Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #6

Hey! people of Wirral – we’re supposed to be semi-retired here! But in the mean time keep ’em comin’……

CONDUCT UNBECOMING 

This is a postscript to our Intimidation and the Hypocrisies of Public Life post where earlier this week we witnessed Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin desperately querying whether a particular website was intimidatory. Hey , Matron – we pay for your taxis , it would appear you now want us to pay for your phone. As Her Ladyship said : ” It’ll be bad dye jobs and manicures next !” Can we just pitch in that we agree with a recent Guardian report (that’s a first for us) where ex- Tory minister Sir Eric ‘Who Ate All The Pies’ Pickles gets a deserved kicking (or this being the Guardian – a mild riposte). It was Frank Field’s mate who dismantled the external scrutiny of Councils with the abolishment of the Audit Commission and Standards For England and my goodness haven’t councillors at Wirral Council taken advantage of the fact since? For more read here : Blame Eric Pickles for councillors guzzling high on the hog

It is apparent that electors on Wirral don’t or at least don’t in any coherent way police the conduct of councillors. So we try to instead – and if that’s ‘intimidatory’ Matron we make no apologies! Just sayin’

HUBWATCH  

Maritime_Knowledge_Hub

Her Ladyship turned to me the other day and said :

What the world needs now
Is hubs, more hubs
It’s the only thing
That there’s just too little of
What the world needs now
Is hubs, more hubs
No not just for some – but for everyone

Lord, we don’t need
Another mountain
There are mountains
And hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans
And rivers enough to cross
Enough to last – ’til the end of time

What the world needs now
Is hubs, more hubs

And who was I to disagree? So in honour of Her Ladyship we are introducing a new Wirral Leaks feature – Hubwatch. This week’s hub is the ‘Maritime Knowledge Hub’ exclusively featured in Wirral Council’s favourite website Insider Media Ltd. 

The ‘Digital Staff Writer’ for this exclusive for this is one Matthew Ord. Now we’re not being rude here Matthew but your profile pic makes you look slightly deranged. We suppose that’s what happens when you have to cut and paste press statements from various interested parties into a vaguely coherent article so that it doesn’t read like complete BS for a living. Just sayin’

WIRRAL WINDFALL 

The latest contribution from regular Wirral Leaks contributor ‘The Prof ‘ may be a bit controversial but we’re a broad church and we like to encourage debate and dispute

It was good to read in the February Wirral View that according to Cllr. Phil Davies Wirral is now the centre for ‘Offshore Renewable Engineering’! Orsted’s new ‘flagship’ site for windmill maintenance is apparently the best thing since sliced bread ! Phil must have read the piece in Renewable Energy News, etc, which reported that several hundred offshore windmills supplied by Siemens, including those of Orsted, have suffered unexpected problems including severe blade erosion requiring expensive repair or replacement. That should keep Orsted’s base busy in the short term. But, as to the medium term,  did Phil not also read the Financial Times piece (23.02.18) :’Global Renewable Energy Sector Faces Enron Style Collapse’. With the end of cheap money and subsidies and the US shale gas revolution ,the ‘windmill era’ may be ending again just as it did when coal and oil arrived in the 19th century. If Phil wants economic renewal for Wirral he should forget politically correct fantasy, embrace reality and talk to Cuadrilla.                                                                        Professor D P Gregg (retired)

 

Juergen Maier is Siemens CEO and North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) Chairman

Emma Degg (ex Wirral Council, Wirral Leaks passim) is CEO of NWBLT

Oh and DLA Piper, Grant Thornton, Orsted and Unilever have representatives on the NWBLT board. Have you all worked out how this shit works yet?

NWBLT Members

Just sayin’

STIR IT UP
Marley's E-cigs
Now you know we don’t judge here at Wirral Leaks and we fully support local businesses and recognise you gotta do what you gotta do to make a living these days. However from time to time who question the appropriateness of some sponsorship deals . We say this as we’ve been sent these pics and comment from a local resident :
Good to see Somerville Medical Centre being sponsored by the cheapest e cig shop on Merseyside……sponsored by Marley’s where (if you zoom in on this photo) you will also see that you can buy ‘spliff boxes’, ‘bongs’, and associated drug taking paraphernalia ……. ha ha
Spliff box
Perhaps Julie Webster Head of Public Health at Wirral Council could comment on the matter and at the same time confirm she has an MSc and therefore has the authority to do so. Just sayin’
AND FINALLY 
We’ve been sent this picture and asked  ” What does this former party political leader and his partner have in common with a Wirral political power couple?”
Henry & Jo
We were stumped – perhaps Wirral Leaks readers can enlighten us………
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Frank Field : Fearless or Shameless ?

Now we’ve imagined that we would meet a grisly end courtesy of either a failed brakes incident as Her Ladyship and I cruised La Grande Corniche or a like a deadlier version of the opening scene to the film ‘Sexy Beast’ as we lounged in the Mediterranean sun.

However it would seem our readers have other ideas. Are you really trying to induce a coronary? We say this as we’ve received pictures from a Mail On Sunday reader – we’re a broad church and we don’t judge – yeah right! we hear you cry- but that particular publication isn’t usually part of our reading matter , especially when it regularly features their ‘pet’ Labour politician Frank Field.

Last Sunday’s edition exceeded itself as it features a full page spread of our beloved MP for Birkenhead under the headline – ” Fearless Frank : How I brought TWO Philip Greens down to size” and where we find Frankenfield adopting a macho stance (or as close an approximation as he can manage).

Fearless frank 002

The TWO Philip Greens involved are the former boss of BHS , ‘Sir’ Philip Green and the Carillion CEO of the same name who isn’t a knight of the realm . Frankenfield is wringing every last ounce of self-aggrandizing publicity out of this isn’t he?  How ‘fearless’ do you have to be when you’re the chair of Work and Pensions Select Committee and what is it with Frankenfield and Greens? – beit Dave, Philip or the Green Party? Perhaps ‘Dear Papa’ forced him to eat his greens and he’s held a grudge ever since. And if there’s one thing we know about Foodbank Frank is that he ‘bears more grudges than lonely high court judges’  .

The hagiographic article written by the clearly impressionable William Turvill is jampacked with early entries for the Leaky Awards ‘ “Quote of the Year”.

Now if questions  A) and B) were posed to Wirral Council, Grant Thornton etc; instead of untouchable ,distant but headline-grabbing multi-millionaires we might have more respect for him*

nb – let’s be honest it’ll be a cold day in hell when we have any respect for Frank Field 

A) 

Fearless frank 008

B)

Fearless frank 011

 

Fearless frank 010

But our absolute favourite quote was this :

Fearless frank 006

To which we would like to respond and say : Be careful what you wish for Frankie-baby! Although it must be great when Wirral Council (or rather their council taxpayers) are picking up the bill as a result of your scheming ways!

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.

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?