The Liptrot Mystery

Evans

Opposition councillors seem unusually curious about the recent controversial appointment of Council leader Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’Davies political ally , Martin Liptrot(sky) to the post of  ‘Interim’ Investment Lead .

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15173137.Special_meeting_heats_up_as_Wirral_councillors_clash_over_controversial_new_job_for_Labour_s_policy_chief/

And so they might be! The ongoing saga is worthy of an Agatha Christie murder mystery ….. but who knows where the bodies are buried !?

Of course we anticipated such an appointment long ago The Uncanny and the Corrupt

That’s not because we have second sight, it’s simply because, by now, we know all Wirral Council’s plot devices.

So before we get to the heart of the mystery, let us set out the story so far. Are you sitting comfortably? – because we guarantee you won’t be for much longer!

Remember when we exclusively announced Liptrot’s arrival at Wirral Council and questioned how his ‘Policy Advisor’ post came about?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/all-hail-the-new-king-of-spin/

Remember when we questioned his apolitical credentials when he was appointed to a politically restricted post despite declaring his long held Labour Party affiliations all over social media ?

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/a-political-mr-liptrot/

Who can forget when Wirral Globe disclosed that leaked toecurling early morning email exchange between Liptrot and Pip?  Where the former, in full on diva mode, appears to be calling the shots – complaining about his pay and bemoaning the fact that he has to hand in time sheets to Super Duper Director  Joe Blott  – oh the shame!

“Apparently I’m supposed to work for 24 quid an hour and hand time sheets to Joe Blott [strategic director].Clearly that is both insulting and wildly unrealistic for the scope of the role we are discussing.There is no way I’m going to earn even less than I am now. We need to work out what we need to agree and you will probably have to just step up and tell everyone what you want doing in the end. Let’s talk tomorrow.’

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14306240.Emails_give_extraordinary_insight_into_Wirral_Council_s_controversial_hiring_of_former_Labour_spin_doctor/

And so having set the scene we move on to the latest chapter in the charmed life of Mr Liptrot and his latest ‘transformation'(!) as ‘Interim’ Investment Lead at Wirral Council.

An extraordinary series of extracts from leaked emails details the ‘bureaucratic machinations’ behind this latest appointment and provides us with even more plot twists……..

Firstly , we might recall that  24 councillors  issued  a ‘Notice of Motion’ in respect of, what was at the time, the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ in response to the Labour Cabinet meeting held on 16 January .  This meeting was chaired by Power Boy Pip and included a report calling for the removal of ‘Call – in’ , thus denying opposition councillors the opportunity to ask any awkward questions about the post. The report stated :

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

Head of Law Surjit Tour clarified the situation : ‘Cabinet agreed to waive ‘call-in’ in accordance with the Constitution and the decision is therefore implementable immediately notwithstanding the request for an extraordinary council having been made and agreed. Council at the extraordinary council meeting is being invited to scrutinise the creation of the post and decide whether it is justified – but council would only be expressing its opinion/view in respect of the post and its justification. The decision maker remains the Executive and the decision in question remains implementable.’

The post was advertised via  Wirral Council’s temporary worker system (Matrix) . Matrix passed on the job specification to recruitment agencies at an equivalent day rate of £195.

Initially six applications were received. However according to Wirral Council’s HR  : ‘none of the applicants met the specification. We  have received feedback from the agencies that the remuneration is not sufficient to attract calibre candidates.Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we are sourcing an Interim role – Interim Investment Lead on an interim rate, but for a shorter period of time’

HR went on to later add :‘The agencies feedback that they could potentially source some applicants at £350 day , but the calibre we required is likely to be £500 day. Given the urgent requirement for the additional capacity and limited budget we need to increase the day rate .’

Frankly it is simply an astonishing state of affairs when so-called committed, and no doubt ‘passionate’ public servants, don’t consider it worthwhile getting out of bed for less than £350 a day!  And of course the recruitment agencies are going to advocate such a hike in the daily rate because presumably it means more money for them! All of which means that public authorities are held a hostage to fortune!

Needless to say when the post was advertised at the higher rate, 13 further applications were received !

5 candidates were shortlisted. One of the candidates was unable to make the interview date and one candidate withdrew. And in true Agatha Christie fashion :  ‘And then there were 3’. These interviews took place on 15 February 2017.

Initially we understand that Asif Hamid was due to be on the interview panel but he mysteriously withdrew to be replaced , inevitably, by Wirral Chamber of Commerce chum Paula Basnett. Clare Fish , Wirral Council’s Executive Director for Strategy was also a late absentee. This left :

  • Alan Evans, Strategic Commissioner for Growth (Chair of the Panel)
  • Stephen Butterworth, Interim Strategic Project Support
  • Sally Shah, Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment
  • Paula Basnett, Chief Executive, Wirral Chamber of Commerce
  • Ellen Cutler, Director Inward Investment, Liverpool Vision

Now as we know the successful candidate was our leading suspect Martin Liptrot who was awarded an an initial 4 month contract  @ £350 a day.

However the  mystery here is whether the panel made the appointment or was the final decision made by Power Boy Pip and his supine CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson?

The Extraordinary Council meeting held earlier this week was an attempt by some curious councillors to find the answer to this whodunnit and other mysteries surrounding the case. However the Labour group were anxious to shut this line of enquiry down with Cllr Brian Kenny squeaking up for a ‘guillotine’ thereby reducing the time available for debating the issue.

Perhaps curious opposition councillors should seek clues about the recruitment process from Alan Evans, the Strategic Commissioner for Growth, who chaired the selection panel?

We understand that Evans’ unsung team in Department of Regeneration have been doing some excellent work  behind the scenes  and we can only wonder what they must feel about the influx of Johnny-Come -Lately’s such as Liptrot  who ,under the guise of ‘transformers’ , appear to be muscling in on their act and potentially taking the credit for their work.

We await further plot developments with great interest!

Transformers

Transformer

Take a walk on the mild side.

A frightened and downtrodden Wirral Council employee has written to us to throw some light of the ‘transformation agenda’ and throw some shade on those responsible for it :
“I’m a regular reader of your blog and would like to say congratulations on the good work you do. I am also a Wirral Council minion so although I have often wanted to contribute I kept quiet.  But I am moved to write by reading all about the amounts the council is spending on ‘Transformation’ consultants. In your blog you asked if anyone knew about the ‘interim head of transformation’.  I can tell you some things that might help. The interim head of transformation is called Stephen Butterworth.  He previously worked in Staffordshire with Eric Robinson, and has been working at Wirral since Eric got him in in the summer of 2015…….. He certainly makes sure everyone knows how close he is to Eric.  I would reckon that the amount mentioned in the  (Wirral) Globe has to be a tiny fraction of what he has pocketed so far.
The council have just appointed a Director of Transformation and already have a Senior Manager of  Transformation, they are now trying to recruit a temporary Head of Business Change as well as the ‘interim head of transformation’, not to mention Stewart Halliday and Jane Clayson – the programme managers all with their noses in the trough. 
Butterworth’s achievements so far in Wirral appear to be absolutely nothing but spending tax money on overpaid consultants.  I think he is the one driving all this crap about ‘alternative delivery models’, but nobody dares to argue with him because he’ll just run off to Eric.  
I read that he was on the interview panel for Liptrot’s job.  No wonder Eric couldn’t stop Phil Davies employing his mate, as Eric has brought his own mate in in the same way just not with as much publicity. 
  
It is disgusting that the council is spending so much on these vultures when services are being cut.
Our source did indeed call it correct when they said that they read somewhere that Butterworth sat on the interview panel that ‘appointed’ Liptrot to the post of ‘Investor Development Manager’
We reported it here first : Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe
Indeed Conservative councillor Lesley Rennie damned us with faint praise at last night’s Extraordinary Council meeting to discuss ‘The Liptrot Affair’ by revealing that she only found about who was on the Liptrot appointment panel  : ‘ via Wirral Leaks. Thank goodness for them in some ways, but that’s no way to run an open and transparent Council ‘ (cue muffled jeers from the Labour benches).
You can see footage of this revelation at 20.50 of John Brace’s recording here :
However just to clarify we understand the panel didn’t actually appoint Liptrot(sky) – Cllr Davies aka Power Boy Pip did – but let’s not split heirs (to a fortune)!
We also note from last night’s meeting how Pip and co were doing the ‘affronted maiden aunt’ routine – a trick no doubt picked up from Auntie Frank Field’s repertoire – a man who has feigned outrage down to a fine art – and were bemoaning the ‘ lambasting’ of poor ,defenceless public servant Liptrot(sky).
However if the ruling Wirral Council administration continue to make a series of dubious high cost appointments, what do they expect?  Public scrutiny and ‘distasteful’ criticism comes with the territory and if Liptrot doesn’t like it he can fly off back to Florida!

The Hard Sell

Cannes Shah

Sitting in the shadow of Liverpool – here’s Wirral Council’s chief this week in Cannes.That’s him – the one in the blue shirt on the bottom right. Surely you didn’t think we meant that useless sack of potatoes top left?

It’s been the week of the Wirral hard sell.

The figure £1 billion has been bandied about about how much investment is heading to Wirral (or rather ,Birkenhead ,which is being branded ‘the capital of Wirral’) with slavish Liverpool Echo screaming headlines  ‘£1 BILLION VISION FOR WIRRAL’

Wirral’s ‘leaders’ touting their tawdry wares in the South of France and Downing Street and according to the newly launched ‘Wirral. Well made.’ ( who thought that branding was a good idea?) aspiring that Wirral become the ‘Brooklyn of the North West’ – is that to Liverpool’s Manhattan?- with the dullest promotional launch ever. This would appear to be the brainchild of Sally Shah who apparently is ‘Lead Commissioner: Place and Investment’ – so yes, yet another highly paid public asset stripper on the Wirral Council payroll.

And then we have the Peel Holdings (up) gegging in with its ‘university of the sea’ plans for Wirral Waters with hundreds of jobs and sunshine,lollipops and rainbows for everyone!- again accompanied with the obligatory artist’s impression and yet more Echo headlines

And it doesn’t end there here comes the ‘asset transformation strategy’ and the formation of the Wirral Growth Company.

Wirral Growth 011

The hard sell meets the big sell off.

An Extraordinary Council

an-extraordinary-council-010

An email has been sent to all Members of the Council concerning an extraordinary meeting to take place to discuss the urgent appointment to the soon to be notorious/infamous  ‘Investor Development Manager’ post

To all Members of the Council

Dear Councillor,

Would you please note that the Mayor has called an extraordinary meeting of the Council to be held on Monday, 6 March, 2017, at 5.30pm.

This extraordinary meeting has been called at the request of 24 Members, in accordance with Standing Order 1(4), to consider a Notice of Motion in respect of the creation of ‘a senior post of Investor Development Manager’ (requisition notice attached).

This extraordinary meeting will precede the Budget Council meeting which will be held at 6.00pm, or upon the rising of the 5.30pm meeting, whichever is the later.

A summons for the meeting will be published nearer the time.

The story has already been reported here:

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15056994.Twist_in_the_tale_as_special_meeting_called_after_Wirral_councillors_are_banned_from_asking_questions_over_new_business_chief/

And previously a report to Cabinet on 16 January 2017  dealt with the appointment as follows…

‘Although this was not a key decision, in the light of the time critical nature of these activities, it was considered necessary to request that call-in be waived. This would enable the activities to progress at once and, therefore, ensure that work was completed in time to meet deadlines for key events such as MIPIM. Due to the absence of the Chief Executive, and on his behalf, the Assistant Chief Executive had recommended that call-in be waived’.

A request for the extraordinary meeting of the Council was called by 24 opposition councillors as  ‘we believe that the creation of this post requires further scrutiny, to enable council to decide whether it is justified’.

However the extraordinary meeting has been called for 6th March – AFTER the appointment has been made! Which rather suggests to us that the matter was NOT ‘urgent’ in the first place and in fact the waiver was a means of preventing anyone asking any awkward questions as to why , at a time of cuts and punitive charging measures , that the council taxpayers of Wirral are being asked to fund Council leader Power Boy Pip’s special friend to hobnob in the South of France at their expense as apparently one of the ‘key events’ is described as follows : ‘MIPIM Cannes is the premier event in the European Real Estate calendar and has become Europe’s showcase for major cities, property developments, investment opportunities and international networking’

http://www.liverpoolvision.co.uk/MIPIM/

Nice work if you can get it and you can get it – even when it’s a politically restricted post and you’re part of a corrupt political cabal!

We’re also becoming increasingly concerned by the role of the Assistant Chief Executive David Armstrong’s enabling role and his very dodgy decision making in the absence of the Chief Executive  Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson. Stressed Eric seems to have abdicated all responsibility when it comes to decisions which may come back and bite him on his plushly upholstered backside. Meanwhile Armstrong seemingly sails serenely towards a sizeable pension pot and is quite happy to acquiesce to whatever his political paymasters ask of him. Witness also his decision to commission Nick Warren to stitch up the council taxpayers over the ‘Wirralgate’ scandal in the power/moral vacuum that followed Graham Burgess’s hasty departure and proceeded Stressed Eric’s appointment.

All of which leads us to conclude that ‘bureaucratic machinations’ doesn’t come close to describing how Wirral Council operates and what makes it  truly ‘ an extraordinary council’ for all the wrong reasons!

The Lights Are On But No One Is Home

wallasey-town-hall-at-night

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

Following on from our ‘Where Your Money Goes’ report and anticipating tonight’s planned protests at Wallasey Town Hall about Wirral Council’s proposals to introduce parking charges the length and breadth of the borough we discuss further worrying developments when it comes to the council’s questionable income generating measures.
We have been contacted by a concerned citizen about correspondence they received from the council which they describe as ‘frightening’ :
I have just received a letter from the council asking me to verify that I do live on my own and thus still qualify for the single person allowance.
Fair enough, I have no problem with this, indeed, it even smacks of efficiency. However I note these two bullet points on the letter:
  • We will shortly be performing further and more detailed checks on household residency in order to validate claims for Council Tax Single Person Discount.
  • These residency checks will be performed in collaboration with an external agency.
What the hell does this mean? I notice that alongside the Wirral Council logo is another one for ‘northgate public services’.
Are we to have these civil police marching around our properties sniffing bed sheets and checking for extra shoes under the bed?
I am 60 and very active, but I would not like to open my door to these people if I was a frail 85 year old widower. This is really alarming.
How will these checks be carried out, what right have these people to enter my flat and if I refuse them entry! What then?
It’s like a Stalinist police state..!
Our correspondent should count themselves lucky they don’t own an empty property. There’s no Council Tax Single Person Discount there – owners have to a 100% Council Tax on an empty property if it’s been unoccupied for 6 months.  What if they can’t sell it in these desperate times ? Once again we can’t help thinking this has nothing to do with bringing empty properties back into use or about tackling homelessness. We don’t understand how Wirral Council can charge someone for services they don’t receive as there’s no-one living at the property!
Meanwhile it comes to something when two Labour MPs  ( Alison McGovern and Margaret Greenwood) speak out against the council’s car parking proposals whilst the two most prominent and headline grabbing Wirral MPs ( Angela Eagle and Frank Field) keep schtum.
We can’t help wondering with some of their punitive proposals as to whether the current Labour administration at Wallasey Town Hall have a death wish or they’ve grown so arrogant and complacent that they can impose any draconian measure on the people of Wirral – the people they’re meant to serve! Now we know that Wirral Council have made some wayward moves over recent years but some of their recent decisions are simply inexplicable! –  It really does seem to us to be a case of the lights are on but no one is home !
We have to say , as worthy as they are ,we’re getting a tad frustrated with the protests and petitions . Once again we invoke the words ‘Judicial Review’ to test the legality of Wirral Council’s actions. We think that this is where people need to get organised and direct their energies if the these proposals get the go ahead.
We suggest the grounds for ‘Judicial Review’ are set out succinctly in correspondence sent from regular Wirral Leaks correspondent Dr Robert B Smith to Eric Robinson and Cllr Phil Davies Wirral Council  CEO and ‘leader’ respectively and a response Dr Smith received from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) .

Dear Mr Robinson, Dear Cllr Phil Davies,

Please forward my email to any new councillors.

Nothing has changed since 2015 regarding the legislation prohibiting using parking charges to raise revenue leading to the defeat at Fort Perch Rock in 2015 regarding questionable budget options. From the DCLG: –

Operational Guidance, and legislation, is clear that local authorities should never use parking charges to raise revenue. Where there is surplus income local authorities must ensure that any revenue not used for enforcement is used for legitimate purposes as prescribed in Section 55 (as amended) of the RTRA 1984, and that its main use is to improve, by whatever means, transport provision in the area so that road users benefit.

Another important aspect of the function of the Monitoring Officer related to legal compliance is clearly stated by the DCLG viz.,

All local authorities have a Monitoring Officer, and it is their role to ensure that the authority complies with legislation in its operation.

I paste the reply I received from the DCLG in full, below, for those with short memories.

Dr Robert B Smith

Dear Dr Smith

Thank you for your email dated 20 July to Greg Clark concerning proposed pay and display parking in New Brighton. I work in the team in DCLG working on high streets and town centres and have been asked to reply on his behalf.

Parking is vital to modern high streets and town centres, which is why we are encouraging all local authorities to consider the impact of parking policies on the health of town centres and to adjust their policies accordingly. We want to make sure local authorities operate fair and reasonable parking strategies that are not an unnecessary disincentive to motorists who visit our high streets and town centres.

Operational Guidance, and legislation, is clear that local authorities should never use parking charges to raise revenue. Where there is surplus income local authorities must ensure that any revenue not used for enforcement is used for legitimate purposes as prescribed in Section 55 (as amended) of the RTRA 1984, and that its main use is to improve, by whatever means, transport provision in the area so that road users benefit.

I am sorry that you feel that the Wirral Borough Council is not supporting the recovery of New Brighton, Wallasey. Parking is ultimately the responsibility of local authorities; it is for them to determine what is best for their own area. You are correct therefore, to raise this issue with your MP, as Ministers have no remit to intervene in a local authorities day to day affairs, except where specific provision has been made in an Act of Parliament. All local authorities have a Monitoring Officer, and it is their role to ensure that the authority complies with legislation in its operation.

You will be interested to know that the Department for Communities and Local Government has published new statutory guidance that ensures local residents and firms can petition to initiate a formal review of parking policies in their area from the council, with Councillors then voting on the action to be taken. This guidance describes in more detail a new mechanism to use petitions to give local residents, community groups and businesses the ability to challenge parking policies, and advises local authorities on best practice. The full guidance can be found at http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/right-to-challenge-parking-policies

Yours sincerely,

Kathryn Clarke

Town Centres, High Streets and Coastal Team

SPECIAL REPORT : Where Your Money Goes

where-your-money-goes

It must be this time of year, as we’ve been musing on money matters (or rather lack thereof). Clearly Wirral Council have been doing the same as they gear up to set their forthcoming budget and pursue a number of punitive charging regimes to offset central government funding cuts.

Yeah,yeah, yeah – we get it when they drone on about how badly they’ve been done to by central government and they have to make tough choices and priorities. But that’s what we take issue with Wirral Council here at Leaky Towers – it’s the choices that they make which indicate to us that their priorities are all wrong. Consequently they lose all moral authority when they start bleating about lack of finances.

So let’s take a quick look at where that money comes from and where it goes :

As we all know Wirral Council’s income stream is increasingly going to be us via Council Tax and any supplementary fund raising scams they can come up with.We look forward to their budget proposals now that they’ve been given the go ahead by central government to put up Council Tax by 3% to pay for the rising costs of social care. Rather frighteningly they also have the the opportunity to raise even more money via this route.Surrey County Council are looking at a total Council Tax rise of 15% but to do so they would have to put it to the local vote. We suggest that this is not something that the ruling group at Wirral Council wouldn’t risk but nothing ,nothing would surprise us about this shower of chancers.

David Hodge, Leader of Surrey County Council, announces proposal to seek a council tax rise of 15%

So , down to business –  we’ve previously discussed the charming operatives from Kingdom Secrurity and their cash for trash extortion agency for the Council. As anyone who has seen a Kingdom Security in action – they go after vulnerable people who don’t have the means to  retaliate . Much like the people they get their contract off.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/cash-for-trash/

It’s not  about caring for the environment. Neither are other money-making scams devised by an increasingly desperate council. Similarly their car park charging proposals have absolutely nothing to do with maintaining the roads or traffic measures. It’s all about the moolah. Your moolah! – so cash cows out there prepare your teats for action as they’re going to be bled dry.

Park and Get Taken For A Ride

We’ve already reported the squandering of £80,000 on the appointment of an Investor Development Manager – rumoured to be a shoo-in for current leading Wirral Council puppet master Martin Liptrot.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/the-power-abusers/

Which again begs the question as to why there isn’t someone on a humongous salary with the requisite skills at Wirral Council – because well ,apparently there just isn’t ! Let’s not even mention what the likes of David Armstrong, Clare Fish and Joe Blott  get paid  – if you throw in Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson that’s half a million big ones per annum between them.

Never mind the recent ridiculous ‘Are Wirral’s 66 councillors Value For Money?’ exercise conducted by themselves and to which the unsurprising answer was a resounding YES! – how about we have a VFM consultation on the above gang of four/flaw? – especially when we consider the damning Ofsted report into Children’s Services.

This has necessitated the appointment of troubleshooter Eleanor Brazil and former Children’s Commissioner for England Professor Maggie Atkinson as the new ‘independent’ chairwoman of Wirral Safeguarding Children’s Board. The appointment of such big hitters suggests us to that Children’s Services is in an even bigger mess than the Ofsted report indicated. Not that we’ll ever know because the Children’s Services Improvement Board meets behind closed doors. Lessons have obviously been learned from the last Improvement Board – no openness, no transparency, no public accountability suits the powers that be. We’re just asked to stump up the bill.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15032232.Government_troubleshooter_who_dealt_with_aftermath_of_Baby_P_scandal_to_lead_rescue_of_Wirral_children_s_services/

These consultants seem to be mainly tasked with finding out why Wirral Council can’t recruit and retain staff in Children’s Services. We can tell them free of charge : because it’s rammed with poor calibre middle managers who bully their staff on the instructions of passive/aggressive senior managers who earn a nice wedge spouting platitudes and duping councillors.Plus the fact that who in their right mind would want to do Child Protection work in Birkenhead. Think about that for a moment  – beyond grim.

Another drain on resources that we never to get to hear about are the court cases that Wirral Council get ensnared in because they simply don’t know the difference between right and wrong….but they’ve got plenty of well paid people particularly in the HR and Law Departments who are prepared to blur the lines between the two in return for a big fat salary. We understand that there’s a court case coming up at the end of this month that could prove to be the defining moment of how Wirral Council chooses to ‘move forward’.

We’ll keep you posted.

The Leaky Awards 2016

leakys-2016

No disrespect to the local worthies who voluntarily undertake good deeds ,  but we have a natural aversion at Leaky Towers to honours and awards given to people who either have :  a)  made a lot of money ( well, it’s no trick to make a lot of money… if what you want to do is make a lot of money….) or b) achieved riches and recognition for doing something they love ( while everyone else tediously toils away in jobs they hate with people they loathe just so they don’t end up living on the street).

Patronage for peerages has brought the awards system into total disrepute and we doff our hereditary ermine trimmed coronet to the increasing number who have turned down the tawdry badge of dishonour that the New Year’s Honours List has become.

We have three words on the subject of honours: “Sir” Jimmy Savile.

We have three words on the subject of awards : Most Improved Council.

Therefore we consider the annual Leaky Awards the natural antidote to the sordid status quo and rejoice in the fact that the awards that we bestow at Wirral Leaks are much more representative of the charlatans who run the show than the complicit smiley celebrities and their gleaming gewgaws.

Awards Award – ….and the winner is the Wirral Chamber of Commerce. Awards ceremonies appear to be the entire rationale for this empire building, family-run organisation. Whilst it appears to be a mere excuse for pouting Paula Basnett to buy another frock and flaunt the spray tan we need to remember the public grants and public properties that come their way and ask ourselves do we really want the non-elected personal empire building Basnett clan running a never-ending awards show at public expense?

Labour Councillor of the Year – This is obviously an inaugural award as in previous years this would be an oxymoron (or in some cases – just moron) . However this year we’d like to offer the award jointly to  Cllr Anita Leech and Cllr Christina Muspratt for annoying  fellow Labour councillors Foulkesy and Matron McLaughlin respectively. The former did so by casting the deciding vote at a recent Planning Committee whilst a clearly agitated Foulkesy laid the foundation for a potential appeal by questioning the planning process (see Campaign of the Year below). This is staggering hypocrisy coming from someone who has regularly circumvented due process in the name of managing his (bad) reputation.But then Foulkesy has built an entire political  career on being hardfaced and shameless so this should come as no surprise to anyone. Meanwhile Muspratt was the inspiration behind a tetchy display from McLaughlin as the latter tried to shut down Muspratt for trying to hold council officers to account over their failure to appraise staff. However as we know this is not how the Matron rolls – personal loyalties to officers will always take precedence over public accountability.

Quote of the year  – “From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government” (Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council). Now we don’t know whether Stressed Eric has been buying some powerful hallucinogenics with his megabucks salary but this can surely be the only explanation for this ludicrous claim that Wirral Council is the pinnacle of local government. When it comes to public service peak performance we’re talking more Moel Famau than Mount Everest!

Runner-up : ” It might seem an unusual step to revert to a printed product, and even I queried this at first …….” (Eric Robinson talking about Wirral Council’s decision to publish Wirral View ) “Until I was told to get back under my desk ….”  he might of added to prove once again why he’s the perfect CEO for Wirral Council.

Publication of the year –  Wirral Council  yawn-fest Wirral View . Having seemingly failed to a) attract advertisers  b) sort out its distribution problems or c) address anyone’s ‘information deficit’ this award is in recognition of the fact that Wirral View could soon become a collector’s item .We advise those who’ve actually received a copy should retrieve it from the cat’s litter tray or the budgie’s cage , as with the threat of central government intervention hanging over it it may not be around for  much longer!

Runner up – Cllr Tony Jones’ (aka Tones) election publication which broke election rules by failing to show name of agent, candidate or printer on the leaflet.  As one of our eagle-eyed readers has pointed out Tones does not seem to have learned any lessons from this faux pas as strangely he is the only one of Wirral Council’s 66 councillors whose council email contact details are not included with the Council mugshots in Wirral View. Campaign Fail  

Campaign of the Year –  ‘Save our Greenbelt – Say NO to the Firestation’  campaign may, thanks ultimately to the casting vote of  Cllr Leech than the campaigning local Conservatives , halted plans to build a fire station on green belt land in Saughall Massie.

However it will be interesting to see if Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service submit an appeal whether this continuing fight ends up being thwarted by powerful interests as was the ill fated Save Girtell Court campaign.

Similar can be said of the Stop Hoylake Golf Resort campaign who are arguably up against even more powerful interests as Wirral Council attempt a ‘money no object’ bid to ensure even more Wirral green belt is sacrificed to enable a housing development in the guise of a ‘golf resort’ to go ahead.

We’ll be following both campaigns in 2017 with great interest.

Picture of the year

jeremy-corbyn-cooking-at-the-neo-community-cafe

There is so much going on in this picture than ‘Jezza Makes Pizza For Starving Mites’. The supporting cast – Frank Field MP , Cllr McLaughlin, Cllr Meaden , Margaret Greenwood MP makes for fascinating viewing if we consider the various political intrigues,allegiances and betrayals that occurred throughout 2016 . However what intrigues us most on the right of the picture , ‘recording’ events for posterity, is the presence of ‘Person C’ . Adding further intrigue to the local political scene we understand the former political editor of the Liverpool Echo and reluctant witness in the Wirralgate saga has, for reasons unknown, apparently ceased working for the council’s favoured external publication ……….

 

Panto Season

Fairy Godmother Frank.jpg

The Fairy Godfather

Some might say it’s always panto season at Wirral Council but we think it officially kicks off at tonight’s full council meeting which features a special guest appearance from whistleblower Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro.

To join in the festive fun Wirral Leaks have been working on a pantomime production of our very own . Coming soon is ‘ Pipperella’  which is our unique take on the Cinderella story starring the following :

Pipperella – Cllr  Phil Davies aka Power Boy Pip. Will Pipperella be asked to attend the Queen’s Ball to pick up an OBE or even better a knighthood for services to the BS industry and the business community?

The Ugly Sisters –  Cllr Steve Foulkes / Cllr George Davies aka Foulkesy and Georgie . Typecasting we know  !. Will Foulkesyetta and Georgetta De Combova spoil Pipperella’s plans by their bungling incompetence and inability to tell the truth?

Wicked Stepmother – Cllr Moira McLaughlin aka Matron. Will the bossy old trout continue with her unquestioning devotion to the unworthy?

Baron Hardup – Asif Hamid aka  Massive. Will struggling millionaire get another grant of public money and bail everyone out of trouble?

Dandini – Paula Basnett aka Pouting Paula . Will the dandy highwaywoman break the budget with awards ceremonies and costume changes?.

Prince Charm Offensive   – Martin Liptrot aka Liptrotsky .  Will  Wirral Council ‘cheerleader’  ensure that Pipperella has a happy ending ?

Buttons –  Wirral Council  Chief Executive Eric Robinson aka Eric Feeble/Stressed Eric. Will the one who doesn’t get paid ‘buttons’ get out from under his desk and do the right thing?

and finally

The Fairy Godfather – Frank Field aka Frankenfield  . Will all troubles disappear with one swish of his magic wand? –  be it hunger , poverty or protecting your political agent with public money !………

A Return to Greed

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There’s a particularly intriguing story that keeps returning to our radar .

So we set Verity off in pursuit of  various leads in an attempt to get to the truth of the matter. First port of call was the ever informative What Do They Know website. My goodness !, there are some interesting Freedom of Information (FOI) requests concerning Wirral Council on there – but one that particularly caught our eye and appears to have disappeared under everyone’s radar was an FOI request made by perennially returning Tory councillor Ian Lewis.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/payments_to_the_returning_office

Now why would Cllr Lewis be especially interested in knowing about historical information held by Wirral Council concerning the role/responsibilities/returns of the Returning Officer ?

Could it be that his interest was piqued by a couple of posts on Wirral Leaks or does he know something we don’t?…..

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/05/31/standard-procedures/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/05/04/big-returns/

There’s certainly some interesting information to be had about the role of the Returning Officer during elections. It seems to us that this role basically involves bossing council staff to do all the running round whilst the already massively remunerated council CEO picks up a big fat fee just in case there’s an electoral cock-up and the government need someone to blame.

It’s interesting to note that between 2006-2010 the Returning Officer Steve Maddox donated all Returning Officer fees that he was supposed to receive to charity. It’s just such a shame he wasn’t so charitable when it came to bullying his own staff and setting the tone for a bullying culture at Wirral Council. His successors as Returning Officer – Bill Norman, Graham Burgess and presumably the latest incumbent Eric Robinson obviously don’t believe in such generous largesse as they are seemingly some of the greediest little piggies in local government (and that’s saying something as this a particularly crowded trough).

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https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/356355/response/869178/attach/4/FOI%201087924%20Councillor%20Ian%20Lewis%20Payments%20to%20the%20Returning%20Officers.pdf

The sums on offer are eye-watering and frankly in this age of austerity, absolutely obscene. This year alone the current Wirral Council CEO Eric “Feeble” Robinson has picked up just short of £30,000 on top of his £175,000 + salary for the Local, Police and Crime Commissioner elections and the EU referendum.

Verity’s forensic eye was particularly drawn to details of the Returning Officer statutory fee  of £11,362 for the 2012 Police and Crime Commissioner election , paid presumably to the then Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess (aka Burgesski) . However she has discovered the alarming anomaly that Burgesski was also the Returning Officer for the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner election in 2012 !.

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https://www.blackburn.gov.uk/Lists/DownloadableDocuments/NoticeOfElectionAgentsNamesAndOffices.pdf

How curious we thought and we’re left wondering whether Burgesski  could have picked up two fees amounting to £22, 724 in one day ?.   Now that would be beyond obscene!.

I think we should be told !  – but who to ask?.

Burgesski himself ? – we suspect the Great White Shark , former union firebrand and now champagne socialist would like to put his Wirral Council  , ahem, ‘experiences’ behind him.

Internal Audit ?- or rather Infernal Audit under the guidance of Internal Chief Auditor Mark Niblock? . Are you kidding us?. This one learned his trade under his predecessor , the disgraceful David Garry.

External Audit ?- Grant Thornton and their predecessors the Audit Commission have a shameful track record of not biting the hand that feeds them and have produced more fudge than Devon in the name of protecting a lucrative income stream.

Monitoring Officer ?- I’m sure Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour would be able to clear this one up for us as he should be well versed in the legalities and correct procedures involved.  We’re sure that Tour ,in the absence Bill Norman Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer who was suspended at the time , would have ensured that everything was above board and that those who were entitled to Returning Officer fees were paid correctly and made to the people who were properly entitled to them!………unless of course somebody knows different!.

Time for an Intervention

 

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Wirral Council are increasingly reminding us of an old soak who’s in denial about their drinking as they stumble from mishap to crisis .

The latest stumble being the failure of their 2015/16 accounts not being signed off pending an investigation of their taking out of some dodgy looking loans : https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/wirral-councils-201516-accounts-will-not-be-signed-off-before-30th-september-deadline-heres-why/

This must be why a Wirral resident is calling for an urgent intervention and what a compelling case they make for detox.

Dear Marcus Jones MP – Minister for Local Government; and, Sir Eric Pickles MP – former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Author of ‘Securing the ballot: review into electoral fraud’.

Further to my email of yesterday (pasted below for completeness) regarding the Demand For Government Intervention regarding Wirral Council.

The concern is not only a serious issue for the public. I am not mistaken as to the gravity and critical nature of the issues in Wirral Council, as can be seen by a letter sent by 3 Wirral opposition Councillors, who are virtually marginalised in exercising any influence whatsoever, by the changes the ruling group have made to the Council constitution and scrutiny committee composition, amongst others. Many comparable examples can be provided from virtually all aspects of Wirral Council’s governance, conduct, legislative compliance and delivery.

I insert here a copy of the Councillors letter, to your colleague Edward Timpson MP, which has been published in full in the media (link below), and urge you, and your colleagues to act immediately, while there is something that can be salvaged from the wreckage of democracy in Wirral. Intervention is long overdue, in order to reassure a cowed electorate, that accountability, transparency, honour and integrity still matter in local government, and public service actually matters.

http://m.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14761154.Council_leader_defends_trip_to_China_amid_Wirral_s_child_safeguarding_crisis/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/the-big-lie-gets-even-bigger/

For all of the 8 links I have provided, a fuller picture is painted by scrolling to the very bottom of the feature articles and reading the public comments.

Contrary to Greg Clark MP and his statement that the Minister does not have the power to intervene, the Government does have powers to intervene in local authorities. The specific legal power is in Local Government Act 1999, s.10, as modified by Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014, Sch 10, para 2 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2014/2/schedule/10/paragraph/2

I have provided the link to save time for you, given the critical state of Wirral Council and public disquiet.

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DEMAND FOR GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION (sent initially on 23.09.16)

Dear Marcus Jones MP – Minister for Local Government; and, Sir Eric Pickles MP – former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government & Author of ‘Securing the ballot: review into electoral fraud’.

DEMAND FOR GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

I have corresponded with the previous Minister for Local Government Greg Clark MP, regarding my serious concerns relating to the conduct, behaviour and questionable decision-making by Wirral Council, on Merseyside. I assume that correspondence has remained on file, therefore you will know my background.

I will keep this demand for intervention brief for the following reason:-

You will read all of the content…

I provide only 6 weblinks (the tip of a very large iceberg) at the foot of this demand, which are damning in themselves for any accountable authority, never mind the recipient of the LGC’s ‘Most Improved Council of Great Britain 2015’ award, after being ‘on the brink of intervention’ in 2012, and the imposition of an LGA ‘Improvement Board’ until 2014. That questionable ‘award’ is only about 18 months old…, and now Wirral Council sees its standing as “From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government.” (Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council; recruitment statement September 2016)

From the weblinks you will see a snapshot of the level, or ‘pinnacle’, at which Wirral Council functions…Marcus Jones MP will already know about the very costly Wirral Council proposed monthly ‘newspaper’ – a trivial matter by comparison. Sir Eric Pickles may not be aware that Wirral Council has also been reported to the Police and Electoral Commission for suspected election fraud at the May elections, and to the Police regarding other issues of theft and fraud.

The framework within which local government exists, functions, and the responsibilities of which are discharged by holder’s of public office, and their employees, are governed by the Laws of the Land, Acts of Parliament, and policies, procedures and constitutions of each authority. If the Government can intervene directly on the strength of a monthly newspaper, I would see it as a dereliction of your public duty (much as I see Wirral Council in this light), if, as the Minister responsible for Local Government, you fail to place Wirral Council into special measures. If Wirral Council’s ‘benchmark’ standard of ‘most improved’ local government behaviour constitutes ‘acceptable’ standards of governance and conduct in public office, we are all in serious trouble.

I put you Mr Marcus Jones and by virtue of her delegation to you, the Prime Minister Theresa May, on notice that you have now been advised of the critical situation facing Wirral residents as a result of the implosion of Wirral Council. The Council has a total disregard for the democratic process, the wishes of many of its residents, and no longer appears to manage its finances for the benefit of the Wirral population. Serious governance deficiencies exist, and incompetence in the tendering and procuring processes, coupled with an almost total absence of due diligence, are now systemically ingrained. Wirral Council now enjoys a deplorable reputation in both providing direct services, and commissioning third-party services to be provided by the private or voluntary sector.

You will see from the weblinks below that I ‘draw a line’ for you from which to make a long-overdue intervention into the machinations of Wirral Council. If you fail to do so the responsibility for the ongoing failings of Wirral Council will fall on your shoulders for ignoring this warning.

The response I received from Greg Clark MP was that the Minister did not have the power to intervene in the day-to-day business of local authorities. Marcus Jones MP has intervened in the day-to-day running of Wirral Council with regard to its cavalier attitude to non-compliance with Government guidelines regarding the monthly publication of a Wirral Council 32 page ‘newspaper’.
Given the range of issues that are of concern relating to Wirral Council, and I have an encyclopædic archive of research, the publication of a monthly newspaper, whilst being important, and a potential illegal act in direct contravention of Government guidelines, pales into insignificance when judged against the appalling situation that exists between Wirral Council (the duty of which, and raison d’être, is to serve its public) and the Wirral public.

I view the ‘newspaper’, and dissemination of information, as ‘day-to-day’ Council business, which is now subject to direct Government intervention, as the proposal ignores and locally overrides Central Government guidelines and legal provisions.

On the basis of the corrosive corporate culture which pervades Wirral Council, its ruling councillors, and the senior management of the council, a corporate cancer exists which is destroying public services. The concept of public service has been effectively erased from Wirral Council’s leadership, with a self-serving political collective, and individual isolationist consolidation, now making numerous political decisions at will. Many dishonestly pre-determined decisions run counter to, and ignore the expressed wants and needs of great swathes of the Wirral population, many ‘window-dressed’ through the manipulation of resident’s surveys ‘interpretation’.

The concept of the democratic process, transparency and accountability no longer exists in Wirral local government. A large number of councillors no longer represent their constituents, and democratic government has been replaced by a dictatorship under the guise of the LGA ‘strong leader model’ of local government.

Total power is now held by the Council Leader after a number of recent changes to the Council’s constitution, and the replacing of scrutiny committee chairs with ruling group members to ensure the casting vote, should it be needed, achieves the ‘correct’ outcome. Replacing the chairs of scrutiny committees effectively removed any opposition to the ruling group’s ‘steamroller’ mentality. Due to the ruling majority’s ‘party-political’ en-bloc voting and abstention regime, Wirral Council, as an organisation, now primarily serves the interests of a number of politicians and senior managers.

Government intervention is neither an option, nor an inconvenience, it is a necessity.

It is also a necessity to intervene, with totally independent agents, without the interference of the Local Government Association, and without the interference of Frank Field MP, who is the MP for Birkenhead only, not the entire Borough of Wirral as he seems to believe.

Wirral Council ruling councillors, and senior managers, are not capable of resolving the Council’s mostly self-inflicted problems. Collectively they have conspired to systematically drive out highly-skilled and experienced, dedicated staff. If the current Councillors and senior managers had the wherewithal to resolve the massive problems that exist in Wirral and Wirral Council, they would never have allowed them to develop in the first place. Nor would they employ a press office of around 27 staff, and feel the necessity to also employ a self-proclaimed ‘reputation manager’.

 

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14751802.Updated__Ofsted_report_into_child_safeguarding_failures_sends_shockwave_through_Wirral_Council/?ref=mr&lp=12

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14759476.SPECIAL_REPORT__Council_leader__whistleblower_and_outspoken_critic_give_their_views_on_Wirral_s_child_care_crisis/?ref=mr&lp=3

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14761154.Council_leader_defends_trip_to_China_amid_Wirral_s_child_safeguarding_crisis/

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14733919.74_people_have_died_in_Wirral_while_under_care_of_drugs_and_alcohol_support_charity/

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14657040.BOMBSHELL__Minister_s_warning_letter_to_Wirral_Council_over_its_newspaper_plan_was__concealed_from_public_/

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