His Lordship Makes An Announcement

Citizen-Leaks

Live from Leaky Towers we proudly present an important  press statement from His Lordship :

‘After serious consideration and stumping up the £500 election deposit by selling some of the family silver I have resolved to stand as the Leaky Party candidate at the next General Election.

Of course this will mean I will have to relinquish my title and forego the afternoon snoozes in the House of Lords – not to mention the expenses.

Newly appointed Wirral Leaks Press Officer Ms. McCalamity whispers in ear : ‘ I thought we agreed it would be best if you didn’t actually mention your expenses at all ! Remember that little problem you had explaining the gold-plated trouser press and the appointment of your own personal nobbler, sorry ,cobbler claiming you were only trying to emulate the incumbent MP for Birkenhead ?’ – https://order-order.com/2009/10/19/is-frank-field-really-so-saintly/

However from now I will be a commoner and appropriately enough I will be standing in the Birkenhead Constituency. For the duration of my campaign I will be known simply as Julian ( McCalamity whispers in ear) . Oh yes , we’ve agreed on a bit of rebranding and that to maximise the youth vote I will be going by name ‘Joolz’ and my election tagline will be ‘Joolz 4 Birko’ .

Her Ladyship is already busily preparing to become Birkenhead’s First Lady – as opposed to Wirral Chamber of Commerce CEO Paula Basnett who is Birkenhead First’s Lady . Because as everyone knows behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes and running the show!

The Leaky Party will be standing on a platform of  investing and supporting public services , promoting openness,transparency and accountability, refusing to reward failure with public money, preventing the appointment of overpaid consultants, promoting meritocracy and rejecting cronyism , barring BS and spurning spin. Oh and whilst we’re at it stopping ‘Returning Officer’ payments at elections – if ever there is case of the undeserving rich it is Eric ‘ Feeble’ Robinson pocketing another 15 grand just before the summer hols. C’mon Eric – do as one of your predecessors once did and donate this unwarranted perk to charity . Might we suggest adding this election windfall to fundraising efforts for victims of the New Ferry  gas explosion. Put OUR money where the need is!

So in conclusion as I launch our campaign I say to the people of Wirral ( and particularly Birkenhead)  – let’s all rise up together and be something more than pitiers of the poor and do something more than promote ourselves,our friends and our own personal agendas.

Let the political games begin……’

 

Birkenhead First (Among Equals)

Paula NWT 009

Paula Basnett : Primus inter pares in action

 

In the aftermath of the New Ferry explosion over the weekend it was reassuring to see the emergency services, the local community and indeed Wirral Council working together to help the stricken people affected by the devastating event.
Also helping out were the Wirral Chamber of Commerce in the shape of their CEO Paula Basnett  who ‘popped up’ on last night’s edition of North West Tonight to tell us that the Chamber was looking for ‘pop up spaces’ for displaced local traders.
All we can say is that with all the properties the Chamber of Horrors have at their disposal ,which they’ve been gifted or are paying peppercorn rent for, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem!
However it would seem that this charitable largesse on the part of  the Basnett clan doesn’t extend to charities themselves. We’ve been contacted by Jim Barrington from local charity Wiser Solutions Ltd
Jim not only provides us with a fascinating update on a story we covered earlier in the year concerning a local business initative  co-ordinated by Wirral Chamber of Commerce known as the Birkenhead Improvement District (BID) aka ‘Birkenhead First’ , but also with a frightening insight into ‘how things work’ round here.
Here we witness the increasingly unhealthy symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce and the political manoeuvrings of local politicians  and powerbrokers that we don’t see on TV :
Wirral Chamber of Commerce is taking charities and not for profit companies to a criminal court after introducing a BID Levy in Birkenhead then rejected appeals to exempt those affected who exist for the benefit of the community. Affected businesses are told they have to pay 1.5% of the rateable value of their property.
 
The BID Levy was introduced following a vote by firms in Birkenhead after they were told it would listen to their needs and campaign on their behalf to improve the area. In reality however it has refused to listen and change their decision not to exempt charitable firms, despite the BID Regulations allowing it and precedent already being set to by HMRC, Customs and Excise and even Wirral Council who all exempt or reduce the financial obligations of charities and not for profits regarding levies and taxes.
The BID Levy is being collected on behalf of Wirral Chamber of Commerce by Wirral Council. However this contradicts Wirral Council’s own policies and commitments to support not for profits. The small business rates relief ensures the majority of rates are paid by a contribution from the Government and Wirral Council provide a discretionary exemption for qualifying charitable firms which takes care of the rest. However Wirral Chamber of Commerce insist no exemption applies to charities and not for profits, even where they cannot afford to pay. Instead they have insisted on pursuing them through the Magistrates Court in order to obtain a liability order so they can gain access to charitable funds. The use of Magistrates Court is particularly troubling since they are predominantly used for criminal matters and even Wirral Council have admitted this is a civil matter which are usually dealt with in County Court.
Even more troubling is the fact Wirral Council and Wirral Chamber of Commerce are adding £95.00 in court fees before liability has even been established in court, yet cannot provide a full and proper breakdown of how these costs have been arrived at. It is unlawful for any council to make a profit from court fees so one would expect them to be able to say exactly what it costs to take an individual or business to court. Instead however they appear to have been obstructive by providing a spreadsheet which lists the annual costs to run the entire council tax and revenues department. When asked for a per capita breakdown which takes into account economies of scale (i.e. they are taking a lot of people to court for not paying council tax and non-domestic rates on the same day and they batch process them all, plus the BID Levy collection is tagged onto the end of these), they sent the same annual totals for running their entire department. When asked again and told the costs breakdown must be BID specific they refused to send any further information.
An example of these costs would be the cost of filing fees (circa £3.00 per summons) and say an allocation of £2.00 towards staff time and other costs. An explanation therefore of what the remaining £90 costs is for has not been forthcoming. Requests to move things to the County Court, which is the proper setting for civil matters, have been ignored by Council Officers. 
Frank Field was contacted for help at least three weeks for the summons date. He responded at 5:00pm the evening before the court appearance to say his office had contacted Phil Davies who in turn had contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce and they had refused to change their decision, despite his personal feelings and views to the contrary. So the MP for Birkenhead and the leader of Wirral Council are both being dictated to by officers at Wirral Chamber of Commerce. 
Clearly this suggests Paula Basnett, Kevin Adderley and Asif Hamid who run Wirral Chamber of Commerce are also in charge of Wirral Council. Worse still is the fact Wirral Chamber have stated they and Birkenhead BID Company (Birkenhead First) are not subject to Freedom of Information legislation so can claim everything they do is commercially sensitive and confidential. No transparency there then.
Even the officers at Wirral Council who are collecting the BID Levy do not seem to agree with the decision to criminalise charitable firms. They contacted Wirral Chamber of Commerce asking them to change their position but they were also told the it would not be changed. The attitude appears to be it is only 1.5% of the rateable value of a property so Wirral Chamber cannot understand what the fuss is about. It seems to have escaped their attention charitable firms, by definition of what they do, may have large properties on peppercorn rents and very little money, most of which is from funding or donations and some modest earned income. Which is why they have taxes reduced or are exempted entirely. But Wirral Chamber of Commerce insists everyone must pay.
The Birkenhead BID Levy purports to be there to help support firms in the Birkenhead BID district but some have argued it is instead a way to pay the high salaries of staff who, until recently had worked for Wirral Council. It claims to be there to listen to and represent business owners in the Birkenhead BID Levy District, however there is no formal complaints procedure and minutes of meetings are confidential. Clearly they are not doing a very good job of listening since they are insisting on dragging charitable firms into Magistrates Court to pay for a Levy which did not exist until recently.
To be fair, Birkenhead has been declining for years and business owners are struggling to stay afloat. But cleaning up Birkenhead is the job of the council. 
This is why people pay business rates. The BID appears to be a stealth tax method of increasing business rates without actually increasing the business rates which is the same argument successfully used by Esther McVey when the council attempted to place a levy on wheelie bins and which forced them to hastily back away and reconsider their position.
Wirral Chamber have recently released a wonderful glossy document which makes bold claims about the achievements of the Birkenhead Bid company (also known as Birkenhead First). However the majority of these are things Wirral Council would do anyway as part of their obligations to Business Rates Payers. So it seems the suggestion the BID Levy is supporting the over bloated salaries of former council employees may have some foundation.
Also since this is clearly a civil matter, why is there such a reluctance to transfer proceedings to the County Court? Clearly civil matters fall under contract law and County Court is the proper setting. The costs are similar and certainly can be itemised easier. This suggests a worrying symbiotic relationship between Wirral Council and Wirral Magistrates Court where proceedings are being led by Wirral Council and not the local Magistrates.
The subject of costs and lack of transparency surrounding these certainly raises more questions than answers and this spills over to affect every council tax payer, business rates payer and now BID Levy payer who has ever been summonsed to Magistrates Court and had liability order costs imposed. Whilst clearly Council Tax is a criminal matter, the BID Levy certainly is not and belongs in County Court not the criminal courts.
It has also been suggested the BID Levy and demands for payment would not stand up to scrutiny under contract law. This has never been tested but would certainly be in the public interest. Taking charities and not for profit firms to court in an attempt to access charitable funds is not. It does not matter if the BID Levy is a small token amount. It is still immoral. It is also grossly unfair. For example there is no way to spread the cost monthly, no refund mechanism if firms move out of the area part way through the year, no contract and no control or input on how money is spent. In short it represents an unfair contract under civil law and threats of heavy penalties and costs, bailiffs and similar from Wirral Council are tactics which could be viewed as extortion and threats in public office. Whilst we are not suggesting this is the case, it certainly could be viewed as such. All the more reason for the matter to be placed in its proper setting in the County Court and not the Magistrates Court.
Even more worrying is the notion if Wirral Chamber is not challenged, this could be the first of many BID Levy districts in Wirral and more struggling business owners and charitable firms will find themselves subject to this new stealth tax with no opt out clause, no appeal and no transparency over how their money is spent.

‘The Lauries’ Lingers

The lauries desperation

All of our best stories rely on sheer persistence .

God only knows what Wirral Council would get away with if we weren’t here to shove that thorn forcibly in their side.

So following on from ‘Wirralgate’ , BIG/ISUS/Working Neighbourhoods ,  ‘Crabby’ Crabtree , ‘Happy Halliday’etc; etc; we proudly present the latest development in ‘The Lauries’ debacle.

Well, not proudly actually , shamefully is the word. To think that the garbage at Wirral Council/Wirral Chamber of Commerce can just get away with their usual abuse of power, because, well they just can,are not over. If nothing else they are subject to our critical eye.

The latest development in this sorry saga is the tawdry press release above , where Wirral Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘ Power Boy Pip’ Davies  joins fellow human melting wax candles Cllr Jean Stapleton and sideshow MP Frank Field in a desperate attempt to defend their indefensible position when it comes to the annexing of ‘The Lauries’.

‘The Green Party’ will do anything to get publicity” claims Power Boy Pip. To which we can only say that’s a bit rich coming from someone who employed their own ‘Policy Advisor’ at our expense and then enabled his neighbour to get a further gig because let’s face it this inept fraud couldn’t run a bath let alone a toxic and dysfunctional council !

What Power Boy Pip doesn’t mention ( perhaps because he has to check with his personal handholder, Martin Liptrot, first ) is that he has FAILED (and not the first time) to reply a complaint that is now with the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) about ‘The Lauries’.

As local Green Party Councillor Pat Cleary states:

‘Wirral Council has failed to respond to the complaint and completely ignored emails from me to address the matter. As a result, the issue was taken up with the local government ombudsman. It will not investigate yet but has promised to contact the Council to ensure that our complaint is progressed properly through the Council’s procedures.’

http://patcleary2.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/we-want-our-lauries-back.html

‘Progressed properly ?’– Good luck with that one, Pat!

Where Are They Now ? Part 4 – Emma Degg

new-job

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

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

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/dearly-departed/

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

http://www.wearetorus.co.uk/theteam/torus-group-board/

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Miracle Workers

We proudly present the latest instalment in The Professor’s peerless analysis of the Troubled Families Programme (TFP).

As he has so eloquently explained previously this is a pet project of Birkenhead MP Frank Field – and therefore , of course Wirral Council !

Once again we are particularly interested in the manipulation of figures and the ‘alternative facts’ that The Professor  exposes. As ever , Wirral Council ‘was one of the more inept and careless in its manipulations.’ . However, as we know, Wirral Council have never been reluctant to spend public money on personal agendas. What we’re concerned about, especially in the context of blaming central government for their current financial woes is that the minimum cost to Wirral council tax payers for a failed programme is £6 million up to 2020.

This leads us to conclude that whilst miracles may appear in ‘The Bible’ they’re highly unlikely to appear in Godforsaken Birkenhead.

Wirral was an enthusiastic player in the 2012 – 2015, £448 million national Troubled Families Programme (TFP) to ‘turn around’ dysfunctional families accused of crime, antisocial behaviour, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, poor parenting, laziness and high welfare costs. In fact nationally 90% were not involved in crime; 97% were not having drug treatment; 88% were not alcohol dependent. The families were not criminal or lazy but ill : 75% of families had one or more members with a limiting, long standing illness or disability; 52% had one or more children with a ‘special educational needs’ statement or other special needs; 57% could not work because of a disability.

Nationally 120,000 families, who supposedly cost the state £9 billion per annum, were reprocessed in the TFP. That is a cost of £75,000 per family. On Wirral 910 families were processed in their local IFIP and 98.9% were successfully ‘turned around’. The Wirral performance was miraculous in several respects. Consider the public claims on crime, etc.

‘74% of families with a history of crime / ASB had stopped offending.’

‘95% of ASB had stopped across all families engaged…’

But on Wirral 93.5% of adults had no ASB reports at project entry.
Also we are told

‘82% of minors met the reduced offending target.’

But 84% of minors at project entry had not offended. Truly these results are miraculous are they not? Employment results were less impressive. ~75% of families were unemployed at entry. During the IFIP period only 7.1% got a job and this could not be attributed to the IFIP.

But fear not because by mid 2015 Wirral Council was claiming that the IFIP had ‘saved’ us all £76,100 per family. Since the original government total cost estimate was £75,000 per family Wirral has eliminated all family costs ! No other council in England achieved this miracle ! The savings figure was based on a sample of 180 out of 910 families. Of course this needed to be a representative, random sample of the total project families. Was it? Well 179 of the families had met the crime reduction targets and had substantial crime costs removed. That is 99.4% of the sample. But as we saw very few families were involved in crime, around 5 to 10%. The sample used to calculate cost savings and claim bounty money from the government was clearly badly biased and wildly unrepresentative of the real families and savings.

It is also a statistical miracle that the 180 family biased sample led to a savings claim within 2% of the 2012 government total cost estimate of £75,000 per family. This could not happen by chance.

But there is an even bigger miracle. The government carried out a number of local authority sampling and savings exercises from 2013 to 2015. By early 2015 the net savings reported in a 67 LA sample was a mere £3,700 per family, just 5% of the original £75,000 total cost per family. Yet somehow Wirral was still claiming, in official documents,a saving of £76,100 per family ! Wirral is unique in the country in saving 20X more than the average council ! It amounts to £68 million per year locally…if it was real. But we are not finished fellow tax payers.

In October 2016 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee finally got to see the TFP National Evaluation (NE) reports which had been suppressed for over a year. The NE showed clearly that the local TFPs,like Wirral’s IFIP, had NO impact on crime, education, health, wellbeing, employment and benefit claiming across the country.

This result was based on direct comparison of family outcomes with matched control groups in two independent studies by a respected academic consortium commissioned by the government itself. The differences between the troubled families and the controls were tiny
and not statistically significant. The claimed 99% family ‘turn around’ was based on manipulating success criteria and local data with the encouragement of the Department for Communities and Local Government. There was no miracle. The claimed family improvements were fantasy. The claimed cost savings were also fantasy. We can be proud that our council was one of the more inept and careless in its manipulations. Tax payers should also bear in mind that our council is taking part in the useless, discredited TFP phase 2, at a minimum cost to us of £6 million to 2020.

Truth Justice Accountability

transparency-010

Pic courtesy of Private Eye 

We see that Wirral Council’s indelible stain just won’t let it wash. Kudos to Martin ‘Motormouth’ Morton who this week has been doing his bit for the ever -growing whistleblowing community at an event to promote the so-called ‘Hillsborough Law’. Reprazent!

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15096509.Wirral_whistleblower_Martin_Morton_speaks_up_for_truth_and_justice_at__Hillsborough_Law__event/

After a bit of digging we find out that the ‘Hillsborough Law’ is in draft form and is more formally known as The Public Authority Accountability Bill. Suddenly it all makes sense as to why Morton was there as as far his former employer is concerned a Public Authority Accountability Bill is what Wirral Council receive from Grant Thornton (and the Audit Commission before them) at the end of the financial year for not making too much of a fuss about ‘accounting and auditing irregularities’. To paraphrase a question that was apparently recently asked of someone else in a public forum : ” Are we questioning Grant Thornton’s integrity ? ” – hell,yes, m’lud!

Just a a quick look at the sections of the draft Bill itself reveal it to be something out of the Wirral Council Labour administration’s worst nightmare

http://www.thehillsboroughlaw.com/

1 Public authorities and public servants and officials shall at all times act within their powers:

a. In the public interest,

b. With transparency,candour and frankness 

Let’s face it this is an administration who thinks ‘the duty of candour’ is either a British Army tour of Afghanistan or part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although to give them their due they’re a big fan of frankness . For as we know they run all their decisions past Birkenhead MP Frank Field first!

2 Public authorities, public servants and officials shall be under a duty to assist court proceedings, official inquiries and investigations:

a. Relating to their own activities,or

b. Where their acts or omissions are or may be relevant 

Good job our public servants and officials have had time to practice that immortal line : ” I can’t recall”. Pity the poor shredding machine and the person with a future RSI claim has to redact all those incriminating documents if this Bill comes to pass that’s all we can say!

3. In discharging the positive duty under section 2 , public authorities , public servants and officials shall :

a. Act with proper expedition

b. Act with transparency,candour and frankness

c. Act without favour to their own position

d. Make full disclosure of relevant documents,materials and facts

e. Set out their core position on relevant matters at the outset of the proceedings,inquiry or investigation

f. Provide further information or clarification as ordered by a court or inquiry 

We’ll just pick out ‘act with proper expedition’and ponder on that for a moment. Which is what Wirral Council do when it comes to problems raised by people who just want things done properly . The difference being that the council ponder for weeks,months,years – in the hope that the people pointing out their failings will either give up or (preferably) peg it.

Whilst there are a further 15 sections I’m sure you’ll agree that we’ve made our point about the Bill in relation to Wirral Council and why they would fear it. Which is exactly why we implore you all to support the Hillsborough Law and all those who seek truth,justice and accountability!.

 

 

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

Celebration!!!

party-time-georgie

Get the party started :  Committee Chair Cllr George “Good Times” Davies brings Public Health approved party  food and a Wirralgate mixtape to the celebration!

The Birkenhead Constituency Committee have gone all Kool & The Gang on us. Although it must be said it’s more Gang than Kool. For tonight ladies and gentlemen wave your hands in the air, like you just don’t care (and let’s face it some of our local politicians clearly don’t)  : YAHOO! THIS IS YOUR CELEBRATION.

Although the Wirral Council website still maintains that Frank Field is still the chair of this particular Committee when he’s not,  his influence can still be seen in the the agenda for tonight’s meeting which reads like there’s a party going on right here, a celebration to last throughout the year.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=691&MId=5604&Ver=4

As you can see we have :

A Celebration of Birkenhead in Bloom

A Celebration of Food Hub and Christmas Hampers Project

A Celebration of Keeping Birkenhead Clean

Now don’t get us wrong we like flowers , we like food and we prefer not to be knee deep in food wrappers and dog crap but spare us the glitterball hyperbole . Furthermore whilst we applaud people who want to make a contribution to the community and well-being of others , knowing what we know about some of the politicians on the Committee we question the motives behind the party political party poppers .

What’s more and what doesn’t particularly sit right with us is ‘A Celebration of  Food Hub’.

For a start – enough already with the word hub . We plan to set up an Anti-Hub Hub at Leaky Towers . The Anti-Hub Hub Sub will be a ‘task and finish’ group establishing synergies and developing strategies to eradicate the use of the word ‘hub’ . Perhaps by introducing fines for the gratuitous use of the word. All proceeds will be spent on our personal agendas ( i.e copious amounts  of booze).

Call us contrary but should we really be celebrating ‘food hubs’ in 21st century Britain? – especially when no-one , absolutely no-one thinks ‘starving mites’ are a good idea. Shouldn’t we be channelling our energies into why there’s an apparent need for them and exactly who’s agendas are being met by their existence?

But we think what makes us want to be a party pooper  is the fact  that isn’t it a tad hypocritical to be celebrating food hubs when Wirral Council is withdrawing funding from older people’s lunch clubs?

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15028328.Council_grants_to_help_fund_pensioner_lunch_clubs_in_Wirral_are_to_be_scrapped/

What’s worse they are now asking those luncheon clubs to approach the likes of Birkenhead Constituency Committee for funding to enable them to continue knowing full well that their finances are either already committed or frozen !

So forgive us for suggesting where Wirral Council and Birkenhead Constituency Committee can stick their party blower :

 

Crabby : Guilty as Charged

Jumbo

After initially pleading not guilty to offences under the Communications Act 2003 a subsequent change of plea meant that today ex Wirral councillor Jim ‘Crabby’Crabtree was given a 12 week sentence (suspended for a year) plus asked to pay costs,compensation and a victim surcharge at Wirral Magistrates Court . The allegation of his offence was first reported on Wirral Leaks

Dial M for Mute : Update

Dial M for Mute

However for the full shocking story of today’s events in court read the Wirral Globe (you know the local newspaper that Wirral Council want to put out of business!) :

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15016582.COURT__Ex_Wirral_Labour_councillor_admits_making_death_threat_to_colleague_on_day_MP_Jo_Cox_was_murdered/

Finally we are able to publish the details of Crabtree threatening to kill Cllr Louise Reecejones if she didn’t pay him £19,000 . This incident happened on the same night Cllr Reecejones’ colleague and friend Jo Cox was brutally murdered.

As shocking as this – sadly it comes as no surprise to us. Not only did we know about the incident but we’ve been well aware of Crabtree’s increasingly worrying conduct over a number of years.

Astonishingly for a man who was once appointed to be Chair of Wirral Council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee, we’ve always known his communications haven’t always been in keeping with someone destined to hold high public office.

Who can forget his response Jim O’Neil the campaigner wanting  to keep Wirral’s libraries open when they were under threat ? :

“Jim, I’m fed up with all your childish crap, please keep it too[sic] yourself and don’t send me any more – I’m fed up deleting your trash.”

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/councillor-childish-crap-email-blast-3461816

Now it would appear that the contempt he had for members of the public also extended to elected members and over time escalated and became much more sinister.

We think the big lesson that needs to be learned from this case that if politicians  and officers think that they’re untouchable this is where it ends up  : Court 6 of Wirral Magistrates Court .

For many years Crabtree was one of the gang , the inner ring that rules Wirral Council. We’ve always maintained that the trouble with the local Labour group is that there is a small cabal of Labour councillors who for far too long were used to getting their own way both in and out of the council chamber  ( we understand that the question ‘Do you know who I am ?’ has got them out of many a scrape ). And of course they had the abiding support of an influential , national political figure in Birkenhead MP Frank Field – someone who has turned the three wise monkey act into an art form when it comes to the conduct of certain local Labour councillors.

The frightening thing is we don’t even think Crabtree was the most heinous member of this cabal . So our message goes directly to council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies  : This is what happens when there are no sanctions, no accountability and nobody takes responsibilities for their actions. You have a duty of care to protect all your party members not just those who are part of ‘the inner ring’….and by protect we don’t mean ‘cover up’ !

Indeed it is highly unlikely that Crabtree would ever have been suspended by the local Labour group if it wasn’t for concerned party members repeatedly raising their concerns about his conduct with Wirral Leaks . No wonder the Labour Party North West Regional Director Anna Hutchinson later decreed :

“That the leadership of the Labour Group are required to undertake training in order to ensure that any future issues raised with them that are of serious concern are dealt with in a prompt and appropriate way “

To which we can only respond by saying that the local Labour group don’t need training when it comes to addressing serious issues – they need a moral compass!

It remains to be seen whether the party faithful will rally round Crabtree after today’s ruling as  Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes previously did (see above) when Crabtree was having troubles over his suspension and subsequent de-selection ……

Jim Crabtree : A  selected Wirral Leaks history

Dark Night of The Soul

Cry- Bully Crabtree – Updated

Eulogy for Jimbo

The Curse of Leaky Towers

Fiddling the Meter

Master of Suspense

Rotten To The Core

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 ……….