Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch # 14

Dispatch 14 029

We’re sorry to have to do this to you folks but it’s you lot who suddenly started sending us election stuff and which included the above picture from a clearly disillusioned potential voter. Therefore this week’s dispatch will mainly be an election special . However we’ll start off first with a follow up to last week’s Wallasey Town Hall carpet story ¬†:

BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK

A Wirral Leaks reader writes :

A shiny new black BMW Mayoral car floating about the Borough….is there no shame this local Labour council will stoop too? Had to do a double take in New Brighton tonight and yep it’s a new GERMAN BMW …..no chance of this upstanding gobshite of a council supporting struggling Vauxhall whose livelihood of about 1/4 of Wirral residents are hanging in the balance.

Am sure someone will supply pics of the car and the carpet! ūüėÉ

POACHERS TURNED GAMEKEEPERS

Meanwhile we’ve been receiving news of former Wirral Council staff who fancy their chances when it comes to being councillors. Presumably on the grounds that they couldn’t be any worse than their former political paymasters!

One such candidate is this handsome chappy who is standing for the Conservatives in Pensby, Thingwall and Barnston :

Mike Collins

Not sure it will go down too well with ex-Wirral Council staff who he screwed over. But it will certainly explain the hasty retreat by former and current Conservative councillors who feigned support for the ‘Control and Patrol’ staff who were shamefully made redundant.

However in the interest of political balance we’ve also been made aware of a Labour candidate who was previously an employee of the Department of Adult Social Services (DASS) . This fact alone sets alarm bells ringing for us. However we’re reliably informed that this candidate is being cruelly indulged for their loyalty to the party than for any real prospect of victory. This would seem to be the case as they are contesting the Heswall ward which as we all know is a ‘Momentum’ hotbed. However our informant tells us that in the highly unlikely event that they succeed in getting elected then we all need to order the cyanide capsules (well you lot do anyway).

DOWNWARD MOBILITY

Shocking news arrives that current Pensby , Thingwall and Barnston councillor Louise Reecejones (LRJ) could be losing her mobility vehicle! #sadface

Screenshot_20180426-121115

Fear not LRJ. ¬†Labour MP Frank Field loves to challenge this kind of injustice. Perhaps you can give him a tinkle (not a euphemism, obvs). Or perhaps not – you’re not part of the ‘Inner Ring’ are you? Have you got any compromising and incriminating recordings handy? That might help! Just sayin’!

COUNCILLOR.NET RESULT

We’ve been asked about our ¬†Wirral Leaks Election Selection ‚Äď 1 week to go¬†story and to justify the fact that Green Party councillor Pat Cleary appears to give an actual shit. The first thing we have to say is that we don’t have to justify anything we write. We just have to evidence it. Much as Cllr Cleary appears to have done. ¬†From what we can gather all councillors were required years ago to report problems in their own wards and submit all cases through Councillor.Net which is¬†an internal Web portal for use only by councillors. What’s more any councillor who claims to be reporting stuff in other ways is ignoring official advice and increasing costs to the council because it is alleged that Councillor.Net is apparently very efficient – which let’s face it is a first for Wirral Council!
AND FINALLY …… WORD OF THE WEEK
Dispatch 14 032
Take your pick as to which Wirral councillor this quote applies to. All we will say for now is that the facinorous nature of some local election candidates (and their agents) will be revealed tomorrow in all its sordid glory on Wirral Leaks¬†………

 

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Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #11

Apologies for the late edition of our weekly dispatch. A bit too much pastis over le weekend – that’s the French spirit and not the Gregg’s delicacy obvs !

MARKS OF EXTINCTION

Marks 004

So farewell then to Birkenhead’s Marks and Spencer. And what a sorry sight you leave behind. No more sourdough bread and sturdy gussets. Even the intervention of Birkenhead MP Frank Field couldn’t save it from extinction. Is Frankenfield losing his touch ? After failing to get ‘Sir’ Philip Green stripped of his knighthood ¬†and as yet not succeeding in getting car parking for nurses at Arrowe Park Hospital scrapped he’ll have to go back to getting his own way with Wirral Council and DWP .

However the good news for the down town trackie-clad denizens of Birkenhead is that they will be well served by JD Sports moving to larger ,refurbished premises.

USING OUR IMAGINATION

Imagine Wirral

Although being a contributor to the cultural life of Wirral (!) we unfortunately couldn’t attend the February launch of the Wirral Council programme Imagine Wirral¬†which apparently is about celebrating culture,creativity and ideas. Other than the re- branding of ‘The Leisure Peninsula’ and the website there hasn’t been an awful lot going on at¬†#ImagineWirral since its launch¬†so we’re left using our imagination as to what it’s all about – other than promoting established events and gegging in with a bit of opportunistic branding. If Wirral Council leisure guru Cllr Christine Spriggs could enlighten us further we’d appreciate it……

POTHOLE OF THE WEEK

So with the news that central government has allocated some money from its ¬£100 million pothole fund to Liverpool City Region out of which Wirral Council gets a whopping ¬£184,000 (which judging by the state of Wirral’s roads we all know won’t go very far), especially when we consider this example sent to us from Tranmere :

Pothole 002

HUB OF THE WEEK

Excellent work here from the Peel Group. There are so many buzzword bingo boxes ticked with our headline of the year so far:

 

Exciting new ‚Äėpop up‚Äô leisure hub for Wirral Waters

 

As an added bonus there’s the obligatory artist’s impression :

 

Float on

Find it in all its glory here

and finally…..¬†HOLE OF THE WEEK

Yes – we’re sure you’ve all seen the guy having sex with a hole on the Brackenwood golf course. As this is a family blog (!) we’ll leave you to find the footage on Youtube for yourself. But when it comes to leisure and celebrating culture,creativity and ideas on Wirral perhaps we can expect find it , er,popping up on the Imagine Wirral website soon!

Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #10

The-Esther-Bunny

The Esther Bunny

THE CLASH

This isn’t just an excuse to pull out one of our old Easter pictures featuring former Wirral West – and current ¬†MP for Tatton- Esther McVey . Although we do have to say it is a particular favourite. No ,dear readers it is to draw your attention as to why you should always, always¬†question the facts behind the headlines (and that includes ours). A story which particularly caught our attention appeared in this week’s Wirral Globe and was titled 98 benefits staff face the axe at Birkenhead jobcentre

The story featured McVey and Birkenhead MP Frank Field who appear to be currently competing for column inches (oo-er missus) . ¬†This bogus story was peak Field/McVey ¬†– not so much ‘Clash of the Titans’ as ‘Clash of the Titheads’ . For a start off 98 Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) staff are NOT facing the ‘axe’ . They are on fixed term contracts which end in ONE YEAR’S TIME. ¬†Their contracts may or may not be renewed depending on demand for DWP services in Birkenhead. As Field and McVey both know such arrangements are what keeps the Civil Service going. It’s like suggesting that MPs who are ousted at the General Election should remain in office because the country is in a mess.

Frankenfield does his usual amateur dramatics ¬†describing the situation as ” gutwrenching” ¬†and cites an unverifiable yet exploitative case of a “female constituent (who) has told him she has been reduced to penury and is living on 7p a day” . Lord knows what that has to do with 98 DWP “facing the axe” other than serving Field’s personal and political agenda.

By the way this is the actual Field/McVey exchange in the House of Commons that prompted the story . Does this look like a ‘clash’ to you?

Photo of Frank FieldFrank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

I ask the Secretary of State not to give an immediate reply to this question but to ponder it. The Secretary of State has told me that the 98 members of jobcentre staff on temporary contracts in Birkenhead are going to be laid off because they have come to the end of their contract period. Unlike Gloucester, we are having real problems with the roll-out of universal credit. I had five cases last week, including one involving a woman who had been reduced to living on 7p. Might not some, if not all, of those staff be redeployed to ensure a smooth transition from traditional benefits to the new one?

Photo of Esther McVeyEsther McVey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman saying that I could speak to and work with him to see what is happening in Birkenhead. What I know is that we on this side of the House brought forward up to 100% advances, so that anyone in need of money could have it. We have also stopped the waiting days, and from April we are providing the two-week housing payment. That is what we on this side of the House have done to protect the most vulnerable, but the Opposition voted against it.

DRUGS ARE BAD – M’KAY?

We received this correspondence from one of our readers who is concerned about Merseyside Police and their approach to drug dealing on Wirral :

I have become more than aware of a number of cases over the years of law abiding members of the general public becoming increasingly frustrated at what they perceive to be the total lack of action by the Police when they are informed of
consistent drug dealing from domestic premises.

There appears to be a pattern of Police response in ALL the cases that I am aware of.

Firstly, after several complaints about lack of action by the Police, individuals find themselves having¬† to complain higher up the ‘food chain’¬† ((i.e. to the Chief Constable or to their local member of parliament ) Eventually a ‘community’ Police officer gets in touch and explains that they need more detailed ‘intel’ (Intelligence). They will want car registration numbers, times of callers, reports of ‘incidents’ (such the associated shouting outside of the various properties etc)¬† In all the cases that I am aware of all this information (and much more) is provided. This usually goes on for a number of months.

Then the question from local residents becomes ‘How much information do the Police actually require before they actually do something?’ This is a question no one actually gets an answer to… because nothing actually happens.

No doors are kicked in, open drug dealing continues. Nothing changes. Local residents give up. This is the pattern on the Wirral.

It seems that there is something structurally wrong with the organisation of the local Police for things like this to continue.

I am not anti Police. I know that the ordinary copper has to go out and fight with knobheads everyday. (And that they do this day in and day out. ) But there is something wrong with the set up as it stands,  concerning the response to reports of drug dealing from domestic premises.

So this is my appeal to Merseyside Police, do something, get a grip¬† ¬†–¬† or you are going to loose all the good will and respect of a lot of very ordinary Wirral people.

We gave a fulsome response to this but we’ll keep it off these pages for now – but suffice to say Wirral Leaks¬†has a view – a dim view of what’s going on with Merseyside Police (or above a certain seniority anyway). However in the interest of balance we are pleased to bring you this report from Merseyside Police : ¬†Investigation launched following discovery of cannabis farm -Townsend St, Birkenhead

Here we discover that Merseyside Police have a ‘Cannabis Dismantling Team’ . ¬†Just think about that for a moment . A ¬†whole team …… dismantling ……. cannabis. It brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘high public office’ ! Shame they don’t have a Corruption Dismantling Team – but then there will never be enough resources for tackling that type of crime would there boys and girls?

KINGDOM COMEUPPANCE

We were particularly pleased to be informed about the the formation of the Facebook group Wirral Against the Litter Police. (Kingdom Security) 

We made our position clear on the matter of Kingdom Security way back in 2015 when we said :

There’s been much clamour in the local press concerning the overzealous pursuit of alleged litter louts or more accurately those who happen to be easy targets of litter Hitlers issuing Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) at the drop of a bookmark.

Now as our readers will know we have a particular aversion to filth and detritus at Leaky Towers which may explain why we report so often on the dirty dealings of Wirral Council. Therefore whilst we realise the days of the Litter Defence Volunteers have long gone we would usually wholeheartedly applaud efforts to keep Wirral tidy. However we also realise that standards in local public life have also fallen into the gutter.So when we read that fines from FPNs issued by Kingdom Security Ltd on behalf of Wirral Council had topped well over a quarter of a million pounds in the first three months of their mutually beneficial arrangement we began to question the motivation behind the cash for trash scheme.

Is this more about swelling Council coffers than about environmental concerns ?.

Full story here :  Cash for Trash

and finally….. FUN WITH POTHOLES

We’ll leave you with this video of ¬†Wirral pothole fillers . The original video was brought to our attention on Facebook and has since been adapted into a rather marvellous and amusing Youtube video. We don’t know whether the chaps in the video are sub-contractors or will become Wirral Council employees when BAM Nuttall hit the road in October. However in the meantime let’s enjoy their workmanship.¬†¬†

 

 

 

Rising and Falling Stars

A-prick

It was three years ago that Wirral Council was named ¬†‘Most Improved Council’ at the Local Government Chronicle¬†(LGC) awards and anyone receiving an email or a letter from Wirral Council will see they are still desperately trading on this tired and bogus accolade.

As you know we are deeply suspicious of awards and titles as they often serve to provide a veneer of credence to the least deserving. This is something we deconstructed when the LGC award was first announced. Read here : The Bamboozlers

Might we suggest that it would have been more appropriate – or at least in the interest of balance – to include ‘Rated Inadequate by Ofsted 2016′¬†on official Wirral Council correspondence. After all what would be more indicative of the true state of Wirral Council – a rigorous full inspection of Children’s Services by a team of qualified and experienced inspectors or a 20 minute presentation to a group of gullible local government gurus at Grosvenor House ¬†,London ? The LGC ¬†judge’s comments from 2015 read :

This is a council that has broken the mould of old ways of working to deliver a dramatic improve to its governance. Under a sector-led approach it has gone from being an abnormal authority known locally as the ‚Äėinsular peninsula‚Äô to an organisation that seeks help and inspiration from others and is working with residents in a way they have never done before with impressive results in terms of new jobs.

And yet one year later Wirral council gets slated by Ofsted. But then a LGC award is a notorious kiss of death. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to hear the full story about how Wirral Council got this dubious award . Maybe Jo Miller the CEO of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council -who were ‘Highly Commended’ by the LGC judges -will one day tell us about the backstage wheeler dealing that went on to ensure Wirral Council won the award. Apparently the judges thought “they’d had a hard time” . So it was the sympathy vote that won it. Bless. No wonder Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies looks so proud in the picture above. Read more here:¬†Most Improved Council 2015

Is it any wonder that the ‘Most Improved Council’ award has subsequently become so discredited that as far as we understand there hasn’t been such an award since? This includes this year’s shit-glittering ceremony ¬†which is to be held tonight :¬†LGC Awards 2018

As you can see Wirral Council’s sole nomination this year is in the ‘Rising Star’ category and the honour goes to Sally Clark. Wirral Council’s pitch is as follows:

Sally Clark has recently been promoted to assistant head of communications but joined Wirral when it was undergoing major internal redesign. Her role was to help the council engage with employees to help communicate the challenges, the necessary redundancies and reshaping of services. She very quickly embedded herself across the organisation and her work on shaping how those messages were delivered had a huge impact on the final outcome and how the council was perceived. Ms Clark has been key to driving and maintaining pace in changing the way the council engages with staff, and has helped to set up new organisations that enabled Wirral to become a commissioning council.

We’ve got to admit that trying to improve how Wirral Council is perceived is a tough gig and it will be interesting to see whether Ms Clark fares better than last year’s Wirral Council ¬†‘Rising Star’ nominee, Strategy Manager Lucy Barrow , who we understand is now ‘all things culture’ . We also understand from a source that reclusive Wirral Council CEO ¬†Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson has a ‘special liking’ for Ms Barrow and “can’t stop¬†singing her praises”¬†. But then according to last year’s LGC award pitch “People at every level of the organisation rely on her advice,support and talent”¬†. As no doubt does her husband Mark Barrow – who just so happens to be ‘Campaign Manager’ at Wirral Chamber of Commerce’ ! Proving once again to us that if you impress the right people and have the right connections on the insular peninsula you’ll go far. Is Wirral ‘s talent pool really that shallow? Sadly the answer appears to be yes! Read more here : ¬†Rising Star- Lucy Barrow

Now we can’t comment on the merits and attributes of these ‘Rising Stars’ ¬†but we do think it is revealing about what kind of roles are valued and relied upon by Wirral Council ¬†– salespeople and spin doctors.

However such is the mysterious workings of the universe it would appear that it is a truism that for every rising star there is a falling star. And apparently disappearing into a black hole is former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley who having being exiled by Wirral Chamber of Commerce to Egerton House as a glorified facilities manager, has we now understand, gone altogether . Perhaps he didn’t fit with the slick ,glossy image that the aspirational Chamber are promoting. As Her Ladyship said : ” I fear that burgundy cummerbund at the LGC Awards 2015 may have been the beginning of the end for him” ¬†

Burgundy Cummerbund

Sue Perkins points to the offending item (take your pick as to what we mean by that)

If this is the case it’s lucky for Adderley that the ¬£250,000 pay off he received from Wirral Council in 2015 will mean that (unlike others) he won’t have to darken the door of the DWP for whom he worked for 29 years. Perhaps he can give former Wirral CEO Graham Burgess a call to see if there are any jobs going within his burgeoning property empire (Torus /Bamboo Lettings etc;) …….on second thoughts, perhaps not.

But as the stars are going out

And this stage is full of nothing 

And the friends have all but gone 

For my life, my God, I’m singing

 

 

 

 

A Lack of Discretion

Finance 014
Five years ago, we were a local authority in crisis: focused on cuts and on the verge of government intervention. Since then, we‚Äôve been recognised as the Local Government Chronicle‚Äôs ‚ÄėMost Improved Council‚Äô, experiencing the fastest turnaround of any council in the UK. So what‚Äôs changed? In a nutshell, we refuse to give up; we never stop moving. Our pragmatic, innovative and bold plan, ‚Äė2020 Vision‚Äô will ensure that we‚Äôre getting the basics right; that we‚Äôre achieving more; that we‚Äôre changing the way we do things. In this role, you‚Äôll take us to the next level and create a legacy for yourself in the process.
As you can see from Wirral Council’s positively vomitous advert they’ve been trying to recruit a Director of Finance and Investment claiming that five years ago they were a local authority in crisis. Of course they fail to omit to say why they were in crisis. ‘So what’s changed?’ they ask. Fuck all ¬†as far as we’re concerned and particularly in the Department of Finance and Investment!
We state this, as following on from our last story where we referenced the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) whistleblowing scandal we are proud to publish the first hand account of the whistleblower involved.
It gives a clear indication of what it must be like to work in such an oppressive atmosphere where management is rammed with those types – yes, we mean the likes of ¬†Trish, Nicky and Lisa – who want to get through Monday to Friday without pesky staff making their job difficult whilst they’re busy advancing their careers/income. Read it and weep:
Payments (DHP) budget never attempted to manage it in terms of need/  demand etc. She took no interest and just left me to it , if I raised any concerns , she was verbally abusive . 
I was the Team Leader responsible for DHP’s . Once HvS ¬†( Hardy v Sandwell ) case law came in ( I was responsible for reading and interpreting the case law ¬†and suggesting changes to procedures , which I did) ¬†it became impossible to do my job , because my manager instructed me to ignore it . As I said myself and the appeals manager raised concerns from March 2015 . Nothing changed until mid 2016 , as a result of my WB (whistleblow). The council were in breach of the Equality Act .¬†
Success with an application depended on the time of year you applied . So in April when the money was put in the pot , there was plenty of money , so your application stood a good chance of success , later on in the year they would decide to be more careful , usually at the end of the year instructions would be issued to get it spent. Most years the budget was not spent . The surplus could not be carried over to the next year , and of course if you did not spend all your budget , this affected how much you received the following year .
I believe it was mostly an abuse of power . She used to repeatedly say ” well they have more disposable income” I am the parent of a disabled son , plus I run a small group for families who have a family member with Down’s Syndrome and I know how much they struggle financially .¬†
As an example of her abuse of power , I attended a meeting with her at the request of the Housing Options Team . Basically Housing Options wanted us to start refusing DHP for people in 4 bed houses so they would be free for larger families . When I raised objections / concerns the Housing Options Manager said “my violin is this big” and made the gesture of playing a tiny violin on his shoulder .¬†
My manager made me write new guidance for people in 4/5 bed homes. Myself and the appeals manager voiced our concerns , as this was not in line with DHP guidance etc.
Myself and my team ignored the new guidance and continued to make awards in accordance with the DWP  (Department of Work & Pensions) rules . 
I did raise another Whistle blowing , as she instructed the IT section to remove a question of the online DHP application form which allowed people to apply for rent in advance . (People should be able to apply for rent in advance ) . She said ” I am not paying rent twice”. There were three witnesses to this, they were interviewed by (internal) audit .¬†

This meant very vulnerable people could not secure homes. She would only pay it for Housing Options applications . 

Yes, folks  Рthese are the lovely people who are in charge of local government and responsible for spending your hard earned money Рmainly it would appear on themselves and not on the people who keep them in well paid jobs!