The Blind Leading The Blindfolded

blind_followers

We are grateful, once again , for the following submission from another of our regular followers and contributors , Mr Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro.

Hobro brings his forensic eye to Wirral Council’s  failings in relation to funding which they were responsible for administering. What Hobro dissects may be esoteric to some but the failings he identifies will be familiar to Wirral Leaks readers – a failure of due diligence , a failure of openness and transparency , a failure of accountability and , damn it, a failure to do things ‘properly’ – and all in the name of reputation management (and no doubt other base motives) . We invite you to open your eyes before they take us all over the precipice:

The public are blinded as to the workings within Wirral Borough Council as the corporation seeks to keep its failings from open view. The issue regarding ISUS and BIG seems hackneyed except if one considers that the revelations have deliberately been kept in deep-freeze by the Council Leader and by top officers. They are as new as the date of release of data, usually forced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under threat of contempt of court. Certainly I asked for the names of companies in receipt of BIG funding that were liquidated as early as 2013, to be refused, even though liquidated companies have no protection under the Data Protection Act. The latter was conclusively attested to in summer last year with a ruling from the ICO, and most surely had been known all along by the Council’s monitoring Officer, Mr Surjit Tour.

Those who have been blind seem reluctant to accept criticism from the illuminati despite thin vows of transparency and of accountability. When Grant Thornton reported on the multi-fold failings in the BIG process vis -a -vis 6 files nevertheless despite a disclaimer from Grant Thornton of the Councils italicized statement, the Council claimed no wrong-doing and pointed out that only Lockwood Engineering had gone bust. On forced release of the Executive Summary re BIG in July 2013 the Leader of the Council issued a press release stating the success of the program and that of all Big fund recipients (sic) only one had gone bust. Yet time and erosion of the whitewash reveal that in fact two companies further had entered into liquidation with connexions to the Leader even at that early date. The council chief executive blatantly lied on 8th October 2014 saying only three were bust whereas the true total was eleven by then. I am not sure that Braille can distinguish between entering liquidation and finally being liquidated though these blinders did insist on a difference that to all intents and purposes is valueless. When the sexton prepares the grave there are very few lazarus’ indeed.

I do claim that the BIG process was so flawed in its arrangements that it opened a clear vista for fraud. Due diligence would not involve a coach and blinkered horses being driven through the benevolent intentions of the grants.

Last week I received data re Corrin Kenny Limited a company that received £13,250 of BIG money sometime soon after 4th May 2011 when Councillor Andrew Hodgson approved the award. The file given me contained no accounts later than 31st March 2010 which represents a poor basis indeed for processing future projections.

The friar Pacioli who invented double entry intended that all debits and credits equate to zero otherwise his system collapses applying to historic and equally to projected accounts. Due diligence compelled me to reconstruct from the entries in the projections an opening Balance Sheet. It proved impossible to do leaving a creditor of £7,000 which clearly had not been run through the projected cash flow. Surely any business applying for £20,000 of free money should at the very least offer up a clear set of projections, and any civil servant intending to give out public money should expect a clear Business Plan budget. Without the budget being sound the reins of the coach are fraying.
BLIND, Wilfully blind or just complaisant officers?

The officer who produced a short page of recommendations for the “Independent Panel” to consider was a Mr Stone of the Regeneration Department. He did not look for a balanced model ( in Cashflows that do not balance as to Cash flow, Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet one can always find errors that invalidate the proposal) and did not remark on the £26,600 cost that was not included in the Total for Cost of Sales. This was plain as a pikestaff for any but the purblind. I imagine therefore that Mr Stone did not attempt to analyse the formulae within the Excel model-I did, unpaid!, and with my having to reconstitute the Excel from a Adobe Acrobat file. I observed with my clear vision that, to check the validity of the assumptions, I would need to recreate the file. If I had been paid it would have been 2 hours of WBC time . Mr Stone may have had the benefit of the original Excel file in which case half an hours work would have sufficed. They have eyes to see but do not wish to see!

Mr Stone or Gemma Henry had access to a reporting suite from Companies House. They might have discovered that the Company Secretary whose name headed the application was involved already with seven companies of which three at that contemporaneous time were entered into the London Gazette to be dissolved. This was not a chequered flag to go ahead with the grant but a chequered past to prompt more questions.

I checked the full accounts for March 2010 and noted from a minds eye memory going back 6 years that the requirement to produce accounts not less than 6 months old had not been enforced, or perhaps in April 2011 the officers did not see that accounts to 31st March 2010 were more than a year old. I noted as a kestrel hovering at several hundred feet the balance of Other Debtors at £52,989 and wondered if Ms Gemma Henry quartered in Invest Wirral’s offices in Egerton House asked of Mr Kenny, giving his address as Egerton House, of what that was composed. Could it be an illegal Directors Current account because it most definitely was not a Trade Debtor, and if it were that, then what business has WBC advancing money to a company that was already sitting on an unrecognised liability of up to £30,000 of PAYE/NI? I began to see into the future (see below.)

COACH AND HORSES

Then to the Minutes of the Meeting at 9:30am of 21st April 2011 (with next meeting at foot of page for 27th May 2010(sic)) attended by the blind Invest Wirral who blind-folded the independents from Business Link and from the Federation of Small Business by, per Grant Thornton, giving them no accounts, and just the précis by Mr Stone, Finance Manager. The précis ran to just 320 words which recommended that only £20,000 would do the job. After a discussion “in great detail” all voted save one independent to award the grant. Dissension was met by the compromise of awarding just £13,250 even though Mr Stone had written only £20,000 would do. Blind, blind, blind or perhaps the diligence drivers ( an 18th century coach) whipping through what they could for an individual close indeed to the Regeneration Manager, Mr Kevin Adderley.

All seemed unconcerned that the award would be the same contravention of rules as was the award – that never should have been given per Grant Thornton-to The Edge magazine of Lets Go Publishing ltd. Both sought to advertise in the Wirral just as had Thinklocal and indeed Wirral View in direct competition with non-funded newspapers. The blindfolded independents would not know only the wilfully blind officers knew.

THAT WHICH WAS VISIBLE TO THE DISCERNING EYE THEN AND CAME TO PASS

Hindsight reveals that far from Corrin Kenny having £93,266 reserves in March 2012, by July 2013 the Liquidator reported a deficiency of (£75,000 ) which for four years he has been trying to recoup from the director who had had an overdrawn current account (see above and £52,000).

HM Tax Inspectorate began calling in its debt in March 2012 .The officers did not see at March 2010 that the debt to Taxes had been £40,481. The did nt see the warnings from the filings at Companies House where the figures quoted as prior year balance sheet in the 31st March 2010 accounts were different from the 2009 Balance sheet as filed. It is the business of Local Authorities to ensure before parting with our taxes that the grantees have paid their dues and observe laws and regulations and not to encourage tax defaulters! The debt to the Revenue finally was recognised as being £70,646 and the Liquidator (see above) noted the debt owed by the director to the company. To this date the Liquidation is open five years later as the Revenue seek to enforce the debt. So the ‘diligence’ reached the river and unloaded £13,250 of tax-payers money to sail down the Swanee to the accompaniment of the blind harmonica players from the Council.

OBFUSCATION AFTER THE EVENT

What we can see is that Mr P Davies Councillor was not anxious that these details be released on Corrin Kenny Ltd since he did accompany Mr B Kenny on trade missions to the Isle of Man and, though I have not seen the photograph, allegedly to Reno. I guess the sad story of New Concept Gaming Ltd, some £845,000 of public money including some BIG, going down the same river was another musical score that the blind players did not want you to read. Of “all BIG recipients” these two were certainly in liquidation when Mr P Davies issued his press release in July 2013.

SOURCES
The sources for my article are Companies House, data which is now free and at the time would only have cost Invest Wirral a maximum of £5 to see; and What do they know.com at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/corrin_kenny_ltd_big_fund_award?nocache=incoming-948560#incoming-948560

A Bit of Bovver at The Lauries

Following our concerns about the operation  of The Lauries seemingly being gifted to the Wirral Chamber of Commerce we gratifingly note that a campaign been launched to take back community control of the centre

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/the-sorry-story-of-the-lauries/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/the-sorry-story-of-the-lauries-chapter-two/

Coincidentally we’ve also been forwarded the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and Industry submission to Companies House made on 23rd December ( to take advantage of the Christmas lull?). Whilst this submission is is a legal requirement ,being classified as a small company means the Wirral Chamber of Commerce is only required to submit abbreviated accounts. Nevertheless  they still make for very interesting reading as do the details of 67 resignations.

https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/00120076/filing-history

 

assets-009

Note particularly that the assets of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce rose between 1 January 2015 and 31 March 2016 from £11,754 to a whopping £981,106. This rise in assets would appear to have been purely as a result of gifting of publicly owned buildings to them by Wirral Council.

Even more interesting reading is the complaint concerning The Lauries Centre submitted to Wirral Council by Birkenhead and Tranmere Neighbourhood Planning Forum earlier in December. This is yet another campaign which we will be following with great interest.

STAGE 1 COMPLAINT: OPERATION OF THE LAURIES LIMITED LEASE

We, the undersigned, ask that the issues outlined below are dealt with in accordance with Wirral Council’s complaints procedure.

As this complaint contains concerns about the conduct and actions of councillors and officers of the Council we would appreciate your early response regarding how this will be investigated and, if corrective and/or disciplinary action is required, what procedures will apply.

We would also appreciate the opportunity to meet with the person appointed to deal with this complaint in order to provide any necessary clarification and to assist in the resolution of this matter at the earliest stage of the Council’s complaints procedure. We consider that you are obliged to provide for this in order to meet the Councils 2020 Vision commitment to openness and transparency.

Background to complaint
Early in the year 2000 community representatives, Councillors and Council officers met in the old YMCA building to discuss which community objectives for capital expenditure under European Objective 1 (Round 2) and Single Regeneration Budget (Round 6) should be prioritised. At that meeting two headline capital projects were decided upon that would provide community meeting spaces at zero or very low cost for community groups across the Birkenhead Ward (pre 2003 boundary). These capital projects were The Lauries Project and the St James Centre. Both buildings were constructed, thereby fulfilling the principal objective of community representatives.

On 29 September 2005 the Council leased The Lauries Centre to The Lauries Limited for a period of 125 years.

The lease defines the permitted use of the building as use:only for the purposes of a community centre, a neighbourhood college (including workshops), a café/snack bar, offices and meeting rooms, conference and events…in furtherance of the Tenant’s aims and objectives as set out in its memorandum and articles of association…being in brief the promotion of any charitable purpose for the benefit of the community of Birkenhead and areas surrounding and in particular the advancement of education the promotion of good health and providing a focus for development and regeneration.

The lease therefore specifically links its own terms with those of the memorandum and articles of association of The Lauries Limited.

Earlier this year it came to our attention that public access to the building had been curtailed, the café had been closed down and it was rumoured that the Wirral Chamber of Commerce had annexed the building. This has since been confirmed because on its website the Wirral Chamber of Commerce now promotes The Lauries Centre as one of its “unique and exclusive office centres”.1 This makes it clear that the building is now used exclusively for commercial purposes, rather than for the purposes that together define the permitted use of the building, as set out in the lease.

Potential breaches of the lease and company mismanagement
Companies House records show that on 31 May 2015 all of the existing directors of The Lauries Limited (including Cllr Brian Kenny) resigned en masse and two new directors, Paula Basnett and Asif Hamid, who are both closely associated with Wirral Chamber of Commerce, replaced them.

The articles of association of The Lauries Limited require only one third of the directors to resign at each annual general meeting. So, the resignation of all directors was unusual to say the least. The articles of association also require a minimum of five directors to be in post at any one time. Once this was drawn to the attention of Paula Basnett, three new directors were appointed (Patricia Crocker, Katherine Eugeni and Sharon Stanton).

According to the articles of association, those three new directors may only remain in post until the next annual general meeting, when their appointment may only be extended by a vote of members of the company. The question of membership of the company is therefore also a key issue.

On behalf of the Forum our chair wrote to the Company Secretary, Paula Basnett, on 6 November 2016 requesting membership under the provisions of Article 1.3 of the company’s articles of association. The Forum also requested other information that the company is supposed to maintain, namely:

  • The company’s membership admissions policy
  • A membership application form
  • A list of current membership classes and their respective subscription fees

To date, no reply to this letter has been received.

The Forum was then approached by a former member of The Lauries Limited, who showed us a letter written in 2009, in which one of the directors at the time dismissed all of the remaining 36 members of the company, offering to refund the balance of any subscriptions paid.

The available evidence indicates that the company has had no members since 30 November 2009. However, it is members of the company who elect directors at each annual general meeting. If there have been no members since 2009 then all directors appointed after 30 November 2009 were occupying those positions unlawfully, as are the current directors. If there are no members, then the company has been operating outside of its own articles of association for a substantial period of time and would therefore appear also to be in breach of its lease with the Council.

Substance of complaint
We believe that the available evidence demonstrates that The Lauries Limited is operating outside of the parameters laid down in its articles of association, which in turn means that the terms of its lease with the Council have been breached. This unlawful operation of the company appears to have been ongoing since 30 November 2009.

We believe that Cllr Jean Stapleton, who was a director of The Lauries Limited continuously from 18 May 2003 until 31 March 2015 was a party to company mismanagement and breaches of the lease that occurred during this time.

We believe that Cllr Phil Davies, who was a director of The Lauries Limited from 6 January 2005 until 18 May 2013 was a party to company mismanagement and breaches of the lease that occurred during this time.

We believe that Cllr Brian Kenny, who was a director of The Lauries Limited from 17 February 2009 until 31 May 2015 was a party to company mismanagement and breaches of the lease that occurred during this time.

In the light of the evidence obtained by the Forum and public records, we believe that any reasonable person would conclude that Councillors Davies, Kenny and Stapleton were party to unlawful decisions, either knowingly or through gross negligence, in a manner that betrayed the commitment to community control and ownership enshrined in the memorandum and articles of association of The Lauries Limited.

It appears that Councillors and Council officers have failed:
1) in their duty to ensure that a significant public asset is managed in accordance with the terms of a lease agreement;
2) to effectively monitor the extent to which The Lauries Limited has been and is being operated in accordance with its memorandum and articles of association, and
3) to safeguard the use of public funds invested in the construction of The Lauries Centre.

Given these apparent failures we have further concerns that the sub-leases of the building, which require Council approval, may not comply with the terms of the principal lease.

In particular we are concerned that market rents are not applied to sub-leases made to commercial companies.

We request that all of the concerns raised in the foregoing paragraphs are investigated by the Council and that arrangements are put in place to ensure that The Lauries Limited is henceforth operated fully in accordance with its memorandum and articles of association and that the lease is properly policed.

The Forum will co-operate fully with the Council’s investigation, including providing copies of the evidential documents referred to in this letter, if the Council cannot obtain them elsewhere.

Better to reign in Hell,than to serve in Heaven ……

better-to-reign-in-hell

We are proud to publish the latest instalment of the BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods saga written by Nigel ” Highbrow” Hobro  which may answer a few questions raised by our readers and explain why we continue to follow this story.

We follow it because it’s everything that’s wrong. The incompetence, the ineptitude, the total disregard of what’s right and wrong.

Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven:

“So spake th’apostate Angel, vaunting aloud

But inward rack’d with pain”

Satan is the Father of Lies whose feeble imitation of God is Gehenna, or Hell. Rather than serve Truth he will concoct a monstrous imitation, rather like Macbeth who preferred to be a false King than a faithful Thane.

We read much vaunting from Councillor P Davies and from his faithless band, that Wirral Borough Council is ever “open and transparent”. We read glossy brochures from Merseyside Special Investment Fund about its manifold successes and yet all are silent on their failures?

My Lord Leaky in the preface to “The Big Lie” https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/ worried about the muteness of regulatory authorities. He did not elaborate but they are worth reciting here. A forensic investigator given access to the Beverley Edwards report signally fails to report of the warnings from that lady about the phoenixing of Lockwood Engineering Ltd’s assets into Harbac UK ltd. Remarkable it is, considering the discussions held with Andrew Walker, the Government Internal Audit Agent, that Grant Thornton can report of no wrong-doing by Council officers. Long before I and James (Griffiths) made our complaints GIAA was investigating the perversion of the tender process for the £3m Business Start up 2 (ISUS) project, and the intimidation by council officers of the most qualified candidate to run it who had an assessment of 88% compared to wirralbiz’s 36%! Yet still the 88% candidate did not secure the contract. Turning to the liquidators of Lockwood Engineering Ltd they found nothing unusual in an engineering company stating on oath that the engineering firm had no machinery whatsoever. When confronted with this anomaly and the starkly clear evidence of the BIG file their response was the liquidation was over. The liquidators of Harbac UK Ltd when presented with same evidence by devilish equivocation asked by what right did I question them, was I a creditor of Harbac UK Ltd? Finally they finished with a “well we have lost a lot of money!” (some £10k on their £395 per hour fees). At this time after a prolonged liquidation, due to there being no accounting records given to them, they propose to close the company in January 2017,without reporting any need for detailed investigation despite having had copious correspondence between myself and themselves (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/07396044).

I have only started emptying the bucket but the above should be enough to persuade the reader that we should all share Lord Leaky’s concerns.

The Devil rules the world and he does so with coin!

What of Merseyside Special Investment Fund (MSIF) and connexions with the Big Lie article?
I don’t intend to befuddle the Reader but these matters are not a clear as the springs in Paradise. Pandemonium is a phrase well coined.

Unlike Councillor Davies in the press release referred to in the Ministry of Truth article

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/ministry-of-truth/

I will warn the Reader that there is some speculation in what I am going to write. I feel entitled to speculate when my adversaries plainly lie. Councillor P Davies undoubtedly is a clever man ( really? – Wirral Leaks) and with fingers in many pies as can be seen from his personal website :

I represent the Learning Partnership on the Wirral Local Strategic Partnership and the Wirral Waterfront Board. 
I am a non-executive director of the following organisations: The Mersey Partnership; Greater Merseyside Enterprise; the PSL Group (Pentra); The Lauries; Wirral Multi-cultural Organisation; and the Laird Foundation.
I also represent Wirral Borough Council on the Merseyside Objective 1 Programme Monitoring Committee and chair a post-2006 European funding lobbying group as well as the Wirral Pathways (Priority 4) Board .

The key words are THE Mersey Partnership, Wirral Waterfront Board and Merseyside Objective 1 Programme Monitoring Committee and chair a post-2006 European funding lobbying group. I believe these posts extend in substance back to the beginnings of wirralbiz and of the strange case of New Concept Gaming Limited. Speculation coming…Councillor Davies would associate closely with Mark Basnett, Director of the Liverpool Enterprise Partnership, for, after all he had also been a member of the LEP and has many photo opportunities with Mrs Paula Basnett, ex Head of Invest Wirral , and now Head of Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Invest Wirral was in charge of the BIG fund and Mrs Basnett was charged from early 2011 with supervision of the renegade Directors of wirralbiz. If myself, Lord Leaky or Paul Cardin were the three witches on the blasted heath cackling before Macbeth, a picture can be conjured up. These people were and are an elite, an Eurocracy, who run Roman triumphs through the media hailing their achievements with our money, European money, and who would recoil at having their failures equally trumpeted.

New Gaming Concept Ltd

The following is neither lie, nor speculation.

In October 2009 Councillor Jean Stapleton signed off a BIG grant to the company who had already received public funding of £845,000 via Subsidiaries of MSIF and via the NWDA.

In March 2010 the same company filed for Liquidation with an accumulated net loss of £905K. All the European, BIG money and NWDA money was declared lost at the final Liquidators report in (https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/company/05427776) except for £5,000!

No accounts submitted to Companies House in the lead up to the investment of £845,000 of public money on 30th January 2008 were endorsed by professional accountants. Indeed the 30th April 2008 accounts did not even allude to the floating charge nor the debenture created on 30th January 2008.

Speculation follows:

Shoddy indeed was this for a recipient of £845,000 of public money, even dishonest. I wonder whether the accounts filed for 30th April 2009 on 8th December 2009 were truthful in outlining £461,494 of debtors when three months later the Statement of Assets

At liquidation the Debtors are described as £90,000 of which the liquidator by June 2011 has collected just and precisely £NIL. With Invest Wirral running the show given the revelations in the Grant Thornton BIG investigation one can imagine the BIG panel being duped.

This case has not been followed by any detailed investigation for like wirralbiz it does not suit the Eurocracy, among whom I count Cllr P Davies, to rake over the ashes. Certainly I doubt if Joe Public would ever have heard of this monumental waste if it had not been for the determination of the whistle-blowers to nail the LIE.

I have asked MSIF under FOI for their file on New Concept Gaming Ltd and received the fastest ever response to any FOI, that they were not subject to FOI. I have asked NWDA and its successor, DCLG, and WBC, for their files who of course are subject to FOI.

I conclude that Readers should be aware of just how little protection we are afforded from deception by Councillors or downright robbery by some private companies, by any organ of the state or duly appointed agent of the same. CAVEAT EMPTOR and respect to WIRRAL IN IT TOGETHER and WIRRALLEAKS who do the next best thing which is to put travesties on RECORD.

Wexit

 

  Wirral logoE X I T

 

In the aftermath of EU Referendum  we try and make sense of the momentous result by making reference to the local political scene.

First of all we note that Wirral as a whole voted to “Remain”…. but as per usual Wirral’s most prominent politician Frank Field got his own way. Let’s face it the 3 other local MPs are a complete irrelevance – and that includes shrill wannabe Angela ” more of a sparrow than an…” Eagle – who we look forward to seeing being  returned to well deserved political obscurity in the wake of Jezza Corbyn’s inevitable downfall .

However we’re intrigued as to which rich political benefactor funded Frank Field’s “Vote Leave” promos on the Wirral Globe website and print edition and  which flew in the face of the local Labour Party’s ” Remain” position on the EU referendum. We suspect it wasn’t “Sir” Philip Green but other suggestions are welcome…….

As we know the full ramifications of the EU referendum are still to be played out but for us at Wirral Leaks the local position is clear and we’re calling  for  W-EXIT.

Basically we’re advocating that our wonderful young Wirralians get the hell out of the insular peninsula as fast as they can.

Unless of course they’re quite happy to cosy up to the Wirral Chamber of Commerce, or kiss the sagging arse of a corrupt local politico, or compromise their personal integrity by being a complete mediocrity in return for being able to pay the mortgage. We need to let them know Wirral is not a meritocracy –  it is run by a mediocracy.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mediocracy

Indeed there is no clearer indication of where things are heading  than with the recent declaration that Wirral Council intended to operate as a “private sector head with a public sector heart”

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14564409.The_new_model_Wirral_Council____a_private_sector_head__with_a_public_sector_heart_/?lp=11

To which we say Wirral Council is more empty head and a dark heart.

A Labour run Council embracing such a twisted ideology tells you everything you need to know where things are heading locally.

Unfortunately their business plan seems to consist of fines on dog crap, litter and parking. As our butler Eldritch commented the next thing you know we won’t be able to break wind without being fined by Wirral Council . Indeed we fully expect to see a picture of Cllr Bernie Mooney making herself feel important by posing with Kingdom Security and allowing them to use a  Fart-O-Meter to measure methane omissions for monetary gain.

However can we suggest a few pointers to Wirral Council if they want to operate as a private company?.

  • If you were a private company and your Directors run up a toxic debt of £31 million they would be disqualified – not given a six figure golden handshake.
  • If you were a private company and one of your Directors offered a bribe to a group of complainants to shut them up about a secret recording which  smears a business rival they would be jailed – not allowed to continue as a deputy head of the business
  • If you were a private company you would have to register all of your interests and dealings with Companies House – and members of the public could discover what you’d been up to without having to resort to Freedom of Information requests

There’s a reason that Wirral has a declining population  and it’s not as Cllr Steve  Foulkesy believes  ” a good thing” it’s because the bright, the beautiful and the talented of Wirral have seen the future and it’s not about foodbanks, false promises or fellatio.

W- EXIT is the way to go!