Pip’s Cabinet Kerfuffle

Following the local election comes the the arrival of the new civic year with the Mayor-making ceremony held earlier this week at Wallasey Town Hall which witnessed  Tory Cllr Geoffrey Watt installed as this year’s incumbent. Watt’s yawn-inducing acceptance speech gave Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson the opportunity to do what he does best – multitasking. By which we mean blinking and looking utterly vacant .

Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies then did what he does best  by rewarding failure – in this case we mean nominating former Cabinet member responsible for Children’s Services , Cllr Tony Smith to be Deputy Mayor (and therefore next year’s Mayor). This follows the inglorious record of failed and disgraced councillors who have been Labour’s nomination to be Wirral’s first citizen following on from the likes of Cllr Moira McLaughlin and Cllr Steve Foulkes.

Pip later moved on make the announcement of a Cabinet shake-up which involved the creation of new portfolios and the dropping of Cllr Christine Spriggs from Leisure and Recreation in favour of Cllr Philip ‘Brightboy’ Brightmore . We can only wonder what prompted Pip to oust Spriggs – but we have a fairly good idea.  The other change of note is Cllr Paul Stuart heading up ‘Law and Order’ (no laughing at the back). Might we suggest that Stuart’s first test will be the argy-bargy brewing with Wirral Council staff who are part of the much heralded ‘Safer Wirral Hub’ at Solar Campus (more on that developing story later.)

Meanwhile here’s a Labour sources interesting observations on the recent election campaign , The Contact Company and the current Labour cabinet

Dear Wirral Leaks,

During the campaign in Birkenhead & Tranmere, it was widely known throughout the Labour camp that they were keeping record of Labour members within the ward who were planning on voting Green. It was claimed by Sheila Murphy, a delegate to Wirral Labour’s LCF, and Paul Jobson the Labour candidate that members who say on the doorstep they will vote Green can be removed from the party.
It is my understanding speaking to North West branch that this is false. Members may vote for whoever they choose as it is a secret ballot, provided they do not campaign for another party. It is my belief this was an intimidation tactic used by the Labour campaign to force members to vote Green.
However, if such a list exists separately from the data political parties may keep when knocking on the doorstep, then there would possibly be a legal infringement.
You may have also picked up a leaflet printed about Pat Cleary during the campaign, much of which was a personal attack up Pat rather than over policies. It should be noted that on Twitter many Labour members made their feelings clear over personal attacks against candidates rather than those on policies.
However, it is not only members who were being forced to get behind the campaign.
Wirral Council’s cabinet were also whipped to attend campaign days in Birkenhead & Tranmere on “action saturdays”, and it was only until this issue was raised by Labour’s LCF that other target seats were included too. Again, this was well known throughout the Labour campaign.
The pouring of resources into Birkenhead & Tranmere it is well known is less to do with a fear of Pat Cleary, and more due to the fact that there is a fear Phil Davies will lose his seat next year and throwing everything into the ward this year was meant to stem the Green tide. However, it may have come at the cost of Pensby, and the possibility of winning other seats.
One final note, an investigative piece into workers rights in The Contact Company, and Phil Davies and Liverpool City Region’s links to the company and its owner Asif may be well worth a look in to. Agency workers  on minimum wage, 13 week, zero hours contracts working over 40 hours a week, many getting sacked for spurious reasons linked to a LABOUR council leader…. you get the idea.
Please respect my anonymity, but understand I am only trying to uncover what is going on behind the scenes because the majority of Wirral Labour Party want this current cabinet out, and are in fact good people.
  Yours Faithfully,
  A Labour Source.
We managed to track down copies of the offending leaflets referred to above on Twitter courtesy of  @LuciBella_
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Wirral Leaks Election Selection – The Results

 

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Phew! we bet you’re all glad that’s it’s over and you can all get back to what passes for normal on Wirral.

It seems to be very much a case of ‘as you were’ with no gains or losses for any political party in the local elections . However considering the effort that Labour put into trying to topple lone Green councillor Pat Cleary in Birkenhead & Tranmere this has to be considered a huge moral and political victory for the popular and hardworking councillor deep in hardcore Labour territory . Although superannuated  Birkenhead MP  Frank Field was in attendance at the count and said he hoped for Labour success in his constituency even ‘The Field Effect’ couldn’t save them. This must come as a bitter blow to someone who is used to getting his own way in what he regards as his own personal and political fiefdom.

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Everything’s Gone Green : Green in the background and Green to the fore makes reds go green with envy !Pic courtesy : Wirral Globe

Cleary thanked the people of Birkenhead and Tranmere for re-electing him “in the face of a horrible,negative campaign by the Labour party” . Meanwhile Wirral Council leader  Cllr Phil  ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies stood by with a face like a smacked arse as Wirral CEO  Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson read out the result .

We were left wondering which one of the following options that Stressed Eric will choose to do with his mega electoral expenses :

a) deposit in an offshore bank account

b) donate to a local charity

c) prop up the bar and order trebles all round in ‘Brew Dog’

The closest result of the night was in the Pensby and Thingwall ward where Labour candidate Kate Cannon held off the challenge of Conservative candidate Michael Collins by a mere 23 votes. Close but no cigar for the poacher turned gamekeeper . Suffice to say that some of our most devoted readers were very pleased indeed that their former colleague experienced the bitter taste of disappointment.  Schadenfreude can be such an unseemly emotion but can be so,so satisfying.

Meanwhile ambitious Labour councillor Gillian ‘Gilly’ Wood came over all stateswomanlike as she was (inevitably) announced the victor in the Claughton ward and starting channelling the Pankhursts. Unfortunately the gravitas was somewhat undermined by the reporting of her profound words as follows (full report read here ) :

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Suffragits ? Faught?  Listen guys and guyesses from the Globe we know it was a late night – but really?  As Her Ladyship said : ” The rousing speech ended up not so much Emmeline or Christabel but more Emily Davison .” Perhaps suffragits was a subliminal message about the gits that Gilly has to suffer .  Those gits being Gilly’s her fellow ward councillors – Cllr Steve Foulkes and Cllr George Davies.

As you know a couple of the reasons that we continued Wirral Leaks whilst in self imposed exile is that we wanted to cover the local elections and reach a million hits . It looks like that serendipitously that both events will coincide within a few hours. So it will be just a case of tying up a few loose ends and we can finally enjoy our day in the sun.

 

Wirral Leaks Election Selection – 1 week to go

We didn’t know whether the local elections had been cancelled as you’ve all been very quiet and then suddenly our inbox (and your letterbox) has been pounded in the hope of a big finish and/or happy ending (!) and then suddenly we realised it must be the last week of local election campaigning!

GREEN SHOOTS

You poor ,poor people – it’s a case ‘Hobson’s Choice’ for most of you and if you’re living in Birkenhead & Tranmere ward you’re really unlucky – it’s a case of ‘Jobson’s Choice’!

Talking of which – here’s an interesting factoid :

Green Shoots

Just sayin’

SMEAR CAMPAIGN 

We’re a broad church here at Wirral Leaks and we’re always happy to redress the political balance if people approach us with tales of political hypocrisy . Here’s one we received this week from Kipper Central titled  Local UKIP Candidate in Smear Campaign

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Here we find ‘Labour Rose’  Cllr Christine Spriggs apparently involved in a smear campaign :

Paula Walters, the UKIP candidate for the New Brighton ward on Wirral council, is being targeted in a politically motivated smear campaign. The Liverpool Echo, owned by the overtly left-wing Trinity Mirror group which owns the Mirror stable of newspapers amoung (sic) others, has teamed up with local Labour councillor Christine Spriggs to try and force Ms Walters to stand down.

A smear campaign with racist allegations?  Perhaps Cllr Spriggs needs to check the conduct of her Labour colleagues Cllr George Davies and Cllr Steve Foulkes before she starts throwing stones in glass houses!

Just sayin’

ASTERISK OF HOPE 

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Talking of which many of our readers have been in touch asking permission to use Wirral Leaks content in their election campaigning only to find the object of their objections wasn’t standing . Most prominently – and once again for all the wrong reasons  – was Cllr Steve Foulkes aka ‘Foulkesy’ . Someone had done some research and sent us this picture of the 2015 election result and claiming that the asterisk meant ‘retiring councillor’ . We don’t want to dash their hopes but we think Foulkesy is here to stay . How else is this piece of poliical detritus meant to feel important? And what’s more the good folk of Claughton seem to enjoy the spectacle of fisticuffs with the missus!

Just sayin’

Wirral Leaks Election Selection – 2 weeks to go

Vote Goodies

PEACHEZ ‘N’ POLITIX 

So after being open for 6 months Wirral Council ‘s Planning Committee unanimously pulled the (butt) plug on Birkenhead ‘gentleman’s club’ Peachez . However the other Birkenhead ‘gentleman’s club’ was out in force bemoaning the bump’n’grind. Council ‘leader’ Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies even put in an appearance . Might we suggest this was more in support of Birkenhead & Tranmere ward candidate Paul Jobson – for whom the decision was described by Pip as a ‘fantastic victory’ – than a genuine concern that Peachez was turning the town into a hotbed of moral turpitude. Remind us , wasn’t Pip part of the crew who flew to sleazy Reno hoping to be twinned with a town who’s main attractions are booze,strippers and gambling? Whatever happened to that hook-up ? The only stripping Wirral councillors now seem to be in favour of is the stripping of public assets.

We think that Power Boy Pip’s appearance in the Liverpool Echo video included in their Pip on Peachez story should itself be x-rated. Inevitably Wirral Labour described his performance (and it was a performance ) as ‘powerful’. Pip once again used the phrase ‘sordid business’ and it was hard to tell whether he was describing Peachez , his blatant electioneering or Wirral Council’s modus operandi.

However we had to laugh at the inevitable inane comment from that ultimate exemplar of political and personal decorum Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes:  “I don’t know much about these places but I’ve not seen one in Liverpool on the main thoroughfare” he said sounding like a snooty, teetotal maiden aunt all of a sudden.

Bizarrely the refusal for planning permission was moved on the grounds that it would “not promote a positive image of the area”  – which prompts us to wonder whether any of the councillors involved in the decision leading to Peachez going tits up have actually been to Birkenhead lately? Just sayin’ !

THORNY ISSUE FOR LABOUR ROSE

Tory Wirral Council group leader Ian Lewis managed to get a front page from Wirral Globe ‘blasting’ reports that 170 foster children went missing in 2016/17. The revelations gave further insight into why Children’s Services have been deemed inadequate by Ofsted.  In response Paul ” Boycey’ Boyce , Wirral Council’s Director of Children’s Services was in in full ” that was then,this is now”  “right direction” “moving forward”  mode  – you know the drill by now. However taking things even further in her local election campaign leaflet Labour Rose (no sniggering at the back) Cllr Christine Spriggs simply rewrites history when it comes to the past failures in Children’s Services.

We readily acknowledge that since 2010 the decimation of local authority funding under Tory rule has had a severe detrimental impact upon local services.  However we would ask local politicians to be honest  – a big ask we know – and acknowledge in return, that many of the failings in recent years with regard to vulnerable people, both young and old on Wirral, have had more to do with bad management and poor scrutiny.  Consequently the £20 million (of your money) that Wirral Council are putting into Children’s Services are because they have had to remedy these past failings are less to do with “Tory cuts”.

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The Repetitive Pains of Local Politics and the Lyndale School Tragedy

 

 

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Let’s face it as soon as Julia Hassall stated from the outset of the consultation that Wirral Council was “minded” to close Lyndale School it was a done deal.

What we don’t understand that if “economic considerations” were the reason for the closure why don’t the sums add up?
Are the “economic considerations” more to do with a future potential capital receipt for the land we ask ourselves? – Wirral Leaks, December 2014

Crushed – The Closing of Lyndale School 

Oh here we go it’s the Tories turn for the electioneering and political posturing  as Wirral Council Tory leader Ian Lewis wades in (shame it’s going on for being nearly 4 years too late) on the Lyndale School tragedy/travesty as the former school is set to be demolished and the site used for housing. Read here : Bulldoze Backlash

As for Julia Hassall the poor, no sorry, well paid, patsy who fronted this debacle ,we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again , for all their qualifications and fancy job titles it must be galling for the likes of Hassall, Burgess, Adderley, Degg ,Blott  etc etc etc – INSERT NAME HERE  – to be tossed aside like trash after having served their political paymaster’s purpose.  Somebody needs to get litter Hitlers Kingdom Security on the case, they’d make a bloody fortune! You never know it would probably pay for all the golden handshakes ! All those self serving, self aggrandizing , self absorbed serfs who played the corporate game and then became the metaphorical game for the cowardly lions we call the Wirral Council cabal.

On Wirral – the officers they may come and they may go but the politicians stay the same and its the docile electorate who vote for them who unfortunately give them the political legitimacy to do what they like – such as closing Lyndale School

It’s the same politicians ,some of whom – INSERT NAME HERE – who should not be in  a position to be making decisions about anything, let alone vulnerable people’s lives. Political legitimacy is one thing  but the moral authority – and at times – the legal authority is another. Cllr Lewis may want to discuss with his predecessor Cllr Jeff Green how he enabled such politicians to remain in office before he takes the moral high ground on this one.

However at times such as these we can only turn to the wise words uttered recently by the less than revered elected member Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes

“Having been a young man growing up in Birkenhead, you see the same faces, and it can get very repetitive.”  Read here : Student Flats

Can’t it just Foulkesy!

Which leaves to re – post in full the summary of our coverage and commentary on the Mystic Wirral Leaks and the Tragic Tale of Lyndale School

Way back in March 2014 we implored Wirral Council to “Tread Softly” when it came to the proposed closure of Lyndale  School.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/tread-softly/

And sure enough we learn today that in true Wirral Council style they took this advice on board and now plan to demolish Lyndale School and sell the land. Read Here : Demolish and sell

Sadly this should come as no surprise to those who read another Wirral Leaks post    prophetically titled “Crushed – The Closing of Lyndale School” where we asked the following questions:

What we don’t understand that if “economic considerations” were the reason for the closure why don’t the sums add up?
Are the “economic considerations” more to do with a future potential capital receipt for the land we ask ourselves?

Seems that was the case all along – from the day Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall declared that she was ‘minded’ to close Lyndale School in November 2013 to the sham of a consultation to the demolition and sale of the site.

Lyndale parent Zoe Anderson displayed a firm grasp of how Wirral Council conduct such matters when she said: “We have always believed it is a foregone conclusion but we are glad that we got to say our bit and give our opinions in public.

“We are also pleased that the concerns we had about the consultation being open and transparent have actually been received and reassurances given to ensure that is the case.”

And who exactly gave Ms.Anderson reassurances about openness and transparency?.
Why none other than the chair of the meeting  who instigated the closure of Lyndale School – Councillor Steve Foulkes aka “Foulksey” – the former Leader of the Council whose lack of personal integrity when it comes to openness,transparency and truthfulness has recently been laid bare for all to see.Read here : Foulkesy the Fibber

Once again we commented with the foresight of a mystic seer  : “However we have to say we have to admire the sheer gall  – as earlier in the meeting he expressed the hope that the forum wouldn’t be used for “political points scoring” knowing what we know might we suggest that “Foulksey” needs to tread very,very carefully on the matter of “political points scoring” …. Read HereCold and Bureaucratic

Reading the posts back we presciently called out Foulkesy then and his sickening role in this tragic tale when we said :

Finally  we implore you to remember the names of the Cabinet members making the decision to close Lyndale School and particularly the one Councillor who we feel is simply not fit to hold public office , let alone make a decision significantly affecting the lives of people who he clearly regards merely as a means to pay his Council expenses.

We hope the people of Wirral are finally beginning to realise  where Wirral Council’s priorities  are – protecting the powerful whilst demolishing the dreams of the vulnerable.

 

Wirral Leaks Election Section 2018 – 4 weeks to go

With just under a month to go until the local council elections the electioneering seems to be in full swing . Leaflets, meetings , canvassing , campaigning, photo opportunities and doorstepping galore.

Therefore we’d appreciate your thoughts and observations on the people who appear out of nowhere every couple of years promising you the earth – and who usually end up delivering the third world!

We’ve already had a few contributions from people telling us they’ve had encounters with spectacularly naive or deeply manipulative  prospective candidates who when challenged about their respective parties (both locally and nationally) claim that they’re different and they’re the one who will challenge the local hegemony and change the world. To which the only sensible answer is : “Yeah, whatevs!”

One such correspondent writes:

I was talking to a group of people today in Upton who had set a table up with the Stop Hoylake Golf Resort petition, I was just about to say signed it etc…when one of the guys started telling me all about the campaign etc……I said that I thought it was being pushed through and many local people don’t want it….the chap went on to tell me they were all Labour Party members and they didn’t want it and he said that this was all down to Phil Davies and ‘his core buddies’ .This chap then produced a planning application and said ‘read the highlighted last paragraph of this! It said ‘ Upon planning permission being granted the developer will give Wirral Council £300k’ I was flabbergasted never seen the document before or heard anything about a ‘sweetener’
Talk about a conflict of interest…..just thought you may find this of interest.

Of course whilst this is interesting it isn’t news to us. It’s hidden in plain sight here : Hoylake Golf Resort (Cabinet November 2016)  and expertly highlighted in this John Brace blog post : Did Hoylake Golf Resort developer offer £300 ,000 if its planning application is approved . Although it must be said we particularly  liked the reference to Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies and ‘his core buddies’ because as we know he’s all about political power for the few and not the many!

However this is a shining example of what we always say about election time. This is your chance to find out what is actually going on in your name, to ask all those awkward questions and hold local politicians to account. REMEMBER : THEY ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO YOU! Think about local issues that matter to you and vote accordingly. Don’t just put an X in the box because the named candidate wears a particular coloured rosette.  Spoil your ballot paper if you must but please,please,please engage some critical thinking. After all these are critical times!

Meanwhile we at Wirral Leaks are happy to receive contributions for either satirical or political purposes. However we reserve the right to only publish information about issues we support or we can take the piss out of.  It’s how we roll! Accordingly we are more than happy to publish details of a ‘Social Housing Public Meeting’ to be held on Friday 13th April (!) which is chaired by Jo Bird , the Labour candidate for the Eastham ward.

Wirral Leaks readers will know our position on social housing in general and Bamboo Lettings in particular from reading our House of Bamboo and Bamboo- zled – The Future of Social Housing? posts. We recommend for those particularly interested in the future of social housing to attend. All we will say is that the crucial test for us will be whether Jo Bird, if elected, would be prepared to challenge Power Boy Pip’s ‘core buddies’ Cllr Steve Foulkes and Cllr Stuart Whittingham on their apparent stance, as Magenta Living board members ,on the issue of social housing.

Eastham Social Housing Public Meeting - Poster

Bamboo- zled – The Future of Social Housing?

We received a cryptic reply to our House of Bamboo post from someone called ‘Frank’ ( ha! ha! ) who asked :

Are you bored? 

And to which we replied :

More weltschmerz than ennui.

Why do you ask?

We used the word weltschmerz because it is a feeling that emerges from the realisation that things could be and should be better. This feeling is particularly aroused when it comes to  housing ,and specifically social housing on Wirral . For the moment we’ll  resist commenting on Wirral Waters and the Hoylake Golf Resort when it comes to Wirral Council’s approach to affordable housing and return to the worrying story of Bamboo Lettings.

Fortunately we’re not the only ones who regard the annexing of social housing for profit and personal gain to be deeply concerning. What makes it worse for us is that it involves some Wirral Leaks old timers who would no doubt justify their actions when it comes to social responsibility and just like Wirral Council blame ” Tory cuts”. Once again ,if only it were as simple as that…………….

Firstly our thanks go to Chelsea Guy who reveals on her Facebook page :

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Magenta Living’s attempt to “explain” Bamboo in their Spring 2018 magazine.

“In order to help fund existing services and build new affordable housing we looked at other ways to bring income in to meet the shortfall” – so essentially, denying people suitable housing when they’re in need of it, in order to build new “affordable” housing, to then pass it on to Bamboo and charge twice the rent in comparison to AFFORDABLE SOCIAL HOUSING.“Properties are spread across Wirral”.. but they fail to mention it’s only the more affluent areas, three properties in Eastham alone in the last 4 weeks. Along side the fact they take what should be SOCIAL HOUSING and make it; no housing benefit, working tenants only, and slap on all the fees like admin fees, application fees.Let’s just remember that Magenta own 50% of Bamboo and bring in 50% of all profits, yet fail to tend to issues their own tenants are having such as the mould in my property.Seems like a bit of a coincidence that a fuss was kicked up about Bamboo and now it’s featured in their magazine.

Isn’t it just Chelsea?

For an even more in depth analysis of what’s going on we once again guide you towards Joe Halewood’s peerless SPeye blog . The title of his latest post is  No DSS in council housing and social cleansing approved by Labour councils     where he writes :

In summary Labour councillors in Wirral – which includes the constituencies of Frank Field as the chair of the all party parliamentary working group on DWP matters and the new Labour Shadow DWP Minister in Margaret Greenwood – have voted for a policy of No DSS and a policy of social cleansing to take place by Magenta who have around 70% of all social housing in Wirral.

Even Tories in Wirral voted against this and even Tory voters would be ashamed of this social cleansing that the Labour council voted to allow.

In housing terms we see Magenta, Torus and by extension Liverpool Mutual Homes being the antithesis of the social landlords they repeatedly claim to be and then again we can add Liverpool City Council itself to that list as they are too setting up their own private sector landlord company called Foundations which will rent out at affordable rents and full market rent levels and without irony or shame called this an Ethical housing landlord!

It’s an SPeye opener!

So with so many outstanding questions and with Wirral Council’s representatives on Magenta Housing board  – Cllr Steve Foulkes, Cllr Jeff Green and Cllr Stuart Whittingham –  either unwilling or unable to ask them and with the various bodies below being exempt from the provisions of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) we thought we’d publicly pose the following questions :

a) Three years after Golden Gates Housing and Helena Housing formed the Torus group are senior managers planning on collapsing the group and merging with Liverpool Mutual Homes?
b) Will this see the end of local companies Golden Gates and Helena Housing?
c) Will the customers who own Golden Gates and Helena Housing be asked to vote to see if they agree with these changes ?
c) Will the control of Torus pass to the senior managers in Liverpool Mutual Homes?
d) Will the plan be good news for only a small number of people such as Rob Young CEO of Torus (and former Assistant Director of Housing at Wirral Council) who could retire with an enhanced pension package just as the CEO of Golden Gates did when Torus was formed three years ago?
e) Will the plan also be good news for the CEO of Liverpool Mutual Homes (LMH) and his senior team who will take over a much bigger Torus with a huge pay rise just as Mr Young did when Torus was formed three years ago?
f) Will the current CEO of LMH be appointed not because he is the best candidate for the job after a rigorous selection process but because his company was selected by his old friends Rob Young and Graham Burgess?
g) Will it be good news for Graham Burgess Chair of the Torus Board who having ‘retired’ as CEO from Wirral Council once again becomes a big player in the Liverpool City region?
For everyone else – social housing tenants and staff included – the answers to these questions may not be so good . Meanwhile it’s all very reminiscent of that Carl Sagan quote we’ve used before : “One of the saddest lessons of history is this : If we’ve been bamboozled long enough we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth . The bamboozle has captured us…”

 

Seen at the Deen

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As we previously reported in our Reds Go for Greens post the most interesting battle at local elections in May will be in the Birkenhead/Tranmere ward where the local Labour group are determined to oust lone Green councillor Pat Cleary. Accordingly we’ve been keeping a keen eye on the frantic electioneering.

As Cllr Cleary’s support for both the Birkenhead & Tranmere Neighbourhood Forum and their concerns over the annexing of The Lauries by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Birkenhead Market Trader’s Association claims that they are being ‘ignored’ by Wirral Council in the latter’s ‘transformation’ plans indicate he is seen very much as the fly in the Birkenhead/ Tranmere ointment and needs to be swatted away come May . We’ll have much, much more on these two stories at a later date  : Birkenhead Market Traders

However today’s post concerns last week’s return of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee after a near six month hiatus. The choice of venue for the meeting was particularly interesting. The Committee meetings have hitherto always been held in Birkenhead Town Hall . However on this occasion it was held at ‘The Deen Centre’ on Borough Road. At first we thought the building was a misspelt tribute to Tranmere Rovers/Everton  footballing legend  Dixie Dean. We then discovered that ‘Deen’ is an Arabic word with several meanings but most usually taken to mean ‘religion’ or ‘faith’.

We understand that ‘The Deen Centre’ has been establishing itself not only as a resource for increasingly influential local Muslim community but the wider Birkenhead/Tranmere  community . This may explain the choice of venue for this particular Committee meeting. Although with Beaconsfield Community House and Birkenhead YMCA the area seems particularly well served with community resources for the hungry and the homeless.

Viewing the John Brace footage of the meeting it appeared to be the usual series of presentations . About one of which we’d like to ask  – when did it become OK to discuss someone’s personal circumstances in a public meeting? She who shall remain nameless describes a 56 year old woman as ‘old’ and is met with cries of “that’s not old” and raucous laughter . “If you met her – she looks 80″ came the response” !

However keeping it classy the meeting wouldn’t have been complete without a Foulkesy face-palm moment. Whilst encouraging  people who attended the meeting to continue to report crime Cllr Steve Foulkes uttered these words of wisdom :

Some people are confusing reporting crime with being labelled , I’ll say the word – a Birkenhead word – ‘ a grass’ ……………If anyone wants to give names of criminals who are operating in the area , use us ( councillors)  – we’re very good at being copper’s narks  

So having tried to downplay the use of a pejorative term to describe someone raising legitimate concerns with the right authorities (grass) Foulkesy then goes and uses a different but equally insulting word (nark) to describe an informant !  – fine work. But then from what we know of Foulkesy and his ilk they’re not that keen on people behaving in such a way   – unless of course they’re tooled up with a recording device and are willing to smear political opponents #Wirralgate.

Talking of which it just so happens Wirral Leaks has the names of some senior politicians who it is alleged have been involved in potential criminal acts. We would have forwarded them to Foulkesy but then suddenly remembered that there might be a slight conflict of interest!

Intimidation and the Hypocrisies of Public Life

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We’ve been forwarded the latest footage from the eye of the lens of our beloved Mr Brace by a number of people who thought it might be of interest.

Although Our Man Brace makes a guest appearance three minutes into Part 1 which was diverting especially when we clocked the facial expressions of Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee  chair Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin who gives a whole new meaning to the expression clockwatching. However there were too many longueurs for our liking (that’s French for ‘boring bits’).

As usual it was a case of  councillors skirting round the most pertinent issues with Matron reminding committee members that they  “can get yourselves into a bit of a mess “ if they don’t follow the Council’s guidance and protocols. You don’t say ! – care to give some examples? There then followed a prolonged session of speaking in tongues about ‘sanctions’ for errant councillors (or rather lack thereof)  with everyone careful not to mention ‘The Councillor That Dare Not Speak It’s Name’ ( that’s Cllr Louise Reecejones aka LRJ ). Although we have to say that LRJ’s violations against the Council’s Code of Conduct are but nothing compared to the likes of Cllr Steve Foulkes and Cllr George Davies we feel as though we’ve done that one to death. 

We were just about to turn off  halfway through Part 2 when the issue of ‘whistleblowing’ was dismissed in the blink of an eye or rather a cold hard stare from the Matron as if to say “nobody better say another bloody word on this subject”

However we pricked up our ears at about 18 minutes as councillors struggled to understand the word ‘intimidation’ (after all it is more than two syllables ). There followed a particularly revealing exchange between Matron and Cllr Ron Abbey . Well when we say exchange poor Ron couldn’t get a word in as Matron seemed particularly agitated about this particular subject :

Matron : There isn’t actually a way of defining what intimidation (is). You might think that particular website in the way that it talks about people and elected members…..

Abbey : I’m not talking about ……

Matron : No… I am , I am. I’m suggesting would that be intimidatory, could that be considered intimidatory if someone is regularly being insulted or allegations made that you can’t contradict……

Ron Abbey : The only way you can test that is in a court of law…..

Matron : Well so far some people have tried to have something done about particular website that might use those sort of tactics and found that it’s not possible to do it.

What particular website could Matron possibly mean? If , for argument’s sake we take it to be Wirral Leaks we need to make ourselves very clear on this particular matter. Firstly ,  let’s us deal with the issue of defining ‘intimidation’ . Perhaps we can assist elected members where their acting head of law and governance Philip ‘Peachy-keen’ McCourt failed them. Might we suggest their discussion could have been better informed if they were aware that the government’s Committee on Standards in Public Office published a report in December 2017 titled :  Intimidation in Public Life : A Review by the Committee on Standards in Public Life 

For elected members information we provide a link to the report here :  Intimidation in Public Life

As ever what was missing from the discussion was a failure to acknowledge the power dynamic between a public institution and a local website. What’s more we totally refute the idea that people are not given the opportunity to contradict any allegations that this particular website makes. All they have to do is contact us at wirralleaks@gmail.com as well Matron knows as a member of her family has done so a couple of times. The trouble is that those who have contacted us usually come off second best ( Kevin MacCallum – Wirral Council’s head of communications springs to mind.)

As for the fact that some people have apparently  ‘tried to have something done about a particular website’ for exercising its right to freedom of expression tells us everything we need to know about Wirral Council.  Now if that isn’t a definition of ‘intimidation’ we don’t know what is!

Intimidation is all about power and control and getting people to do what you want by threatening them .Those people who try to control the public discourse are those who want to control everything.Wirral Council’s control freakery is out of control and they hate the fact they have no control over this particular website. We’re in no mood to apologise for our irreverent tone or our sarcasm or our satire or our cynicism or our expletives and certainly not our lack of deference for people for whom we have absolutely no respect – deference died a horrible death for us a long, long time a go. We are not Wirral View!

The Brendan Cox quote taken from the report that we reference above highlights the hypocrisies that surround the subject of intimidation. For those who don’t know , Cox is  a former highflyer in the charity sector and the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox. Mr Cox, was forced to quit two charities he set up in her memory earlier this month after allegations of sexual assault were made public. This is the second time Mr Cox was forced to quit after similar allegations were made when he resigned from the Save the Children charity in 2015.  If you read the lurid allegations made against Cox it would appear he himself was an expert in intimidation. The Intimidation in Public Life report is littered (and we use the term advisedly) with quotes from Mr Cox. A hypocrite pontificating about hypocrisy is something we do not need.

Similarly might we suggest that no representative of Wirral Council (Matron or otherwise) is any position to to accuse a particular website of intimidation when it actually REWARDS such conduct :

Thynne1 011

Add to holding an incriminating recording over the heads of Wirral’s top politicians like the Sword of Damocles , threatening councillors and council officers over the phone and in person , participating in a smear campaign and even ordering pizzas from Pizza Magic and sending them to a former councillor.

And what did the Wirralgate ‘Group’ get for such ‘intimidation’ ? – the most senior politicians and council officers on Wirral conspiring to enable them to receive ‘compensation’.

All those involved will be forever tainted with the accusation of hypocrisy (and worse) by a particular website and that is most definitely NOT intimidation.

House of Bamboo

bamboo lettings 2
It’s made of sticks.
Sticks and bricks,
But you can get your kicks
In the house of bamboo.
If you consider the ‘personalities’ involved and the issues it raises it might strike you as surprising that we’ve only just caught up the curious case of Bamboo Lettings. Furthermore if you ever wanted to know about how things work on Wirral and in the wider world of networking – here it is laid out for you in this deeply worrying story.
We were prompted to pursue this story by a recent correspondent who asked us:
Also can you advise re Magenta Living being a Social non profit org. starting up a subsidiary called Bamboo Lettings which is a joint venture with Torus Group (St Helens – Graham Burgess) which will increase the returns on some formerly social-rented stock by letting them at market rates for a period of five years.
At 31st March 2017, Magenta Living had transferred 5 properties into Bamboo Lettings, with the intention being that a further 95 properties will be transferred into Bamboo by the end of 2017-18. Magenta Annual Report 2016/17
It might be legal but who decides property A is Social – Property B next door is commercial and charges more? 100 now ,how many in future years? Still classed as a Charity? Stinks to high heaven……………..
However it should be noted it was a brave and curious Wirral resident who first raised the issue courtesy of a Freedom of Information request in May 2016 . You might be surprised to know this local housing development wasn’t lauded with a press release featuring fat felines grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. Maybe that’s because some deeply troubling questions might have been asked at the time – Bamboo Lettings – FOI request
It was left to Joe Halewood and his excellent welfare rights blog SPeye blog to pick up on the issues with this post in February 2017 where Joe writes :
Bamboo Lettings is owned by Magenta and Torus.  Magenta was the former council housing department of Wirral Borough Council, and Torus is the former council housing departments of Warrington and St Helens.  It has offices in Wirral and even its own Facebook page here and there you can see the strap line Bamboo Lettings is a private lettings company, with properties in Wirral, Warrington and St Helens.  Such contrived and opaque constructs are no longer needed reader!
Then belatedly, but God love him ,  Lib Dem Cllr Stuart Kelly tried to raise the profile of this dodgy development and introduced a Notice of Motion at a Wirral Council meeting in July 2017
LOSS OF SOCIAL HOUSING TO BAMBOO LETTINGS LLP (to be debated)
Proposed by Councillor Stuart Kelly
Seconded by Councillor Chris Carubia
Council notes the establishment of a private lettings company known as Bamboo
Lettings LLP between Magenta Living and a housing organisation called Torus.
Council notes that Magenta are planning to transfer under a lease arrangement up to100 social housing homes to Bamboo Lettings company for them to be let at full market rents.
Council notes that a three bedroom house offered for let by Bamboo in the
Woodchurch area will cost a prospective tenant £137 per week against the social
rent charged by Magenta of circa £97 per week in the same area (and against an
‘affordable’ rent level of £110).
In addition, Council is concerned that Bamboo Lettings also charge private sector
style ‘fees’; an example of these fees for a three bedroom house in the Woodchurch
area is:
 Application fee – £50
 Administration fee – £75
 Guarantor fee – £50
 Check out fee – £60
 Additional deposit for a pet – £100
Council believes that these fees are not linked to the service provided, are
unacceptable and extortionate and requests a justification for this regime.
Council notes the Cabinet Member for Housing has told Magenta that Wirral Council would not want to see larger 4 bedroom accommodation, those for older people and those adapted properties being transferred; and has highlighted to Magenta concerns about a number of disposals occurring in the same popular locations, thus reducing availability of social housing stock.
Council notes that there are currently 9643 people registered on the Choice Based
Lettings System, of which 2348 have a housing priority need.
Council has objections to the use of social housing in this way and requests (through the Council’s Managing Director for Delivery to Magenta Living) that the relationship with Torus/Bamboo be suspended to allow the Council the opportunity to fully investigate the use of social housing stock as de facto private rented houses https://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50042720/Council%20NoMs%20-%2010-7-17.pdf8
Cllr Kelly elaborated further on his concerns about this development in this Wirral Globe article  – Councillor slams ‘unacceptable and extortionate transfer of former council houses’
Needless to say nobody took a blind bit of notice of the ‘Notice of Motion’ and that’s not just because Cllr Kelly is a Lib Dem with – let’s face it – no power or influence over Wirral Council whatsoever.
So let’s join the dots and explain why that might be the case and look at the interested parties who do have that kind of power and influence. First of all can we say that any joint venture between Magenta Living and Torus should have been called Red Bull(shit)- geddit?
First of all here’s the Torus Group Board or more accurately the Torus COMMON PURPOSE Board TORUS COMMON PURPOSE BOARD
We first highlighted the connections here : Where Are They Now? Part 4- Emma Degg
Torus 032
Wirral Leaks readers may recall the candy floss- haired one on the left is former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess who’s main claim to fame is that he once shared a hole at the ‘The Open’ with former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin Adderley when it was last held in Hoylake. The man on the right is Rob’ Narcissist’ Young – a former Assistant Director of Wirral Council’s Housing Department.
Although surprisingly for such egomaniacs they’re quite shy about their involvement in this money-making racket masquerading as Tory housing policy : Companies House Officers
See how this works yet ? If you don’t , you need to realise that Magenta Living Board includes such Wirral Council  luminaries as Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes , Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green and Cllr Stuart ‘Witless’ Whittingham Magenta Living Board
Which raises the question as to why they were appointed in the first place – could it be they are the last people who’d raise questions in the best interests of those who need social housing?  Ever felt you’ve been bamboozled by bureaucrats?