‘For Trees’ Feedback

Image result for for trees

Dear Tree Supporter,

Below is a summary of the meeting held at Wallasey Town Hall on 2nd July. You can view the meeting for yourself on:

WirralCouncilWebcasting; Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2.7.19. Last item on agenda presented to Cllr Chris Blakeley (chair) by Cllr Christina Muspratt :

Thank you to all the tree supporters who attended.

On 2 July 2019 Council Officer David Armstrong reported that the Council are “currently engaged in a programme of extensive backlog maintenance to do with trees” He stated: “I assure you we are just carrying out maintenance and we have got a lot of work to do”…”people are polarised, people who want it done and many who are absolutely opposed”…”this is having implications for people trying to carry out the works”…”I can understand why people are upset “. He then continued to emphasize the wish to move onto the tree removal from school grounds; Considering the ‘student strikes for climate’ this is a grotesque proposal; schools need to invest in cleaner air for which trees and dense vegetation around schools are essential. He referred to the policing which is needed increasingly as the public stand up against the felling; Yet the Aarhus Convention legally obliges us as members of the public to protect our natural environment.

The council has a responsibility to educate these “people who want it carried out” to understand the implications of habitat removal and destruction, now that we face the Climate Emergency. Of course the profiteers from the timber will be amongst this group; Beyond Mancoed; who are these profiteers?…What do they have to gain?….they have everything to lose, as do we all…

Now so many of us have paved gardens as car parks, we are all reliant on public trees being our oxygen banks.

The good news is; the ‘For Trees’ team have been working on a tree strategy/policy for Wirral and as an outcome of the above meeting there has been a ‘Tree Strategy Councillor Group’ set up to meet twice a year. Will this be sufficient and in time to save the trees ear-marked in the Council’s “workload backlog” ??!

Please relay to your three local Councillors that we need them to help save Wirral’s trees. And feel free to share your correspondence, anonymously or otherwise

Many thanks,

The ‘For Trees’ team

I attach a table of risk for your information to consider the disproportionate actions that Wirral Council are taking while destroying our natural environment;

Fatalities in ‘Daily or Normal Life’

The following table compares the calculated risks that are experienced in ‘daily or normal life’.

Annual risk of death Annual risk Annual risk per million
All causes, aged 45-64
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 190 5263
All causes, aged 30-44
(England and Wales, 2003) (1)
1 in 940 1064
Accidents in the home, all ages
(England and Wales, 2004) (3)
1 in 17,000 59
Road accidents
(Great Britain, 2010) (2)
1 in 32,000 31
Injuries to all employees in different industries
(Great Britain, average 2001/02-2005/06) (4)
 

1 in 140,000

 

7

Insignificant or Trivial Risk (HSE) 1 in 1,000,000 1
Lightning (5) 1 in 19,000,000 0.05
Trees on public land (incl. tree surgeons and fellers; statistically the majority group) 1 in 20,000,000 0.05
  • Office for National Statistics Focus on Health
  • Department for Transport Road Casualties Great Britain: 2010
  • Office for National Statistics Mortality Statistics – Injury and poisoning
  • Health and Safety Commission Statistics of Fatal Injuries 2005/06
  • Deaths and injuries caused by lightning in the United Kingdom: analyses of two databases, D M Elsom, Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, 2000

Additional Reference: National Tree Safety Group-Common sense risk management

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An UnSatoorsfactory Appointment

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Needless to say we were given the heads up about Paul Satoor being made Interim CEO of Wirral Council before the last Employment and Appointments Committee confirmed the appointment

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Also needless to say we understand that the current Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson now isn’t working his 3 month notice and is hastily taking up his new appointment as CEO of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) on July 16th. It’s all very much a case of : ” I’m a nonentity – get me out of here”

How ironic that someone who repeatedly turned a blind eye to the abuse of power at Wirral Council is the now head of the national organisation who are meant to be protecting the vulnerable from abuse.  It doesn’t augur well does it? But hey! that’s how things work in backward Britain these days . The bland leading the blind.

Meanwhile we thought we’d check out Stressed Eric’s successor…or more accurately his Wirral Leaks rap sheet and see what Satoor is bringing to the party. And it’s not a lot if you ask us. It’s the usual case of :  “Use what you know to get what you want” (see also – Burgess, Adderley, Degg, Downey, Green, Armstrong, Blott etc;etc;)

For starters he was up to his neck in the Halliday debacle . No wonder Stressed Eric stressed that no-one was going to take the rap for this particular dereliction of due diligence. No doubt the rubicund public servant was too busy lining up his successor whilst standing behind the shredder and preparing  his press statement about how it all happened before he was appointed when the proverbial hits the fan. And it will dear reader. Oh, believe us, it will…

 

Guess the Ex

And so farewell then to another controversial Wirral Council manager who will be ‘retiring’ . Again we must get round to leaking the full story  before we go but in the mean time a council insider sends us the following message and invites us to do some detective work and guess the ex- Wirral Council manager heading to pastures new (aka the green, green grass of North Wales)
Detective
Well time is moving on and X is also, with a large payout , a nice income and with feet firmly placed on the sofa … or will they ?  X is setting up his own cleaning company allegedly utilising the contractors and contacts within and without he has cuddled up to since taking the reins from sick note Dave ‘the rave’ Armstrong who’s time may also be catching up and running out. So how can a young man in his fifties retire early when others in their sixties are denied their applications? There are strict rules to follow, like the job is being made redundant. If ever the council need this role it’s now. Someone who has all the attributes to stop the waste , get a grip of contractors so real value for money can be achieved with professional procurement and standards .The job should not be lost but enhanced.It’s little more than a fudge , a con and David’s promise coming true. For the few not the many.
X’s job can not and should not be made redundant to justify early retirement and pay offs, it’s a critical role. But an Armstrong promise.Nice buffet at Birkenhead Town Hall and drinks at Hornblowers . Apt name.They are getting around it by upgrading people’s roles and paying them more to continue the same shit and take on X’s duties  The jobs not redundant it’s made to look that way. 
It is with quiet confidence and a little inside knowledge that X as the protector of the contractor with the worst reputation in the history of the council for both pricing and quality will also be moving on. There will be no tears and definitely no one to defend their indefensible corner. Moreover cheers and celebrations will be ringing in every head teachers ears. Let’s hope X retires and spends many hours with his golf club crew, but let us all keep an eye out for any back hand return utilising the old boys golf network and the councils cash cow machine of waste. Dithering no conflict Eric (Robinson) can see the heat you generate is not without merit and substance and there are signs that he is putting people in positions that are not as dithering .Let’s watch this space. Maybe light at the end of the tunnel with contractors that can really repair leaks…

Heads up on Halliday

halliday

After first being sent to elected members, we understand that a confidential report concerned with allegations involving controversial Wirral Council appointment  Stuart/Stewart Halliday and others ,which was exclusively revealed by Wirral Leaks , is due to be published shortly . For those wanting to do a bit of background reading in the mean time (especially as the story can’t be found anywhere else ) we recommend :

Halliday Money : The Rising Son of York

The Curse of Leaky Towers : Heave-ho for Halliday ?!

EXCLUSIVE : What’s in a Name? – Is this the real reason the controversial, high profile Stewart/Stuart Halliday appointment was suddenly dropped by Wirral Council?

Halliday fallout : Will Wirral Council Deputy CEO David Armstrong be the fall guy ?

The report is due before the Audit and Risk Management Committee (ARMC) and up until now there have been no moves to make the report an exempt item on the agenda. As the next meeting of ARMC is on 11 March we expect the report to be available to the public early next week. This is curious for a number reasons ,not least the reluctance , or more accurately the fierce resistance, of Wirral Council to publish a previous investigation report from 2015 which as far as we are aware has never been so much the subject of curiosity let alone discussion by members of ARMC. But more on the Warren Report another time…

All we’ve managed to elicit so far on this latest report is that it is “…worth watching out for…”

Tune in to Wirral Leaks for our forensic analysis of the findings when the report can be found on the Wirral Council website.

 

 

Kingdom Come Lately

FF gegs in on Kingdom

Inevitably we find Frank Field gegging in on the growing anti-Kingdom Security sentiment spreading throughout Wirral . As you can see the Birkenhead MP  has sent a Valentine’s Day love letter to Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson asking him to cancel the contract.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again this consummate politician knows which way the political wind blows much more than his Labour councillor colleagues. What’s more Frankenfield has a canny knack of knowing when a Wirral Council CEO is vulnerable. As we remember from history Field took advantage of the,ahem, compromising position that former Wirral CEO Graham Burgess had found himself in. Consequently when Burgess wouldn’t be coerced into making unlawful payments to phoney whistleblowers to protect Field’s electoral agent Cllr George Davies , the sly silver fox was forced into ‘retirement’ . Now with current Deputy CEO David Armstrong indisposed Stressed Eric  will have no-one to hide behind and be particularly  susceptible to political and public pressure. We anticipate that Robinson’s response will be dictated cowering from under his desk.

If – and we hope and pray – when the Kingdom Security contracted is terminated shall we expect headlines in the local press of the kind that we find in the national paper that Field likes to write for :

IT’S FIELD WOT DONE IT! 

However as this leak from the Liscard Labour Party branch seems to indicate that there is growing discontent elsewhere in the Labour ranks which are making Wirral Council’s continuing strange relationship with Kingdom Security to be increasingly untenable

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Meanwhile we find a much more robust challenge to Wirral Council staff and particularly the enforcement of the  ‘Engine Idling Policy’ on the Facebook page Litter PLOD Kingdom Liverpool . A timely voice of experience from somewhere that has already ditched the services of Kingdom into the gutter :

Imagine this……

Your employer has out-sourced litter enforcement to a private company. That contract gets extended into business waste fines, dog fouling, PSPO’s and fines for idling your car when it’s not appropriate.

This out-sourcing happens despite 6 other authorities cutting the contracts of the same private company due to serious concerns over the way they interact with the public and how they behave.

Imagine now that there has also been a growing, serious public concern from the outset and that concern is growing. Only a small proportion of the concerned masses have received fines, the majority are concerned because they have WITNESSED the way this unscrupulous and immoral company and its staff operate.

Imagine, now, that, despite ALL this evidence, public concern and morally corrupt staff, your EMPLOYER, the local authority, are granting this company more powers and allowing them the chance to make more money.

Now imagine going to work for the local authority and you find that there is a new management protocol placed in front of you. One which will make YOU the potential target of this disgraceful company…..

How would you react? Would you be angry? Upset? Worried? Concerned that this company, a gang of wannabe gangsters, at best, are now able to target YOU whilst you work for the authority, YOUR EMPLOYER, the same people who keep these rogues on the street.

How would you feel to see THIS?

Kingdom are spreading throughout the local authority like Japanese Knotweed. Unwanted, unpleasant, morally corrupt bullies and they may now be coming for you…. BACKED BY YOUR EMPLOYER

Idle 1

Idle 3 (2)

Idle 2

Halliday fallout : Will Wirral Council Deputy CEO David Armstrong be the fall guy ?

Armstrong & Pip

David ‘Kingmaker’ Armstrong – Power Boy Pip’s right hand man among Wirral council chief officers

And so the fallout from the Stewart/Stuart Halliday ‘situation’ begins…

As you may have read in our EXCLUSIVE : What’s in a Name? – Is this the real reason the controversial, high profile Stewart/Stuart Halliday appointment was suddenly dropped by Wirral Council? story the man who’s name appears prominently on the invoices at the centre of the mystery with so may unanswered questions is Wirral Council’s Deputy Chief Executive, David Armstrong. Therefore it would be reasonable to assume that Armstrong was the one signing the invoices off and in the light of recent events perhaps not giving them the proper scrutiny they warranted.

Now we understand that last Friday (two days after our exclusive story) Wirral Council CEO Eric Robinson circulated an email saying that Armstrong’s health has deteriorated. Something to do with eyesight apparently . Shall we expect an early retirement announcement soon ?

For us at least , Armstrong has been the very model of a modern public servant which these days means serving the interests of the powerful and not the public. More specifically he has been the power behind the throne and as ‘kingmaker’ to Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ who has depended on his  ‘loyalty’ . With Pip popping off next month we predict that Armstrong will follow soon after . If so, here’s the fitting epitaph we recently received from a long suffering Wirral Council worker :

Armstrong – the silent assassin who knows where the bodies are buried , does not take kindly to staff whistleblowing . So staff go to councillors for help, then David says to the councillors , ‘it’s a concern that staff feel that they can’t come to me, can you tell them my door is always open’… Fork tongue David. There exists only respect for the organ grinders .  And you wonder why capable people leave after a few weeks / months . They are in shock …

Meanwhile we’re gratified that whilst Googling for an image to accompany this update we got this from one of our old posts (our thanks go to John Brace for the picture above):

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 17.36.58

Whilst Armstrong’s culpability in matters relating to the Halliday situation may still be open to question we firmly maintain that the period when he was the interim CEO between the hopelessly compromised Graham Burgess and the utterly hopeless Eric Robinson may well prove to be part of one of the darkest episodes in Wirral Council history…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Trees Pleas…

As they’re backing up like, well ,let’s not go there, here’s our third local campaign post of the evening from ‘For Trees’.

The campaign group met with Wirral Council’s Deputy Chief Executive David Armstrong last month (January 18 to be precise) and asked him to sign up to the requests outlined   below ,which we think would have been an excellent step forward in addressing public accountability and the balance of power. We don’t need to tell you that Armstrong didn’t sign up to the requests. As far as we’re concerned Mr Armstrong is definitely not a fan of public accountability and clearly likes to be the one with the power.

On the same day as this meeting we received information and pictures from another concerned source about what was happening at Grange Hill , West Kirby  :

Grange Hill 11

Grange Hill, West Kirby, Wirral; a site registered with Wirral Council as an SBI (Site of Biological Importance) has, over recent years been in the hands of a ‘friends of…’ group  (FoGH) who have, with the support of Council Ranger service, slashed and burned huge amounts of wildlife habitat, and felled many of the mature trees around the site of the war memorial, and well beyond this area; rendering parts of the hill unrecognisable as to what it once was. Destroying habitats of many protected species, not least; bats woodpeckers, owls and lizards.The footpaths, which were previously managed by the Council footpaths officer alone, have now been glyphosated (prior to Remembrance Day Nov 2018) which has led to such extreme soil erosion that some of the steeper paths are now expanses of bare rock.

Grange Hill 24

On Friday, January 18th, Mancoed, Council commercial contractors, felled over 20 mature trees along the lower perimeter of Grange Hill. These trees were away from any footpaths and they were felled with no notice or discussions with the local Grange Hill Biodiversity Group.
The ‘Friends of’ group still meet most Sundays, on Grange Hill, to continue their programme of slash and burn.
This is tantamount to WILDLIFE CLEANSING and should be stopped!
Grange Hill 4

‘FOR TREES’

FAO: David Armstrong (Corporate Director for Delivery Services/Assistant Chief Executive, Wirral Council.)

Meeting called by Margaret Greenwood, MP; 18/1/2019 at; Hoylake Community Centre.

In attendance:  Margaret Greenwood MP, David Armstrong, Louise Stothard, Sec. For Trees, Diane Johnson, ecologist,

The ‘For Trees’ group now has over 450 supporters on the Wirral peninsula

We are looking to invite celebrated authors to speak publicly at meetings, sharing their knowledge, and wisdom, concerning the contribution trees have made to the world we inhabit.

The Wirral peninsula now has very few trees over 200 years of age, and it is imperative that trees on the Wirral are permitted to live as long as possible…with trunks and branches being supported by ‘stays’ or ‘spars’ wherever deemed necessary.

The number one aim of the ‘For Trees’ group is to bring a halt to the Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council scheme of felling mature trees and destroying vegetation, in public parks and across the Borough.

The Council has persisted also in comprehensive applications of Glyphosate across the Borough, a known carcinogen banned in many countries.

We ask that this meeting calls to secure a halt to the tree-felling scheme currently taking place in Ashton Park, West Kirby, and the condemning/felling and dismantling trees, removing shrubs, scrub and gorse cover across the Borough. This policy degrades the environment and health and safety of residents.

It is never acceptable to fell a tree, or to pay contractors or in-house staff to present any tree as ‘a risk’ on the basis that there’s a 1 in 20 million (HSE) possibility that part of it might in falling, kill someone or to present it as a risk if it is decaying, has, or is likely to be colonised by fungi or be liable to wood decay. Trees should be left in situ.

Branches will fall occasionally in extreme winds. Tree surgeons routinely remove branches which may show some minor decay ‘back to stem’, which inevitably interrupts the wind flow, through the tree, and can render other branches and trees more vulnerable. This also applies to ‘lolli-popping’ and extreme pollarding of trees.

The Council have a legal commitment to ENHANCE bio-diversity thereby to have minimum ‘hands-on’ interference.

The Council should be saving money spent on the use of tree surgeons using chainsaws, which is an extremely dangerous procedure. Such practices amount to a gross misuse of public money, an abrogation of statutory duty and a failure of office by Wirral Council. The £16,500 spent on a recent survey would have been better spent on providing supporting ‘stays’ or ‘spars’ for long, overhanging branches, in order to protect the branches.

The litigation-minded approach to trees on public land has to change: The protection of trees and members of the public can go hand in hand, without resorting to the use of chain saws.

Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council, according to the Aarhus Convention, is legally obliged to EDUCATE the public on these issues: not relying on voluntary groups, such as ‘For Trees’, to share accurate and reliable information on environmental issues with members of the public.

  1. We request a halt to the felling, and proposed felling programme of, 40 trees and 65 to have branches removed, in Ashton Park, West Kirby, Wirral.
  2. We request a commitment to improved sharing of information, and a genuine dialogue with the public with respect to trees.
  3. We request that trees identified with symbiotic fungi present, are left intact.
  4. We request that trees with hollow spaces are protected; hollow trees are strong, (as are wind turbines and bones) and vital to enriching biodiversity.
  5. We request that the Council honors it’s legal commitment to environmental education by working with every school in the borough to involve them in tree preservation programmes, and planting of indigenous trees and hedgerows, whilst acknowledging that tree planting does not compensate for removal of our valuable mature trees.
  6. We request an end to threats of prosecution of local citizens exercising their rights to peaceful protest while doing their utmost to protect trees from unnecessary felling.

7.We request an end to the use of glyphosate by Wirral Borough Council; saving up to  £150,000 a year.

  1. We request a moratorium putting an end the felling of Wirral’s trees and an end to the extreme lopping, pollarding and cutting of trees and their branches be allowed to grow naturally.

 

Signed this day; 18th January 2019

 

…………………………………..

 

David Armstrong, Corporate Dir. For Delivery Services/Asst. Chief Executive.

 

A Sheltered Life

In advance of a forthcoming Wirral Leaks special report on Wirral Council’s asset (mis) management we bring you the following case study provided by an increasingly frustrated source from the teaching profession:

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I write to you out of pure frustration and anger. This is because the teaching profession to which I and many others serve is being very badly let down. Firstly, by front line council officers whose job is to maintain school buildings to an acceptable standard. However hide behind there being no funds available to spend on the upkeep of our schools and allowing them to fall gravely into disrepair. This, in turn, affects staff and pupils alike for many obvious reasons that only reasonable people seem able to comprehend . Old electrics , leaking roofs ,doors falling from hinges , damp and leaking pipes etc etc.
This hiding behind lack of available funds convolutes their mismanagement of available critical funding and their inability to obtain best value for the money spent ,which is available but being wasted, ridiculously and needlessly .
We ,the education professionals, have given David Armstrong, Mike Woosey  and councillors numerous examples of this through a range of schools and indeed your web site has additionally highlighted peoples growing concerns and frustrations, but deaf ears and buried heads in a murky sand seems to be the order of the day.
Mr Armstrong at staff meetings stated that some contractors are not very good, but they are cheap.
THEY ARE NOT CHEAP !!! . Examples of heads procuring tenders away from the selected chosen few contractors on the council list have resulted in shockingly massive reductions in quotes. Hence we don’t trust them anymore if indeed we ever did. They turn up numerous times to do the same jobs and it’s never to an acceptable standard.
But what we have witnessed lately is utterly deplorable and highlights either gross incompetence of council officials or something more sinister. When staff, parents and even children can laugh and ridicule something so obviously wrong, yet politicians , council officers and contractors find excuses for what is indefensible and utterly incredulous  “ they are deluded, incompetent or kidding themselves , however nobody else is being kidded and they want to now be heard”
Whilst it would appear hilarious and gives visitors a huge laugh, it’s not funny. This salubrious local attraction hidden from view and out of the way ,behind Joseph Paxton building , hidden and  constructed  at great expense sums this council up. Inept from top to bottom or worse.
The school heads all meet up regularly at seminars etc and share horror stories , but this needs sharing wider. For the school and library services that house this work of art have been starved of vital funds for real critical issues for many years . But they are not alone,  all schools are suffering , we get it that fiscal problems exist and the need to tighten up, yet its waste waste waste we are complaining about. Whilst we penny pinch and fund raise , these people throw it away on what they want to, not what they need to.
The issue :
The library service in question complained that the area of the school building allocated to them could not cope with the number of books stored. The councils asset management made available a number of old metal containers outside to the rear the building to store the books in.
The service complained  that the wools would get damp outside  in a tin skip so they agreed and  incorporated some heaters in the metal containers which are powered 24/7 to keep the books warm. They can’t even do that for the homeless as documented lately in the press , they have kept money back assigned to these poor people whilst  also lending £50 million to another council at mates rates .  As for the environment , who cares, the cost , that comes out of running  costs. No thought, no care. No responsibility, no accountability. No problem. No one checking .
The next thing  highlighted is that the books when it rains get wet from the short walk from the building to the  storage skips.  A cover was asked for. The expected no funds argument came back from Mike Woosey  which was expected , however he stated he would speak to the head of asset management Jeff Sherlock to see if he could “ juggle things”
Never in the wildest dreams of fantasy island could we envisage what would be build.
A grand salubrious canopy made of the highest quality polycarbonate roofing, propped up by 12 inch expensive steal columns in royal blue, supported by deap pad foundations and steal welded cross beams  at an overall combined alleged cost of £15,000.
That commentary is the result to being married to a structural engineer who is staggered at the complete waste of public money . 1 As a Wirral rate payer. 2 as a parent who’s child attends a school with doors hanging off. 3 as a professional who states a simply supported 4X4 timber posts with wooden cross beams supporting a light weight plastic roofing material at a cost of a maximum of £2,000 is all that was needed to act as a temporary cover to shelter staff and books during a few metres walk from a building. He has shown the photographs to architects and real surveyors he works with. They are “gob  smacked”
Why not put books in a water proof plastic box and give staff a coat !!!! Is that a bit harsh ??? That was his initial response .
So much so they have positioned the photograph of the palatial skips in their meeting room stating , “ treat clients money as if it’s your own or you end up with this”
He stated that this type of structure is best suited for and used in shopping arcades , but never ever as a temporary measure in any circumstance due to the massive cost and structural foundations required.
“But under no circumstances  can it be justified to cover old glorified skips. It’s outrageous , I don’t know how they get away with it” he said.
The top and bottom of it is simply , they should have found the library service a school or building capable of the storage requirements needed.
But that requires thought and planning, not get on with it, let’s see what happens , make do and waste money putting a square peg in a round hole.
image-4

 

 

Highways – The Long and Winding Road

Spot the difference.

About Wirral 001

In…

Highways etc 004

…and out! It’s a sign of the times!

You wouldn’t know it but today is one of the most significant days in Wirral Council history.

Ten years after the Highways Department was controversially outsourced to Colas (and subsequently BAM Nuttall) , the people that attend to streetlights , fill potholes and commission contracts for roadworks and related services once again, and even more controversially, become employees of Wirral Council. So it’s a case of out with the old and er, in with the old.

However there has been no fanfare for such a momentous event – just a discreet removal of the BAM Nuttall signs at the Highways depot and it’s business unusual.

The highly significant decision to return the Highways Department multi-million pound contract in-house was  made in November 2017 by council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies using his ‘special delegated powers’ . Isn’t curious that in the intervening 11 months that Pip didn’t /couldn’t/wouldn’t order a re-tendering exercise and instead took the unprecedented step of returning a department to the control of Wirral Council. It must be gratifying to make a knotty problem go away with the wave of a magic wand mustn’t it? Especially when there has been a woeful lack of proper scrutiny or thorough probing on this highly dubious move by other Wirral councillors.

Shall we now expect more outsourced public services to be returned in- house? The failing care homes? Waste management? Will the control room staff get their jobs back? Will Wirral Council become less reliant on external consultants and recruit competent  managers with a commitment to public services? – Breath-holding is not advised.

Which all makes us wonder what made the long and winding road that led to the return of highways department to Wirral Council such an exceptional case?

Wirral Leaks readers might know the answer to that question and it has very little to do with value for money, the public interest or due diligence…

WIRRALGATETAPE

Tales From The Chamber : Chapter 1 – ‘The Elephant in the Lift’

BID pic

We understand that Wirral Council’s ‘Witchfinder General’ and Deputy CEO David Armstrong has been making less than discreet enquiries about who has leaking information to us .  So let’s help him with his enquiries and let him know it’s ‘Spartacus’. The thing he (and other local powerbrokers) need to understand is that when toxic and dysfunctional organisations treat people badly then those people who have inside knowledge as to what goes on within these organisations will sometimes seek an outlet to bear witness to what they’ve seen and heard . It was how Wirral Leaks came to be and we are honoured and privileged that people come to us ,  as where else would they go?

Whilst we have been receiving information about the Wirral Chamber of Commerce  (WCoC) from various sources for some time often people are reluctant for us to publish their compelling stories merely because they recognise the power of the local connections that WCoC have (and particularly with Wirral Council). That in itself is a damning indictment of the corrosive, insular culture’ that has been created on Wirral.  So as an antidote to last night’s meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee and the anodyne news in the Constituency Manager’s report about litterpicks and skip hire we provide an insight into what lies behind jargon such as this :

3.4 Birkenhead First Activity Update: 2018 Since May 2018, we have had two of our Town Hosts leave the team, this has opened up an opportunity for us to re-evaluate the strengths of the team and review where our strategic focus needs to be aligned in terms of moving the BID forward

Read full report here : Birkenhead Constituency report

Whilst the information should be of particular interest to Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) levy payers we also think that there is a significant public interest element to the first anthology of Chamber tales we’ve compiled below :

I will offer you some interesting facts. Why isn’t the expenditure of the levy money made public ? Why aren’t the accounts available to be scrutinised? Simply because it’s mis- managed. Ask the question – why was Mark Barrow ( Campaign Manager) paid his salary out of the levy money? Why have the Chamber paid £25,000 to The Hive to be a Patron ? Who paid for the lights within the gardens of Hamilton Square?  Who is behind the creation of the CIC Food village at Woodside ? Who are the board members and associates? – I’m sure you can guess! There is only ONE host remaining at Birkenhead – considering there was 4 – ask the question about a public document that was put out by the BID after their first year – in it states about extra cops in the town – think from memory it said 37 extra cops – a simple question where’s the paper trail of how those cops were paid for? How was it accounted for? Simple answer is ,  it’s a number plucked from the air . PP (‘Princess’ Paula Basnett – WCoC CEO) took it to (Wirral Council) cabinet and stood up and quoted it as fact.

The BID  money is about £370,000 per year. The first two years nothing was spent on the town other than planters and some money for alley gates near Sally Army. So where did the money go?  It went to prop up and pay for the Chamber – and its staff

Quite funny you should mention about PPs salary-  at some point PP and her chums salaries details were given out by mistake to staff. I think PP was on a substantial salary . Big red faces and emails directing people not to disclose.

Around mid 2017 the BID produced its annual report. Within that report was mentioned what the BID had done over the last 12 months – by and large most of it is inaccurate and misleading. This document was taken by PP to (Wirral Council)  Cabinet – who painted a picture of how great things were. Like all things official – it’s about showing to the public and in this case more appropriately the businesses in the BID area that there is credibility in the BID.

A system was believed to be in use to record Town Host activities. It was a system used by (Wirral) Council to track maintenance but it was used as a way by the BID to record activity. It would have been useful for councillors to ask the question as to which areas were subject of the 70 clean ups as stated in the published yearly report and ask WCoC to   produce the records of those clean ups.Who was involved? What was cleaned up? Where was cleaned up?

37 extra cops in the area? Ask the question as I’ve mentioned previously – it costs around £600 a day for a Police Officer – you pay not only for the officer but the supporting infrastructure. Ask PP to disclose the costs – I’m sure it would be recorded somewhere. NOT. To produce an Annual Statement that features inaccurate and misleading information surely can’t be right and should be brought into the public domain. As an organisation (WCoC) that advises new and existing business they run their own business in such a shambolic way. Disclosures that over 20 people have left over the last 18 months or more – if it’s that good, why do people leave. Do you know about the elephant in the lift at Pacific Road? More wasted money. Paid for by PP at a charity auction at Oxton cricket club. It’s a huge almost life size model of an elephant made of copper or something similar. But since all the work at Pacific Road it sits in the lift .And has done for some time. Cost of lights in Hamilton Sq gardens was about £50,000. I’m sure BID  levy payers in Oxton Road would see the benefit of that money being spent.

The four original priorities of the BID are falling short. Budget £100,000 – Safety and Security. Budget £75,000 – Marketing and Promotion. Budget £110,000 – Clean and Attractive. Budget £50,000 – Supporting Business. As can be seen in the Annual report this was the budget for each of the BID’s priorities. Once again ask the question – how is the money spent ? Surely as an organisation that advises and supports new and old business they keep ACCURATE records !!!! All this will show that the BID does not have any credibility. It needs to be brought out into the public domain – ie via your website/ social media platforms.

My final comment at the end of this extensive piece is that within the UK there are over 200 BIDs operating. As far as I’m aware there are NO BIDs that are set up like the Wirral BID – most if not all are stand alone companies. They invoice out and record all their expenditure – they are more likely to operate independently without any of the money being diverted to support another organisation. In this case the WCoC. The levy money is there to make a difference to the local business community – above and beyond what is already provided. But it’s clearly not.

I have to say there is a huge amount of good people in the chamber but sadly really, really badly led …