Pond Life

Fish 2 010Fish 2 012

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

Comings and Goings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fish 009

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

Fish 012

 

From Welfare to Fairway

Golf cart

An indication of how far Labour -controlled Wirral Council have fallen from the moral high ground and into the golf bunker is that their Welfare Rights Unit employing 3 people is having to make a business case to ensure its survival. Yes – you read that right – applying a business model to welfare rights . Frank Field must be so proud of his amoral protégés.

“..This Officer Option would involve the Council stopping it’s current ‘Welfare Rights’ service , due to similar services being provided by other organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau , which are also funded by the Council.”

BUSINESSCASE

Oh how we long for the day when the Wirral Council’s Chief Executive and his Super Duper Directors have to justify their existence and their massive salaries or are they too busy racking up massive bills buying office furniture from Jenkinson’s ?.

How does this Council reconcile the outraged soundbites and screaming headlines about “Tory cuts”  whilst they desperately woo private industry and zealously dismantle public services?. Where are we living- Wirral or Tunbridge Wells?.

Let’s look beyond the rhetoric and look at the Council’s actions :-

  • Closure of Lyndale School for disabled children
  • Threatened closure of Girtrell Court respite service for disabled adults
  • Threatened closure of Welfare Rights Unit
  • Punitive implementation of the Bedroom Tax and ;
  • Hiking up Council Tax contributions for unemployed which were both local decisions

Then compare the above with the following :

  • Pay hike for the Chief Executive Eric “Feeble” Robinson
  • Appointment of PR kingpin Martin Liptrot (was there a business plan for this grace and favour appointment?)
  • Peppercorn rent and refurbishment grants for their friends in the Wirral Chamber of Commerce (aka the Nepotism Depot – we understand that Basnett’s bro’ has joined Basnett’s sis’ as part of the crew.It’s a family affair y’all.)
  • Failing to attract investors and pouring money down the Wirral Waters plughole
  • Relentless pursuit of establishing a golf resort in Hoylake in the face of increasing local scepticism  http://www.hoylakegolfresort.uk/

This private enterprise and personal enrichment taking priority over social justice and the welfare safety net approach is reflected in Eric Feeble’s latest less than riveting ExecView newsletter which plugs the following local press coverage that spin king Liptrot(sky) has managed to secure. We were disappointed to see no mention of any stories from Wirral Leaks – as we know Liptrot is particularly keen to know more about us. Don’t be shy Marty – we’d love to hear from you directly ! :

 

cleardothttps://gallery.mailchimp.com/28dc8b56d191c90e7216a3f5b/images/cd58e6e1-24ba-4a3f-8c03-f36f6cb3e9d0.jpg

‘Green Light for Wirral Growth Plan’ Insider Media
‘Plans for Birkenhead Kick Start Economic Regeneration’ Wirral Globe
‘Time To Wake Sleeping Giant’ Echo
‘£250m Plans To Turn Birkenhead Into ‘Major Business Capital’ Radio City
‘Council unveils plans for Downtown Birkenhead investment scheme’ BBC

ExecView- Jan 2016

We can imagine the Council licking their lips at the prospect of getting rid of the Welfare Rights Unit so they can employ Liptrot(sky) full time to spin this BS!.

No wonder the compliant Unison spokesperson Paddy Cleary safely ensconced on the Council payroll saw fit to bite the hand that feeds him recently when he said “You really don’t expect this sort of thing from a Labour Council.”

Oh we do Paddy and might we advise you read the Business Case prepared by the Welfare Rights Unit as the extracts quoted below are  very reminiscent of the dodgy rationale for the proposed closure of Girtell Court. No cost benefit analysis ,no coherent financial modelling and no details of exactly how services would be re-provided.

“There are three full time welfare rights advisors who have accumulated a vast range of experience, knowledge and skills in this field though working in the community sector, local authority and Department for Work and Pensions. The annual cost of running this “in house” service is stated to be £108,606 (Summary Business Case). No detail has been given as to how the Welfare Rights Service will be “re-provided”, or how much that service will cost the local authority, although it is acknowledged in the Summary Business Case that residents would have to be directed to agreed alternative providers, and that “this may involve additional costs which would reduce the savings proposed…….

We understand the scale of the financial challenges facing Wirral Council, but we consider that the proposal does not accurately identify actual cost savings; does not acknowledge the direct impact that our service can have on generating council income; and does not address the effect of losing the current service on other departments of the local authority, as well as our external partners……..

We do not have the resources to check all gains, but recorded gains for the period January 2015 to December 2015 were £782,029.99. The great majority of gains relate to awards of benefits that are paid by central government funds. The gains achieved can directly benefit the Local authority in terms of meeting the pledge in the Wirral Plan to reduce family and child poverty.”

But who needs needs reasoned ,cogent arguments to justify the closure of services when the Council abandoned welfare for the fairway a long time ago?.

Seems like we could all be going to hell in a golf cart.