House of Bamboo

bamboo lettings 2
It’s made of sticks.
Sticks and bricks,
But you can get your kicks
In the house of bamboo.
If you consider the ‘personalities’ involved and the issues it raises it might strike you as surprising that we’ve only just caught up the curious case of Bamboo Lettings. Furthermore if you ever wanted to know about how things work on Wirral and in the wider world of networking – here it is laid out for you in this deeply worrying story.
We were prompted to pursue this story by a recent correspondent who asked us:
Also can you advise re Magenta Living being a Social non profit org. starting up a subsidiary called Bamboo Lettings which is a joint venture with Torus Group (St Helens – Graham Burgess) which will increase the returns on some formerly social-rented stock by letting them at market rates for a period of five years.
At 31st March 2017, Magenta Living had transferred 5 properties into Bamboo Lettings, with the intention being that a further 95 properties will be transferred into Bamboo by the end of 2017-18. Magenta Annual Report 2016/17
It might be legal but who decides property A is Social – Property B next door is commercial and charges more? 100 now ,how many in future years? Still classed as a Charity? Stinks to high heaven……………..
However it should be noted it was a brave and curious Wirral resident who first raised the issue courtesy of a Freedom of Information request in May 2016 . You might be surprised to know this local housing development wasn’t lauded with a press release featuring fat felines grinning like the proverbial Cheshire cat. Maybe that’s because some deeply troubling questions might have been asked at the time – Bamboo Lettings – FOI request
It was left to Joe Halewood and his excellent welfare rights blog SPeye blog to pick up on the issues with this post in February 2017 where Joe writes :
Bamboo Lettings is owned by Magenta and Torus.  Magenta was the former council housing department of Wirral Borough Council, and Torus is the former council housing departments of Warrington and St Helens.  It has offices in Wirral and even its own Facebook page here and there you can see the strap line Bamboo Lettings is a private lettings company, with properties in Wirral, Warrington and St Helens.  Such contrived and opaque constructs are no longer needed reader!
Then belatedly, but God love him ,  Lib Dem Cllr Stuart Kelly tried to raise the profile of this dodgy development and introduced a Notice of Motion at a Wirral Council meeting in July 2017
Proposed by Councillor Stuart Kelly
Seconded by Councillor Chris Carubia
Council notes the establishment of a private lettings company known as Bamboo
Lettings LLP between Magenta Living and a housing organisation called Torus.
Council notes that Magenta are planning to transfer under a lease arrangement up to100 social housing homes to Bamboo Lettings company for them to be let at full market rents.
Council notes that a three bedroom house offered for let by Bamboo in the
Woodchurch area will cost a prospective tenant £137 per week against the social
rent charged by Magenta of circa £97 per week in the same area (and against an
‘affordable’ rent level of £110).
In addition, Council is concerned that Bamboo Lettings also charge private sector
style ‘fees’; an example of these fees for a three bedroom house in the Woodchurch
area is:
 Application fee – £50
 Administration fee – £75
 Guarantor fee – £50
 Check out fee – £60
 Additional deposit for a pet – £100
Council believes that these fees are not linked to the service provided, are
unacceptable and extortionate and requests a justification for this regime.
Council notes the Cabinet Member for Housing has told Magenta that Wirral Council would not want to see larger 4 bedroom accommodation, those for older people and those adapted properties being transferred; and has highlighted to Magenta concerns about a number of disposals occurring in the same popular locations, thus reducing availability of social housing stock.
Council notes that there are currently 9643 people registered on the Choice Based
Lettings System, of which 2348 have a housing priority need.
Council has objections to the use of social housing in this way and requests (through the Council’s Managing Director for Delivery to Magenta Living) that the relationship with Torus/Bamboo be suspended to allow the Council the opportunity to fully investigate the use of social housing stock as de facto private rented houses
Cllr Kelly elaborated further on his concerns about this development in this Wirral Globe article  – Councillor slams ‘unacceptable and extortionate transfer of former council houses’
Needless to say nobody took a blind bit of notice of the ‘Notice of Motion’ and that’s not just because Cllr Kelly is a Lib Dem with – let’s face it – no power or influence over Wirral Council whatsoever.
So let’s join the dots and explain why that might be the case and look at the interested parties who do have that kind of power and influence. First of all can we say that any joint venture between Magenta Living and Torus should have been called Red Bull(shit)- geddit?
First of all here’s the Torus Group Board or more accurately the Torus COMMON PURPOSE Board TORUS COMMON PURPOSE BOARD
We first highlighted the connections here : Where Are They Now? Part 4- Emma Degg
Torus 032
Wirral Leaks readers may recall the candy floss- haired one on the left is former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess who’s main claim to fame is that he once shared a hole at the ‘The Open’ with former Wirral Council Super Duper Director Kevin Adderley when it was last held in Hoylake. The man on the right is Rob’ Narcissist’ Young – a former Assistant Director of Wirral Council’s Housing Department.
Although surprisingly for such egomaniacs they’re quite shy about their involvement in this money-making racket masquerading as Tory housing policy : Companies House Officers
See how this works yet ? If you don’t , you need to realise that Magenta Living Board includes such Wirral Council  luminaries as Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes , Cllr Jeff ‘Kindred’ Green and Cllr Stuart ‘Witless’ Whittingham Magenta Living Board
Which raises the question as to why they were appointed in the first place – could it be they are the last people who’d raise questions in the best interests of those who need social housing?  Ever felt you’ve been bamboozled by bureaucrats?

Birkenhead First (Second Coming)

Birkenhead First Balloon

Is the balloon about to burst on the BID levy scam? Or are Wirral Chamber of Commerce still allowed to give Tourism Awards to one of their belligerent Director’s former love nest in exchange for screwing over local charities?

Apologies for the disrespectful Easter title – but it’s what we do best. Iconoclastic and sarcastic at the same time.

This post is a follow up to one of our most popular recent stories

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Continuing the Biblical theme , readers will remember this was the David v Goliath story of charity boss Jim Barrington taking on the might of Wirral Chamber of Commerce (or rather their enforcers Wirral Council).

Gallant Wirral Councillor Lib Dem Stuart Kelly followed up our story , asking pertinent questions of Wirral Council CEO Eric’ Feeble’ Robinson who in time honoured tradition passed it on to some highly paid underling who passed it on to a less than highly paid underling.

The answers to the questions that Cllr Kelly posed are as follows . Needless to say it starts with apologies, because apparently this is what we do , we pay public servants to apologise profusely and at regular intervals

Apologies for the delay in responding to you.  Please find below my response.

1.Is it the case that Birkenhead First have the ability under regulations to exempt not for profit charitable business from the levy ?   

Schedule 1, Paragraph 1 (e) of the Business Improvement Districts (England ) Regulations 2004 provide that BID proposals shall include “a statement of the specified class of non domestic ratepayer (if any) for which and the level at which any relief from the BID levy is to apply”. This could include charitable rate relief. The Birkenhead BID proposal did not include this optional relief. The BID levy of 1.5% applies to all hereditaments located within the Birkenhead BID boundary area. Businesses with a rateable value that is below £6000 are not liable to pay the BID levy.

2. Is it the case that the BID Levy is being collected on behalf of Wirral Chamber of Commerce by Wirral Council.

Yes we bill and collect on behalf of the BID.

3. Is it the case that none payment is being pursued through the magistrates courts when the liability is a civil matter which are usually dealt with in County Court, if so what is the reason for using magistrates court?

Schedule 4 of the 2004 Regulations deals with enforcement and application for liability orders if the levy is not paid. It applies Part 3 of the Non-Domestic Rating (Collection and Enforcement) (Local Lists) Regulations 1989. Regulation 12 (2) provides that:-
“The application is to be instituted by making complaint to a justice of the peace, and requesting the issue of a summons directed to that person to appear before the court to show why he has not paid the sum which is outstanding.”
The correct jurisdiction for enforcement is the magistrates court.

4. Is it the case that Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce are adding £95.00 in court fees before liability has been established in court, is there a breakdown of how these costs have been arrived at.

No costs are awarded by the Court upon application by the Council. They are shown on the summons document. The cost make up is shown on the attached. The costs are the Council’s and not passed on to the Chamber.   

5. What is the relationship between Wirral Council and the Chamber with regard to the BID.

The chamber pays for the Council to administer the Billing and Collection of the BID.  

Thankfully our original source Jim Barrington was able to breakdown this BS response as follows :

This looks promising. Excellent work. I did not see the attachment they used to justify their court costs but I am assuming it is the same excel spreadsheets they sent to me. If so here are a few things to consider:
1) They provide the cost to run the entire revenue and benefits department. These staff are already in place so providing these costs as evidence of what it costs in court fees is a deliberate tactic to avoid providing a per capita breakdown. The staff perform other roles and functions including allocation of housing benefits, council tax benefits and enquiries, non-domestic rates and so on. As such one would need to know the total number of different activities each officer undertakes, how many hours are involved and how much of this is actual spent processing and compiling court actions. Then one needs to add the known £3 court processing fee (taking into account economies of scale) and know precisely how many people are being taken to court on any given submission. Then, since the fees must be BID specific, this must be narrowed down to a per capita cost for each BID summons. I doubt this would cost more than £3 per processing fee plus an average of £2 per individual summons for staff time. Even if this cost is more, it would be difficult indeed to justify £95 per capita.
2) The reply was this is a civil matter and the correct setting is Magistrates court. The reason for this did not seem clear to me despite a verbose explanation. 
3) If the matter is a civil matter as agreed by the Council Officer then it clearly falls under Contract Law. As such the proper setting is County Court. It would also likely represent an unfair contract due to no opt out procedure, lack of written contract, no appeal or clear complaints procedure, no refund policy or part refund policy if a person vacates their premises within the year and total lack of accountability or say over how the money is spent. This applies to all businesses affected by the BID.
4) I am still not clear why charitable organisations have not been exempted. No explanation has been given. I asked the Steering Group to consider this exemption prior to the BID vote and again after the BID vote. I have been told they did but the minutes of the meeting are confidential. So a tax is being levied on the promise it represents businesses to improve the area, but the same businesses are not allowed to see the minutes of the meetings. This is despite the BID brochure clearly stating it will listen and respond to small businesses and their needs.
5) Birkenhead First (or is it the BID Company? or is it Wirral Chamber of Commerce?) are claiming to have spent the money on activities which fall under the remit of Wirral Council and for which business rates are paid. So if Birkenhead First are now doing these things should there not be a reduction in Business Rates within the BID District? If so then perhaps this should equal the cost of the BID Levy so there is no additional cost to the small business.
6) They are claiming only businesses with a rateable value of £6000 or over are affected by the BID, whilst conveniently ignoring the fact most charitable organisations occupy larger premises on a peppercorn rent and could not afford to exist without this goodwill. Precedent for exemption of levies and taxes has been set by notable organisations such as HMRC, Customs & Excise and even Wirral Council themselves. So what justification is being given by Wirral Chamber who insist charitable firms must pay? They are strangely silent on this matter.
7) It seems unclear who is taking responsibility for these decisions. Wirral Council say speak to Wirral Chamber and they say speak to Wirral Council. 
8) I am not certain the magistrate “summons” is actually being dealt with by the court system. If you phone the court on the to enquire about the summons on the day they actually have no record of it. Could it be true the council is hiring a room in the court and hiring a judge who is not acting under oath on behalf of the courts? Surely not. Yet this is being muttered in cafes and corners of the Wirral by those being summonsed who have said the Magistrates courts have no official record of these summons. Some have even called the legality of the summons into question because it does not follow the proper form. If true, then the liability hearing may as well be heard in the Town Hall by a council officer because it has the same legal standing. The implications of this are wide reaching and expensive and could affect everyone. 
9) I suspect the Birkenhead BID is a pilot and Wirral Chamber / Wirral Council are working in concert. If this is allowed to go unchallenged then I predict further BID districts popping up all over Wirral.
10) The challenge needs to be:
– justification of court costs and fees. The Council is being evasive on this matter
– the proper setting for the liability hearing. I maintain civil matters should be heard in County Court not Magistrates.
– the legality of the contract under civil contract law. Anything less is extortion by public officials
– the lack of exemption for charitable organisations
– the lack of transparency or accountability over how money is being spent (see earlier comment re: unfair contract)
– the fact Wirral Chamber claims Birkenhead First is not subject to Freedom of Information laws. I contend they inherit the obligations of Wirral Council because they are working in concert with Wirral Council.
We are increasingly grateful that it is not just us who are concerned about the increasingly dubious relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Believe us ,and thankfully for once , these concerns spread beyond the insular peninsula.

Where Are They Now ? Part 4 – Emma Degg


Following on from yesterday’s ‘ Where Are They Now?’ story we follow up with perhaps the most successful trio ever to emerge, seemingly unscathed, from the wreckage of Wirral Council.

Yes,  once again we’re talking about the Graham Burgess/ Kevin Adderley/Emma Degg er,’triangle’ . As we have previously reported they snaffled over £500,000 between them as they parted company with their former employer under circumstances that in any other normal organisation might have led to their dismissal. But as we know Wirral Council are far from normal and the ‘conduct unbecoming’ of senior officers went without sanction , and was instead , rewarded with public money .

As we know Adderley walked down the road to the Wirral Chamber of Commerce with a cool quarter of a million . As far as we know Burgess got about half of that (although he’d only been at Wirral for about five minutes) and went on to chair both Blackburn & Darwen’s Clinical Commissioning Group , and the housing group Torus Common Purpose Board –  yes you read that right, the Torus COMMON PURPOSE Board!

Not bad for someone who’d ‘retired’ from  Wirral Council……or more accurately ousted by Birkenhead MP and Victorian moralist Frank Field who feigned outrage at Burgess’s ‘unseemly conduct’ but was really rather more concerned that Burgess wouldn’t bend to his will over the ‘Wirralgate’ scandal.

And so finally having failed to be appointed the de facto Chief Executive of Wirral Council – and being prevented from doing so by Cllr Steve Foulkes and his use of some rather dubious tactics which led to Degg’s first bung  – the irresistible rise of that modern phenomenon/curse , the ‘Policy Advisor’ has struck again (see also Degg’s spin doctor successor at Wirral Council – Martin Liptrot).

For, as from tomorrow (March 1st), Degg takes up the position of Chief Executive of North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT). Degg must laughing into her Uggs/Rocket Dogs as having snaffled not one ,  but two pay-outs from Wirral Council she now lands a plum regional job.

It’s all worked out rather well hasn’t it ?- as it always seems to do with these kind of people. Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you’ve got the ‘right’ people to give you a good reference!



The Leaky Awards 2015

500 posts

We must first apologise for the late arrival of the much anticipated annual Leaky Awards.

However we thought we’d wait until it was our 500th post before releasing the names of the lucky and unlucky losers!!!.These are our suggestions – you may have others.If you do we’d be delighted to hear from you!.

It has been a momentous year for Wirral Leaks and we’d like to thank our illustrious contributors,impeccable sources and incredible leakers who helped us SMASH !!! through the 400,000 hits barrier just before Christmas in what was a record breaking year for us at Leaky Towers.

As a point of comparison Council Leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies’ totally tedious “Leaders Blog” has had a total of 15,000+ hits.Did somebody mention public interest?.Somebody needs to tell Pip’s poor-man’s Machiavelli Martin Liptrotsky that he needs to up his game and start earning his £45K shit-glittering fee.Might we suggest sexing the blog up?. Cllr Adrian Jones in a mankini ,Cllr Joe Walsh in a jockstrap, Cllr Moira McLaughlin in her matron’s outfit – that sort of thing.

Meanwhile our 500th post will review our year and explain why we are the pre-eminent political blog on Wirral.Could it be because we prick the pomposity ,highlight the hypocrisy and satirize the sleaze that Wirral politicians and officials have been allowed to get away with for far too long?.

However on with the show :

Campaign of the Year 

What has gratified us more than anything this year has been to witness the Wirral populace emerge from their political apathy and start kicking arse.

Our advice to you all is to do it more often as Wirral Council haven’t got a bloody clue what they’re doing and they just want to avoid adverse publicity at all costs.

So our joint winners are :

Brand New Brighton Rocks On

Their campaign in forcing Wirral Council to do a U-turn on parking charges in New Brighton was co-ordinated ,reasoned  and reasonable.Wirral Council could learn something from these lot.

Help Save Hamilton Square Birkenhead

We were the first to report the criticism about Wirral Council’s circling the Square proposals.We are gratified to report there is now a co-ordinated campaign group.Join and have your say before Hamilton square becomes a less than magic roundabout.

Wirral – the People Fight Back

A regular compendium of Wirral Council woes.Somewhat like Wirral Leaks this campaigning Facebook page acts as a critical friend wanting the council to be better for the benefit of the people of Wirral.However it would seem Wirral Council much prefer non-critical friends like those local government lackeys they had in recently undertaking a “peer review”.

We also should mention the Save Woodside Ferry Terminal campaign but fear that this noble cause may have already been politically hijacked.Was anyone taken in by the “Foulkesy Across The Mersey” charade at Thursday’s Merseytravel meeting?.Let’s face it , when was the last time Foulkes or any other of the leading campaigners (including Frankenfield) used Woodside Ferry terminal?.At least Foulksey has a decent excuse – apparently the last time he was on the landing stage he was nearly harpooned.

We also remain to be convinced by the Save Girtrell Court campaign.We are a big supporter of services for disabled people but so far we’ve only heard from unions,staff,councillors and social services managers.When do the tenants or their advocates get a say ?- and if they do will they have an informed choice about the services they really want?.

Director of the Year    

Shock horror! – the winner of this award does not emanate from the charisma free zone that is Fish ,Blott and Armstrong .

No , the director we’re talking about here is John Brace.The man with the movie camera at meetings across Merseyside .He used to be a master of the single shot but now he’s learned to do tracking shots. Just promise us John that you don’t learn to do close -ups.Nobody wants to see Wirral councillors in close up.Ever.

Quote of The Year 

Unison Branch secretary Paddy Cleary apparently “slammed” the proposed closure of respite care home Girtrell Court (see above) by saying: “You really don’t expect this sort of thing from a Labour Council.”

Is this what passes for “slamming” round here?.Seriously Paddy – where have you bloody been?. Oh !-  sitting in Wallasey Town Hall on the Council payroll !.

Memo to Paddy : This a Labour Council in name only and it is exactly the type of “thing” they’ve been doing for years.We deserve so much better and so do your members and until you all realise this your membership and influence will continue to dwindle.

Mathematical Problem of The Year

Somewhat like the lottery , when it came to the departure of three of our most senior Wirral Council officers within a 10 month period of each of other,  the permutations were apparently endless .Three was the magic number of their bonus ball and their lottery win netted them £500,000 of public money –  thereby proving the mathematical equation that two into one does go !.

Cryptic Question: When is a triangle not a triangle? Answer: When it’s a square!.You do the math!

Photograph of The Year

Foulkesy and pussy

Yes – for the second year running it’s multi-award winning  ex this, ex-that , and ex-the other Cllr Foulkesy who saw fit to publicly publish this picture.

We can imagine his acceptance speech for this award will go something like:

“Speaking as one of the main beneficiaries of Frank Field’s “Feeding Birkenhead” initiative I’d like to thank him for his support which has enabled me to keep putting my snout in the trough of plenty for a quarter of a century”.

Although we’ve judiciously edited the picture as the other person in shot is no longer a civic dignitary and therefore no longer fair game we would like to make it clear we did not photoshop this picture.Now ordinarily this would be a caption competition but we’d request that readers insert their own captions in the privacy of their own home.We don’t want Foulkesy having to make a cheque out to himself for hurt feelings do we?.

Finally we’d like to thank everyone for their leaks in the past year and we look forward to publishing more shocking revelations.Currently this seems to be the only means by which wayward Wirral Council officials will be ever held publicly accountable.

Indeed thanks to our much valued sources we already have a couple of eye-watering exclusives to kick off 2016!……….




Open & Transparent : A Feeble Response



“Mr Adderley has been treated in the same manner as over 300 employees.”

Leaks readers will recall the magnificent “Open Letter” sent to Wirral Council last week by Dr.Robert Smith which we printed in full.

No doubt prompted by the publicity Wirral Council Chief Executive Eric “Feeble” Robinson has provided a surprisingly prompt if typically feeble response.

The response reads like he’s doing the people of Wirral  a huge favour by agreeing to a quarter million pound plus bung to your average Wirral Council employee.

Forgive us for thinking that if you were an average Wirral Council employee and you landed a left hook on the Chief Executive that you wouldn’t be treated quite so favourably.

There are further sickbag opportunities to be had when Stressed Eric tells us about his “emerging thoughts” like he was some kind of philosopher rather than an extremely dull and extremely overpaid Council clerk.

The response – and particularly the final paragraph  – reads as though it is the work of an easily affronted  maiden aunt getting a parasexual thrill by scolding their extremely bright and attractive nephews and nieces.

“Mr Adderley has been appointment to Egerton House Community Interest
Company (previously Egerton House Wirral Limited) not the Wirral
Chamber of Commerce……”

And there’s no connection between the two at all is there Eric?.

Dear Dr Smith

Thank you for your email. In view of the issues you have raised it is
appropriate I respond to you.
There are a number of inaccuracies/misunderstandings in your email
but I hope the details set out below will clarify this matter for you.
Since my arrival at Wirral Council, a considerable amount of work has
been and continues to be undertaken in a number of areas, particularly
in relation to the development, approval and implementation of the
Wirral Council Plan which was subsequently agreed by key partners to
later become the Wirral Plan; and the development of a new operating
structure for the Council in order to meet the various challenges
facing the council.
I refer you to my report to the Employment and Appointments
Committee, considered on 21 September 2015, which details the
rationale for my recommendation to the Committee to approve Mr
Adderley’s request for voluntary severance. The report and the
Committee minutes relating to this matter are all openly available on
the council’s website. The report was initially exempt as the
committee had yet to reach a decision and it was not appropriate for
such information to be placed into the public domain when the request
for voluntary severance was capable of being refused.

In making the recommendation, I was of the opinion that the post of
Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment may no longer be
required in the new council structure or the duties of it would be
considerably different. Inevitably, this gave rise to a potential
redundancy situation. However, Mr Adderley had also by this time
independently decided to request voluntary severance, which given my
emerging thoughts on the new structure, I felt was both appropriate
and timely. An employee who wishes to pursue other interests has an
option to resign as you correctly state. However in Mr Adderley’s
case, a clear redundancy situation had already arisen in respect of
which there were legal implications arising. Accordingly, it was
legitimate and in the council’s interest to ask the Employment and
Appointments Committee to consider his request for voluntary severance
ahead of any final council structure being agreed. The cost to the
council would remain the same whether voluntary severance was agreed
or Mr Adderley made redundant at a later date. Given the opportunity
for management savings to be realised early, the decision to agree
voluntary severance was therefore considered the more favourable

The Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations 2013 (“the
Regulations”) prescribe that upon termination of employment on
redundancy or efficiency either on compulsory grounds or mutual
consent, that the member of the Pension Scheme is automatically
entitled to access “unreduced accrued pension benefits” and must take
immediate payment. In terms of entitlement in these circumstances and
spending public money, there is no employer discretion under paragraph
30 (7) of the Regulations to withhold benefits for scheme members aged
55 and over. The entitlement as set out in the Employment and
Appointment Committee minutes is compliant with the Regulations. For
the avoidance of any doubt, the council did not pay any NI or personal
tax attributable to Mr Adderley and nor was any compromise contract
entered into.
Mr Adderley has been treated in the same manner as over 300 employees
who have left the Council through voluntary severance over the past 18
months; many of whom have accessed their pension with a cost to the
council. Mr Adderley’s entitlement correlate with his salary, age and
length of service. The council considers each case on its merits; and
along with approving requests, a significant number (over 100)
requests for VS/EVR have been declined because the post was required.
There were no ‘behind closed doors’ meetings as you suggest. The
Employment and Appointments Committee report whilst initially exempt
was subsequently published in full.
Mr Adderley has been appointment to Egerton House Community Interest
Company (previously Egerton House Wirral Limited) not the Wirral
Chamber of Commerce. Cllr Phil Davies was not involved in the
appointment of Mr Adderley to the company.
You make a number of other inappropriate remarks and comments about
relationships which I do not consider warrant a response other than to
say that it is inevitable that the council’s Administration, council
officers and various partner/stakeholder representatives will need to
work closely together from time to time to bring about important
benefits to the borough. This is normal practice within all councils
and indeed central government. It is not accepted that the Leader
and/or the council has acted in the manner you suggest or infer.

Eric Robinson

Chief Executive
Wirral Council

Tel : 0151 691 8589

Email :

‘Most Improved Council’

Open & Transparent

Open & Transparent

We’re proud to add another to our list of celebrated contributors to Wirral Leaks.

Here is a copy of Dr.Robert Smith’s open letter sent to Wirral Council – we seem to recall they received an another open letter about the same date last year !.Doesn’t time fly when you’re covering up ?.

Both letters are concerned with using public money to make private indiscretions in public life go away.

Not if we can help it they won’t ! – it’s called accountability and apparently it is still an alien concept at Wirral Council.


Cllr Phil Davies, Eric Robinson, Surjit Tour, Chris Hyams, Wirral Council Cabinet Members, all Wirral Councillors

I have watched the sequence of events I now describe below unfold, with a great deal of concern regarding the inappropriate use of public funds when so many Wirral Council Services are under threat. There appears to be a transfer of most things public sector (ie Council) to the private and voluntary sector with little or no strategy, and this indicates that Wirral Council is in serious difficulties. I won’t bother rehearsing all of the reasons that you claim are responsible for this situation, as you articulate them ad nauseam, that is not to say that some of the factors are not true. However, significant payouts to a number of Senior Officers, which appear to be neither justified, nor justifiable, the most recent reported being around c£250,000, take us into the realms of hypocrisy and raise huge questions regarding probity. When continually pleading poverty, and reducing and/or cutting services, even £50 is a significant sum of public money.

I have undertaken my own ‘public interest test’ for the issue I have detailed below (which is only one of a number of senior staff departure concerns, amongst other concerns), which is why I have not submitted this as a Freedom of Information request, as Mr Tour will employ the usual delaying tactics and hide behind the FoI Act, whilst the Wirral Council smoke and mirrors machine bursts into life with Mr Liptrot and Mr Masterman.

Given established Council procedures regarding the vetting of organisations in receipt of public funds, for which the Council is accountable regarding contractual arrangements, local labour, sustainable materials use, value for money, discrimination and equal opportunities and recruitment practices, then Mr Adderley’s departure from Wirral Council (initially veiled in secrecy) and virtually immediate employment by Wirral Chamber of Commerce (also apparently veiled in secrecy) reaches a level of the most serious concern and questions of probity rush to the fore.

In view of the fact that Mr Adderley was, during his employment with Wirral Council, a highly-paid public servant, subject to public scrutiny, transparency, accountability (as you all claim to be), secrecy is not acceptable. Public officials and the officers they employ are subject to conflict of interest rules and declarations, and as his conduct (and yours) is governed by Council policies and procedures, a veil of secrecy can not apply in a democracy. Particularly concerning public funds paid to well-paid individuals decided behind closed doors, and hidden from the public. The fact that he departed voluntarily from his employment with Wirral Council, accompanied by c£250,000 of Wirral public’s money, makes this a time when the argument that “you will not enter into any dialogue regarding individuals and personal details and circumstances”, cannot be substantiated in any way whatsoever, as I believe, neither can the payment(s) to Mr Adderley (and others).

In my view if an individual is content to benefit from a significant salary from the public purse, and enjoy all benefits that accrue as a public official, that does carry huge responsibility in terms of conduct and accountability. If additional benefits accrue, for justifiable reasons, from the public purse then transparency, accountability and justification must be expected and the relationship between the public paying, and the officer being paid, must conform to certain standards of openness, honesty, integrity and scrutiny – this should not even have to be mentioned to you.

From the Wirral Globe 22 September 2015
A town hall representative said: “The offer of a severance payment is open to all employees who have two years or more continuous service.
“All payments made are in line with our agreed and published voluntary redundancy scheme.
“Details of all severance payments are a matter between the council and the individual.”

There is obviously a big question regarding resignation with or without severance, and of course Mr Adderley was not made redundant, but the bigger question relates to the bigger sum paid out, in addition to the severance payment. All of these issues will be at the forefront of Wirral’s residents and taxpayers’ thinking when further service reductions, more closures, further staff cuts and local and other Council Tax increases are being imposed. It is a very strange occurrence when c£250,000 of increasingly scarce public money (in addition to other previous senior officer payouts) is apparently ‘gifted’ to someone who chooses to leave of their own volition, and could just resign like anyone else at no cost to the public purse.

Wirral Council/Wirral Chamber of Commerce – sequence of events and facts:

Cllr Phil Davies – is the Leader of Wirral Council

Cllr Phil Davies – is a also Board Member of Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Adderley – was a Strategic Director; Wirral Council

Kevin Adderley – was and is a Board Member Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Kevin Adderley – chose to voluntarily leave Wirral Council ‘to pursue other interests’

Kevin Adderley’s – now previous post at Wirral Council was not deleted on his departure and is listed as vacant, not redundant, nor deleted.

Cllr Phil Davies – agrees a departure payout of £250,000 (public money) Oct 2015

Kevin Adderley – takes departure payout of £250,000 (public money) Oct 2015

…not even 2 months later…

Cllr Phil Davies – employs Kevin Adderley at Wirral Chamber of Commerce – this must be a Board appointment at Managing Director level.

Kevin Adderley – assumes the position of Group Managing Director at Wirral Chamber of Commerce.


Wirral Chamber of Commerce derives significant financial and in-kind benefit (ie public money and value) from various ‘arrangements’ with Wirral Council – including Egerton House, The Lauries Centre and Pacific Road.

Wirral Chamber of Commerce list 26 employees plus Kevin Adderley. For an organisation effectively ‘dead in the water’ a short time ago, that wage bill alone raises a number of issues, however, that is for the future.
Wirral Chamber of Commerce Board includes Paula Basnett, Asif Hamid,the Contact Company, Alastair Gould, McEwan Wallace; Sue Higginson, Wirral Met College; Cllr Phil Davies, Leader, Wirral Council; John Syvret, Chief Executive, Cammell Laird; Kevin Adderley, Wirral Chamber Group Managing Director; John Robinson, Scantec Personnel; Elaine Owen, Designated Associates; David Prior, Chair, Wirral Radio; Patrick McCarthy, Chief Executive, Magenta Living. 

Irrespective of Mr Eric Robinson’s developing of a new delivery/management model for Wirral Council, Mr Adderley’s departure was not as a result of any ‘previously planned, or agreed restructure’,

Most people who choose to leave their current employment, possibly, ‘to pursue other interests’, hand in their notice, resign and leave their employment at the end of as notice period. At this point Mr Adderley would have had no ‘entitlements’.

The only ‘entitlement’ which would become a legitimate legal requirement would be if Wirral Council agreed to his request for Voluntary Severance (VS).

Voluntary Severance, as distinct from Early Voluntary Retirement, follows different rules and procedures. The only time any payment would become legally required of Wirral Council, would be at the point that Voluntary Severance was agreed and signed off – if any new structure had yet to be determined, there would be no formal basis for not accepting his resignation as he chose to leave, and for Mr Adderley to have worked his notice period, as is the usual custom.

Why would Voluntary Severance be agreed, as there was no redundancy inducement for Mr Adderley to be offered it, if he had already expressed his wish to leave ‘to pursue other interests’. Why would a VS payment be agreed if Mr Adderley had voluntarily chosen to leave Wirral Council?

Obviously some kind of ‘agreement’ was reached by virtue of the fact that a VS payment was made. This particular issue was not reported accurately in the press, possibly due to limited information being made available, through an eventual press release, regarding the agreed payments (c£250,000 in total) having complied with existing Wirral Council VS policies and procedures.

Voluntary Severance accounted for c£43,000, but a large contribution, c£207,000 was made to the Merseyside Pension Fund (purely for the benefit of Mr Adderley) from Wirral Council public funds which was not subject to any legislative or mandatory policy, and was totally discretionary on the part of the Council?

The only legally required payment to Mr Adderley, as a result of Wirral Council, for some reason agreeing to Mr Adderley’s ‘Voluntary Severance’ request, rather than just accepting his resignation, would be the c£43,000. On what grounds was the payment of c£207,000 to his pension fund justifiable in these circumstances, and who was it agreed by? It makes no difference essentially that the payment was made directly to the MPF as Mr Adderley via the pension Fund will be the named beneficiary of this payment

In view of the fact that Cllr Phil Davies, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid travelled to China together, and Paula Basnett, Cllr Phil Davies, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid travelled to Reno together, plus the fact that they are all Board members of Wirral Chamber of Commerce (and other local funding and other organisations) they would all be well known to each other.

In view of the fact that Cllr Phil Davies and Chief Executive Eric Robinson, and obviously Mr Adderley’s situation were all reported extensively in the media, during the negotiations with Mr Adderley, the ‘behind closed doors’ Council meetings masked the agreement of the deal. Subsequently, at a point prior to Mr Adderley’s departure, the attempted secrecy and smokescreens did evaporate and all financial and other details became public.

Mr Adderley and Ms Basnett are not shrinking violets when it comes to self-promotion,  self-aggrandisement, photo opportunities and sound bites. It would seem to be greatly at odds with their respective natures. Also, given the incessant trumpeting of the recently- resurrected Wirral Chamber of Commerce, it is surely a ‘missed marketing opportunity’ that Mr Adderley’s ‘recruitment’ to the Chamber staff team, to such an elevated position, should go unheralded…or is it hiding in plain sight…ie just amend Adderley’s entry on the Chamber website, and hope no-one notices?

It would appear that there are a great many more questions to be asked, and a great many more answers required. When a vast amount of public money, paid out by a Council continually claiming to be ‘cash-strapped’, and running down services and losing staff hand over fist, agree to pay out in secrecy, a large sum of public money to one previously very well paid (with public money) individual, when he himself chose to leave?

It has also been reported in the media that Wirral Council has previously paid the personal tax and NI liability on senior officer payout(s) – can you advise if this is Council policy to make those payments in addition, in order for the departee to benefit from the gross payout without personally losing the value of those deductions?

I look forward to a detailed response, without any undue delay, due to Mr Tour being unable to inappropriately invoke FoI Act provisions, as this is not a request made under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. This is but a simple series of questions, requiring answers which you can provide, to demonstrate the accountability and transparency that features so regularly in the media, as ‘The Most Improved Council in Great Britain 2015’ engages with the public.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith

Control Freaks


Following on from our last post ” The Public and the Private” it is always a pleasure to publish the above serendipitous snapshot.As famed photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson would have it – the photographer did indeed capture a “decisive moment”.

Perhaps for this year’s advent calendar we should print it in all its tacky Technicolor glory.

However the main reason for revisiting this photograph is that we’ve received an eyewitness account of what happened in the aftermath of the historic publication of the casual rendezvous of 2 senior council officers in a public place presumably during the course of their public duties.

We’ve already heard the hysterical stories about the hissyfits and the threats to sue ( yeah – whatever) but what our eyewitness confirms to us that the council reaction made “The Most Improved Council in Britain” seem more like ” The Keystone Kops Meets the Last Days of the Roman Empire”.

Wallasey Town Hall – where slapstick meets sleazepit!.

As our eyewitness recounts :

” … thinking back a certain picture from New Brighton on Wirral Leaks caused a lot of fluster in the control room as the powers above at the time believed it was leaked from there, I was on duty when the red headed gang invaded the control room to inspect the recorded data I duly told them it was not us, but maybe the suspicion was enough at the highest level to get rid of the staff in case any other footage was caught on the 100 or so cameras?.We will never know as (the then Wirral Council CEO) Burgess ,who didn’t even know where the control room was located or duties carried out, but apparently was very keen to get rid of it also left abruptly.”

100 or so cameras?.No wonder that Control Room boss John Kenny and Community Patrol Manager Mike Collins were able to escape with pay – offs from Wirral Council. They then immediately got a contract as “Atlas Security” with Wirral Council patrolling 40 Wirral schools previously held by Community Patrol by undercutting the prices THEY THEMSELVES SET whilst working for Wirral Council!.

Meanwhile to help them on their way the Wirral Chamber of Commerce magazine prints a full page spread promoting Atlas Security patrol and its contract with 40 Wirral schools.

And oh look –  there’s another picture of photogenic Kevin “Addled” Adderley (see above) at the grand opening of Atlas Security printed in the same magazine.


Are you beginning to understand how this shit works yet?

Subsequently if anyone requires CCTV footage from the Wirral CCTV system who do you contact  when Wirral Council passed control over to Merseyside Police in April 2014 closing the CCTV control room and making 11 people redundant?.
The answer to the above question is  !!!

Funnily enough some of the backstabbing staff deployed as control room operators have now titled themselves Central Control Room Officers.Excuse us but wasn’t that role made redundant ?
To cap it off a recent Freedom of Information asked if the redeployed officers were carrying out over 70% of the previous employees duties.The request was met with a very firm rebuttal .Excuse us again but why are the opportunistic Quislings paid at the same grade as the staff that Wirral Council made redundant?.

Could it be the staff they made redundant knew too much of what was on those 100 or so cameras and the amateur hour snoopers with delusions of grandeur they appointed in their place are much safer bet ?.

Members expressed their sadness at the impending departure of Mr Adderley…..

Throwing money

………whilst members of the public express their horror at the eye-watering sums of public money paid out to someone who voluntarily asks to leave Wirral Council!.

Hot off the press and dwarfing the estimate of Wirral Council’s Degeneration boss Kevin Adderley’s severance payment in this weeks Private Eye , the newly published minutes of this weeks Employment & Appointments Committee reveals that Wirral Council agreed (at least) £256,000 of public money to be paid to Addled as “there were other opportunities he wished to pursue”.

Lucky Kev!

Which begs the question if that’s the case why did Wirral Council have to pick up the humungous tab?.

The break down of the payment is as follows:

£49,057 severance (based on past service and 3 months salary) PLUS  £207,000 pension (paid to Merseyside Pension Fund).

And surely no-one but no-one is buying that total bullshit from Council leader Power Boy Pip and CEO Eric Feeble who tried to justify this shameful arrangement by talking in terms of a  “management saving” or a “business case” or a new “operating/delivery model”.

Confirmation , if it were needed, that the both of them hold the people of Wirral in complete contempt.

Seemingly the only councillor willing to (politely) challenge this arrangement was Lib Dem leader Phil Gilchrist.

Kudos to him – but we give fair warning that the forthcoming in – depth response from Leaky Towers will be somewhat less than diplomatic.

We think the time has come that we counted the true cost of the failure by Wirral Council officials to properly confront conduct unbecoming of some of its most senior officers.