Video Nasties

Psycho Sullivan 009

One of the advantages of the nights drawing in is the opportunity to hunker down under the duvet and review the prolific output of esteemed local videographer John Brace.

What will we do when Wirral Council start filming their own meetings next year and we can no longer view the unedited, unexpurgated and unrehearsed proceedings that ,laughably, are held in the name of local democracy?

Talking of laughing, my how we laughed at Leaky Towers at the sight of the chair of the Business Overview and Scrutiny Committee , Cllr  Michael  ‘Wild-Eyed’ Sullivan, having a pop at fellow Labour councillor Ron Abbey  (and Cllr Jerry Williams) for contemptuously putting his coat on, throwing his agenda in the bin and walking away before this particular meeting had finished.  Of course we know that Cllr Abbey is a graduate of the Cllr Harry Smith Charm School so we expect nothing less from this bellicose bruiser. However it’s a high five from Wirral Leaks to Cllr Sullivan, who Her Ladyship describes as a looking like a ‘ Dapper Psychopath’ , and that’s a compliment by the way. You can view the hilarity here from 6:38 – Sullivan v Abbey spat

On a rather more serious note we’d like to ask Mark ‘ Nodding Dog’ Niblock   (astonishingly) Wirral Council’s Head of Infernal Audit  – do you think it is appropriate to give Robin Baker the thumbs up when it is announced by  Cllr Adrian ‘ Welsh Windbag’ Jones , the chair of the Audit & Risk Management Committee,that the Grant Thornton external audit contract has been renewed for another 5 years  – for ‘services (not) rendered’. Niblock and Baker – a sweetheart contract made in hell. And unfortunately we’re paying for it!

The full googly-eyed horrorshow can be viewed here at 0.50 –  Grant Thornton Thumbs Up

Video Nasties 018

And at this juncture we’d like like to ask Niblock – ‘ It worked out well for you but are you proud of being David Garry’s bitch?’  Just sayin’ !

And finally here’s Cllr Moira ‘ Matron’ McLaughlin chairing the latest Adult Care & Health Overview Scrutiny Committee

Video Nasties 020

Don’t have nightmares.

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A Reality Check For Children’s Services

Brazil September.jpg

As you can see from the above report in the latest edition of Private Eye , children’s services troubleshooting troubadour and serial cheque collector Eleanor Brazil has now rocked up in Croydon.

Of course we remember Ms Brazil as the woman who bailed out of Wirral earlier in the year ,raising her hands in the air , like she just don’t care and claiming to be ‘shocked and appalled’ by the ‘shoddy’ treatment of  Julia Hassall ,Wirral Council’s chosen scapegoat for a series of failures in Children’s Services. Unfortunately Ms Brazil failed to enlighten us further on what she meant by ‘significant corporate issues’ which she felt were hindering progress on the ‘improvement journey’  (groan).

Portrait of A Gobshite

So we’ll fill in the blanks – Children’s Services still leave a lot to be desired and those controlling the show won’t face up to reality. This is evidenced by a couple of  council meetings held this week . Firstly at the Audit & Management Risk Committee Wirral Council ‘s external auditors Grant Thornton presented their annual findings and noted the risk to Wirral Council in the Executive Summary of the report.

In September 2016 the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and
Skills (Ofsted) issued its report on the inspection of the Council’s services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers. The overall judgement was that children’s services were rated as inadequate. The inspection found widespread and serious failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection.
We recognise that the Council has made progress to improve Children’s services and the Improvement plan actions are designed to achieve the required service
improvements. However, recent Ofsted monitoring visits confirm that progress in
some areas has not yet met expectations and the Council acknowledge that it will take some time to implement all the actions that should deliver the required service improvement.

Grant Thornton Audit Findings

Subsequently there were gallant attempts from new Director of Children’s Services, Deborah Gornik, and her Deputy, Simone White , to steady the sinking ship at last night’s Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Whilst they hinted that Ofsted may be pleased with progress in some areas it is clear there are still some choppy waters to navigate on the ‘improvement journey’. Incidentally, we understand that Ms White is a poacher turned gamekeeper turned poacher as a former employee of both Wirral Council and Ofsted and now second in command back at Wirral Council.

But Deborah and Simone should fear not ! – help is at hand as councillors have agreed to undertake a series of ‘Reality Check’ visits to enable them to engage directly with frontline staff in Children’s Services. Hurrah !  – it’s just a shame the arrangement isn’t reciprocal and frontline staff  get to ‘reality check’ councillors and find out whether their failure to properly scrutinize Children’s Services, being forever in denial, turning a visually impaired eye to problems and being more concerned about reputation management than the safeguarding of children contributed to frontline staff having OFSTED inspectors crawling all over them. Could this be the ‘significant corporate issues’ to which Ms Brazil referred to?

Talking of a reality check we note that we’re still awaiting the publication of the Serious Case Review report concerned with the Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case that we commented on earlier this year . As we reported in our  Basket Case Review article :

I suppose we have to wait for the publication of the Serious Case Review in the summer before we can FULLY judge the failings of Wirral Council and other statutory agencies involved in the appalling Rajenthiram brother’s depraved exploitation of our most vulnerable.

A quick look out of the window will tells us that summer has long since passed – so where are the findings of the Serious Case Review ? However we do note there was an exempt item at last night’s Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee – could the Serious Case Review report have been discussed then? Or is that a reality check too far for now?

 

 

 

 

Oh no it’s a LOBO!

 

Image result for debt resistance ukImage result for Debt Resistance UK

With all this Labour Party conference talk of Private Finance Initiative ( PFI) schemes we thought we’d turn our attention to the Local Authority (LA) equivalent of the never-never and and return to an old story concerned with LOBO loans.

LOBO-tomy Loans

For those unfamiliar with the concept -although you might not know you’re paying through the nose for one –  a LOBO stands for Lender Option Borrower Option.

The Lender Option means that periodically the lender can impose a new interest rate.

The Borrower Option is to agree to new interest rate or pay loan back in full.

However if the local authority chooses to pay the loan back in full there are punitive ‘break penalties’ which can cost the local authority (and more specifically the council taxpayer) an arm and a leg.

Last night’s Audit & Risk Management Committee confirmed that Wirral Council have taken out a LOBO loan and the reason that the annual accounts have not been fully signed off by external auditor Grant Thornton is that a member of the public has raised an objection to the LOBO loan situation.

Indeed we understand  from the excellent Debt Resistance UK website that Wirral Council is one of  46  councils that are subject to such a legal objection (see below). Full details can be read here : LOBO legal objections

LOBO Debt & “Fair (repayment) Value” for financial liabilities at 46 UK Councils where objections were lodged in 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years.

As you can see Wirral have taken out an eyewatering  LOBO loan of £157+ million and it is estimated that they will be paying back £295 + million .  The loan repayments represent 10.2% of council tax income and debt per person on Wirral is £924 .

Furthermore latest figures Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) indicate that Wirral is the 13th (unlucky for us) overall highest LA borrower in the UK. No doubt part of that that is to cover pay-offs to council managers,  contracts for consultants and salaries for ‘transformers !

Borrowing_and_Investment_Live_Table_2014-15_small-798x1024

 

To Sandwell In A Handcart

Colin as Surjit 009

Less than 5 years of dedicated public service at Wirral Council seem to have taken their toll on poor Surjit Tour  pic: courtesy of John Brace

We couldn’t bring ourselves to watch video footage last week’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting as we understand Power Boy Pip et al  gave outgoing Wirral Council law lord Surjit Tour a rousing round of applause as it was his last ever council meeting – yes , even from Cllr George Davies – but then the deputy leader of Wirral Council must be relieved to see the back of this particular chink in his armour.

The plaudits were all very reminiscent of the time when the subsequently convicted criminal Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree chaired the the Audit & Risk Management Committee  – yes we know ! – can you believe that actually happened ? – and led the handclapping for Audit Commission/Grant Thornton gobshite Mike Thomas. We suspect the applause for both was much for the same reason – keeping a lid on Wirral Council malpractice and getting paid well to do it.

Having said that Tour must be shooting off to his new gig at Sandwell Council like shit off a shovel. And it would appear he will be right at home. As a local source commented –‘Labour controlled and crooked forever’ 

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2016/10/10/sandwell-council-shake-up-fourth-senior-officer-leave-post/

We’re sure the six figure salary was particularly enticing for this status – conscious public servant. All we can say is that you can earn as much as you like but at the end of the day you’re still Surjit Tour.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/sandwell/2017/05/26/sandwell-council-looking-to-appoint-top-roles—one-earning-100k-pay-packet/

We’re just staggered that out of four candidates interviewed for Sandwell Council’s top legal job that Tour came out on top.  Isn’t it reassuring that our public services have such a deep well of talent to draw upon?

Sandwell Council  must be particularly dear to Tour’s heart as a legal case involving his new employer was brought to attention in 2016.  A Wirral Council whistleblower had told their senior managers that they weren’t complying with the law when it came to administrating Discretionary Housing Payments  (DHP)- which are what they say on the tin, discretionary payments made to people who are having trouble paying their rent for one reason or another and presumably some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Wirral Council seem particularly reluctant to promote this fund they have available to help people in need so we’re saying loud and clear if you find yourself struggling to pay your rent contact Wirral Council and ask about DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENTS!

Needless to say the public-spirited  whistleblower who identified that Wirral Council were acting unlawfully was cruelly hounded out of their job for showing up their managers for the bullying incompetents they were.  There will be much more to come on this story but changes to procedures and belated thanks from Tour doesn’t cut it when someone’s career is needlessly destroyed for,once again, wanting things done properly and dare we say LAWFULLY!

Is it just us who thinks that if we don’t speak up about such abuses we’re all going to hell in a handcart?

Subject: Re: Whistleblowing Matter (Case Ref: 22/2016)

Dear X

Further the above matter, I have now completed all requisite enquiries into this matter. I have received and considered the report prepared by XX (Senior Auditor) into the matter you raised in your confidential report [CRF1] dated 22nd February 2016.

The review conducted by XX showed that whilst an assessment of income was undertaken in respect of DHP applicant’s income, the assessments were not fully compliant with the post Sandwell case and revised DWP guidance (issued in August 2015) on such claims.

In light of this, supplementary guidance has issued and explained to all relevant members of the team at the Transaction Centre so that DHP claims are assessed in accordance with the Sandwell case and revised DWP Guidance. Moreover, changes to procedures have and are being implemented to ensure consistency and compliance with the Sandwell case and revised  DWP guidance.

May I take the opportunity to thank you for bringing this issue to the attention of the council.

Kind regards

Surjit Tour

Head of Legal & Member Services

and Monitoring Officer

Hallmarked WBC

New-WBC

The latest forensic examination performed by whistleblower Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro on the BIG fund debacle is set out below.

Try and stay with the technicalities and complexities as it demonstrates the effort and commitment that whistleblowers have to go to evidence their concerns. Such effort and commitment is of course totally inexplicable to the powers that be at Wirral Council.

As a matter of interest our view on the question posed in the final line of the article is that the powers that be just want the titles and the money to sustain their egos . And they want to do it with the least possible effort. Those who want things ‘done properly’ are to be swatted away like irritating midgies. All the ‘midgies’ can do is too continue to get under their skin……..
I have just completed a review of my penultimate audit sample of BIG fund files. When I get the Data Commissioner’s order for WBC to release the Merseycare Transport ltd BIG fund file I will, as any proper auditor ought, have selected a sample of 20% of all BIG fund files. It is incumbent on any auditor to increase his sample where a random sample-the original 6- is found to be entirely deficient, as it was.

I am of course unpaid and have had to battle with a reluctant, and indeed deceitful Council and officers seeking to cover over the inadequacies of its staff and systems in the years 2009 to 2012.

What strikes me is that these officers never demanded original Excel files, or indeed created them from pdf’s. I had to recreate the Excel file so as the better to analyse its shortcomings from indistinct copies of pdf’s. However if this did not, and it did not, demand much of my time, then how much easier it would have been back in 2009-2012. Why did these officers not test these Budgets as so easily they might have done by recreating them on Excel. Grant Thornton in their report indicated that no sensitivity analysis had ever been done for which read my comment above. You can only readily flex budgets if you have them on Excel! What ifs, and, does the Cash flow and the Profit and Loss gel?, are questions answerable if the data is on Excel. My first test was to “Excelise” and place Profit and Loss and Cashflow together to create a Balance Sheet. If the balance sheet from these two combined does not balance then one has unearthed the central lie, and so it was unreconciliable.

Further the officers might have distrusted LEC’s budgets and their competence by observing that even in small matters the budget submitted was wrong.. there is no VAT to be claimed on either bank charges and interest nor on Insurance, but LEC Lights calculate VAT on both. One would be on guard had the officer been awake at the time.

Can a balance sheet be prepared from the two documents, Cashflow and Profit and Loss? For year ending 30th March 2010….NO!! That is to say the fundamental underpin of all accounting numbers, that they should all add up to zero, to balance, is not satisfied. Thereby the plan is INVALID.

The reviewing financial officer, probably Bob Neeld, did point out on July 23 2009 that in October 2009 the cashflow predicted that the £15,000 overdraft facility would be exceeded by £20,000 even with the receipt of the grant… “predicting its own failure” was his expression. The cashflow sent to myself under FOI shows the re-arranged balances to answer this flaw, leading only to a £7,900 overdraft. A remarkable turnaround in the one month leading to the award in August 2009, partly explained by the introduction of supposed further Director’s loan repayments of £15,000. Indeed that became a condition of the BIG loan that at least the first of three deposits of £5,000 be shown to officers of Invest Wirral. Really it was a paltry condition indeed in face of the manifold objections to awarding the grant, not least that at 31st March 2009 the firm was insolvent to the tune of £115,000 .

The real question were the connexions between the patent holding company Luminanz . If £15,000 could be magicked out of somewhere within less than 3 months, perhaps in reality the claimant was Luminanz, based in Bolton. The reviewing account was alive to this in his July report

“I am therefore alerted to the possibility that the two companies are connected, and that the development project is being undertaken by Sign Lights ltd(lec lights) yet owned by a related company under licence”.

Indeed a former name of the company had been Luminanz Manufacturing Limited, one of its four incarnations. At inception Morton Graham was both a director and a fifty per cent shareholder in LEC lights whilst at the same time controlling Luminanz Ltd in Bolton.

Mr Neeld devotes two paragraphs to the notion that perhaps in reality LEC lights does not need the money, a vital criteria of BIG, it can get it from Luminanz, but is opportunistically grabbing at the ripe plum on the WBC tree, as did so many of those in my audit sample. It is transparent also that Mr Mathews is good for the money without recourse to WBC BIG fund. Later Mr Mathews turns £100,000 of his loan to LEC Lights Ltd to share capital, and, in 2016, is able to offer the Administrator of his company a straight £60,000 for its patents and equipment having dumped a quango creditor (NWF Energy and Environmental technologies LLP) for a cool  £750,000. I guess in one way or another that was our taxpayer money!

The magicking of £15,000 resonates with the curious absence of Director’s remuneration for the entire year projected to March 2010 and onwards through to August 2010, a fallow period of 17 months where the director would live off fresh air. A man of such resources!! He can repay the £15,000 he owes the company and still live off nothing for 17 months. Why ever does he NEED the BIG grant? The suspicion is that it is Luminarz of Bolton who are really behind this bid just as Bob Neeld, the WBC accountant, harboured suspicion. The second director of LEC lights, H Matthews, seems happy not to be repaid his £145,613 until April 2010, and then only in drip feed. The contingency that Mr Matthews will not take his money back early remains another problem for the advising WBC accountant.
The reader must therefore ask himself whether, as claimed by former CEO Mr Burgess, and by the Wirral Chamber of Commerce honcho, Mr Adderley, the BIG fund was largely a success? I will, reluctantly, write a round up of all my long protracted audit but for now I confidently can write…it was not!

It was a failure .When competent officers pointed out flaws their objections were got round by utterly facile means or they were simply ignored or outvoted in the Panel, a vote never recorded.(see Grant Thornton’s report). The independents on the Panel were never told the whole truth. The so called system was as porous as a Delhi slum sewage pipe. Perhaps the officers were incompetent, or just lazy and complacent, or perhaps a deliberate opening was made to facilitate favouritism or even bungs.

 

 

The Blind Leading The Blindfolded

blind_followers

We are grateful, once again , for the following submission from another of our regular followers and contributors , Mr Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro.

Hobro brings his forensic eye to Wirral Council’s  failings in relation to funding which they were responsible for administering. What Hobro dissects may be esoteric to some but the failings he identifies will be familiar to Wirral Leaks readers – a failure of due diligence , a failure of openness and transparency , a failure of accountability and , damn it, a failure to do things ‘properly’ – and all in the name of reputation management (and no doubt other base motives) . We invite you to open your eyes before they take us all over the precipice:

The public are blinded as to the workings within Wirral Borough Council as the corporation seeks to keep its failings from open view. The issue regarding ISUS and BIG seems hackneyed except if one considers that the revelations have deliberately been kept in deep-freeze by the Council Leader and by top officers. They are as new as the date of release of data, usually forced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under threat of contempt of court. Certainly I asked for the names of companies in receipt of BIG funding that were liquidated as early as 2013, to be refused, even though liquidated companies have no protection under the Data Protection Act. The latter was conclusively attested to in summer last year with a ruling from the ICO, and most surely had been known all along by the Council’s monitoring Officer, Mr Surjit Tour.

Those who have been blind seem reluctant to accept criticism from the illuminati despite thin vows of transparency and of accountability. When Grant Thornton reported on the multi-fold failings in the BIG process vis -a -vis 6 files nevertheless despite a disclaimer from Grant Thornton of the Councils italicized statement, the Council claimed no wrong-doing and pointed out that only Lockwood Engineering had gone bust. On forced release of the Executive Summary re BIG in July 2013 the Leader of the Council issued a press release stating the success of the program and that of all Big fund recipients (sic) only one had gone bust. Yet time and erosion of the whitewash reveal that in fact two companies further had entered into liquidation with connexions to the Leader even at that early date. The council chief executive blatantly lied on 8th October 2014 saying only three were bust whereas the true total was eleven by then. I am not sure that Braille can distinguish between entering liquidation and finally being liquidated though these blinders did insist on a difference that to all intents and purposes is valueless. When the sexton prepares the grave there are very few lazarus’ indeed.

I do claim that the BIG process was so flawed in its arrangements that it opened a clear vista for fraud. Due diligence would not involve a coach and blinkered horses being driven through the benevolent intentions of the grants.

Last week I received data re Corrin Kenny Limited a company that received £13,250 of BIG money sometime soon after 4th May 2011 when Councillor Andrew Hodgson approved the award. The file given me contained no accounts later than 31st March 2010 which represents a poor basis indeed for processing future projections.

The friar Pacioli who invented double entry intended that all debits and credits equate to zero otherwise his system collapses applying to historic and equally to projected accounts. Due diligence compelled me to reconstruct from the entries in the projections an opening Balance Sheet. It proved impossible to do leaving a creditor of £7,000 which clearly had not been run through the projected cash flow. Surely any business applying for £20,000 of free money should at the very least offer up a clear set of projections, and any civil servant intending to give out public money should expect a clear Business Plan budget. Without the budget being sound the reins of the coach are fraying.
BLIND, Wilfully blind or just complaisant officers?

The officer who produced a short page of recommendations for the “Independent Panel” to consider was a Mr Stone of the Regeneration Department. He did not look for a balanced model ( in Cashflows that do not balance as to Cash flow, Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet one can always find errors that invalidate the proposal) and did not remark on the £26,600 cost that was not included in the Total for Cost of Sales. This was plain as a pikestaff for any but the purblind. I imagine therefore that Mr Stone did not attempt to analyse the formulae within the Excel model-I did, unpaid!, and with my having to reconstitute the Excel from a Adobe Acrobat file. I observed with my clear vision that, to check the validity of the assumptions, I would need to recreate the file. If I had been paid it would have been 2 hours of WBC time . Mr Stone may have had the benefit of the original Excel file in which case half an hours work would have sufficed. They have eyes to see but do not wish to see!

Mr Stone or Gemma Henry had access to a reporting suite from Companies House. They might have discovered that the Company Secretary whose name headed the application was involved already with seven companies of which three at that contemporaneous time were entered into the London Gazette to be dissolved. This was not a chequered flag to go ahead with the grant but a chequered past to prompt more questions.

I checked the full accounts for March 2010 and noted from a minds eye memory going back 6 years that the requirement to produce accounts not less than 6 months old had not been enforced, or perhaps in April 2011 the officers did not see that accounts to 31st March 2010 were more than a year old. I noted as a kestrel hovering at several hundred feet the balance of Other Debtors at £52,989 and wondered if Ms Gemma Henry quartered in Invest Wirral’s offices in Egerton House asked of Mr Kenny, giving his address as Egerton House, of what that was composed. Could it be an illegal Directors Current account because it most definitely was not a Trade Debtor, and if it were that, then what business has WBC advancing money to a company that was already sitting on an unrecognised liability of up to £30,000 of PAYE/NI? I began to see into the future (see below.)

COACH AND HORSES

Then to the Minutes of the Meeting at 9:30am of 21st April 2011 (with next meeting at foot of page for 27th May 2010(sic)) attended by the blind Invest Wirral who blind-folded the independents from Business Link and from the Federation of Small Business by, per Grant Thornton, giving them no accounts, and just the précis by Mr Stone, Finance Manager. The précis ran to just 320 words which recommended that only £20,000 would do the job. After a discussion “in great detail” all voted save one independent to award the grant. Dissension was met by the compromise of awarding just £13,250 even though Mr Stone had written only £20,000 would do. Blind, blind, blind or perhaps the diligence drivers ( an 18th century coach) whipping through what they could for an individual close indeed to the Regeneration Manager, Mr Kevin Adderley.

All seemed unconcerned that the award would be the same contravention of rules as was the award – that never should have been given per Grant Thornton-to The Edge magazine of Lets Go Publishing ltd. Both sought to advertise in the Wirral just as had Thinklocal and indeed Wirral View in direct competition with non-funded newspapers. The blindfolded independents would not know only the wilfully blind officers knew.

THAT WHICH WAS VISIBLE TO THE DISCERNING EYE THEN AND CAME TO PASS

Hindsight reveals that far from Corrin Kenny having £93,266 reserves in March 2012, by July 2013 the Liquidator reported a deficiency of (£75,000 ) which for four years he has been trying to recoup from the director who had had an overdrawn current account (see above and £52,000).

HM Tax Inspectorate began calling in its debt in March 2012 .The officers did not see at March 2010 that the debt to Taxes had been £40,481. The did nt see the warnings from the filings at Companies House where the figures quoted as prior year balance sheet in the 31st March 2010 accounts were different from the 2009 Balance sheet as filed. It is the business of Local Authorities to ensure before parting with our taxes that the grantees have paid their dues and observe laws and regulations and not to encourage tax defaulters! The debt to the Revenue finally was recognised as being £70,646 and the Liquidator (see above) noted the debt owed by the director to the company. To this date the Liquidation is open five years later as the Revenue seek to enforce the debt. So the ‘diligence’ reached the river and unloaded £13,250 of tax-payers money to sail down the Swanee to the accompaniment of the blind harmonica players from the Council.

OBFUSCATION AFTER THE EVENT

What we can see is that Mr P Davies Councillor was not anxious that these details be released on Corrin Kenny Ltd since he did accompany Mr B Kenny on trade missions to the Isle of Man and, though I have not seen the photograph, allegedly to Reno. I guess the sad story of New Concept Gaming Ltd, some £845,000 of public money including some BIG, going down the same river was another musical score that the blind players did not want you to read. Of “all BIG recipients” these two were certainly in liquidation when Mr P Davies issued his press release in July 2013.

SOURCES
The sources for my article are Companies House, data which is now free and at the time would only have cost Invest Wirral a maximum of £5 to see; and What do they know.com at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/corrin_kenny_ltd_big_fund_award?nocache=incoming-948560#incoming-948560

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 Common People

rich-pickings

Rich pickings for the Basnetts and friends.

Now you all know we are totally non-judgemental at Leaky Towers so when we refer to the common people we are talking more about some of the people we discussed in yesterday’s post  who seem to have a lot in common.

They call it partnership working / networking – we call it cronyism and empire building at the expense of the ‘little people’ .The rich enriching themselves and their friends by accessing scarce public resources …..and with Grant Thornton being the common denominator when it comes to auditing there is very little chance of any awkward questions being asked.  We note that the late-to-the-party Daily Mail follow up their own concerns on the matter by belatedly bringing to their readers attention the Peel Group and particularly group director Robert Hough.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4003918/Ban-fat-cats-secret-deals-says-MPs-demand-action-Mail-exposes-old-pals-club-doles-public-money.html

Fortunately our own consultant Dr Robert B Smith has been able to remedy any ‘information deficit’ our readers may have when it comes to the following local contacts and connections that have increasingly caused us so much concern :

Board Games (of recent times)

Liverpool City Region (LCR) Combined Authority committee members

ex-Chair Cllr Phil Davies; Leader Wirral Council -, now committee member
Asif Hamid; The Contact Company – committee member

Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) 

Chair

Robert Hough; Peel Group (previous Chair until end of June 2016)
Asif Hamid; The Contact Company – previously Vice-Chair, now Chair

Board members 

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company
Neil Sturmey; Head of Office & Partner, Grant Thornton

Mark Basnett; LCR – LEP (Executive Director in attendance)

Mark Basnett additional company directorships:

Merseyside Special Investment Seed Fund Ltd.
Merseyside Special Investment Venture Fund Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Venture Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Mezzanine Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment Fund Ltd
Merseyside Special Investment (Small Firms) Fund Two Ltd
Merseyside Small Loans For Business Investment Fund Ltd
Small Business Loans Ltd

Wirral Council

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council

Kevin Adderley; ex-Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment

Paula Basnett; ex-Investment Manager
Independent Auditor, Grant Thornton

Wirral Chamber of Commerce (WCofC)

Chair

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO

Board members

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO (ex-Investment Manager at Wirral Council; ex-head of Invest Wirral; ex-Manager of Egerton House; ex-Wirral Business Partnership CEO).

Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council
Kevin Adderley; WCofC Group Managing Director (ex-Wirral Council Strategic Director for Regeneration and Environment)
Sue Higginson; Principal, Wirral Metropolitan College
John Syvret; CEO, Cammell Laird (Peel Group)

Wirral Investment Network (Management) Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
(No other Directors)

Egerton House (Wirral) Community Interest Company

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
(No other Directors)

The Lauries Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Secretary

Lauries Events Ltd

Asif Hamid; The Contact Company CEO, Director
Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO, Director
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce

Wirral Metropolitan College – Governors

Sue Higginson; Principal, Wirral Metropolitan College

Paula Bernadette Basnett; WCofC CEO
Richard Mawdsley; Director of the Peel Group
Grant Thornton (Auditors in attendance)

Join the dots

The Hive – Wirral Youth Zone

John Syvret; Chair (CEO, Cammell Laird [Peel Group])
Cllr Phil Davies; Leader – Wirral Council
Kate Eugeni; Head of Training and Education at Wirral Chamber of Commerce
Phil Garrigan Deputy Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service

Saughall Massie Fire Station proposal

Could this be the trade-off for the Birkenhead site for The Hive/Wirral Youth Zone between Wirral Council and Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service…?

Wirral Waters

Peel Group
Wirral Council

Egerton House (WCofC)

Pacific Road (WCofC)
The Contact Company 26.03.2015 Liverpool Echo – The Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and Wirral Chamber of Commerce have also provided Asif Hamid’s company with additional support. (£11m reported costs, at least 75% reported as public funding)

Wirral Metropolitan College Wirral Waters campus for Construction and the Built Environment (£8m public funding)
Tower Road ‘A’ & ‘C’ Bridge replacements to service Ro-Ro Ferry £7.12m all public funding incl £712k from Wirral Council – Peel £0

Now join more dots…..

Who was ‘instrumental’ in the failed £175m International Trade Centre as part of a move to kick-start the £4.6bn Wirral Waters project.

Who went to China to meet Stella Shiu?

Who met Stella Shiu when she visited Wirral?

Who went to Reno?

Who went to the Isle of Man?

Who was responsible for administering and investigating the Business Investment Grants (BIG), Investment Start Up Scheme (ISUS), and Working Neighbourhoods, schemes?

 

Ministry of Truth

 

ministry-of-truth-official

Another of our valued contributors Nigel “Highbrow” Hobro provides us with the latest update on the long running saga that is the BIG cover up (both in name and by nature).

After being given the usual run around by Wirral Council a Freedom of Information request eventually provided the evidence that Hobro and co had needed to support their long held claims of malpractice.

Once again we seem to witness the closed ranks and the triumph of dishonesty over truth. Whilst Hobro rightly highlights the questionable actions of Wirral Council management in this sorry saga we would like to raise a particular concern about so called independent agencies who collude with such behaviour. In all of these Wirral Council whistleblowing cases a common denominator has been how external auditors have consistently failed to act in the public interest.

No wonder that ex – Cllr Jim Crabtree , the former Chair of the council’s Audit & Risk Management Committee , asked for a round of applause for Mike Thomas (Audit Commission/ Grant Thornton)  when he made his last appearance at an ARMC meeting. Mr Thomas appeared shocked at the tribute – we were appalled………

Wirral Borough Council management is now revealed to be a sordid manipulator of the truth. I write that buttressed by hard-won evidence. Evidence forced out of WBC by threat of contempt of court after a campaign of obfuscation lasting all the way back to 2011. In addition to the management being exposed, a reasonable man might well have grounds to write that the Leader of the Council either was fed lies, and turned a blind eye, or told them in full knowledge. As regards (former WBC CEO) Graham Burgess and his Regeneration team, Kevin Adderley, and the ever-present David Ball, the taped proceedings of the Special Audit and Risk Committee meeting of 8th October tars them with lying, or complicity with lies, and that extending to the Legal Officer, Surjit Tour, who in despite of his accustomed “legal” interventions, kept silence as untruths were reeled out.

Language is never exact and can be readily misused – “the devil wins us with honest trifles to betray us i’the deepest consequence” and such abuse of language, “tis the equivocation of the fiend”, has been practised by many. Bill Clinton “I did not have sex in the Whitehouse” or his “I smoked but did not inhale” are famous examples. The tone of delivery may help. After a night of the Long Knives in June 1934 where a former German Chancellor was murdered with his wife, and hundreds of others, Hermann Goering cheerily met Anglo-American Reporters with the quip “Boy, have I got news for you!” Naturally he personally had organised many of the assassinations himself and put a jovial face upon it. “There is no art to find the mind’s construction in the face”!

Why am I quoting Macbeth? Why because the play shows how small untruths may lead to monstrous acts somewhere late in the “seeds of time”. Particularly I quote Macbeth because a line spoken by the tragic hero fits this situation neatly. Macbeth says

“I am in blood steep’d in so far

That going back were as tedious as go o’er”

Surely malevolence grows steadily like a worm fed on rubbish. Let me rehearse how an Original Lie grew and grew.

14 March 2011   Minutes given to Regeneration committee of councillors include tabulation of false figures from Wirralbiz Working Wirral figures, in order to give impression that all is well

July 2011        Kevin Adderley outfaces James Griffiths, whistle-blower, by untruthfully blurting out that no BIG recipient has gone bust

January 2012     Chief Anti-Fraud officer, Beverley Edwards files a 370 page report with the Director of Law showing the phoenixing of Lockwood Engineering ltd assets into Harbac (UK) ltd, and multiple flaws in the BIG process, together with flaws and fraud in wirralbiz’s ISUS program

March 2012       

Press release by WBC as follows 23 March 2012

Re: Allegations relating to Business Grants

Director of Finance and Deputy Chief Executive, Ian Coleman said:

“The allegations raised are being investigated by the Council’s Audit Officers. Their preliminary view, having interviewed the complainants and others, and considered all relevant documentation, is that there is no evidence that substantiates the allegations made against Council officers – at that time there was only the suggestion that (the now CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce) Paula Basnett was a friend of the wife of the director of Cass Coaches; this among a myriad of other allegations against claimants and advisors of wirralbiz).

“The investigation has not yet concluded however it is anticipated that the report will be finalised in the next few weeks.

“The Council’s Economic Development unit has an excellent track record for the work it does to encourage investment into Wirral, support local businesses and help people into jobs. This was recognised most recently when the team won the national LGC Award for Economic Development, which praised the innovation shown by the Council.”

BY March 2012  the decision has been taken to hide Beverley Edwards’ report and substitute it with a Dave Garry report, and stretch that report out as long as possible

July 2012      the council pays £33,000 to wirralbiz regardless of allegations as the lie must be fed

September 2012   “the report will be finalised in the next few weeks” transmutes by witchcraft “ into no report will be published as it is unfit for purpose and Mr D. Garry regardless of his failure ,will leave the authority with £46,000. But what of the 370 pages of Beverley Edwards’ report?

The LIE is swelling with falsehoods and the toll and bill is mounting both for the public and for the two whistleblowers. For the public a further £50,000 will be paid to Grant Thornton. One wonders is this simply to buy time?

October 2012     to feed the lie the Council pays a further £66,000 to wirralbiz

Early December 2012    The Grant Thornton team report both that they have completed the BIG investigation within just over a month, and that WBC is putting no pressure on them to render a report till the ISUS investigation is complete.-to buy more time?

March 2013   Grant Thornton delivers its report which is hidden from view for 16 weeks

March 2013     Press release by Cllr P Davies and again the red herring is thrown into the ocean incarnadine with a “I am pleased that I am now in a position to state clearly that the ISUS report which has now been concluded does not criticise Wirral Council or its officers” WHEREAS from the off the investigation was never directed against council officers!!

July 2013        Under pressure from a question at a full council meeting Cllr Davies agrees to release just the Executive Summary of the BIG investigation. In it are new obfuscations. Grant Thornton though investigating Lockwood Engineering ltd in its sample of six files contrives not to notice or record the phoenixing issue of BIG-funded assets moved into Harbac UK Ltd without any liquidator knowing-a very strange omission indeed. Likewise the BIG LIE battens on the equivocation that a gap of 26 months passed between the August 2010 award of BIG and the dissolution of Lockwood in September 2012. Disingenuous indeed since entry into Liquidation effectively ends the company’s trading and this was only 8 months later!

July 2013     Cllr Davies in a press release, “filled top to toe with direst cruelty” wrote

“I am also pleased to note that with the exception of one, all companies that received BIG funding are still trading – creating jobs and contributing to the local economy”

THE BIG LIE and his soul is not to fly to Heaven. Here is the list of companies that were no longer trading at 1st July 2013

New Gaming Concept ltd   into liquidation  18/03/2010 and fully dissolved  25/06/2011

Lockwood engineering ltd                             01/04/2011                                 20/09/2012

Corrin Kenny ltd 22/03/2012 long liquidation

July 2014 A special audit and risk committee was abandoned in uproar as the Chairman Cllr Crabtree (displaced now and up before criminal court in January coming on an unrelated matter) attempted to close down the issues by a majority vote of Labour Councillors.) Cllr Davies approached me at the end threatening to sue me for linking him with the advisor preparing the defective BIG fund projections. Had I known of the connexions between Brendon Kenny (Corrin Kenny Ltd above) and the Adderley-P Davies coterie, or of the £810,000 deficit in New Gaming Concept Ltd , he would have been even more anxious.

8th October 2014 The reconvened special audit and risk committee is held and despite with-holding what the Chief Executive would submit, the WBC management pestered me many times for the content of my speech. Since the delivery of my speech to them in July 2014 meeting was a contributory cause of that meeting being aborted , I did not supply my notes to them on this ocassion. Graham  Burgess and Kevin Adderley, “twere as tedious to go o’er as go back” repeated the same untruth that now only Lockwood , Harbac and Atlantic Engineering were liquidated or in Liquidation. BIG LIE for by then the list had grown to

 New Gaming Concept ltd   into liquidation  18/03/2010 and fully dissolved  25/06/2011

Lockwood Engineering ltd                             01/04/2011                                 20/09/2012

Corrin Kenny ltd 22/03/2012 long liquidation

With additions  

TTH Laundry Services Ltd                                  21/08/2014

Halliwell Industrial & Marine Silencers                07/03/2014       

Harbac (UK) ltd 14/08/2013

Combined Harvesters ltd 12/12/2013

Atlantic Engineering ltd 11/03/2014

Brocks Mechanical services ltd 04/02/2014

Imaginations Air travel ltd 01/09/2014

I make that ten cessations of trading as both the Chief Executive and the Super Director spake and as, the two representatives from Grant Thornton , the auditors, sat silent, and as David Ball , Manager of Regeneration was equally mute, and lastly the Monitoring Officer, Surjit Tour never corrected them.

A FARCE and a waste of all the salaries and overtime paid to the notables who were present. A personal insult to myself, to James Griffiths and to the public whose money had so flippantly been  thrown away. Throughout the Monitoring Officer refused access to the list of BIG recipients even though a cursory examination of his legal database would show him that liquidated companies have absolutely no rights to confidentiality, period. Wilfully he maintained the BIG LIE and you have only to read the directions from the Information Commissioner to understand how,  improperly, Monitoring Officer offered up a series of ridiculous objections with the purpose of concealing the BIG LIE.

There will be other commentators here and on Wirral in it together. Let me record how angry I am with these pious and aloof civil servants who in reality were hiding their own incompetence and sordid lie-telling. The reader will discover the motivators to tell such lies.

Think on the triumph of Donald Trump in the USA. So many lies were told by the Clintons that he decided to campaign with half truths and once won, row back on his campaign slogans. That is the terminus to arrive at when “ first you practice to deceive”.

A Return to Greed

Pigs 2

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).

return-to-greed-012

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 !.

return-to-greed-009

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!.