Advent Farewell 8 – A Christmas Dream Turns Nightmare

Foulkes L of A Message

Today we thought we’d revisit a post from  December 2011 which concerned itself with the then leader of Wirral Council  Cllr Steve Foulkes’ big idea  – ‘ Destination Excellence’ which was parodied in the ‘Destination Effluence’ video which we published earlier this week. This was Foulkesy’s ‘Christmas Message’ to council staff following the damning  ‘Refresh & Renew’  corporate governance report which was published prior to the even more damning Independent Review which was to be published the following month. Foulkesy went all out for a utterly inane and patronising  driving analogy that much like ‘ Destination Excellence’ itself was destined to crash and burn. We think the post serves as a timely reminder of how very little has changed at Wirral Council – replace ‘Destination Excellence’ for Wirral Council’s ’20/20 Vision’ and you have the same BS package ( ‘dream’ ‘journey’ , ‘vision’ , ‘bigger picture’ etc;)  but in glossier,shinier wrapping paper.

Although it must be said that one aspect  of ‘Destination Excellence’ that can be said to have impacted on Wirral Council is Foulkesy’s pledge “to make sure we dynamite any obstacles out of the way” – yes, and usually in the form of  public money to shut people up.

We asked the following question when we first published the leaked message  :

What WBC Council leader sent to staff this Christmas… beyond parody really, and you have to ask the the question , what the hell have they been doing the last ten years ???????

Six years have since passed and under new leader Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies the question is just as pertinent.

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Conversations with Steve Foulkes

Destination Excellence!

Hi everyone! I know it’s getting close to Christmas and we’ve all got our minds on other things, but I did promise that I would be back to talk to you in more detail about changes that are happening in the Council, so this is the latest update.

On Monday night the Council agreed to send the Council’s revised Corporate Plan to Scrutiny Committees for debate. I want all of you to be involved as well because this is about making a real difference together to the place where we live and work but we need to sign up to making it happen, and I need to know you’re all on board with me.

Money is in short supply. There are fewer of us to meet the ever growing demands for services and sometimes it feels as if we’re just running to stand still. It’s important not to feel totally overwhelmed, so we need to have a very clear idea of where we are going, how we are going to get there and why that journey matters. And we need to understand how each one of us fits into the bigger picture. 

The Corporate Plan sets out our destination, in a clear Vision for Wirral. It maps out how we are going to get there. It looks at ways in which we can travel safely (and cost effectively), it lays down the values that we all share, and then it sets out in more detail what that means in practice for all of us. The foreword I’ve written to the Corporate Plan explains this. You can find the Corporate Plan on the Council website. I would very much like you to find time to read it if you can. (It isn’t very long). 

One of the things I really want you to understand, because it took me some time to get my head round this, is this phrase “Corporate Governance” which you’ll keep hearing because Wirral is undergoing a “Corporate Governance Review” at the moment. Frankly, it sounds pretty bureaucratic and boring and “nothing to do with us” as we struggle to meet the daily demands of our job. But it isn’t.  

To me it’s like going back to the basics of learning to drive again.Remember studying the Highway Code? Learning how to change gears?  Remember that moment when you thought you would never get the hang of it and that there were just too many things to think about all at once, and now, when you drive, you don’t think about it all and it all just happens automatically? Well, that’s what we’re aiming for – doing the right thing automatically all the time so we can get to where we want to go without any disasters, without unnecessary stress, and without paying more than we need to because we have made avoidable mistakes.

So here’s what we’ve decided to do to make sure we’re all working together. 

§       We will have a couple of big “Meet the Staff” events where my deputy Phil Davies and I will be sharing with you what the Vision is and what we need to do together to achieve it. 

§       We will be setting up a number of smaller focus groups in different areas where there’s space to discuss where we are going and hear what you have to say about it. 

§       We will be contacting you individually with a short questionnaire to give you the opportunity to tell us what you think about the Council now, and where you think we should be going. 

§       We will be setting up a confidential e-mail line where you can contact us with any fears you may have, or details of anything you think might be getting in the way of achieving our Vision, or behaviour which contradicts the values we are signing up to together.

§       We will be setting up special meetings with Cabinet members, so you can make an individual appointment to talk directly, in confidence, to the appropriate Cabinet member and raise anything that may be bothering you.

Basically, we’re doing two things. The first is to make sure we all know and agree where we are going and understand the way there and how to get there safely. The second is to make sure we dynamite any obstacles out of the way so we have a real, fighting chance of making a difference to Wirral we can all be proud of.

Just think, if we could really create a healthy and prosperous society, where people feel good and where the place you live and the amount you earn no longer effects how long you live, wouldn’t that be something? If we could wipe out the stark possibility that exists now of dying ten years earlier if you’re poor than someone who lives in a wealthy part of the borough?

Now that is something worth working for, something worth changing for.

It doesn’t have to be just a dream.

Happy Christmas.

Steve

Councillor Steve Foulkes

Leader of Wirral Council 

 

 

Advent Farewell 5 – Wirral Leaks Goes To The Movies

This is the time of the year for endless repeats of heartwarming movie classics. The only difference is that our video excerpts below come with the Parental Advisory label. So those of a nervous disposition – you have been warned (though if you are of a nervous disposition we do have to wonder what you’re doing here) .

Movie buffs will recall the infamous  “Downfall trilogy”  classics were the work of Wirral Leaks collaborator Cecil B. De Mented and featured scripts penned by our own pottymouthed butler Eldritch.

DASS Bunker is concerned with the aftermath of the publication of the “Independent Review of Allegations Made by Martin Morton ( and Others)” aka the ‘Klonowski Report’ which did indeed lead to the then Wirral Council leader Cllr Steve  Foulkes’ very own downfall when he was later ousted in a vote of no confidence.

The sequel Destination Effluence chronicles the short-lived hapless attempts of a ‘Turnaround Team’ to help Wirral Council on its ‘improvement journey’ under the title ‘Destination Excellence”. This was a classic case of  Wirral Council being beyond satire and of the script writing itself.

All In It Together is the final instalment of the trilogy and covers a prominent episode that took place during Graham Burgess’s tenure as CEO of Wirral Council and is concerned with his Wallasey Town Hall bathing arrangements. Once again – you couldn’t make it up , although we did give an involuntary shudder at the thought.

Finally to end on a festive note , there is a Christmas special which celebrates Burgess’ s achievements during his tenure as CEO . It’s a very,very short film as he finds himself becoming not so much part of the solution but part of the Wirral Council problem.

Pass the popcorn and the port and join in with your favourite lines. But only when your elderly relatives are safely snoozing on the couch after their sherry and mince pie binge.

 

 

 

Deviation Wirral

WIRRAL-GOLF

Despite protestations to the contrary “Destination Wirral” appears to be a bid by Wirral Council to turn the peninsula into one great big golf course.

Of course “Destination Wirral” is not to be confused with “Destination Excellence” (stop sniggering) the monumental Foulkesy fail that followed the publication of Klonowski’s Independent Review.

Remember how we laughed as Foulkesy  promised to adhere to the recommendations of the Independent Review and the Corporate Governance Report that preceded it, with “bible-like” devotion?

However this latest feeble branding exercise at least has the benefit of a “Destination Manager” (which sounds like a Council rebranding of Foulkesy’s mayoral chauffeur).

But then again this person seems to have a loose grasp of geography when it comes to Wirral’s boundaries themselves. Witness the recent Wirral Folk Festival (Anyone heard about it? – No thought not!)

http://www.visitwirral.com/whats-on/wirral-folk-festival-p72541

Now please forgive us but when were Ellesmere Port or Whitby annexed by Wirral? and why would Wirral Council give money to venues to hold a Wirral Folk Festival there?

It has been suggested to us that this enables Wirral Council managers to tick a box in the pursuit of European Union funny money (European Regional Development Fund to be specific) We can only ask ourselves whether chasing the Euro will herald the return of “Eurowirral” ? – anyone remember that risible branding exercise undertaken by the Council ?

However it strikes us that if the Council were really serious about Wirral being a “destination” rather than a “deviation” that it would help if there was a Tourist Information Centre rather than relying on the likes Royal & Ancient website plugging hotel accommodation for the upcoming Open golf championships mainly out Chester way because nobody knows where “Wirral” actually is!……….

Meanwhile the Council’s obsession with golf continues unabated with news of them “consulting” about the flogging off of municipal golf courses. Except Hoylake of course !  – could this have anything to do with the postponed announcement mooted for the opening day of the Open when the Council planned to unveil the Last of the International Playboys funding partner they had lined up to thrill us all with news of a luxury golf resort coming to Wirral?

Needless to say the momentous event went the way of all Wirral Council drives down the fairway – in the rough and unplayable. Therefore we can’t help wondering whether this golf resort proposal doesn’t end up being Stella Shiu 2 and like the Wirral Waters project permanently lodged in a sandtrap.

Therefore can we humbly suggest to the Council’s Destination Manager that they may need to adjust their branding   –

“Wirral – Not so much crazy golf as golf crazy!”

Coming Soon: FUTURE COUNCIL!

backtothefutile
 

“I’ve seen the future, I can’t afford it
Tell me the truth sir, someone just bought it
Larger than life and twice as ugly
If we have to live there, you’ll have to drug me”

Yes yet again you read it here first – after “Destination Effluence” and “Transforming Wirral Council” comes the latest Wirral Council makeover – ” Future Council” (or should that be futile?) Cautious of the derision that met “Destination Effluence” a  desperate PR stunt spawned in haste after the shock of the Independent Review published in 2012 , Wirral Council seem to be adopting a more subtle and subliminal approach this time.From information we’ve been receiving it would seem that Council staff are gradually being brainwashed into talking about “Future Council”  so as to make cuts to services and staff redundancies somehow sound more palatable and well , sort of dynamic and futuristic and stuff.

ROBOTSHowever we feel, just like Destination Effluence, it’s just the same old Council trick of putting lipstick on a pig ……

Even the usually compliant union Unison expressed  “major concern” in their last annual report when “Future Council” was quietly being introduced : “The Budget option entitled ‘Transforming Wirral’ Council now referred to as “Future Council” caused major concern. It seeks to make savings of £9.5 million by the end of 2015/16…”

So is ” Future Council”  meant to sound as though Wirral Council is to be run like a lean,mean machine managed and controlled by unthinking,unfeeling automatons?.

Sounds like business as usual to us!

pig-lipstick
Lest we forget ….