“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”
As Wirral Council merrily continues to dismantle public services we note ruefully at Leaky Towers how quickly the “organisation” has returned to its bad old ways.
Firstly the libraries closure volte-face debacle of 2010 is seemingly making a comeback with Burgesski taking his turn to face the flak and issue a statement claiming there’s nothing untoward going on by reviewing the library service once again.
Of course such is the lack of trust and confidence in Wirral Council that anything emanating from Wallasey Town Hall is instantly met with hostility and suspicion.
It seems to us that Super -Duper Director meetings must mainly consist of them drawing straws to see who is going to front the latest controversial Council press release. Funny we never seem to hear from bullet-dodger Clare Fish whose surname seems most appropriate , as considering her prominent role ,she seems to be about as elusive and vocal as Stringray’s Aqua Marina.
So having been spared the indignity of being overtaken by commissioners (thanks to Frankenfield’s intervention) and having hoodwinked the blinkered Improvement Board it would seem Wirral Council feels secure in returning to the familiar power bases and personalities. There’s Foulkesy ensconced as Wirral’s first citizen with sidekick George Davies still acting as his middle man and Matron McLaughlin back chairing a Council Committee. It’s like the Independent Review never happened – but then this is what happens when an investigator like Anna Klonowski only does half a job and there is no accountability ,no consequences and a politically apathetic public (witness the shockingly low turnout in McLaughlin’s Rock Ferry ward).
Inevitably we now have the return of all the issues which brought Wirral Council into such disrepute – the corrosive culture,the obsessive secrecy,the abuse of power.
There are only so many times the Department of Spin can rely on golf tournaments and Stella Shiu and artists impressions of Wirral Waters and pictures of the Mayor and Mayoress before the spin spirals out of control into sheer delirium
However the Department of Spin does contain at least one person who has learned the lessons of the past. They can certainly show those naive whistleblowers how it should be done. They have learned that knowledge is power – so use it to your advantage.
Keep your job and get a nice big cheque.Win-Win.
That now makes 2 people in the Wirral Council “Job for Life” Club.
At first we didn’t know quite what to make of the Local Government Association (LGA) report titled ” Self-Serving or Self-Centred?” (or something like that anyway). It was recently published without any fanfare, no doubt in the hope was that it would pass under the radar without any further comment. This is especially surprising as Wirral Council is described as a “success” story. SEE HERE
Thankfully it was picked up by Wirral Globe who reveal how startlingly close that Wirral Council came to being taken over by government commissioners just like that other local government basket case Doncaster Council. SEE HERE
We also note from the Globe article that veteran whistleblower Morton still hasn’t run out of breath (oh how the Council must wish that gag was tied a bit tighter so that he was permanently deprived of oxygen).
What troubles us here at Leaky Towers is not so much the revelation about the Council near- takeover by outsiders but the bullshit industry that seems to have flourished in the wake of abject failure and the Council’s so-called “turnaround”. Talking of which does anybody know what happened to the Council’s topnotch “Turnaround Team”?.
From reading the report we have a sense of a group of consultants performing a PR exercise on behalf of the LGA with the message :
“Don’t send in commissioners to a Council in crisis , send in the crack LGA team and based on no evidence whatsoever they’ll pretend everything’s tickety-boo in no time. Their competitive daily rate includes their own “no case to answer” rubber stamp and an unparalleled collection of patronising platitudes such as “you’re doing jolly well – now keep it up chaps and chapesses”
The authors of this LGA promotional pamphlet concludes that : “We have already recorded that after close to two years, Wirral has made a significant recovery. Although our brief is not to conduct a detailed evaluation, there was a consistency and honesty in the interviews that gives us confidence in reaching this conclusion.”
This conclusion of course flies in the face of the evidence that we report week in,week out on this blog that Wirral Council has not returned to anything like resembling normality. It appears the fanciful conclusion was reached by interviewing no-doubt handpicked “stakeholders” guaranteed to be “on message”.
We can only assume the responses went something like this:
” The constant threat of redundancy ensures I keep my nose to the grindstone and say whatever I’m told to say to visiting consultants…”
” Power Boy Pip visited our office the other day.I felt as though I was in the presence of greatness and he left me feeling treasured and with a warm fuzzy glow .”
” I’m just so grateful I longer have to manage a team as they’ve all been made redundant…being a team player is so much easier when you’re the only one in the team”
” My working conditions have improved for the better now that I know that in the unfortunate event of a fire I can waltz town the shiny new staircase like a fairytale princess”.
Meanwhile back in the real world and not the LGA – fantasy version we have further examples that seems to indicate that the basket case’s return to full recovery may be somewhat premature.
This proposal was meant to lead to sharing services with the 2 Cheshire Councils – which of course was promptly ditched when Power Boy Pip espied a more compatible and prestigious hook-up with the Peoples Republic of Merseyside. SEE HERE
Meanwhile more pungent example of continuing concern about how the Council conducts it’s business arrives in the form of a Brown Bin.
Apparently those experiencing delay in receiving their garden waste tag have been advised that because of the backlog of applications BIFFA have been told to empty all garden waste bins ( even if people have not paid) for the first collection in June! This apparently is because the Council doesn’t have enough staff to handle the applications due to cutbacks in Streetscene. So Wirral Leaks advises, at the height of the grass cutting season, that everyone fills their boots and fills their brown bins……….after all it’s an ill-(smelling) wind that blows nobody some good.
We were also told that as Pest Control have had a 50% reduction in staff that if you find yourself singing: “There’s a rat in my kitchen what ‘amma gonna do” that as you are likely to wait another 2 weeks for any assistance. This is unfortunate as when Wirral Council are deemed to be a “success” many people automatically smell a rat !……
“Propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”
Following the tragic circumstances which led to the postponement of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee meeting it reconvened last week at Birkenhead Town Hall.The first observation of our Wirral Leaks correspondent was the mesmerising optical illusion of a united front featuring Wirral Council’s Director of Law Surjit Tour,Councillor George Davies and Birkenhead MP Frank Field!!! (see above)
Whilst our correspondent squirmed in their seat it was business unusual for the Town hall triumvirate with St.Frank controlling the show presiding over a mockery of democracy – doling out a few quid for no doubt worthy endeavours but it still felt very much like a politburo-led exercise in smoke and mirrors.As Wirral Leaks followers will already know our particular interest in this meeting arose from our concerns raised in last months blog- CLICK HERE
where we wrote : “Now Wirral Leaks and Eric Pickles are not natural bedfellows but we have a degree of sympathy for his directive about the prevention of the publication of what he calls “Town Hall Pravdas” – that is Councils printing nothing more than propaganda sheets funded with public money. Now if this wasn’t Wirral Council we’d say “well what’s wrong with telling local people what’s going on ?” – but this IS Wirral Council and we believe openness and transparency will never be the motivation behind such a publication. This is the place where secrecy is the modus operandi ….”
The agenda item for the Birkenhead “community newspaper” said this:”Partner Contributions/Provider: The pilot editions will be produced in partnership with Lairdside Together.They are a Birkenhead-based organisation;established as a Community Development Trust in 1996 with objectives to promote, support and deliver regeneration, wealth, prosperity and economic well-being. They are providing the editorial element of production at a discounted rate and they will recruit and manage the apprenticeship role….”
And so in inimitable Wirral Leaks style we thought we’d do a little research about Lairdside Together…..
And what do you know – who are the first two names who appear listed as Company Directors ????
Poof! as if by magic up pop the names of Rock Ferry Labour Councillor Christine Meaden and Councillor Phillip Leslie Davies…….aka Wirral Council leader Power Boy Pip – CLICK HERE
Although Councillor Meaden spoke during this agenda item our correspondent couldn’t recall any declarations of interest from either Councillor!
So much for open and transparent!
Under the circumstances we are not reassured by peachy keen Birkenhead Constituency Manager Dawn Tolcher’s declaration that the content of the propaganda sheet will be monitored by an editorial board to ensure that it “is non political and it’s what people want to read”
Our undercover correspondent was not in a position to respond to this disingenuous statement at the time so we’ll do it for them:
…what actual f**king planet is the incoming Labour leader on?