‘Bring It On’ – The Brand New World of Wirral Council

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The only way to start this journey was to bravely use honesty of the past in order to present a different future

They call it ’employer brand’

We call it ‘reputation management’

Nowadays the ultimate goal in personal achievement is to become a ‘brand’. From royalty to rock stars to multi-nationals to public institutions. A world where a logo and a strapline become a recognisable saleable commodity and human worth is counted in economic units.

Now if any organisation needed a re-branding we all know its Wirral Council especially after several lamentable attempts in the past which have done nothing to shift the public perception of a toxic,dysfunctional organisation. Those of us who remember ‘What Really Matters’ and ‘Destination Excellence’ might be forgiven for thinking that yet another costly shit-glittering exercise couldn’t any more woeful. We were wrong.

We’ve previously posted a link to Bring It On Wirral  and we would implore you to  particularly view  The Roles .  We think you’ll find it hard to disagree with an apoplectic reader who wrote to us with the following questions :

What the fuck is this????

Who is paying for this?

Why is it only officers, are elected officials irrelevant? 

What is the purpose of this website?

How much is it costing to set up and run?

All we do know is that the media geniuses behind this farrago are Penna . On their website they tell us :

A very recent example of bold EVP development is the work Penna has developed for its client Wirral Council. On a big change journey Wirral asked us to create a leadership employer brand that truly positioned the Council in a fresh, more dynamic and commercially focused way. Through research and fact-finding meetings reviewing their past, present and future we developed some compelling messages aimed at both supporting and challenging some of the perspectives the external audiences held.  

Centred around a leading strapline of “Bring in on” (sic) we developed advertising collateral, a microsite and a video. The investment in attraction will be realised when people have a different view of Wirral and start to see them as an employer of choice. The only way to start this journey was to bravely use honesty of the past in order to present a different future

www.bringitonwirral.co.uk  – Still live the campaign has so far received over 1.25M impressions with 1,500 clicks through to the microsite for more information. Enormously satisfied with the applications so far (and with fresh and new people coming through), we are confident that finding ways of embracing a brand identification (or re-identification) can be fundamental to any such strategy being a success.

There’s more to do to change and embed new perceptions of Wirral, but the campaign is a real positive start. Paul Satoor, Chief Operating Officer said ‘I recognised that we needed to a bold and impactful employer brand if we are serious about what we wanted to achieve. By creating ‘Bring it On’ Penna have captured the essence of our ambition and aspiration, and although we have a long way to go it is an employer brand that we can be proud of and we are already seeing a positive impact on our recruitment campaigns’

Read more here

If you managed to view members of The Senior Team (and some random extras) repeatedly uttering the immortal words ‘ Bring it on’ without gagging you’re doing well – for us it was not so much a case of ‘Bring it on’ but ‘Bring it up’ !  Our first impression was that we don’t know what filter Penna were using on ‘the Senior Team’ but can we suggest that ‘slapped across the face with a frozen kipper’ is not a good look.  We also noticed that it was left  to a kiddiewink to read the line ‘no fibbers’ . Might we suggest that after  finding out that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy don’t exist that Wirral Council having ‘no fibbers’ will be the poor boy’s third big disappointment in life.  More significantly what is Children’s Services Director Paul Boyce doing talking about the Wirral Growth Company? And as for the performance of Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson is there anyone less suited to uttering the gung ho expression ‘Bring it on’ ?

Bring it on ?  Wirral Council should be careful what it wishes for , whatever the branding Wirral Leaks doesn’t need any further encouragement, especially as we ain’t buyin’ what they’re sellin’…

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

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Not so smug now…

And so it would appear that according to the Liverpool Echo  Council suddenly drops man lined up for top job after ‘financial irregularity’ concerns

That man of course being Stewart Halliday , someone we’ve been reporting on and expressing concerns since 2017, mainly about how he could ever be in a position to secure a ‘top job’ at Wirral Council in the first place.  Something that the local mainstream media has studiously avoided – until today . Now apparently, according to a Wirral Council spokesperson:

Some concerns were raised by council officers about potential financial irregularities regarding how a supplier was being paid.These concerns were immediately acted upon, and the contractor has stopped work for the council while further investigations take place. Until those investigations are concluded, no further comment can be made. 

We’re not pre-empting investigations but doesn’t this sound all very reminiscent of what happened  at Halliday’s previous employment at City of York Council (CoYC)?  For those interested in finding out exactly what went on can now read the once secret Strictly Private and Confidential Report that CoYC were once desperate to keep out of the public domain HERE

Although Halliday declined to participate in the investigation we think you can probably work out who is…

Wirral Council can’t say they weren’t warned, especially by us, ( note that Liverpool Echo are careful not to mention the blog that dare not be named) and there are serious questions to be asked ,not least of CEO Eric Robinson’s judgment at appointing someone with dodgy references ,something we highlighted in our post Reference Point where we reported that “…it was Wirral Council who made NO DIRECT APPROACH to CoYC  for a reference for Halliday…”

And this is just the start – we ‘re left wondering whether the Liverpool Echo press release is a spoiler for even bigger news about a high profile departure from Wirral Council? This time the news brings into question the judgment of the ‘Leader’ of Wirral Council when it comes to high profile appointments and indicates to us that the Curse of Leaky Towers may have struck once again…

 

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Twelve – A New Year Present from ‘The Prof’

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Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson – living off the fat of the land (Green Belt included)

‘A retired professor in Bromborough’ with an ‘alternative approach…which a number of people are seeking to attach importance’ Eric Robinson (Wirral Council CEO) on ‘The Prof’ and the people who pay his (over-inflated) salary

‘Be vigilant and defend Wirral in 2019’ – The Prof’

Who do we rely on for our information about Wirral’s Green Belt ladies and gentleman? – ‘The Prof’ or Stressed Eric and his equally overpaid QC (which you also pay for). IOHO the former is cheaper (but priceless) , more reliable and certainly unbiddable.

Gentlemen I thought you might like a small New Year present.

The Wirral Green Belt ‘resistance’ persuaded (Margaret) Greenwood in October
to ask  (Eric) Robinson (Wirral Council CEO)  what the hell is going on. He has just replied with an interesting letter. By accident it contains useful new information on numbers
and their approach to the local plan. They still fail to make clear the bloody
obvious fact that even in the worst case (12,000 houses target ) and using their
own brownfield figures we would only need ~413 acres of green belt not 4,900
acres. ie. just 8.4% of the GB parcel list they published. Using the 7,320
target, they claim they are pushing to the government, we would need just
1.7% of the published list (85 acres). To put all this in perspective the Hoylake
Golf Resort project would build houses on ~300 acres. It’s also clear they have
instructed their expensive QC not to use the flexibility inherent in the national
planning framework.
I have changed my mind about motivation. I now believe the council is happy
to release all the land , 4,900 acres, from the GB in one go …if they can get
away with it. Wirral would then be a bonanza area for developers for decades
to come …far beyond actual local plan requirements. In reality there are
accepted options for a phased release of land as future requirements become
clearer but this would cripple their plans. I believe they fear that government
ONS data will be discredited this year and my forecast of  a need for zero GB
land will be proved. If so they will get no significant GB land development unless
they release it now. See my analysis (below) for more.

COMMENTS ON THE LETTER FROM ERIC ROBINSON TO
MARGARET GREENWOOD MP (Dec. 2018)
I will try to confine my comments mainly to the issue of housing requirement projections and green belt land needs under Robinson’s various letter headings.
‘Lack of Clarity on Wirral’s Housing Needs’
Mr. Robinson gives a one page useful summary of the history and current status of this issue. Unfortunately there are misleading statements involved which need correcting as we go. Mr. Robinson begins with the 2016 SHMA by Lichfield Consultancy. He notes the range of forecasts provided (from among 13 scenarios) as 875 to 1,235 houses per annum. Readers may note that the lower figure is higher than the proposed 803 h/a proposed by the government. However several things must be noted.
The total numbers quoted refer to 18 years not a 15 year period.
These numbers are not based on the approved ‘standard method’ in several respects. Notably they include assumptions about council policy and economic impacts which play no part in the standard method.
They are based on out of date SNPP 2012 population/household data.
The high estimate of population growth from 3 is selected (10,140) although they acknowledge a long term migration scenario based on real history which predicts a population growth of just 66 over 18 years.
Large uplifts are made for assumptions concerning ‘pent up demand’ which depend on optimistic economic forecasts and a high household formation rate.
Also Robinson does not mention the Liverpool LEP job scenario which gives 188 h/a nor the actual recent housing delivery rate of 383 h/a which we can say reflects all factors in play. Six of the 13 scenarios cluster tightly around a rate of 470 h/a or 7,050 in 15 years compared with 875 to 1,235 reported. (This compares with numbers from 5,923 to 7,170 obtained using the standard method from the latest ONS population / household data by this author and the 7,320 obtained by the council).
Based on the raw demographic data in the 2016 SHMA, without doubtful economic uplifts, we would obtain 563 h/a. If we took the average of the two population figures they quote we obtain 284 h/a before uplifts. These yield 2,820 or 4,260 or 8,440 houses over 15 years. One wonders if anyone at the council has read the SHMA report of 2016. It cost us over fifty thousand pounds to produce but its many warnings and caveats were ignored.
The author has no argument with the current standard method as a demographic starting point. Most of the projections made in my own housing report used as a basis for green belt housing requirements, used the standard method. Robinson fails to mention this fact and speaks only of an ‘alternative’ method, seeking to dismiss this work. The real problem as Robinson acknowledges is the quality and instability of the ONS population and household data and I add, the unintelligent use of ‘trend analysis’. Our housing requirements fall from 2012 to 2014 to 2016 not because of the method but because the data is unstable and still suffering from reconciliation problems between the 2001 and 2011 censuses which the ONS acknowledges as a problem nationally. In our case the basic ‘natural’ internal population projections should be quite accurate and can be calculated mechanically. They show the population decline which has been the norm here for decades. Our local problem is that the mechanical application of the ONS trend rules to historical migration data leads to a massive, unrealistic over estimate of net migration into Wirral as my report explained. This was acknowledged also by Lichfield Consultants in the 2016 SMHA as I have repeatedly pointed out, but ‘magiced’ away by referencing the brain-free ONS ‘rules’.
Robinson notes a ‘retired professor in Bromborough’ with an ‘alternative approach…which a number of people are seeking to attach importance’ to. I assume this is me. This is very disingenuous and dismissive. I repeat, my appendix 1 and 2 tables showing the implications for green belt land requirements are based on the standard method and ONS data. I also provided forecasts based on variations of trend analysis to demonstrate how sensitive targets are to slight variations in assumptions and data. I also apply official government variant scenarios on migration and life expectancy scaled to the Wirral, to show the effects of recent events. These further reduce our future housing requirements. The council readily considered the 13 scenarios created in the 2016 SMHA Lichfield Consultancy report so surely ‘a retired professor in Bromborough’ can also legitimately explore and report half a dozen explanatory scenarios? What is the council afraid of? Could it be they fear the Wirral ‘general public’ being properly informed for once about their manipulations?
Robinson’s QC is correct in advising the council that they should prepare a local plan case based on the standard method, whenever that stabilises. However the issue of data is another matter. The ONS data bases are in disarray across the country. At some point this will be challenged by some, competent, well informed local authorities. Wirral should be prepared for this by looking closely at all the relevant local historical demographic data with emphasis on migration projections… as I have attempted to begin to do. I will continue to seek out independent (official) data, such as registered voters, which allows dependable population, migration and household trends to be estimated for use in the standard model: we cannot rely on ONS projections or ‘estimates’ between censuses. They are completely discredited …as the recent government panic reactions prove.
‘Wirral Waters’, etc & Green Belt Land Requirements
Robinson’s note provides additional, new information on council assumptions. He tells us that ‘any figure over about 406 houses per year (equivalent to 6,090 over 15 years) would trigger a need to consider land to be released from the Green Belt’. Let us use the council’s own numbers to see what this actually means. On the September 2018 ONS household projections and the standard method the council says we need 7,320 houses. This is about right. This means that we need 7,320 – 6090 = 1,230 house places on GB land. The average government NW density figure is 14.5 houses per acre so we would need just 84.8 acres of GB. But the local plan GB release land parcels amount to ~4,900 acres. This is 58 X the area actually needed to meet the housing target. However the council may be forced to accept the earlier 2014 ONS data based target of 12,045 houses. This means that 12,045 – 6090 = 5,995 house places on GB would be needed. But this is just 413 acres compared with the 4,900 acres up for release. The GB release area proposed is 11.9 X the area required in the council’s own worst case scenario.
Why is it that these critical facts have not been explained to the public? I suggest that it is intended to muddy the waters. If 4,900 acres of GB land are released in this local plan ‘because the council is being forced to by the government…we have no choice’, developers (and the council) can relax and cherry pick the (up to) 413 acres actually needed, for maximum profit and convenience all round: perhaps over the full 15 years plan period. But this leaves ~4,487 acres of released GB permanently available for building, beyond the highest local plan requirements, if all the currently proposed GB land parcels are released.
Wirral would become from now on, the ultimate free for all target area for developers and speculators in the northwest. No doubt that is the plan, unless it is stopped.
If we wish to preserve Wirral in anything like its present form, the public must object loudly in the final public consultation on the Local Plan in 2019 if more than the absolute maximum said to be necessary, 413 acres of GB land, is put forward for release.
The release of 4,900 acres in one ‘apocalypse now’, is totally unjustified on the council’s own data and worst case assumptions.
It may be by mid 2019 that a revised standard methodology and an ONS data challenge will show an even smaller GB area is actually needed than 413 acres. I will continue to look into this. I suggest that when the dust settles we will find a demographic housing need of less than 3,000 houses. However the other side of the equation is how much land is available outside current green belt. Current council claims on this also need to be looked at very carefully. Robinson quotes a number of 6,090 house places available on non-GB land. Let us examine this against published brown field sites (as surveyed by the council), the contentious Peel/Wirral Waters numbers and actual empty house refurbishment.
Earlier this year the council said it had identified 2,400 places on 91 ‘brown field’ sites. This would leave 6,090 – 2,400 = 3,690 other identified places on non-GB sites. What are these? What about the Peel plans? Robinson spends considerable space in his letter attacking the Peel position, which continues the council stance taken throughout 2018. Peel were identified to the public as the villains of the piece. Robinson rejects Peel’s ‘higher scenario’ offer which presumably is the 13,571 dwellings with outline planning permission. However Peel made it clear to the government and in a public letter in 2018, that this figure only ever applied to the full 30 year Wirral Waters project span. The ‘medium scenario’ offer was 6,450 dwellings subject to council financial support on infrastructure, etc. Robinson does not mention the minimum delivery offer from Peel of 2,900 dwellings which appears to come with few strings attached (see below). One would think that urgent negotiations would now be under way with Peel and it appears Robinson’s ‘leading’ QC has sent a letter to elicit, after several years of discussion, a detailed development schedule.
N.B. From Robinson’s letter the position appears to be that the council will take the hardest interpretation of the NPPF rules in putting forward non-GB land availability and other matters in the local plan. One could see this as a cautious, conservative approach but there has been much discussion nationally about NPPF interpretation and implicit flexibility on ‘availability’, ‘deliverability’, ‘viability’, etc. If the council is not intending to seek out this flexibility and use it, by so directing their expensive QC, Wirral residents might reasonably assume that it simply wants to release as much Green Belt land as possible by hiding behind alleged ‘harsh Conservative government’ rules and ‘unreliable development partners’. Residents might wonder why. See above.
Let us return now to the numbers game. The unidentified 3,690 places on non-GB land implied by Robinson can be compared with the lower, deliverable Peel offer of 2,900 dwellings. Using this leaves 3,690 – 2,900 = 790 houses or ~53 houses per annum. Despite the negative bluster perhaps Robinson actually expects Peel to deliver their minimum offer at least. The other 790 houses may come from empty house recovery. Data supplied by a councillor suggested there were ~4,000 (> 6 months) empty houses on Wirral in 2017. In recent years the average house recovery rate (by the council) was ~238 h/a (based on their own data). So recovery of ~53 h/y or higher should be quite feasible in future.
In my local plan submission I included two tables showing the impact of various brown field options on GB requirements. I can now update these using the new council data from Robinson, for the readers’ interest. We keep the 2,400 brown field council data and the 790 houses inferred from recovery, in total 3,190. Suppose now the council comes to an accommodation with Peel on their ‘medium scenario’. This would replace 2,900 with 6,450 giving in total 9,640 dwellings. If we allowed double the inferred empty house recovery rate we have 53 x 2 = 106 p/a. This still only 44% of the actual recent rate. In this case we would have in total 9,640 + 790 = 10,430 places on brown field sites. Green Belt land needed in the worst (target) case becomes 12,045 – 10,340 = 1,705 dwelling places or ~118 acres compared with proposed 4,900 acres of parcel release.
Now it is accepted that local plans will be regularly reviewed and evolve over time as Robinson tells us in his letter. At worst then, we start with a stated need for ~413 acres of GB land over 15 years. But assuming a modest level of competence in the council and good will between Peel and the council, the ‘medium scenario’, deliverable in say 5 or 10 years time, implies only ~118 acres of GB is needed in total. I would assume that a ‘leading’ QC would be able to elegantly mount the appropriate arguments about land release phasing.
However the council points to a need for only 7,320 houses during the plan period based on the most recent 2016 ONS projections and the standard method. If this becomes accepted again, or this is forced upon the government by evidence presented by a number of councils with competence and backbones, or by independent analysts, the Peel ‘medium scenario’ tells us that total brown field places would be 10,430 and so NO Green Belt at all is needed to meet the local plan, as I argued clearly in my local plan submissions in September 2018. It is probable that it will soon emerge that the ONS demographic projection system is broken and the local authority level ONS data generally is unreliable for important decision making. However we should not rely passively on this scandal breaking.
If the council genuinely wishes to protect our Green belt as it repeatedly states, it should prioritise three actions:
Stop playing political games and negotiate urgently with Peel Holdings.

Accept the standard method but challenge the ONS population and household projections for Wirral. Among other things: consult other councils with similar misleading data problems and organise resistance; jointly commission a formal critique of the ONS automatic trend rules and data stability e.g. from the Royal Statistical Society; seek independent (but official) data to establish actual Wirral net migration trends as these dominate, unrealistically, all the government projections.

Present a phased local plan to the full extent the ‘rules’ allow, emphasising the national failings and problems with the ONS data and projection methods: the clear aim being to limit the release of GB land to the minimum necessary at any given time and NOT the reverse, which appears to be the current policy.
‘Green belt and urban sprawl’
The council does have an obligation to properly assess all available alternatives. It may choose to assess all GB parcels put forward as available for development. But to be clear: it is not obliged to release any GB land in excess of that needed to make up any shortfall from available brown field sites. We have shown that even with the worst case target using the government standard method and data, only ~ 8.4% of the council proposed GB release list would be needed. On the forecast based on the 2016 ONS data, argued (we are assured) by the council, to the government, only ~1.7% of the GB release list would be needed.
The letter gives some hints as to how the ~8% might be selected. Such sites ‘are either physically enclosed by the wider urban area or would not reduce the physical separation between existing Settlement Areas…which means their impact on urban sprawl would be much less when compared with other parts of the GB.’ These are weasel words which local activists need to look at carefully in each case. Note particularly Robinson’s comments on Irby, Thingwall, Pensby, Heswall and parts of Barnston and Gayton. Since these are all part of SA7 one gets the impression anything goes here. However the local plan background documents also discuss the attraction (in the minds of council planners) of creating a hard (neat) green belt boundary at the M53 by ‘filling in’ the whole area of high quality farm land to its east side from Storeton down to Poulton Hall and again at Eastham. Nobody living here can feel relaxed with such openly declared, Big Brother thinking. However Robinson tries to reassure us by saying ‘some of these sites may [still] be found unsuitable for other reasons, which would need to be demonstrated on the basis of technical evidence.’ However in the Infrastructure section of his letter we learn that as yet no assessments have been made in several key areas: transport, strategic flood risk, agriculture, biodiversity and sustainability. The council ‘will be commissioning a series of technical and environmental studies…’ but ‘specialist consultants’ have yet to be appointed as 2018 ends. We are told that at least the council is talking to education and health service providers. Let us hope so.
The author, given that we are now ‘Borough of Culture 2019’, notes there is no mention of assessing the impact of GB housing estates on our rich historical heritage on Wirral. To take just one example, powerful evidence now exists that the great Battle of Brunanburh, the equal of Hastings in defining English history, took place in the area between Storeton Village / Higher Bebington and Poulton Hall with the centre near Clatterbridge. Most of this land area is east of the M53 and it is all on the GB release list. Already, even before general GB release, the building of 27 luxury homes has been approved (on appeal) on GB land next to historic Storeton Hall, which will be converted into luxury apartments. It is widely believed, based on known commercial links and clear conflicts of interest, that the council made only a limp wristed attempt to stop this development at the appeal. This is the future of Wirral GB, chopped up quietly, piece by piece, unless the government and council are challenged strongly on all matters discussed earlier and on the basis of hard evidence. Much more could be said about misleading council behaviour. Be vigilant and defend Wirral in 2019.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

Is There Anything Wrong With This Picture?

We thought we’d follow up a post from April 2017 titled:  Is There Anything Wrong With This Page? in which we called into question the inflated remuneration of Wirral Council chief officers. This time we’d like to concentrate on Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ( £178,158 pa + Returning Officer ‘expenses’) and pose the question ‘Is there anything wrong with this picture?

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The above picture is the profile picture from the Wirral Food Bank Facebook page where we find Stressed Eric posing smugly at a foodbank like only someone on  his salary could and if it’s something to celebrate. But then again as we identified in 2015 -forget about Wirral Growth Company , Wirral’s Growth Industry : Foodbanks

As we wrote at the time :

In our experience the only area of growth on Wirral that we can identify are foodbanks.

That’s hardly surprising as my goodness our Wirral politicians love those foodbanks don’t they ?- it’s a pity some of them have never been reliant on one.Let’s face it having to live off tins of spaghetti hoops and spam might make them focus their minds before they issue their next caring,sharing soundbite…

We wonder whether Stressed Eric is donating his ‘Returning Officer ‘ (£10K +)  expenses to charities yet – just  as former Wirral CEO Steve Maddox used to do. Perhaps his contribution to Wirral’s foodbanks will be to provide a continuing supply of volunteers/customers as Wirral Council staff are being asked if they’d  like to take up Eric’s offer of redundancy/retirement to meet the ‘ongoing financial challenges’ of Wirral Council, one of which, might we suggest, is the excessive salaries of senior officers and external consultants!

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The Revolutionary Spirit

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OK it might be a bit of hyperbole on our part but do you sense the revolutionary spirit pervading the air ?  We suppose we need to clarify what we mean by that. We don’t mean storming the barricades and sitting at a guillotine with your knitting  – after all this is sleepy,complacent Wirral where political apathy has ,until recently, been the order of the day . However never before have we experienced such a willingness of local people to challenge the powers that be – whether it be litter enforcement fines,parking charges, NHS cuts ,threats to the Green Belt and the latest campaign by Wallasey Hands Off Our Fire Station (WHOOFS) which led to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority postponing closure proposals allowing the Fire Brigades Union and WHOOFS more time to campaign – and we say good luck to them!

We admit that we’re pushing it by claiming that Jo Bird being elected as Bromborough councillor to replace teen sensation Warren Ward with a 14% reduction in majority is also a sign of disaffection and mistrust of local politicians as it could equally be the aforementioned political apathy (as a 22.7% voter turnout is absolutely woeful) . However it does give us the opportunity to publish the Wirral Globe picture announcing the election result which looks like a still from a low budget remake of the political mind-control conspiracy thriller ‘The Manchurian Candidate’  which has been renamed ‘The Wirralian Candidate’.

Jo Bird

Here we see, centre of picture,  Jo ‘Lady in Red’ Bird herself, overdressed and overdoing it with the red (yes,yes we get it! – you’re a ‘passionate’ Labour supporter!) Then to the right we have a sighting of that rare bird ,Wirral CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson, lurking in the background trousering yet another substantial cheque for his onerous Returning Officer role ( i.e reading out the election results). Why do we get this strange urge to photoshop a little moustache on his face? Her Ladyship observed that he reminds her of an historical figure who also headed up an evil regime that thrived on fear and propaganda. Who could she possibly mean? Having said that, after viewing the still from CCTV footage we published last week, we think it’s fair to say Stressed Eric is still far down the pecking order when it comes to representing  ‘The Ugly Face of Wirral Council’ . However the most bizarre aspect of this shot is the Lib Dem (?) on the left and the candidate’s jumper which appears to have the subliminal message ‘KILL’ subtly stitched on it – which if you ask us is taking the ‘revolutionary spirit’ a tad too far!

However the feature photo (and the photo below ) is what we believe to be conclusive evidence of the mood that is sweeping the peninsula and shows former leader/mayor/political opportunist Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes demonstrating on social media his deep understanding of the revolutionary spirit by dressing up as a sans-culottes French revolutionary and brandishing a bottle of gin.

Foulkesy is 40% proof positive of the revolutionary spirit…

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The Art of Artifice

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Our thanks go to one of our readers who has sent us some eye-popping pop art. At first we thought to ourselves :  “Here’s someone with too much times on their hands and a penchant for pulp fiction. Quick! Press the ‘Block’ button .” However they went on to explain that the above collage was specially created to commemorate the appointment of  Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies to Arts Council England. Although we’d all be be forgiven for thinking the appointment was to the Arse Council knowing as we do that the nearest that Pip gets to culture is licking the lid of the yoghurt pot ( now there’s an image to haunt you for the rest of the day).

Our featured artist who goes by the name of Toulouse Le Plot further explained that their kids helped them with ‘the muriel’ as a) it was the school holidays b) it was never too early to teach your kids about local politics and yet be creative at the same time.

However back to the latest Pip appointment. His  place on the organisation’s North area council follows a visit to Wirral by its chief Darren ‘Hooray’ Henley, who inevitably described Wirral as a ‘creative hub for the entire region’.

Yes , Tristram  – whatever you say sweetheart. Our Hugo then went into luvvie-overdrive:

“As I stood in Birkenhead looking across the River Mersey to Liverpool’s impressive skyline with its stunning mix of old and new architecture, I was reminded of a recent visit to New York.Just as the Wirral look across the water towards Liverpool, so Brooklyn stares out across the East River towards Manhattan.The latter has traditionally been thought of as being the glitzier of the two areas, with its towering skyscrapers dominating the landscape and looking down on the other less successful parts of the city. But for me, it’s Brooklyn, on the other side of the river, where one of New York’s more exciting stories has unfolded over recent years. Following a sustained and well thought out programme of investment, it’s now a hotbed of creativity, with artists, designers and techies making this formerly rundown neighbourhood an exciting and vibrant place to live and work.Derelict buildings have been brought back to life.They’re now thriving creative communities, home to a network of makers who imagine, invent and build everything from traditional craft products to high end computer software.

As I stood in Birkenhead, it struck me that Brooklyn is a model for the Wirral…”

Read full story here :  Arts appointment for council ‘leader’

Has Rupert been drinking in the Brew Dog bar with Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ?-  ” Mine’s a pint of ‘Desperate Illusion’ what are you having old chap? I thoroughly recommend  ‘Mersey Mirage’ created by local artisan brewers Chimera & Artifice’ . Don’t worry dear boy we can put it on expenses…”

Did Giles and Eric independently come up with the ‘Birkenhead Should Be Brooklyn, Not Another Manhattan’ tagline? Or is it a case of deluded minds think alike?

As he seems to be so enamoured of the place no doubt Sebastian is eyeing up a penthouse suite in one of the thousands and thousands of luxury apartments that Peel Group are currently building on Wirral Waters. Perhaps when Sebastian moves in we can make a house-warming gift of a limited edition signed print of our commemorative collage . As a mash up of the local art and political scene we’re sure Tarquin will give the picture pride of place in his pop up art gallery .

Stressed Eric’s Vision : A Big Yellow Taxi Driving All Over The Green Belt

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We’ll leave the final words on putative plans to ‘pave paradise and put up a parking lot’ and proudly preview  ‘The Prof”s perfect riposte to the Cllr George Davies letter published in this week’s Wirral Globe . Let’s hope ‘The Prof’ gets equal prominence in next week’s publication.

TRUE LIES

George Davies’ Globe letter in response to mine demonstrates finally the degree to which Wirral residents have been let down by this council…and previous councils. The 20,620 sites with planning permission for building clearly EXPLICIT in Phil Davies letter to the Housing Minister in 31.01.18 were a mirage. The list of villains is increasing! First we had the ‘wicked government’ referred to by George Davies attacking our Green Belt and now the ‘wicked’  Peel Group who, to the ‘surprise and frustration’ of the council, have pointed out to the government that actually they only ever intended to build on 2,700 of the 13,521 sites under their control with planning permission. Have our naive council been stitched up by the developers or is somebody lying? Either way, Wirral residents are being poorly served. In his final thrust George Davies yet again conflates the issue of the council’s LEGAL, statutory duty to produce a Local Plan (some 18 year late) with the Green Belt issue. I repeat : we are being softened up for some hard decisions forced upon residents by decades of council incompetence and neglect. I have written and circulated an independent analysis of Green Belt sites in my own neighbourhood using the criteria defined by the council itself and and I urge local action groups to do the same in their areas and lobby local councillors as we are doing. A copy of my analyses has been sent to the Wirral Council Heritage Officer for the record. I would be happy to supply copies to any Green Belt activist groups via the Globe.

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

With all this all talk of housing developments and artist’s impressions and threats to the Green Belt going on and with Wirral Council’s CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson ‘s soon to be legendary comment that ‘Birkenhead Should Be Brooklyn, Not Another Manhattan’ ringing in our ears we’re minded once again to recall the lyrics to the song
‘Big Yellow Taxi’:

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique ( Hoylake Golf Resort?)
and a swinging hot spot ( The Townhouse ?)
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got

Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum ( finally a use for Birkenhead Town Hall?)
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em (a new income stream for the cash strapped council?)

 

Peel, Pillow Talk and Forked Tongues

As a follow up to yesterday’s Peel group story and as promised we bring you news of a significant appointment at Wirral Council which has surprisingly gone unheralded.

So ladies and gentleman we proudly present to you , Brian Bailey , who from last month has been Wirral Council’s Corporate Director for Economic and Housing Growth  Brian Bailey 015

As you can see he has a very familiar profile to the unlamented former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess. Indeed they would have worked together at Blackburn with Darwen Council as Bailey was there between 2001-18 .

We can only surmise his former CEO and mentor at Blackburn with Darwen Council must have given him some sage advice. Something along the lines of : ” Fill yer boots. Just don’t get too big for’em or Frank’ll have you out in a flash”

So how was Bailey’s appointment greeted by long suffering staff at Wallasey Town Hall? This is typical of the correspondence received by Wirral Leaks but is particularly interesting in the light of recent press coverage as it reveals a significant connection to Peel Group:

Hello —

See attached the Google search for Delyse Bailey, the wife of Wirral Council’s new regen and economic chief Brian Bailey. Weirdly (or not so weirdly) the LinkedIn profile in question has now been deleted. The council has deals with Peel — and the new guy in charge of the councils relationship will be liaising directly with his wife! It comes at a time when MPs in the borough are launching scathing attacks on Peel for land banking (see Angela Eagle article published on the Globe online). Councillors like Angie Davies have also waded in.
Was Brian’s appointment a Conflict of Interest? Was due diligence even done for this £120k plus role? It stinks. We lower-ranking officers are sick of the incompetency at the top, it emanates from Eric Robinson.
Question surely is what’s going on at an officer level in Wallasey Town Hall? Incompetency, incompetency, incompetency.
This info needs to come out.
Yours,
Wallasey Town Hall insider
IMG_0048 (1)
We just wonder whether Brian and Delyse might have had a little chinwag over the breakfast table or indulged in some pillow talk about Peel Group’s plans for Wirral Waters which somehow didn’t filter their way through to the leader of Wirral Council, Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies?
Meanwhile current Wirral CEO Eric Robinson is given a platform at a conference held in Manchester to spout the usual bollocks about Wirral Council’s Local Plan ( i.e. they don’t have one and haven’t had one for years):

Wirral’s Local Plan

Wirral Council chief executive Robinson opened the event with a presentation outlining the upcoming opportunities in the borough as it looks to put in place its Local Plan.

  • Wirral is one of three authorities in the country that does not have a Local Plan, but is now proposing a major review of green belt land, which will see the proportion of green belt in the borough drop from 46% to 32%
  • The “big thing” for the plan was to transform Birkenhead, with a “fantastic opportunity” in place to reverse the decline that has impacted the area for nearly 50 years
  • He said the area needed a “younger, more vibrant offer” particularly around Hamilton Square, with options around Birkenhead including a new civic centre, leisure centre, offices, and residential, as part of the Wirral Growth Company’s plans being delivered in partnership with Muse
  • Reflecting on the area’s relationship with Liverpool, Robinson said: “Birkenhead should be Brooklyn, not another Manhattan”
  • However, Robinson said the Local Plan would look to adopt a “brownfield-first” approach to development, and would look to benefit “the whole of Wirral”
  • The chief executive, who has been in post since 2015, said the council had become “much more commercial and business-like in its approach” following changes at the top, and had taken steps to improve skills within the council including doubling its planning team

Full story here : Meet the Authorities: Public-Private Partnerships

Whilst it was bizarrely reassuring to find that Eric Feeble finally acknowledged that Birkenhead had been in decline for half a century we have a horrible vision of him, Bailey and growing horde of ‘transformers’ and ‘planners’ in t-shirts emblazoned with the message :

BIRKENHEAD SHOULD BE BROOKLYN, NOT ANOTHER MANHATTAN      

Green Gauge Summer

Green Siege 003

Another week , another front page shock horror probe about the Green Belt courtesy of Wirral Globe.

Following on from Wirral Council’s CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson coming out from under his desk at Wallasey Town Hall to make a special guest appearance and announce his deep and heartfelt concern about Wirral’s green and pleasant land we now have a ‘leaked document’ which has been sent to the Wirral View , sorry , we mean Wirral Globe.

This ‘leaked document’ – yeah right ! -‘leaked’ from Wallasey Town Hall HQ  with full approval of council leaders and their lackeys by the looks of it- apparently tells us that :

A MAJOR assault will be launched on Wirral’s precious Green Belt land, the Globe can reveal.

In a leaked document seen by this newspaper, acres of protected space have been earmarked to be sold-off to developers in order for the council to meet Government-set housing targets.

The controversial proposals, which target 14 wards across the peninsula, “will fundamentally change the nature of our community.” Full story here : Leaked Document

Note how  councillors Phillip ‘Brightboy’ Brightmore and Angela Davies don’t seem particularly bothered that the document has been leaked with the former commenting that : “Residents will be rightly outraged at these proposals……”

No sorry to have to tell you  Phil , sweetheart , but what residents are pissed off about is being subject to the cynical media manipulation that’s going on here.

Is anyone taken in by this carefully orchestrated bullshit? Shall we gauge this summer by the amount of bogus stories about the alleged threat to Wirral’s Green Belt that clearly emanate from the power elite within Wallasey Town Hall?

Oh and can anyone identify where the Hoylake Golf Resort proposal is on the ‘Green Belt threat map’ – or is that not considered a threat? And if not why not?…

 

Summer Shorts : The Heat is On 2 – Quo Bono?

Green Belt Eric 008

This follow up to yesterday’s bogus  Stressed Eric ‘Green Belt’ Wirral Globe story is a timely reminder that on Wirral there is a need to question every front page ‘exclusive’ , especially when it comes to timing and motivation.

We are grateful for ‘The Prof’ for giving us a sneak preview of this  letter to the Globe editor

The Globe report on Green Belt development, quoting Eric Robinson, is puzzling.

We are told that ‘there is no other option’ than to build on the Green Belt and it’s the wicked government’s fault. It seems we must build 12,000 new homes by 2035 or ~700 per annum. This is all very strange.In February Phil Davies wrote to the CLG & H minister, Sajid Javid,  to reassure him all was well.

Here are the key bits:

‘Planning permission is currently in place for 16,098 homes, including 2,577 on existing urban and previously developed sites and up to 13,521 dwellings at a large regeneration site …at Wirral Waters…The council’s SHLAA  to April 2017 shows the potential for a further 4,531 dwellings, subject to viability…’Taking these numbers in total we have 20,620 homes with planning permission, or 29 years worth at the required rate of building. We are also told that ‘1,315 new dwellings were under construction in April 2017 compared to only 475 in April 2016’ an average of 895 homes per year in recent years compared with the average needed rate of ~700.

Clearly the ‘government’ required rate of building is possible to meet. Robinson’s view that new Green Belt land must be used is therefore puzzling. I also note Javid’s comment that Wirral ‘is not an area of high housing pressure’ which is interesting. Javid’s attack was not about numbers but about Wirral’s failure to meet the statutory duty to have a Local Plan in place. The last plan was published in 2000 !

To conflate statutory plan duties with Green Belt release issues is arguably mischievous. Is all this blather something to do with forcing through pet council Green Belt schemes like the ‘Golf Resort’? Tax payers might reasonably ask, Quo Bono?

Professor D P Gregg (retired)

So there we have a perfect riposte with facts,figures and everyfink ! – and ending with the pertinent question as to who benefits from bogus front page stories like this ?
PS  Oh and to the reader who asked us whether the name at bottom left of the Globe picture was a subliminal message – well spotted. You win a Chinese meal , a recording device and four blank cheques courtesy of Wirral Council.