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………

Any Old Ion

Regen 010

Currently awaiting artist’s impression.

Have you noticed how the supposed grand plans for the regeneration of Wirral (and Birkenhead in particular) are being disseminated in the the press in exactly the same incoherent , opportunistic and uncoordinated  way.

For example we’ve already covered how the charisma free zone that is Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson chose the trade press Inside Media (who?) to tease us about future major land and property deals Double Dealers

Subsequently there then followed  an announcement in the Liverpool Echo that there were plans to convert Wirral Council’s former finance building into student flats under the title ‘ Hamilton Hub’ (groan ). Here we learned that Liverpool-based developer YPG wants to convert these offices in Cleveland Street into an ‘apartment complex’ for 200 students. Hamilton Hub

Sze Ming Yeung, managing director of YPG, said: “Our research tells us there is a real appetite for this kind of student and key worker accommodation in the centre of Birkenhead, partly because of the city region’s excellent cross-river transport links.

Since YPG were set up in 2015 have been busy  helping turn Liverpool city centre into ‘Studentland’. It also won’t surprise you to read  HERE that Asif Hamid’s  Contact Company and YPG have teamed up on the controversial Monarch’s Quay development in Liverpool about which we commented on here :  Asif Attack

Well it would now appear that another one of these landscape changing deals is now out in the open. As apparently the developer behind the controversial Lime Street redevelopment in Liverpool has bought the site of an old Birkenhead railway station – and has vowed to use the land to transform the town. Into what?  Reno? Or has that desert mirage faded before our very eyes too ? We can hardly wait for the artist’s impressions !

We learn from the Liverpool Echo that Ion Property Developments has bought the site of the former Birkenhead Town station, off Tunnel Road between Borough Road and the Rock Retail Park. Ion, formerly known as Neptune Developments, has not yet revealed what it plans for the land. But it says the site is “in a strategic position for the regeneration of Birkenhead town centre”. Read the fully story here : Old Site

Wirral Leaks readers may remember that Neptune Developments had exciting plans to redevelop Birkenhead town centre and which included (gasp!) a drive-thru McDonald’s .  Mysteriously Neptune’s plans were kicked to the kerb by Wirral Council only to be replaced by new plans for  ,er,  a drive -thru Maccy D’s !

So now that Neptune Developments have had a re-branding and changed their name to Ion Property Developments could Managing Director Steve Parry be getting in on Asif Hamid’s act and is acquiring land and sitting back and waiting for the grants of public money to enable them to develop a bit of particularly undesirable piece of derelict land ? Of course Ion don’t quite have Hamid’s position of power and influence as chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board . We await developments (pun intended) with interest.

Meanwhile Wirral Globe are gamely still referring  to ‘the Wirral Waters regeneration project’ in a story about an ‘art installation’ on the site of what perhaps should have been an ‘International Trade Centre’. Forgive us for being so cynical but after the Stella Shiu debacle we feel we’re in for a continual series of piecemeal , ad-hoc developments being heralded as part of the ‘Wirral Waters regeneration project’ rather than the comprehensive transformation we’ve been sold . As a highways feasibility study tender issued last week demonstrates it would seem that there is still a long and winding road to travel before the Wirral waters regeneration project’ becomes a reality.

Regen 021

As an aside an interesting aspect of this story Wirral Waters  was the accompanying picture which included  ‘Community Arts Facilitator’ Cathy Warren alongside Birkenhead MP Frank Field. Could Ms Warren be in any way related to Frankenfield’s favoured report writer and former Judge Nicholas Warren?  I’m sure all of you who know how things work round here will know the answer to that one. 

Praise for Wirral Waters' art installation

Pic : Wirral Globe

Finally a concerned correspondent from over the Mersey has been in touch to provide us with a salutary tale and timely reminder as to what can happenwhen Due Diligence is sacrificed in favour of headline grabbing developments .

According to the Department for International Trade, ‘The UK continues to attract record levels of inward investment and remains extremely attractive to foreign investors.’ In fact George Osborne went to China with the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson to promote the ‘Northern Pitchbook’, with the £200 million New Chinatown development in Liverpool being the ‘centerpiece’ development 
In terms of Cash Only/Investor development investments, this is fast becoming a national scandal, which will have a very negative affect on UK/Chinese relations, and will seriously limit inward investment into the Northern Powerhouse. 
FACT 1 – Record numbers of Chinese and Hong Kong investors have been putting their money into northern developments, especially student accommodation and city apartments .Investors have to put 75% cash up front and the developments are usually ‘off-plan’. This means, in many cases, that not even the foundations have been built. 
FACT 2 – This has attracted the very ‘worst!’ of developers, which can be seen from the following information: 
[1] Angelgate Development- Manchester – which was developed by Pinnacle MC Global and went into liquidation in April 2015, leaving the development unfinished [foundations only]. By August, the developer told buyers the project had been “seriously undervalued” by around £14 million (HK$140.04 million), requiring additional funding in order to complete. The developer gave Angelgate [mainly Chinese/Hong Kong] investors two options: contribute more money to complete the project, or handle the construction themselves.According to a solicitor’s update from Pinnacle, a total of £13.2 million went to commissions and fees, with £7.9 million spent on “overheads, running costs and profits. [this begs the question: how can developers take profits when the development hasn’t actually been built]”An Angelgate investor said an estimated £32 million (HK$330 million) had been paid in deposit money from the buyers in the steering committee and they had filed reports with local police and fraud action groups.

 The Angelgate project was a scam and investors felt helpless, she said. One of the men involved in this development, Tony Freeman, has been arrested by the police. 
[2] Investors from around the world say they will never put money into Liverpool again after their experience of dealing with a city “landlord from hell”.

 They have been bombarding council chief executive Ged Fitzgerald [this man has also been arrested by the police for suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and intimidating witnesses.]with complaints about Nigel Russell, who runs a number of student properties around Liverpool. Investors say that if the council had carried out Due Diligence then they and fellow investors from as far away as Canada, Brunei, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines may not have had to endure what they called years of hell.

 They had to endure months without any payments, and some had put their life savings into buying units from Mr Russell. Nigel Russell has been arrested by the police 
[3] £200 million – New Chinatown development – The companies involved in this development were given ‘preferred developer ‘status by Liverpool City Council without any proper Due Diligence being carried out. There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. With only the foundations completed, two of the construction companies involved have gone into liquidation and the development is at a halt.

[4] Baltic House – The companies involved in this development are on the point of liquidation. There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. With only the foundations and a small amount of the construction completed this project is at a halt. 
[5] The Paramount – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The development is only half built with 140 Chinese students living in the built half. This building is probably dangerous and building is at a halt

[5]Berry House – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The company involved is close to liquidation-no building work completed at all.

[6] North Point – There was significant investment by Chinese and Hong Kong investors. The company involved is close to liquidation-very little building work completed .

[7] St James Court – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

[8]Metalworks – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

[9] Eldon Grove – sold to investors, but absolutely no building works even started

It is clear from the above information that Manchester and Liverpool City Councils [as just examples] are not carrying out Due Diligence and are leaving investors prey to criminals. It is quite evident that this is going to lead to a significant reduction in the number of foreign investors in the North West [Northern Powerhouse] and a deterioration in the Chinese/UK economic relationship. 

 

Double Dealers

Wirral Council closes in on double deal

Hey Eric, is that Asif Hamid in the background? Might we suggest you don’t introduce him to the Foulkes’s any time soon ? Just sayin’ !

Recent alleged racist events on the continent rather overtook us ( you may have noticed) so this particular post was relegated to the back burner. Nevertheless we think this story is interesting for several reasons. To understand what we mean read the following link:

Wirral Council Closes In On Double Deal

First of all doesn’t Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson look particularly smug? Wouldn’t you be on a near cool £200K of public money we hear you cry ! Well, yes but would you be him? , we shriek back in horror.

Apparently according to Inside Media :

Wirral Council is close to sealing two major land and property deals in Birkenhead totalling 200,000 sq ft.

The local authority has signalled its intention to acquire a number of strategic sites and buildings to support the work of Wirral Growth Company, a new joint venture company that it is creating with the private sector.

As part of this, the council has reported that it is close to concluding two acquisitions in central Birkenhead, while a further four potential deals are currently under negotiation. The objective is to unlock covenants and leases that are holding back redevelopment, and to provide new revenue streams to support local services where buildings are profitably occupied.

The exact details of the sites have not been disclosed.

Whilst it seems the usual Wirral Council story of Stressed Eric doing his dance of the seven veils like a superannuated local government (asset) stripper on their behalf – ‘signalled its intention’ , ‘close to concluding’ , ‘potential deals’, ‘currently under negotiation’ , ‘the exact details of the sites have not been disclosed’  –  we’re particularly intrigued as to why this major exclusive announcing the selling off of what remains of the Borough’s family silver was heralded on this particular (deservedly) obscure website.

We haven’t checked the Wirral View lately ( let’s face it – life’s too short) or other Wirral Council approved outlets to check whether this story was covered elsewhere but we’re astounded that Stressed Eric can , from the comfort of yet another costly and glamorous MIPIM event ,this time in London rather than the rather more louche Cannes, casually announce major plans for the redevelopment of Birkenhead.

Can somebody tell us how, without any local consultation or hysterical local press coverage replete with the requisite ‘artist’s impressions’ of schemes that will never come to fruition unless magic mushrooms are involved, that this ever went to press?

Answers on a postcard please ( or should that be a brown envelope ?)………….