Pond Life

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You may remember a recent post about a Wirral Council  Employment and Appointments Committee held on June 28th where we referenced a particular agenda item and commented  : Curiously there was (inevitably) an exempt item on the agenda which we understand involved discussions about yet another high profile departure who has been allowed to slip the net (if you get our drift). Suffice to say there’ll be more on that particular catch of the day at a later date.   

Comings and Goings

As we alluded to last week we can now confirm it’s farewell then to cartoon character Dolly Pond lookalike and Wirral Council Super-Duper Director Clare Fish.

We’ll miss her. Mainly because of the endless punning opportunities this overpaid failure provided – wet fish, fish out of water , out of her depth etc; It really was like shooting Fish in a barrel.

It always struck us that Clare was content to be a small fish in a stagnant pond and suddenly found herself swimming with sharks who were either screwing each other or screwing each other over.

Inevitably she found herself to be yet another Wirral council senior officer responsible for social care who has been thrown overboard having netted a big fat cheque – think Miller, Webb, Noone, Fowler ,Hassall . Meanwhile  the overseer of a series of failures, Cllr Moira McLaughlin, sails serenely on like an ocean going tanker full of toxic waste.

In this particular case Fish netted £105,000 . Wirral Council will have you believe with some financial jiggerypokery that they didn’t splash out another six figure sum to reward failure – but they did. It’s what they do, because they don’t know any other way. We say try sacking people or let them resign – that’s how it works in the business world that Wirral Council seem so determined to replicate.

However the most curious aspect of this hasty departure , and a demonstration of Wirral Council’s usual commitment to openness,transparency and accountability is the fact that having applied an exemption, thus excluding press and public from the Employment and Appointments Committee where the pay-off was discussed, they then had to refer the matter for approval at last night’s full Council meeting as Ms Fish swam through the magic six figure mark meaning it needed to be agreed by elected members.

Outgoing Head of Law Surjit Tour seems to have forgotten to tell Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson how this council business works as Stressed Eric merrily revealed in his ExecView  internal newsletter ( which is a bit like Wirral View but without soup recipes and pictures of smiling tots)  that Fish had already slipped through the net .

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As you can see ExecView  was dated July 4th and the CEO revealed that Fish had already left the previous week ! So what was the point of even bringing the matter to the Council meeting to agree Fish’s leaving terms ? None whatsoever! But it appears the pond life who are our local elected representatives get along swimmingly and don’t like to make too many ripples when it comes to spending our money on rewarding failure!

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Comings and Goings

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If you want to play the Wirral Council  corporate game be prepared to get down and dirty!

Last night’s Employment and Appointments Committee officially confirmed our previous reports that Wirral Council’s Head of Law / Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour is leaving Wirral Council.

There were no glowing eulogies from committee members at the announcement that Wirral Council was engaging a recruitment agency to find his replacement. Furthermore Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ran through further proposals for senior management personnel changes to implement his New Operating Model – or should that be Non -Operating Model?  This included the appointment of a Director of Children’s Services on an increased salary of £115,000. This was justified with the usual excuse that we have to pay top whack to get the very best. To which we can say it hasn’t worked in the past so why will it work now? What has clearly been demonstrated by previous CEO Graham Burgess’s appointment of Super Directors which has been an abject and costly failure. And let’s not get on to Stressed Eric himself!

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=197&MId=6003&Ver=4

Of course we know that Tour was on his merry way  but curiously there was (inevitably) an exempt item on the agenda which we understand involved discussions about yet another high profile departure who has been allowed to slip the net (if you get our drift).  Suffice to say there’ll be more on that particular catch of the day at a later date.

As Surjit didn’t exit to rapturous appreciation for all he’s done for the people of Wirral we thought we’d do the decent thing and give him the eulogy he deserves.

However we’ll leave it to a clearly well placed source to provide a fitting tribute to Tour which consists of a comment from ‘ Whatever’ that is far too good to languish in our replies section. For those who may have missed it we reproduce that comment in full  below. What it demonstrates to us yet again is that Wallasey Town Hall is the absolute pits. Whilst we’ve known about the infamous ‘Sex List’ for sometime and referenced it previously it stands as the epitome of how low senior managers will go to get their man (or woman). As we commented :

So it would seem that the ‘dig the dirt’ tactic is a favourite approach of senior council officers when faced with a pesky employee who won’t play the corporate game, have served their purpose or they just want shut of. We’re wondering whether it was a trick that Norman picked it up at Wirral Council or it was part of his legacy that he left behind? We say this as we are reliably informed that two acting very senior officers at Wirral Council went digging for dirt from staff in an infamous case from 2015 .The dirt concerned allegations of sexual impropriety involving a now departed senior council officer . So far, so sordid. However, for us , what is even more sleazy is that the approach came with the  inducement that it would be beneficial to staff member’s careers if they dished the dirt. Nice work if you can get it and you can get it if you have absolutely no morals,ethics or integrity. What did we say in yesterday’s post about Wallasey Town Hall being a cesspit?

Dirty Work

We can only hope that the next victim of the ‘Curse of Leaky Towers’ is slimy Deputy CEO David Armstrong ( and we know how upset he gets being badmouthed on social media). He can boo-hoo all the way the bank as as far as we’re concerned as in his own way, he’s absolutely everything that’s wrong with Wirral Council. In another time and another place and where the get out was ‘ I was only following orders’ he’d be a very dangerous man indeed.

Meanwhile courtesy of ‘Whatever’ here’s ‘Surjit’s Eulogy’ :

I hope we can send to Mr Tour’s new employer a list of Wirral tax payers issues as the tax payers of York did with Mr Halliday.

Mr Tour’s replacement will have a long list of “things to do” which he/she should read asap –

For example perhaps, whatever happened to the letter signed by Mr Foulkes (probably written by labour policy adviser and Labour scrutiny support) sent to Mr Wilkie outlining in a way not appropriate for public office ( yet more training needs) just what Mr Foulkes et al thought about Mr Wilkies staff structure which included the promotion of none other than Ms Degg to deputy CEO ?

Indeed what happened to those 2 people (Adviser and Scrutiny) from Leeds way *  (* Hebden Bridge actually) ?- well whatever you say about Norman, he was the only one who at least tried to tackle them. Norman left and Mr Tour picks up the rotten dirty baton and title. Did Mr Tour prevent the “not in line with guidelines” payments made to one of those women – er, no and has he closed this case or as he let it drift into obscurity, a key feature of Tour is drift, drift long enough and it will be forgotten.

These 2 women were loyal supporters of Foulkes, (nothing wrong with that other than inconsequent personal opinions on bad judgement) when Mr Foulkes was told to get legal advice after his letter writing. Cllr Foulkes stood down as forever leader and up popped Mr Davies, who was told to drop the supporters or no leadership role for him. Mr Davies did as he was told for the sake of group or himself and his awaiting career of leadership.

Can’t quite remember the figure of toxic debt written off, in the high millions, these 2 women summoned the Council directors separately to go to Leeds (or wherever it is up that way) where they would “tell” the directors what their budgets were. Everyone knew it was these 2 women running WMBC for years Foulkes was the willing puppet and the Directors racking up excessive mileage claims for Wirral Tax payers to pay.

Mr Davies had to be trained in fist clenching and smoke screens, up pops Mr Field with some tale of whistleblowers and Hespe contracts (Labour group hated with a passion anyone who was perceived to work too closely with Cllr Green .. Ms Degg and Mr Green to name 2). Did Mr Tour ever write a letter to Frank Field telling him that WMBC is not his private purse to pursue his smoke screens with payments to non whistleblowers ?

So back to Ms Degg, well we have all read and heard enough about Ms Degg and what we consider to be un sound judgement on the men in her life but that is of no concern to us unless it prevented her from carrying out her paid function, whatever that was. However when it does become our business is when 2 members of staff are paid off one via the ever helpful EVR (normally given to failed directors without spine and employee jumpers) and the other a recent settlement. These 2 members of staff were hauled in by Mr Armstrong Ms Hyams and of course the ever present in the shadows “it wasn’t me” Tour, this trio on our behalf felt compelled to get to the bottom of £48k payment made to Ms Degg by one of the too many ex chief execs as an apology again on our behalf for not becoming the deputy chief exec and for the hurt feelings caused by the school ground tactics of certain Labour councillors and senior officers (including the Trio). If only they wouldn’t but again on our behalf this highly paid Trio (with the knowledge of Cllr Phil Davies) asked, no demanded to know the ins and outs of Ms Degg’s sex life, asked for rumours anything these 2 members had on Ms Degg.
Thank the lord these 2 members of staff stuck two fingers up to the bullying trio .

“list of things to do”; clearly through actions Mr Tour thought this payment made to Ms Degg (although he must of agreed it in the first place) was unlawful in some way.

The 2 well liked members of staff wouldn’t play ball and you didn’t get your own underhand way, Tour, Hyams (who really didn’t like Degg and the feeling was mutual) and Armstrong (who once was a nice bloke I hear) even though 2 of the trio pulled out the appalling and should be left for the movies, tactic ” signing the statements would / would not help their careers”

The poor person going round asking for money for Tour’s leaving present probably stopped saying “awww he’s a nice man its a shame” pdq. I don’t think it was his match made in heaven (how many grievances !!) PA who accepted her redeployment to Tour’s PA role with “I’m not working for him” but soon shut up when she realised she was onto a good thing, the amount she read and helped shred would, like her boss keep her in a job as long as she wanted it.”

 

Wirral’s Next Top Model

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Entries welcome for our Eric’s bad hair day caption competition. Picture courtesy of John Brace 

 

We’ve only just caught up with Monday’s Wirral Council Employment & Appointments Committee after giving you the heads up last week that Head of Housing  Ian Platt’s tidy retirement package was being discussed.

Needless to say nothing to report on that score as prolific film-maker John Brace was politely asked to leave before that golden handshake was signed off.

However we were treated to a rare speaking engagement by reclusive CEO Eric “Feeble” Robinson who introduced his “New Operating Model” to replace his predecessor Graham Burgess’s “Non Operating Model”. We say this as there seemed to be an acknowledgement that Burgess’s appointment of so-called Super Directors was an expensive and wasteful extra tier of management . Council “leader” Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies seemed keen to draw a line under Burgess’s embarrassing tenure by declaring forlornly ” we are where we are” whilst repeatedly using his Deputy Ann McLachlan ‘s catchphrase ” going forward”. No wonder she sat virtually mute for the entire meeting – the one trick pony had lost her trick.

Meanwhile Stressed Eric was proving his charisma by-pass operation had been a complete success as he appeared to be playing a game of  buzzword bingo on Mogadon. We think the term “Strategic Hub” says it all.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50035635/New%20Operating%20Model%20Report.pdf

What was dispiriting for us to observe was the way that the lurch towards a business model which prioritises putting public services into the hands of private companies was so enthusiastically received by one and all despite the fact that Wirral Council is NOT a business.

Just a thought : how about employing managers who are truly committed to public service and not to their over-inflated paypackets?.

Whilst Stressed Eric briefly mentioned the C word – “culture”  that is – he swiftly moved on to more  familiar territory and concentrated on far less problematic areas such as “structures” and “processes”.

There were a few other interesting observations to make along the way such as Department of Adult Social Services Director Graham Hobgoblinson bagging himself an  Assistant Director – as let’s face it he needs all the help he can get  despite , with the impending closure of Girtrell Court  , finally getting rid of all in-house services. Let’s hope he has better success than with previous DASS Assistant Directors!

We also noted that  Joe Blott’s exit strategy has been put on hold and he will now be slotted in to the “New Operating Model” structure despite questions being asked about his “skill set” ( I think we can read between the lines what is meant by that can’t we?) . Of course Councillors must now be aware that Blott is calling the shots as he’s recently joined the Surjit Tour Job For Life Club. It must be the aspiration of every Wirral Council senior manager to wheedle your way into a position of power by means of your knowledge – which is less about knowledge of how to do you job and more about knowing where the bodies are buried……….   

 

 

Pay As You Go

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Next week’s Wirral Council Employment & Appointments Committee sees the latest money haemorrhaging merry go round known as a senior management restructure.

Can we advise that Chief Executive Eric ” Feeble” Robinson just keeps his head down and do as he’s told as history tells us that having a strong view on a particular appointment contributed to the departure of two previous CEOs (Wilkie and Burgess) and led to that notorious £48,000 pay-off which eventually set in motion a further series of spectacular bungs.

We understand that the latest recipient of Wirral Council largesse is Head of Housing and Community Safety Ian Platt who is heading off into the sunset.

Of course  we’re not allowed to know how much this golden handshake costs us before the meeting is held and we suspect it’ll be the usual arm-wrestle before the council are forced to disclose it.

However we’re led to believe the package is worth £225,000!. Which should be enough to keep Platty in pies well into what we hope is a long and happy retirement.

I suppose we should be grateful at least that , as far as we know,  this package is not linked to misconduct ,malpractice or motivated by political expedience.

As for other matters being discussed  at the Committee we note that Head of Law and Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour is in line for a pay rise. No doubt ‘for services rendered’ and which might we suggest are not always in the public interest!.