Expect Nothing


Her Ladyship was flicking through some of the local papers that Verity had saved for the archive when she suddenly exclaimed : “Well that didn’t take long did it?….”

On further enquiry it seemed that she’d stumbled on a letter confirming much that had recently filtered through to us at Leaky Towers in which a Wirral Council employee had declared that they were “disappointed” in new Chief Executive “Stressed” Eric Robinson and particularly his reliance on trying to find out the true state of the Council from meeting with the usual suspects.The letter concluded:

“This blind acceptance of the views of a cabal of highly-paid and self-serving individuals has undoubtedly contributed to the woes experienced by the council in recent history and, sadly, the notion that an individual’s integrity and competence is proportionate to their salary is a continuing theme within Wirral Council….”


Our first thoughts were that if the “cabal” find out who this anonymous staff member is their days are surely numbered – criticism and eloquence is a twin threat that will simply NOT be tolerated at Wirral Council.

Therefore our advice to the disappointed staff member is to heed the words of fun-loving author Sylvia Plath : “If you expect nothing from anybody,you’re never disappointed ” -although we really shouldn’t be recommending the works of the late Ms.Plath to council staff who must be already be suicidal having to work under the shower in charge of Wirral Council.

The meeting described in the letter was set out as part of Stressed Eric’s  knowing me/knowing you strategy outlined in an email he sent soon after he started in April (see below).

For those not familiar with Councilspeak we’ve provided a commentary (IN BOLD) to help you wade through the usual corporate bullshit.

Good morning and welcome to my first message to you as Chief Executive.

Although I officially joined the authority just over a week ago. I’ve found it very useful to have spent a number of days here since I was appointed earlier in the year.
Those days have given me a head start in getting to know the council, its senior managers and how we carry out our business – AND WHAT A FUNNY BUSINESS IT IS TOO!.

I’d like to thank David Armstrong for his leadership of the authority since January and for his thorough handover so far – DAVID ARMSTRONG AND LEADERSHIP IN THE SAME SENTENCE?. THAT’S GOT TO BE AN EARLY CONTENDER FOR OXYMORON OF THE YEAR!.
I imagine you will be wondering what you can expect from me as your Chief Executive – BASED ON PAST EXPERIENCE OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE VERY LOW ERIC,VERY LOW INDEED.

My passion has always been about enabling people to reach their full potential – OH HERE WE GO WITH THE PASSION BS  – making sure vulnerable people have the best life they can and are as independent and as integrated into society as they possibly can be – CAN YOU TELL US ERIC EXACTLY WHAT “INTEGRATED INTO SOCIETY” ACTUALLY MEANS?

I’ve carried that passion with me since I started out as a social worker in the 80s and it’s still with me now as Chief Executive in Wirral – AND AGAIN!….. “PASSION” IS ONE OF THOSE REALITY TV WORDS LIKE “JOURNEY” AND “DESPERATE” THAT MAKES US WANT TO SNORT WITH DERISION.

I have a strong track record in transformation; ( “SO DID DR.JEKYLL! ” – SNEERS HER LADYSHIP) changing the way organisations operate and their culture to improve the lives of our residents. I believe that by working with our partners and our communities we improve outcomes for everybody – WE DO REALISE THE WORD OUTCOMES IS COMPULSORY IN THIS SORT OF BULLSHIT ERIC BUT WE’D RATHER YOU JUST EMPTY THE BINS AND TELL THE TRUTH .TOO MUCH TO ASK?.

However, I’m very much in listening mode at the moment  – OBVIOUSLY ERIC HAS SPLASHED OUT ON A NEW i-POD NOW HE’S GOT THE TOP JOB.

I want to really understand from you, and our partners, what we need to be doing for the people of Wirral  – YOUR JOBS BASICALLY.AGAIN,TOO MUCH TO ASK?.

The council has made huge strides in recent years – YES , THEIR ABILITY TO COVER UP MALPRACTICE IS MOST IMPROVED – this was recognised with the recent ‘Most Improved Council’ award – and I know these improvements wouldn’t have been possible without your hard work and tireless efforts – HA!HA!HA! LOVIN’ YOUR  GSOH ALREADY.

But we all know there is more work to do, there is more money to save – WHICH IS SO EASY TO SAY WHEN YOU’RE ON A SIX FIGURE SALARY! – and there will be more changes afoot I know the change process (AKA REDUNDANCY) takes its toll on staff but I hope to reassure you that I’ve not arrived here with a blueprint that I plan to impose on the organisation; quite the opposite – IF WE WERE YOU WE WOULDN’T MENTION THE ” BLUEPRINT” WORD.IT WAS YOUR PREDECESSORS “FUTURE BLUEPRINT” WHICH LED TO HIS DOWNFALL ( AMONGST OTHER THINGS) – it is important to me to have a period of listening, learning and talking to make sure we have a plan for council and the borough to help us progress further – OH NO! NOT ANOTHER PLAN! WHATEVER HAPPENED TO DESTINATION EXCELLENCE ? FUTURE COUNCIL?.WHAT REALLY MATTERS?

As part of that, from May I’m planning to come and see different teams around the council, to understand what’s important to you – WE SUSPECT THAT WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO WIRRAL COUNCIL STAFF IS THE SAME AS IT IS THE WORLD OVER – DOING AS LITTLE WORK FOR AS MUCH MONEY AS POSSIBLE.

As my thoughts become clearer over time I will share them with you – I WOULDN’T BANK ON YOUR THOUGHTS BECOMING CLEARER ERIC –  the dates of when I will be out and about will follow.To give you some information about me and my background, to be here in Wirral is to find myself coming back to my roots –  YOU’VE OBVIOUSLY GOT ODYSSEY ON YOUR i-POD NOW.

I was born and brought up in Bootle and spent many happy days visiting New Brighton with my parents – W’ERE NOT INTERESTED.
I went to university in Cardiff to study Social Sciences  – NO, WE’RE  REALLY NOT INTERESTED. This was at a time when people didn’t really go to university – I was the first to go from my comprehensive school, and the first in my family which was a big step for me  –  REALLY,REALLY NOT INTERESTED!. I went on to get a professional qualification in social work and moved to London where I worked in a number of London boroughs over 15 years – ZZZZZZZZ!
I came back to Merseyside in the 1990s as an Assistant Director at Knowsley Council and since then have worked as Director of Social Services in different councils, most recently being Director of People Services and Deputy Chief Executive at Staffordshire County Council  – YEAH! BUT YOU DIDN’T GET THE TOP JOB DID YOU?.

I’m currently living in Manchester but planning to move closer in the coming months  –  THAT’LL BE  PHYLLIS NELSON ON THE i-POD NOW WILL IT ?  I have three children – Judy (21) is at the University of East Anglia, graduating this summer, Finn (18) who is currently stressed out completing his A Levels and Ruth (17) who is in the first year of her A Levels  –  NOBODY IS INTERESTED IN YOUR  KIDS .CHANNEL YOUR “PASSION” INTO THEM AND SPARE US THE “I’M JUST AN ORDINARY BLOKE LIKE YOU ONLY YOU DON’T GET PAID AS MUCH AS I DO” ROUTINE.

I spend much of my spare time with my kids – when they can fit me in – and also caring for my parents who are now in their 80’s. I am also a rarity in Wirral – a supporter of Liverpool FC! – DON’T WORRY YOU’LL BE A BLUENOSE/BROWNNOSE SOON ENOUGH 

As my second week here progresses, and I get to know the organisation further, it’s clear that I have a strong workforce dedicated to serving the people of Wirral. I look forward to meeting many of you and hearing your ideas on how we can take the council, and the borough forward for the future.


Bullshit Bullseye


We’d like to thank Plain English Campaign for nominating Wirral Council for a Golden Bull Award.

This award dishonours public documents which have proved to be outstanding in the field of bullshit.  SEE HERE

This particular nomination (there was also one for the Council last year ) comes from perennial underachievers , the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) and goes a little something like this…..

“The former model for integrating the integrated arrangements for health and social care were dealt with through separate streams, reablement and carers funds paid to the CCG and a special social care transfer for improved health outcomes, the section 256 agreement, these arrangements are superseded by the Better Care Fund.”


No, we haven’t the foggiest either ! Which is worrying considering that this is meant to be a document for public consumption.

But we  all know it’s not really – it’s meant to bamboozle Councillors and bemuse the public.

The purpose of the exercise is to prove that Council Officers know best – they know all the acronyms and all the buzzwords – and all are intended to exclude and enable them to retain their power over those “not in the know”.

However we were pleased to see Power Boy Pip picking up a buzzword from those “in the know” – namely Wirral Leaks – when he commented on the nomination : “I wouldn’t begin to defend it,” he said. “I agree, it is gobbledegook”

Leaky Fans will remember an article from October 2013 T titled “The Pollyanna Principle”


where coincidentally we took particular issue with the mystifying language of Wirral Council’s Annual Governance Statement commenting as follows :

“Anyway we thought we’d check out the 6 principles outlined in the Statement that Power Boy Pip referred to and although we were a little dismayed to find that there is no mention of the Pollyanna Principle, the document nevertheless provided the opportunity to play one of our favourite pastimes at Leaky Towers – Bullshit Bingo!.

Principle 1 : Focussing on the purpose of the Authority and on outcomes for the community including citizens and service users and creating and implementing a vision for the local area

Oh here we go with the visions again! How many Super Directors did it take to come up with that gobbledygook?! Because as anyone will tell you who lives here – life on Wirral would be so much better if only we had a vision! Meanwhile we’ ll have to console ourselves with the mirage that is Wirral Waters”.

Finally in celebration of this well -deserved nomination Wirral Leaks are issuing a special commemorative cut out and keep Bullshit Bingo card.

Any further suggestions of bullshit from Wirral Council documents and communications please send  to : wirralleaks@gmail.com