The Bung,The Bad & The Uggly : Silence is a Golden Handshake

CIGGIEMATES

Two terse sentences brought to an end 13 long years in the chaotic world of Brighton Street on Monday:
“We can confirm that Emma Degg left the Council on Friday 17 July following her request for voluntary severance and an agreement being reached with her.
We wish her well for the future.”

Precisely who the “we” is wishing the now departed head of tourism and community engagement “well for the future” would be interesting to know, however.
Because there isn’t exactly a queue of people lining up to donate towards her leaving present.
Emma “Uggs” Degg is of course long known to regular readers of Wirral Leaks. She’s been directly and euphemistically referred to in virtually all of our reports.
Such was her influence right across Wirral Council, there seemed little that could be done without her first giving it the nod.
And that includes her control over and interference in replies to Freedom of Information requests…

During her tenure she held enormous sway over three chief executives – and got a fourth, the incumbent  Eric “Feeble” Robinson, to sign off her generous leaving package – which we’ll come to shortly.
Degg was in effect the de facto deputy chief executive to previous CX Graham Burgess and Jim Wilkie before him, again, more of which later.

There are anecdotes galore about her antics. About her manipulations, her tantrums, her politicking, back-biting, hair pulling out, floor-rolling hysterics, wild accusations and constant poison-dripping.

There are those colourful relationships with certain senior council officers, too.
For a long time – too long a time – none of it seemed to matter.
Such was her vice-like grip on the balls of weak men in powerful positions – and let’s make no bones about it, we’re looking at every single individual, elected or employed, who failed to act against her histrionics – Degg remained untouchable for over a decade as she rose from mere spin doctor to taking up residence in the office next to the boss.

To the abject horror of many inside and outside our rotten borough, she appeared to be unstoppable – right up until the wheels began to fall off in October 2013.
That was when a letter was sent out to the local press detailing how Degg – who earned £84,000 a year of your council tax – had been paid a further, tax-free, hush-hush one-off payment of £48,000 out of the public purse.

The 2013 letter, since obtained by Wirral Leaks, said: “It was paid through the payroll and was tax-free, being classed as compensation – apparently in relation to her being bullied and ill-treated at work.
“The payment was authorised by Graham Burgess, the [then] Chief Executive and Chris Hyams, the head of human resources and organisational development.
“It is unclear as to whether elected members were involved in the decision to make this payment, or indeed, are even aware of it.
“External legal advice was sought as to making the payment, so that will add to the bill for the residents of Wirral.”

Though Degg was never identified as the recipient at the time, the reaction throughout the council was instant: Utter consternation.
But still she clung on.
Burgess of course skipped out of Brighton Street on New Year’s Eve, under circumstances that appear related to secretive and possibly romantic goings on between himself and Degg – and that of Degg and the director of regeneration, Kevin Adderley.
The heat was very definitely on, so Burgess scuttled out of the kitchen.

Since then Degg has largely been absent from the town hall, supposedly through illness.
Yet as one Leaker informed us yesterday: “Just had a call from… who were told this morning that she had decided to leave after being off ill for some time. What a joke.
“They have played the whole ‘she’s been off ill for some time’ card with the staff. One of the things that took so long was agreeing how she would go.
“She has even been putting the feelers out for who might like to go for leaving drinks with her (presumably to celebrate her massive cheque)…. Er, that will be no one, thanks.”

Ah yes – the massive cheque.
Another letter obtained by Wirral Leaks from what appears to be the same well-informed source behind the 2013 revelation about the £48,000 payment – a payment that to this day has never been explained to council taxpayers – offers up some details.
If you have recently left the council’s employ with a meagre pay off – or if you have left because you couldn’t work with or alongside Degg or her ever shrinking number of acolytes – then you may want to look away now……

She leaves with three month’s pay in lieu of notice, £35,000 in redundancy, and a £15,000 compromise agreement to keep her mouth shut.
The letter writer adds: “What makes it even worse is she insisted on receiving £50,000 cash to go – so the council has paid the income tax and national insurance on her behalf – so the taxable element of her payment has cost the council £27,000.
“It all means that Emma Degg’s take home pay for July is £97,000.”
(Interesting how Wirral Council always – always – has money to pay off senior staff members, but cries penury whenever we want some actual services, isn’t it?).

The writer also says the first £48,000 payment was not for “bullying” after all.
It was “hush money as she had threatened to divulge certain information publicly”.
What that information was we can still only speculate. But it presumably wasn’t her poisonous briefing in 2008 that adult social services whistleblower Martin Morton was “a bit bonkers”.
Another Leaker, themselves in a different job after years working near Degg, contacted Leaky Towers yesterday, to say: “I don’t think I realised what an abnormal environment I was working in while working with her.
“[The new job has been] a massive eye opener… to make me realise how much [working in proximity to Degg] had really affected me. My default position with her was self-defence mode!
“[Now there is] No getting a million people to sign anything off, no worrying about whether I was allowed to share, and no being scared that I may have said too much.
“No drama and no one barking orders or screaming at people for doing things wrong. I am glad she has gone but so disappointed and let down she has been paid off.”

It’s interesting that part of the severance package included £35,000 “redundancy” – does that mean the role of head of tourism has now been deleted?
Surely the long-suffering council taxpayers of Wirral should be told?
As for the £15,000 to keep schtum – something Jim Wilkie, Graham Burgess and Kevin Adderley (at least) will be desperately hoping she sticks to – it seems pretty unlikely to be a watertight agreement.
Emma Degg knows where all the bodies are buried at Wirral Council. Not least because she helped bury many of them.
The question now is: Will the gatekeeper turn poacher in revenge?

The Ex-Files Update – Wirral Council

************NEWSFLASH****************NEWSFLASH*******************NEWSFLASH
 
The Ex-Files Update
 
Well I must say the brouhaha that has followed the revelation that Wirral Council’s Former Chief Moneyman  Ian Coleman has swanned off with a big bag of swag amounting to £82K comes as no surprise.However  we our led to believe that this is but nothing compared to the true amount.
 
An anonymous well informed source tells us: 
“The 82K is certainly the tip of the iceberg and is simply the sum Wirral charge payers are handing over to Merseyside Pension Fund to allow the retiree to go before his normal retirement date (60 yrs. minimum)

An additional severance payment is normally paid to the individual concerned and can be up to 66 weeks of salary. Given that Wirral MBC Chief Officers enjoy a remuneration of over £100k per annum the payoff can be well into six figures. Officers mentioned on your site in the past have certainly collected a payoff of this magnitude. “

Lord Wirralleaks is minded to recall the parting words of his late rebellious cousin Sir Jonathan Rotten : “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?
 
We also understand from the same source that David Garry the Chief Internal Auditor – also allegedly implicated in some shady shenanigans may have ”retired” last week.Any information on his “remuneration” would be gratefully received.
 
Of course we’d like to think ,as Council Tax payers, we should be able to freely access the information on where all our money is going and how much is actually involved.However we understand that these Compromise Contracts which are flying around like a flock of birds migrating south for winter, preclude the pesky public from ever finding out about the tidy sums disappearing into the Cheshire countryside.
 
I have to say I am so perplexed by what seems to be a very rum do indeed I wandered into the garden with Lady W in an attempt to clear my head and make sense of it all.It was here that I espied through my monocle the rugged physique of the gardener Eldritch getting to grips with a dirty hoe.I asked him what his considered opinion was:
 ” A fucked up fuck witted clusterfuck, if you’ll pardon my language Sir”

“But Eldritch, can we not take SOLACE ?” I enquired
“Thing is sir, the only thing SOLACE is taking, is the fucking piss,and lots of taxpayers money   if you don’t mind me saying so sir”

 

Wirral Councils Ex-Files

Apologies Leakers – I’ve been to “Hoity-Toity House” – an exclusive country house spa for the treatment of my insufferable gout .Lady Justine Wirral -Leaks keeps telling me to lay off the port and cigars and is insisting I sign a Gifts & Hospitality register each and every time a mysterious crate of expensive comestibles arrives at Leaky Towers.To which I say: “Oh don’t be a silly moo Justine, if Wirral Council’s new Chief Exec ,Graham “Bon Viveur” Burgess, doesn’t seem overly concerned about such matters, then why should I”?.
 
I mean the Department of Adult Social Services apparently didn’t even have a register – which is rather odd as I’ve returned to a mound of missives from disgruntled DASS staff who not only had to sign the requisite forms but were forced to hand over boxes of chocs and booze – usually only to see it disappear into their Managers handbag .
I also missed out on the startling revelation that Council Education Chiefs couldn’t do their sums which resulted in the £1.4 million loss of Government grants………..like you do – if you work for the Council anyway- safe in the knowledge that there will be no consequences for blithering incompetence.
 
 
So praise the Lord that I’m surrounded by faithful retainers who are able to keep me updated on the fast moving train crash that is Wirral Council. And -strange as it may seem – I find it very reassuring that, in these turbulent times,  some things just don’t change. Or as the delightful Miss Verity put it to me : “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose……”
“I beg your pardon,my dear …….” I asked, adjusting my hearing aid.
” Oh its French for “same old ,same old…..” she replied – adding by way of explanation – ” I forgot to mention I’m bilingual”. Well, I thought to myself, I had my suspicions but I just thought that was “downstairs ” gossip mongering.
 
Anyhoo – what apparently has transpired in my absence is that, to the amazement of absolutely no-one, another Wirral Council Senior Officer ( Ian Coleman, no less- one time Acting Chief Executive and Director of Finance) has flown the coop with a nice big cheque firmly clasped in his beak like a particularly voracious carrion bird
 
News has already reached us that there’s much more to this than meets the eye and what’s more tales of £1 million legal challenges intended to justify the payment are entirely bogus and intended to convince the long suffering people of Wirral that the Council are being careful with our money, whilst at the same time, they hand over another bung to someone to go away and keep quiet.
 
What’s more it would appear we can expect much more of this palaver as there has been a Committee set up especially to look at these arrangements:
 
 
This Committee would appear to be a response to a recent recommendation by David Garry – Chief Internal Auditor from the much maligned and discredited Internal Audit from within the Department of Finance which states :” The system, process and procedure for all Compromise Agreements (whether above or below the threshold for referral to the Sub-Committee of the Employment & Appointments
Committee), should be documented”.
 
Which rather suggests a) Compromise Agreements have been thrown around like confetti made of money and b) Mr.Garry has only just realised it might be a good idea for someone to actually keep a note of where all the Council’s money was disappearing to…….
 
Indeed we at Leaky Towers are led to believe that Mr.Garry has been well aware that the situation with Compromise Agreements (or contracts as they have been re-badged) was a matter which Eldritch (our gardener) has always suggested was going to “come back and bite them on their fat fucking arses”. Therefore we would suggest that the motive behind the belated “armourplating” of said “arse” (if you’ll pardon the vulgar pun) is that chickens are coming home to roost and there is a distinct whiff of rotten eggs in the air!. 
 
I use the term ”belated” because Miss Snoop has been laboriously poring over old Audit and Risk Management Committee reports and after making further enquiries on a seemingly defunct blog called A Really Rotten Borough by the mysterious “Veridici”  it would appear that Mr.Garry may have been involved in the cover up of , ahem,  a particularly “compromising” Compromise Agreement from as far back as 2008.
 
Which rather calls into question why he took 4 years to raise the issue especially when he did so just 2 weeks before his Director, Ian Coleman, was no doubt asked to sign one in exchange for £82K!.
 
Although the saying goes ”the truth is out there” this doesn’t seem to apply to Wirral Council’s Ex-Files.
This is because ,according to Eldritch : “Wirral Council seem to have more gags than fucking Ken Dodd”.
 
The funny thing is………nobody seems to be laughing as the joke’s on us.
Best,
Lord Wirral-Leaks.