Summer Shorts : Ward Off!

Ward Niblock

Here we see on the right the fresh-faced toddler Warren Ward before he was elected as a councillor . Wisely, he quit before he turned into the man on the left ,ex-councillor Steve Niblock.

So farewell then teen sensation Cllr Warren Ward who yesterday  announced his retirement from local politics at the ripe old age of 12 (or thereabouts).

The former Bromborough Ward gave an emotional speech at last night’s Wirral Council meeting where he reminded everyone he was the first foetus ever to be voted into public office (or something like that).

Of course Ward proves the local dictum ‘if you can’t stand the heat get a nice little earner with the Wirral Chamber of Commerce’ (or words to that effect) . The Chamber now has so many Wirral Council refugees we’re surprised the Border Agency hasn’t raided the place and been asking various people with fancy titles whether they have the proper credentials to do the job.

By the way can somebody tell us where jobs with the Wirral Chamber of Commerce are advertised?Wirral Life? Tatler? Harpies & Queen? the Mayor’s parlour at Wallasey Town Hall ?

However having said all that we do feel that , with his relentless self promotion , Ward has found himself the perfect sinecure at the Chamber. No doubt we’ll be seeing pictures of Ward at various vacuous awards ceremonies for years to come… and certainly if his Twitter account is anything to go by, he’ll be keeping it classy !


Method In The Madness


We’ve been musing on this car parking malarkey and we’re still trying to make sense of the madness. Last night’s Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee did nothing to dispel the notion that something amiss is going on here.

For a start haven’t we been down this road (pun intended) before?  We remember that The Brand New Brighton Rocks On campaign forced Wirral Council to do a U-turn on parking charges in New Brighton in 2015. Now Wirral Council are thinking out of the box (and out of their minds)  by proposing parking charges all over the place.

The Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee Cllr Michael Sullivan was at pains to explain during his comedy turn at chairing the meeting that these were only proposals, nothing had been decided and they had statutory duties . We assumed the main statutory duty  was to cause as much dissent and opposition to the proposals as possible. In which case – job done!

It has been suggested by one of our commentators that :

Everyone seems to assume that this proposal is real.
Wirral has form for putting forward proposals similar to this so they can be withdrawn as a demonstration of “listening to the public”
Standard PR tactic.
What is it within budget proposals they are trying to draw fire from?

An interesting viewpoint and one we would certainly give credence to having observed the ‘bureaucratic machinations’ of Wirral Council over the years. Especially when the controversy over these proposals is creating a bigger smokescreen than a broken exhaust pipe. Perhaps to hide something even more toxic?

We also note how teen sensation Labour Cllr Warren Ward was given the elder statesman role as the rest of the councillors on the committee backed his notice of motion calling  for an impact report on the proposals.

We anticipate this impact report will be very short and read : CATASTROPHIC

As we replied to our commentator :

We hear what you’re saying……especially when the proposals seem counter-productive to their so-called pledges. Nothing but nothing would surprise us when it comes to Wirral Council.
We await developments and political manoeuvrings with interest.



Spewing News ( Regurgitated)

Pravda 2

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

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

Minutes of the meeting state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to access CABINET%20REPORT%20-%20Keeping%20Residents%20Informed%2027%20June%202016%20FINAL.pdf

Their justification for the publication is as follows :

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

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

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



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