t you really must try and keep up! However to recap last week we saw selective leaking of meetings from sources assumed to be close to the Labour group during the local election campaign. These leaks were designed to benefit Labour candidates but this now seems to have back fired now that full details are emerging. Labour politicians (most prominently  Cllr Phill ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore) were all over the local press and simultaneously showing  up the Local Plan ‘consultation’ process for what it was – completely bogus – and trying  to make political capital out of closely guarded information during the purdah period and declare the local Labour group as the belated saviours of Green Belt sites listed for development. Then we had a further leaked email written by Eric Robinson commenting:

This list went out to public consultation and remains unchanged and no sites have been removed from the list. 

Well, there have been further developments on this story and it is even more sinister than we first realised.  And we use the word ‘sinister’ advisedly. It doesn’t just mean something bad is about to happen it comes from the Italian word, sinistra – meaning left.

Whilst ‘left-leaning’ politicians is something we can get with – well, if they stick to their principles and not to the power trip anyway, ‘left leaning’ flag of convenience council officials on six figure salaries is another thing altogether. Aren’t they meant to be politically neutral? Just like Martin Liptrot!

Whilst we only know the officers (and not the councillors) involved in the following exchanges it is apparent that we have council officers who have a decidedly unhealthy twisted symbiotic relationship with the current ruling Labour administration. But then we’ve long known that but it is ,yes, sinister, to see it in action.

The plot is a bit convoluted but bear with:

An unnamed councillor attempts to get a copy of the documents information contained on a set of slides which formed the basis of last week’s leak resulting in ‘Labour Saves the Green Belt’ articles:

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 13.36.32

Despite the fact the document had already been leaked to us and the world and her husband seems to have access to it Paul Satoor the man currently responsible for cobbling a Local Plan together for the first time in 14 years replies on behalf of the elusive Wirral Council CEO ‘Stressed’ Eric Robinson :

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 13.43.17

The anonymous councillor persists :

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 14.15.48

The political hot potato gets passed to Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt who proves equally evasive:

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 14.22.26

The anonymous councillor persists:

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 14.35.38

It would appear that our intrepid councillor eventually acquires information they were requesting from another source and offers his thoughts on the tortuous process .

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 15.02.11

It is interesting to note the the timing of the meetings referred to in the leaked information coincides with the departure of Brian Bailey in November 2018. Bailey was formerly the senior officer responsible for all things to do with the ‘Local Plan’. Perhaps he wasn’t prepared to follow the ‘Wirral Way’ of doing things – wrongly obvs! Or after his Lottery win he just thought ‘sod this for a game of soldiers’…

We think that the public interest in these leaks lies in revealing the process of extracting information from PUBLIC servants who don’t want the PUBLIC to know what’s going on .

Oh btw if anyone would like us to publish more of the leaked information (some interesting extracts are provided below) just let us know as it would appear it’s OK for certain councillors to share them if there is political advantage to be gained .Therefore as far as we’re concerned it’s open season as the Local Plan ‘consultation’ entered into in good faith by 2,700 people has already been fatally compromised by a behind closed doors decision making process organised between senior council officers and the Labour cabinet…

screen-shot-2019-04-15-at-18.01.49.png

screen-shot-2019-04-15-at-17.45.36.png

 

 

 

Eric Sees Red Over Green Belt

It really comes to something when Wirral CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson has to step in and call out the desperate electioneering tactics of Labour councillors and particularly Cllr Phil ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore.

Cllr Brightmore was given the platform by the ever compliant Local Democracy (ha!ha!ha!) Reporter Tom ‘Media’ Houghton in the Liverpool Echo to star as the saviour of Wirral’s Green Belt and in an article titled Leaked documents reveal 22 huge Wirral green belt sites have been SAVED from developers  where Brightmore rejoices :

After months of relentless campaigning, countless meetings and a local petition backed by thousands, the council document indicates our community’s green belt has been saved for future generations to enjoy. Our arguments were clear and strong. They were listened to. This is great news for our community. The Tory order and ridiculous housing targets remain, and must be fought. However, it looks like our community will not be affected and no local green belt will be released for development.

Unfortunately the report was later denied by a Wirral Council ‘spokesman’ and the article had to be ‘updated’. We can exclusively reveal that yet another leak to us identifies that the Wirral Council ‘spokesman’ was none other than Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson himself :

Screen Shot 2019-04-09 at 19.52.56

Tell you what though with this demonstration of media manipulation , blatant electioneering  and political dissemblance Brightmore is shaping up to be a future Labour Group leader isn’t he ? …and that is about as ‘poisonous and insulting’ (© Cllr Steve Foulkes)  as we can get !

The Local Election Circus Comes To Wirral

The names in the frames have been announced  for the local elections to be held on Thursday May 2 2019 . So we bring you the Wirral Leaks cut out and keep guide to where we think  the keenest contests will take place and which candidates to watch.

The first match up that caught our eye was the political celebrity death match to be held in the Rock Ferry ward where  ‘Independent’ Cllr Chris Meaden goes head to head with the official Labour candidate and former local Labour Group leader Yvonne Nolan.

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 08.33.04

Credit where it’s due at least Cllr Meaden is throwing herself into the ring and is prepared to put herself to an electoral test unlike Councillors Mike Sullivan, Moira McLaughlin and Bill Davies who also fly under the flag of ‘Independent’. It will be interesting to see whether the Rock Ferry electorate vote for ‘personality’ over ‘politics’. Although with Rock Ferry regularly having the lowest voter turn out in the local elections we suspect that the winner of this particular political battle will be the one who best galvanises the local electorate from their political apathy. Good luck with that one.

Elsewhere judging by the resources that the local Labour group are throwing at the Birkenhead & Tranmere and Prenton wards, and the results last time round, it would seem they are anticipating a strong challenge from Green Party candidates Steve Hayes and Chris Cooke respectively.  The former is contesting current Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ ward now that the cowardly lion has bailed out of facing a public vote . The latter is up against Labour Wirral Council Cabinet member for being permanently excited, Cllr Angie Davies, who has been touted as a potential Labour Group leader (no laughing at the back) so this will be a particularly interesting ward to keep an eye on.

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 08.48.36

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 08.51.06

Another anticipated closely fought political battle involving someone else who has been spoken of as a future Labour Group leader will be taking place in the Pensby & Thingwall ward where Cllr Phill ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore faces Conservative candidate Mike Collins , who we know is a particular favourite of ex Wirral Council control room staff. When Collins stood last time in this ward the final count was very close. So who will take the spoils this time round? The political heavyweight or the actual heavyweight? People of Pensby & Thingwall you decide!

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 09.39.55

Astonishingly we find that Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes  is actually allowed to stand in the Claughton ward. It is an appalling indictment of the state of Wirral politics and the standard of its politicians. And then again look at his ‘proposer’,  fellow Claughton councillor George Davies. Of course, Davies , as Frank Field’s electoral agent is used to doing the dirty work when it comes to such matters.  Below is a picture from the local elections last time around and what the lucky people of Claughton can look forward to suddenly appearing on the doorstep over the next few weeks – but then knowing what the people of Claughton know about Foulkesy’s antics over the years they get what they deserve

George as Igor

And finally… if the name of the UKIP candidate for the Wallasey ward is to be believed it would appear that Santa Claus is coming to town in time for the local elections but then it must be said we don’t believe in any of them…

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 09.22.40

 

 

Chariots of Ire : The Oval Upgrade Charade

Earlier this week there was an announcement in the Wirral Globe that there was a Major revamp planned for Bebington’s Oval leisure centre . We were told that plans were to be approved by Wirral Council’s ruling cabinet later this month for the £775,000 upgrade and Cabinet member for leisure, Cllr Phill ‘Two L and Back’ Brightmore, said (no doubt in a press release written by someone else) :

The Oval – which famously was used to film key scenes of the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire – is one of Wirral Leisure’s flagship leisure centres, unique in the borough boasting a 25m competition pool, athletics track, football pitches, and tennis courts.

These improvements form part of a larger investment in Wirral’s leisure services, ensuring that they remain accessible and affordable for all residents, and represents another excellent example of Wirral Council’s careful management of its budget at a time of continuing pressure on local government finances.

Our services are extensive and Wirral Council invests £5 million a year in making sure that statement remains true, in addition to more than £8 million invested in the past few years on making sure our services are of the best possible quality…

So as is our wont we thought we’d bring you the reality behind the pre-election spin and report on events at The Oval from last night and from information we received late last year about a previous £1 million upgrade .

‘A concerned parent of a child who attends The Oval swimming club’ writes :
I think the council needs to be reminded about the cost in lives and not pounds that failure in fire safety can have if a real emergency took place. Remember Grenfell???
There was a power failure in Bebington last night whilst my child was in the pool at the Oval and it was very dark in quite a lot of areas. It was quite a scary experience.. staff to be fair did well, but when we stated it was the dark areas that upset us , and scared the children they quite openly and honestly stated that they have had problems for years with the emergency lights, and that the pool area only came on because staff constantly complained about it and it was only recently repaired otherwise that would have been also in complete darkness .
This is a big shock and I and many other parents are seeking reassurance from the council that the building is safe. Whilst staff were helpful the biggest surprise was their anger. We could hear one staff member say : “ I am *** fed up telling them but they never listen , they never come out, they don’t want to see what we have to put up with, they won’t move from the Concourse *** the lot of them.” When we asked another staff member what that meant , they said it was a reference to senior managers who never visit  and never listen to staffs real issues like emergency lights not working.”
So what happens when there has been upgrades at The Oval in the past ? We were sent this photo and comments last November
image1

The Oval Bebington

Newly built kitchen cafe at least 6 months old. Inc in the fixtures and fittings a £3500 coffee machine, a new oven sat for months unpacked (now possibly missing) value £10,000+

None of this has ever been used and may never be used.

Needless to say we asked ‘How come?’ only to be told:

No idea, it appeared soon after the gym renovations at the Oval. It got built/fitted but has not been used. A lot of wasted cash. Maybe they can’t get anyone to run it within. Or not financially viable to external operators. Either way it’s very expensive and all quality stuff. Likesay the oven was sat there still unpacked for months and I’m not sure if now fitted or disappeared.

Although we understand the above was part of a previous  £1 million upgrade  of The Oval announced in 2016 more recent enquiries of a well placed source suggest the situation remains the same:

The white elephant .They had plans to hire someone. I think there is a tale to tell on that. Badly designed and not fire compliant. Also as asset management don’t seek planning permission to alter a structure because they are a law unto themselves… 

However we’d be quite happy if Cllr Brightmore could reassure us that this is no longer the case and that there are ‘robust’ plans to ensure that in the future £775,000 of public money will not be going down The Oval’s notoriously dodgy drains. Might we suggest it’s time to move on from past glories as Wirral Council are rapidly running out of money as fast as Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams on anabolic steroids…