Highways – The Long and Winding Road

Spot the difference.

About Wirral 001

In…

Highways etc 004

…and out! It’s a sign of the times!

You wouldn’t know it but today is one of the most significant days in Wirral Council history.

Ten years after the Highways Department was controversially outsourced to Colas (and subsequently BAM Nuttall) , the people that attend to streetlights , fill potholes and commission contracts for roadworks and related services once again, and even more controversially, become employees of Wirral Council. So it’s a case of out with the old and er, in with the old.

However there has been no fanfare for such a momentous event – just a discreet removal of the BAM Nuttall signs at the Highways depot and it’s business unusual.

The highly significant decision to return the Highways Department multi-million pound contract in-house was  made in November 2017 by council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies using his ‘special delegated powers’ . Isn’t curious that in the intervening 11 months that Pip didn’t /couldn’t/wouldn’t order a re-tendering exercise and instead took the unprecedented step of returning a department to the control of Wirral Council. It must be gratifying to make a knotty problem go away with the wave of a magic wand mustn’t it? Especially when there has been a woeful lack of proper scrutiny or thorough probing on this highly dubious move by other Wirral councillors.

Shall we now expect more outsourced public services to be returned in- house? The failing care homes? Waste management? Will the control room staff get their jobs back? Will Wirral Council become less reliant on external consultants and recruit competent  managers with a commitment to public services? – Breath-holding is not advised.

Which all makes us wonder what made the long and winding road that led to the return of highways department to Wirral Council such an exceptional case?

Wirral Leaks readers might know the answer to that question and it has very little to do with value for money, the public interest or due diligence…

WIRRALGATETAPE

Making Plans For Wirral

Javid letter 010

Following yesterday’s masterful Masterplantastic story we bring you an immaculately timed letter from  Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Housing , Communities and Local Government which tells us what happens when a council has ‘visions’ rather than ‘plans’ !

As you may remember last November we brought to your attention Wirral Council’s failure to produce a ‘Local Plan’ and Javid’s warning that there would be government intervention if Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies couldn’t get his house in order : Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail .  Wirral Council was one of 15 council’s who received such a warning with  Javid making this sabre rattling statement :

…today is the day that my patience has run out.

Those 15 authorities have left me with no choice but to start the formal process of intervention that we set out in the white paper.

By failing to plan, they have failed the people they are meant to serve.

The people of this country who are crying out for good quality, well-planned housing in the right places, supported by the right infrastructure.

They deserve better, and by stepping in now I’m doing all I can to ensure that they receive it.

Now it would appear that Wirral Council has excelled themselves by being one of only 3 remaining councils who now face intervention for “persistent failure over many years to get a Local Plan in place”  For further details : Three councils

The full shameful letter from Javid to Pip can be read here :

Wirral Plan

Meanwhile a Wirral Leaks commentator going by the name of ‘HeadBallRoll’ writes to us to say :

After a series of mealymouthed excuses as to why highly paid council officers and their political paymasters couldn’t actually cut and paste something resembling a Local Plan by 31st January 2018 – as they were too busy hiding behind their 20/20 Vision and pledges rather than meeting a statutory requirement by which they can be held to account . Maybe the chosen few were too busy scoping golf courses, closing children’s centres, farming out council houses to private property developers … or simply not paying attention? So it’s been around a while, ending up with 15 councils warned by the angry Slaphead Javid.  But even nearly three years’ notice wasn’t enough for the senior, blind, bumbling incompetents shuffling around lost, bumping into each other, muttering, tripping over files, in the dusty, unused Wirral planning office.

And let’s face it, 33 months is  nowhere near enough notice to get their shit together (after 13 years of not having a ‘Local Plan’ !)  Presumably the other dozen LAs scraped through because they had enough about them to focus, gather the remnants of good practice and apply the last surviving vestiges of planning nous into cobbling some crappy document together in time.

But not here.  It seems they’ve sat around, twiddled their thumbs and hoped the horrible Tories would either go away, forget, or not go through with it.

Despite the BIG proclamations, the BIG egos, the BIG senior salaries, they’ve messed up BIG style.  It’s one BIG cock-up.

This being Wirral though, where abject failure and disaster have long become customary bedfellows, like night follows day, or falling off a log, it doesn’t soften the blow.

But hey, as long as those bumper salaries are not cut off and continue to come in on pay day, where’s the incentive to do your jobs, lol?

So chaos is now expected and planned for at ‘most improved’ Wirral. (Who remembers the Children’s Services OFSTED catastrophe that overpromoted social worker and CEO Eric Robinson  knew about months in advance, only to dive under his desk, head in hands, dribbling and doing bugger all to stave it off?)

And what of the grafting junior staff of the Planning Department, doing their utmost to at least be professional and hold the fort?

Monday morning will arrive, and they’ll find themselves intercepted, scapegoated, placed into the line of fire and reaping the consequences of years of failure by their bosses and councillors – who will have had just enough prior notification to give it all a timely body swerve…. That’s the type of ‘planning’ they’re very good at. Avoidance measures, whilst junior bods and lackeys are left to pick up the pieces. 

So it’s not just Children’s Services, Social Services, Highways Services that have collapsed into an abject, irretrievable mess.We can now add the Planning Department to the long list of shame.

Of course the upshot of all this is that Wirral’s ‘Local Plan’ could now come under the auspices of the Liverpool City Region as Javid warns in his letter:

 

My officials will also begin formal discussions on the options of inviting the Combined Authority for the Liverpool City Region to prepare a Local Plan for Wirral and on the possibility of directing an accelerated Joint Plan, as part of considering whether to use my statutory powers and if so which ones.

Could this have been part of  Pip’s ‘Masterplan’ all along ?  To evade accountability for an unpopular ‘Local Plan’ and subsequent planning decisions – ” It wasn’t us who approved a golf resort etc;  – it was the Liverpool City Region!”

 

The WBC Golf Set

We wouldn’t be so bold or foolish as to suggest WBC would EVER be as unprofessional as to conduct it’s business on the golf course. In fact this photo from the Corporate Golf Wank Off in 2006 suggests that would NEVER happen, EVER.

Control yourselves, this much testosterone, dodgy knitwear, ill-advised “slacks” and coquettishly unbuttoned polo shirts could tear the very fabric of space and time asunder !