To Sandwell In A Handcart

Colin as Surjit 009

Less than 5 years of dedicated public service at Wirral Council seem to have taken their toll on poor Surjit Tour  pic: courtesy of John Brace

We couldn’t bring ourselves to watch video footage last week’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting as we understand Power Boy Pip et al  gave outgoing Wirral Council law lord Surjit Tour a rousing round of applause as it was his last ever council meeting – yes , even from Cllr George Davies – but then the deputy leader of Wirral Council must be relieved to see the back of this particular chink in his armour.

The plaudits were all very reminiscent of the time when the subsequently convicted criminal Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree chaired the the Audit & Risk Management Committee  – yes we know ! – can you believe that actually happened ? – and led the handclapping for Audit Commission/Grant Thornton gobshite Mike Thomas. We suspect the applause for both was much for the same reason – keeping a lid on Wirral Council malpractice and getting paid well to do it.

Having said that Tour must be shooting off to his new gig at Sandwell Council like shit off a shovel. And it would appear he will be right at home. As a local source commented –‘Labour controlled and crooked forever’ 

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2016/10/10/sandwell-council-shake-up-fourth-senior-officer-leave-post/

We’re sure the six figure salary was particularly enticing for this status – conscious public servant. All we can say is that you can earn as much as you like but at the end of the day you’re still Surjit Tour.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/sandwell/2017/05/26/sandwell-council-looking-to-appoint-top-roles—one-earning-100k-pay-packet/

We’re just staggered that out of four candidates interviewed for Sandwell Council’s top legal job that Tour came out on top.  Isn’t it reassuring that our public services have such a deep well of talent to draw upon?

Sandwell Council  must be particularly dear to Tour’s heart as a legal case involving his new employer was brought to attention in 2016.  A Wirral Council whistleblower had told their senior managers that they weren’t complying with the law when it came to administrating Discretionary Housing Payments  (DHP)- which are what they say on the tin, discretionary payments made to people who are having trouble paying their rent for one reason or another and presumably some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Wirral Council seem particularly reluctant to promote this fund they have available to help people in need so we’re saying loud and clear if you find yourself struggling to pay your rent contact Wirral Council and ask about DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENTS!

Needless to say the public-spirited  whistleblower who identified that Wirral Council were acting unlawfully was cruelly hounded out of their job for showing up their managers for the bullying incompetents they were.  There will be much more to come on this story but changes to procedures and belated thanks from Tour doesn’t cut it when someone’s career is needlessly destroyed for,once again, wanting things done properly and dare we say LAWFULLY!

Is it just us who thinks that if we don’t speak up about such abuses we’re all going to hell in a handcart?

Subject: Re: Whistleblowing Matter (Case Ref: 22/2016)

Dear X

Further the above matter, I have now completed all requisite enquiries into this matter. I have received and considered the report prepared by XX (Senior Auditor) into the matter you raised in your confidential report [CRF1] dated 22nd February 2016.

The review conducted by XX showed that whilst an assessment of income was undertaken in respect of DHP applicant’s income, the assessments were not fully compliant with the post Sandwell case and revised DWP guidance (issued in August 2015) on such claims.

In light of this, supplementary guidance has issued and explained to all relevant members of the team at the Transaction Centre so that DHP claims are assessed in accordance with the Sandwell case and revised DWP Guidance. Moreover, changes to procedures have and are being implemented to ensure consistency and compliance with the Sandwell case and revised  DWP guidance.

May I take the opportunity to thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of the council.

Kind regards

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

and Monitoring Officer

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LRJ Confidential

FOI

It was so dispiriting and yet so predictable that roving reporter John Brace was hastily chucked out of yet another Wirral Council meeting yesterday. This time it was the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee. Oh the irony!

Not as ironic as the fact the Committee is chaired by serial failure/ bossy old trout Cllr Matron McLaughlin. Oversight? – don’t make us laugh !

No doubt the reason was the fact they were about to discuss the fallout from last week’s Standards Panel aka as ‘Jeez Louise!’ where Louise Reecejones proved to be, well , your average local Labour councillor , ‘ inconsistent , vague and misleading‘ – and they were her good points!

Sanction Distinction

However we have to say that Wirral Leaks don’t like to kick someone when they’re down . But we’ll make an exception in this case as LRJ is yet another local representative who we feel is clearly unfit for public office. Having said that we do feel she was badly done to in one respect and that was the ruling that she breached confidentiality in contacting us !.

Oh FFS – half of Wirral Council would be before the Standards Panel if that were the case! LRJ did not breach confidentiality by telling us that there was an investigation being undertaken. However by imposing sanctions on a councillor who contacted us in the public interest clearly imposes a ‘chilling effect’ on all those who might be considering it, doesn’t it? Thankfully we can always rely on Wirral Council’s oppressed staff for information and not politically motivated councillors.

LRJ’s position is now being considered by Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies. Once again we have to declare – ‘Oh the irony!’

Power Boy Pip is the last person to pass judgement on councillor conduct and LRJ knows it!

We know this because we had the following exchange with LRJ on the 25 March 2016 :

Dear Wirral leaks,
The Story you have received is not true, I am fully reinstated as a Labour Party Councillor, I am also completely cleared of any wrong doing.
I was treated terribly by most of Wirral Labour group with only a few who were decent.
I have faced abuse by a group of parents who have tried to discredit me and make up false, slanderous statements including one post by a person who is a governor at Kingsway academy, chair of Merseyside Autistic Children’s society were you can only receive support if you agree with her, she is also and more worryingly working with WIRED the Carers charity commissioned by Wirral Council to support Parents in education who have SEND.
I have enclosed a screen shot of her post.
I only want to make a difference, I don’t stand on parade nor do I ask for thanks, I never want another young person go through what mine has. That’s my motivation nothing else.
 

Kind Regards,

Cllr Louise Reecejones
Proud trustee at TLC Network charity

Everything in our story is true. You were reinstated yesterday.

Read it again. Believe us – you got off lightly.We didn’t print all of the email because they couldn’t provide the evidence.
“I was treated terribly by most of Wirral Labour group…”  and ” I never want another person go through what mine has”  
Don’t play the victim –  do something about it!.
I have a right to play the victim after receiving what I have. 
We understand the suspension still stands and suspect the council will be taking matters further as well as dealing with the public spat with outgoing councillor Jim “Crabby” Crabtree.

Yehuda Bauer – the respected authority on the holocaust said : ‘Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.’ The choice is yours

The bold part makes it sound like it still relates to me, I have been fully cleared because I am completely innocent, I gave full accounts and documentation to the police, no money was ever missing but false invoices had been created when I was in hospital very poorly, this was an attempt to discredit me, nothing else and it hasn’t worked because unlike other I am not up to no good.

As for Crabby well he is one vile disgusting bully who goes around picking on women.

His words to me were, ” your a f@@@ing Deaf, Fat Bitch”

This was I front of school children at the holocaust memorial service.

Crabby refuses to answer to the complaint and will slope off as he has been deselected.

There is another one you may be interested in but I will give you her next week after I’ve met with the whip, some interesting times ahead with key people leaving the group at May’s elections, positions are up for grabs and scary times ahead for who will become chair of the group etc.

And I haven’t I have had him suspended and took him to task, I’m not an easy push over I just don’t believe this man should be near politics or vulnerable people.

You need to look higher up. Crabtree is a nonentity.

Oh I have stuff from a high up, all in good time xx
It’s prob worth noting that if I did as I was told over this case Labour would not of took it any further and I would not of been suspended. I was given an ultimatum and they were willing to brush over the accusation. I knew 100% I had done nothing so refused the offer with no hesitation. 
I had no idea what it was over until October when I went to see the CEO so that’s a lot of time to set me up.
First mistake – you put your trust in Burgess.
Oh no I’ve never put my trust in him at all, nor have I in the leadership of the group.

You do surprise me.Actually you don’t.Without being oppressive ,anyone with half a brain cell can see they’re winging it.  

Of course LRJ will never came up with the goods and Power Boy Pip won’t take her on because it’s mutually assured destruction. Moreover we’re sick to death of being told Crabtree had an incriminating file on the Labour group  if he ‘went down’ or that a file had been passed to the former wife of a former leader of Wirral Council as a negotiating tool during their acrimonious divorce.
And yet these pieces of crap are still allowed to make decisions about our lives and frankly we’ve had enough of it.
But we’ll leave the last word to someone in the know who tells us :
The police investigation had been underway for some time without LRJ’s knowledge and they were ready to arrest her Autumn 2015 when she presented herself at a police station after being tipped about the investigation by none other than the CEO Eric Robinson. We only found out a few weeks ago as they were trying their best to stop us finding out. 
So LRJ was sanctioned for breach of confidentiality and Stressed Eric wasn’t?
How does that work?  Perhaps the Standards and Constitutional Committee can explain?

Low Standards

Standards 2017 011

So here we go again – it’s June so that must mean another Wirral Council Standards Panel cover -up is upon us – or maybe not!

This time round it’s not the Wirralgate cover -up – and if  certain councillors think they’re out of the woods on that one they’re very much mistaken – but more on that another time.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/behind-closed-doors/

We’re hoping that meeting may enable us to get to the bottom of a particular mystery that emerged from the Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree court case earlier this year when the disgraced former councillor was convicted of making a telephone call to Cllr Louise Reecejones where he threatened to kill her. During the threat reference was made to a seemingly random sum of £19,000. As we have previously reported we have never been able to get to the bottom of the significance of this particular figure.

Mystery Figure

Mystery Figure Update : None the wiser

However it would seem that all may revealed at a Standards Panel to be held next week- or maybe not ! We exclusively gave you the heads up that this meeting was on the way :

Political Manoeuvres In The Dark

Consequently , the Standards Panel meeting was listed on the Wirral Council website last week and then mysteriously disappeared and then reappeared. This was all very reminiscent of last years’ never-ending Standards Panel shenanigans.

Council insiders tell us that complainants in this case have made it known that they want the proceedings to be public but have been advised that that will be decided by the panel on the evening of the meeting.
We are also told that all 3 complainants and Cllr Reecejones will be allowed to submit an ‘opening statement’ explaining why they believe that it is in the public interest for proceedings to be either open or closed . We’re sure panel members can be swayed in favour of openness and transparency – or maybe not!
Let’s just hope intrepid reporter John Brace doesn’t have a wasted journey like he did last June (see ‘Behind Closed Doors’ story above) where he had to endure the indignity of being shut out of the Standards Panel which discussed Cllr Steve Foulkes flagrant dishonesty . We understand that council officers resorted to extraordinary lengths to keep Brace out of the meeting by blocking the door to the Committee room where the meeting was held . So when it comes to disregarding standards in public life and protecting the powerful it was a case of ‘how low can you go?’ Apparently in Wirral Council’s case it would appear to be lower than a rattlesnake’s belly!
Nevertheless it will be particularly interesting to find out as to whether Cllr Reecejones  will be afforded the same privileges and protection that her illustrious colleague Foulkesy enjoyed , especially when they’re are some interesting personal dynamics within the Labour group when it comes to this particular case.
However with Cllr Moira McLaughlin,  the chair of the  Standards  and Constitutional Oversight Committee in attendance, we‘re sure that the conduct of Standards Panel meeting will be beyond reproach – or maybe not!……….

 

Pic of the Week

foulkesy-lrj-012

BFF!

Thanks to the Wirral Leaks reader who sent us the above still from a  John Brace video of this week’s Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee along with the message : ‘Awks!’.

Yes ,  indeed the picture led to a rousing rendition at Leaky Towers of that old Bread song which goes : ‘ If a picture paints a thousand words…..’ as we find Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ) seated awkwardly next to Cllr Steve Foulkes ( Foulkesy).

As we know Foulkesy is good friends with former Wirral Councillor Jim Crabtree. Who can forget Foulkesy’s message to Crabby when he was having a little local difficulty with the Constituency Labour Party of Bidston & St.James , which endearingly read : ‘Jumbo stay strong fella’ – Bless!

Crabby : Guilty as Charged

As we know Crabtree later went on to disgrace himself when pleading guilty to offences under the Communications Act 2003 when he threatened to kill Reecejones if she didn’t pay him £19,000.

Therefore under the circumstances this show of solidarity in the face of adversity comes across as an embarrassing PDA  –  not so much a Public Display of Affection but a Political Display of Affectation!

The Appalling

private-eye-crabby-008

 

private-eye-crabby-009

 

As you can see we’re delighted to have made the hallowed pages of Private Eye . The latest edition of the satirical magazine features a Rotten Boroughs article concerned with ‘the appalling Jim Crabtree’. Wirral Leaks readers will be very familiar with the torrid tales of ‘Crabby’ and Cllr Louise Reecejones as they unfolded on this blog . However the article is a neat summation of the story so far………

We’re just grateful we got an acknowledgement as a source  – something the Liverpool Echo  journo who previously flagged up our stories to Private Eye regularly failed to do.

From our point of view the really scary thing is we don’t think that Crabby was the most ‘appalling ‘ Wirral councillor of recent times. Indeed we maintain that some of the most ‘grossly offensive and indecent’ offenders  are still in power and making ‘appalling’ decisions about OUR LIVES. Clearly Crabby wasn’t considered important enough for the local Labour cabal to throw their seemingly limitless PUBLIC resources and extensive political influence behind him to save his sorry backside.

It must be galling for Crabby to be publicly (and justifiably) pilloried whilst his former colleagues keep on trousering those allowances and acting all important ,especially when -like Reecejones – he knows exactly what they’ve been up to…….

Mystery Figure Update : None the wiser

 money-question
We are grateful to Cllr Louise Reecejones herself who has responded directly to our article about the mystery £19K referred to in former Wirral councillor Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree’s less than friendly late night call which landed him in Wirral Magistrates Court. However we are none the wiser as to what the £19K is all about – except that if Crabtree was ‘mistaken’ about the money being for ‘leaflets he had paid for’ he was probably wise to plead guilty as he could potentially have had perjury added to his rap sheet.
Dear Julian,
In response to your article…
The SEN grant does not amount to £19 and came from a number of departments, after a full investigation the police including going through all my personal affairs there was nothing out of order, the witch hunt continued and the charity I am involved with became the target and a complaint was made to the Charity commission, they investigated and all bank statements were given over and it was also found there was no case to answer.
I am still being targeted by the same group of parents who started this entire thing and I face yet another investigation which is currently underway.
At some point this group of parents will have no where left to go.
In Crabtree’s statement he claimed the 19k was for leaflets he had paid for (bizarre!)

It’s true I’m prob not the most loved councillor but I’m not here to make friends.

Kind Regards,

Councillor Louise Reecejones

Mystery Figure

19k

One of the many curious aspects of this week’s  Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree conviction was the quote :  ‘You need to pay back the £19,000 bitch, or I will do what happened to that MP today’ which was addressed to Cllr Louise Reecejones and as we now know referred to the murdered MP, Jo Cox.

Never has the mention of a sum of money so troubled the minds of  Wirral Leaks and its readers since the infamous £48,000 paid to former Wirral Council head of communications, Emma Degg.

£19,000 seems to be such a random, arbitrary figure  – or is it?

Unfortunately as Crabtree pleaded guilty he was spared cross examination and so the finer details of his threat were not heard in court. Subsequently Reecejones has also failed to enlighten us on the significance of the £19,000 in her exclusive interview with the Wirral Globe :

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15022017.Wirral_councillor_victim_of_death_threat_call_describes_her_shock_when_she_realised_it_was_made_by_former_colleague/

So what are we to make of this £19,000 ? –  an amount plucked out of the air in a drunken tirade or does it refer to matters which have been under-reported ?

We have reason to believe that the crux of this particular matter harks back to a time when both Crabtree and Reecejones were suspended , facing separate allegations and under investigation by the North West Labour Party – but not by the local Labour Party .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/suspension-suspense/

Indeed we believe that what unfolded in this highly damaging case to the reputation of the local Labour group is due to a total absence of leadership. Also , witness the fact that despite this shameful case making the national newspapers (Daily Mirror and Daily Mail) that no prominent local Labour politician has issued a word of support for Reecejones or has been prepared to condemn Crabtree for his ‘despicable’ conduct.

However we have reason to understand that the £19,000 Crabtree referred to was not owed to him personally but was rather what he believed was owed, for some reason, to Wirral Council by Cllr Reecejones. Information we have received suggests this money was for the implementation of the special education needs and disability reforms given to Wirral Council by the Department for Education and there have been claims it was allegedly misused.

Although Reecejones was investigated , cleared of any wrongdoing and reinstated  , Crabtree was given a formal warning about his conduct which related to quite separate matters which we have covered extensively on Wirral Leaks. He subsequently failed to be selected as Labour’s ward representative for Bidston & St. James . Could this have been the cause of deep abiding resentment that let led to last June’s cataclysmic phone call ?

Meanwhile we are promised that  : “There are more newsworthy issues to yet come out about LRJ in the not too distant future. “

Perhaps then we will finally find out what the £19K is all about – just as we eventually found out that the £48K that Degg received was a result of allegedly being bullied and harassed by ex – council leader and ex – mayor Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes.

Some of the local Labour group are a lovely bunch, aren’t they?.