Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #8

PIP’S PANTO 

Our loyal readers get us and know exactly what – and who – we like (and don’t like). Accordingly the following information was sent to us by a few members  of the Leakerati and was described as an “open goal” by one and came with the message “please, I implore you. Have some fun with this….” from another. So channelling that laid back Sunday vibe here goes : Wirral Council are commissioning a pantomime.

Panto 006

As you can see we are not making this shit up . Yes, yes we know it’s always panto season at Wirral Council but we’ll leave you to do your own punchlines . Suffice to say this year’s pantomime has been confirmed as ‘Aladdin’. Freud would have a field day with that choice – keeping the genie in the bottle , the rubbing of lamps etc. For future years might we suggest that ‘Sinbad’ would be the obvious choice (think about it) …..then there’s  ‘Pinocchio’ (the audition for the lead would be right down New Brighton prom) or how about old favourites ‘Spinderella’ and  ‘Puss In (Ugg) Boots’? Indeed someone going by the name ‘Dazzler’ suggests to us a bawdy retro look at how car parking charges at country parks are impacting on the local dogging community with a production of ‘Babes In The Wood’. What does Wirral Council Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies think ?

Pip's panto

MIPIM IN THE BUD 

Talking of outmoded sexism (and racism) we’ve been asked how the Wirral Council delegation got on dans notre coin de pays at this week’s MIPIM (‘Le marche international des professionnels de l’immoblier’) event in Cannes. Unlike last year where they were seen flogging themselves all over social media like a Cannes courtesan (see below) it appears that curiously they’ve been keeping a low profile. They even left the latest ‘Wirral Waters ‘announcement to Peel’s Richard Mawdsley . Read more here : Wirral Waters

Despite the fanfare it was merely confirmation to us that what we have here is a private housing project kick-started by public money. Although we did note that all concerned are still including a ‘speculative industrial project’ as part of future plans. Let’s face it ‘speculative’ is the word – and when it comes to ‘Wirral Waters’ it has been all along !

Checking out the #MIPIM tweets and social media posts it would appear that when it came to Wirral it was as usual case of the Wirral minnow and the Liverpool whale (no that’s not a reference to Mayor Joe) as Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool City Council’s Mayor Joe Anderson took centre stage – although when it comes to the latter we have to ask – who on earth thought that was a good idea?

During our research we couldn’t help notice that there was there was a great deal of national coverage – including The Financial Times and The Guardian – about how sex workers had been banned at this year’s MIPIM event as the sleazy property industry tries to shed its sexist and racist image. As one delegate named Jane said : “What other industry on the face of the earth in 2018 needs to remind businessmen that they can’t bring prostitutes to an industry conference?”

Might we question that whilst the Wirral Council delegation might have felt at home at why did Wirral council tax payers have to pay for this sleazy jamboree?

The most prominent Wirralian we could find referenced on social media was Wirral Olympian Chris Boardman who rocked up to speak on behalf of er…..Manchester. Although we suppose we should be grateful that at least it wasn’t the ubiquitous Sam Quek.

One thing we did find out is that the outfit responsible for all those bloody artist’s impressions are called Uniform Architectural Visualisation . Didn’t you just know they’d be called something like that ? This latest one one is for Egerton Village/Square  – about which we expect to hear much more.

Egerton Visualisation

A DIFFERENT WORLD

One of the twitter feeds we checked out for MIPIM news was  @WirralWellMade which is as far as we can make out is the Martin Liptrot-led  PR arm of the Wirral Growth Company .The latest Tweet we looked at goes like this :

Sunday Times 012

Seriously?

It transpires that this refers to Heswall being named fourth best place to live in North West in a poll published in today’s The Sunday Times. What we are waiting for Marty is an accurate reflection of what it’s really like to live on Wirral. Relentless positivity is all Wirral well made and good but might we suggest that accurate reporting and reflection of reality is even better ? Even The Sunday Times described The Wirral (sic) as “a different world” .

Sunday Times 016

Ain’t it just! and one we don’t recognise or no longer care to be part of !

…..AND FINALLY

West Wirral

We’ve been sent this screenshot from this week’s West Wirral Constituency meeting. Now either that’s a misplaced seating arrangement or we need to send Wirral Council’s Deputy Chief Executive David Armstrong our best wishes on his/her transitioning as currently this is the least convincing gender reassignment since boxing promoter Frank Maloney decided to become Kellie.

 

 

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Wirral Leaks Weekly Dispatch #2

Spot the deliberate mistake ! After this week’s prolific output a further Wirral Leaks post may seem like too much of a bad thing . It’s barely a month into 2018 and we’ve already had to concede that the announcement of our retirement was somewhat premature. But then as Wilde said : “To be premature is to be perfect” !

The thought of our departure to foreign shores has obviously stirred many Wirralians into action as we’ve been sent stories simply too good to pass up on (and what’s even better – where much of the work has already been done) .What’s more we have already noticed that campaigning for the May 2018 local elections has already started in earnest. But perhaps more than anything that explains our renewed impetus is further shocking information which has come our way and which needs exposing . Furthermore we guarantee the mainstream media will not touch it – but we’re keeping our powder dry on that one for now. However we’re left shaking our head in disbelief at the claims that are being made (and more importantly the damning evidence to back it up) . Meanwhile with the agreement with Her Ladyship  and support from Eldritch and Verity let’s all together plough on into oblivion ……….

Holiday Hypocrisy

Whilst we’re grateful that someone sent us the John Brace video posting of this week’s Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee meeting we faced a dilemma as we didn’t know who’s face deserved a slap more as they gazed over to Brace to make sure he captured their reactions to Cllr Steve Foulkes’ contribution to the Mersey tunnel toll debate – Cllr Jerry ‘The Mouse’ Williams , Cllr Ron ‘ Rude’ Abbey or Foulkesy himself . Truth be told (an alien concept for some of the parties concerned) but it was no contest really – Foulkesy every time .

Watch in disgust from 12 :00 as Foulkesy turns to our beloved Mr Brace , tries to take the moral high ground and resorts to his non existent ‘conscience’ .Whilst professing to respect Tory Cllr Les Rowlands he then proceeds to slag him off for planning a holiday to coincide with this particular meeting. Now we might know his political allegiances but we don’t profess to know Cllr Rowland’s personal proclivities but we’d like to think his holiday won’t result in allegations of  racist abuse.Just sayin’

Sorrento Shame : Holidaymakers claim they faced ‘racist abuse’ from ex – Wirral Mayoress

Self Serve 

We understand that internal vacancies at Wirral Council are accessed by ‘Self Serve’. You really couldn’t make this shit up! Why do they bother with such bureaucratic machinations when it would appear that cronyism/nepotism/favouritism is still the main route to promotion we can only hazard a guess. Unfortunately we can’t report on this particular aspect further as it would appear that another feature of Wirral Council’s modus operandi – the culture of fear – is still very much in operation.

Road to Hell

If the Merseytravel Committee video was infuriating the John Brace footage of the Audit and Risk Management Committee sent us into paroxysms of rage and fury. Witness how the utterly pathetic ex- Tory leader and Foulkesy’s ‘kindred’ Cllr Jeff Green meekly raises the issue of bringing the £multi-million highways contract back in house like Uriah Heep with a serious Woodbines habit. The Nigel Farage sound-a-like says something along the lines of : ” Bein’ ever so ‘umble . Can we have a bit of case study. I’m not ‘solutioneering’ (!) I just want to know that the decision to bring the highways contract back in house wasn’t written on the ‘back of  a fagpacket’, if you would so please, kind sir”.

Observe and despair from 8:25

Why so coy Cllr Green ? You know that the decision was made behind closed doors using Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies’ special ‘delegated powers’ and with Frank Field’s personal approval. They obviously want to minimise suspicion about unlawful compensation pay-offs to the Wirralgate complainants – so what’s the next best thing ? A token bung and then a cosy job for life for keeping their gobs shut.  But then you knew that didn’t you Cllr Green ?- shame you didn’t have the balls to say it. Incidental dark comedic value is to be had from the ever oleaginous senior officer David Armstrong who promises a short report and ingratiating interim Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt who says that the commissioning of highways contract is a ‘live project’ and that report would be a ‘ partial measure’ – ain’t that the truth ! Then suddenly  Cllr Ron ‘Rude’ Abbey has a “Don’t Mention The War” moment and can’t help himself saying something completely bogus about discussing TUPE ( Transfer of Undertakings – Protection of Employment) regulations . Which ,is of course, as ARMC and us know is what this is all about : ” Listen guys, we can’t give you a massive pay out you wanted without raising serious questions so we’ll give you the next best thing and you can be responsible for Wirral’s highways . Let’s face it you can’t do a worse job than Colas / BAM Nuttall ” 

As this image and comment proves :

image1 (4)

Dear Wirraleaks,

The attached photo shows a stretch of Mere Farm Road which was “repaired” by the Wirral Council contractors 6 months ago.

They clearly did such a magnificent and cost effective job that it needs much more repairing now.

When will they learn that doing a decent job first time round is more cost effective or do they just love throwing public money away to private sector mates ????

In response all we can say is  – buy cheap, pay twice!

All Wrapped Up

In the case of this particular Freedom of Information request all we can say is have Wirralgate tape, pay through the nose.

Full details :Wrap around FOI

Screenshot_20180130-101108

All wrapped in cosily in a symbiotic security blanket. Snug as a mug with a bug (that’s a reference to the Wirralgate recording obvs)

Patience is a Virtue 

Dear Mr Robinson

I received this assurance from you on 19th December 2016

On 19 December 2016 at 11:42, Robinson, Eric <ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk> wrote:

Dear Dr Smith

Thank you for your email below.Officers are considering the matters you have raised in your emails and I will respond to you fully in January.

Regards

Eric Robinson

Chief Executive

Wirral Council

Tel : 0151 691 8589

Email : ericrobinson@wirral.gov.uk

You did not specify ‘responding to me fully’, by January 2017. 

However January 2018 has now passed, and I can only surmise that your ‘Officers’ have been completely occupied with Wirral Council’s 2016/2017 ongoing catalogue of disasters.

For your convenience, I attach a reply I sent to Cllr Walter Smith, who contacted me in May 2017 as you hadn’t, with his view of the ‘Most Improved Wirral Council’ (the absolute definition of an oxymoron given the events of 2016/2017)

Patience is a virtue. I look forward to receiving your ‘full response’ as assured.

Yours sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson is increasingly making Howard Hughes seem outgoing and gregarious. A local government patsy drowning in a mire of his own incompetence and other people’s corruption.  Hey, Stressed Eric! – you really should have spoken to your predecessor before you took up post. Oh – but wait a minute your political paymasters didn’t allow it did they? Protecting themselves and setting you up to fail as you didn’t know what you were letting yourself in for. Oh but you know now don’t you? And you chose the side of the people who pay your obscene salary. We sincerely hope and pray that one day you will regret that choice. In fact we’re working on it day and night – you may have noticed.

Meet the Talent

Without any fanfare – we wonder why? – Dave Fergus is the man who has taken over running Wirral Evolutions from Chris Beyga the disgraced former Managing Director of this arms-length Wirral Council experiment that went horribly wrong mainly because Beyga (aka Rosa Klebb) thought she was running her own personal fiefdom.

Meet the Talent

You will note from his profile above (can somebody please provide a translation of local government BS? ) that there is absolutely no mention of disability rights. Just the person you want running a service where apparently the thick as mince managers think that somehow they’re doing a favour to the people who actually pay their wages. We’re wondering whether we’ll  get a comment on this latest appointment from Wirral Evolutions ‘ Independent’ Chair and professional disability rights ‘champion’ Carey Bamber or ‘Non -Executive Director’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy’ Pip’ Davies? We’re not holding our breath.

Crime Report

We note that this week Mayor Joe Anderson was taken in for questioning ‘under caution’ by Merseyside Police in relation to the fraud probe concerning Liverpool City Council CEO Ged Fitzgerald and others . Power Boy Pip, Stressed Eric and others will no doubt be observing developments with interest – as will we !

Proceed with caution

Holiday Hypocrisy Part 2

And finally we understand that someone is taking a particular interest in Wirral Leaks from their undeserved winter break in the Dominican Republic. Answers on a postcard please…….

 

Halting the Momentum

Momentum 007

One of the few advantages of the modern age is that you can get the Sunday papers on the continent on the same day of publication. OK – we might not get the supplements , but really, who needs know about Dry January diet and exercise tips and what our astrological signs have in store for us in 2018?

The only downside is that it does nothing for our blood pressure especially when Her Ladyship has a habit of lovingly ringing articles that I may find interesting/infuriating. One such ring of ire was reserved for a letter published in The Sunday Times titled  ‘Labour executive wrong to meddle’.

“Did you have to?…..” I harrumphed ” you know it bring on my Sandie Shaw Syndrome – there’s always something there to remind me “

“Oh dearest do stop griping – take two aspirin and tell me how you feel in the morning ………”  chirruped Her Ladyship .

So here goes.

It comes to something when leaders of Labour councils write to the establishment’s favourite mouthpiece ‘a-whingin’ and a-whinin’ about their own party’s National Executive Committee (and more particularly the Momentum element – although the dreaded ‘M ‘ word is studiously not used). You won’t be surprised to read that among the signatories were Mayor Joe Anderson  ( how many Mayors does Liverpool need f’chrissakes?) and your very own ‘leader’ (ha!ha!ha!) on Wirral – Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies.  The full letter is re-printed below . The list of signatories can be found here : Sunday Times letter and signatories

This internal clash of ideologies and political approaches comes as a result of the Labour NEC calling a halt on the Labour administration at Haringey Council wanting to get involved with Lendlease and develop a controversial housing scheme. The signatories consider that the Labour Party owe the leader of Haringey Ccouncil , Claire Kober  ,’a huge debt of gratitude’ :

LABOUR EXECUTIVE WRONG TO MEDDLE
It is a vital and long-standing rule of the Labour Party that individual Labour Groups, consisting of democratically elected Labour councillors, are sovereign bodies. As such, they have the ability, within available resources, party rules, and the law, to determine the most appropriate policies to serve their local communities.

Labour Local Government wishes to make it clear to all members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) that they have no right or justification to interfere in or influence the legitimate actions of locally elected representatives. Such actions are not just outside of the party’s rules, but an affront to the basic principles of democracy.

We are extremely disappointed at the circumstances in which an issue in Haringey was brought forward and discussed by the NEC. Haringey Labour Group was not informed that such a discussion would take place, no advance notice was given, and no papers were produced, meaning the NEC discussion took place based on opinion and speculation rather than facts.

This sets a dangerous and alarming precedent and we ask the NEC for categorical assurances that such circumstances will not arise again in relation to this or any other Labour Group.

Labour councillors around the country are deeply concerned that, in seeking to mitigate Tory austerity by proposing radical new solutions, we face calls for disciplinary action against us. Such calls are uncomradely, disrespectful, and wilfully ignore the difficult and challenging role that we play in doing our best to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

Councillor Claire Kober has an outstanding record of improving the lives of residents in Haringey. Claire became the leader of Haringey Council in 2008 at the age of thirty, assuming the immense personal responsibility of leading a council in crisis following the appalling public service failures that led to the death of Peter Connelly (‘Baby P’).

Under her inspirational leadership, and despite suffering funding cuts of over 40% since 2010, the Haringey Labour Group has delivered the fastest improving schools in the country and generated billions of pounds of investment in the borough, and in 2017 the council won the Children’s Services of the Year award. We believe the Labour Party owes her a huge debt of gratitude for turning around a failing authority and as a result protecting thousands of the most vulnerable children and adults.”

However we feel we get a better insight into why certain Labour Council leaders such as Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip would hold Cllr Kober in such high regard from a bravura (and brave) letter of resignation from one of her own Haringey councillors ,Cllr Stuart McNamara,which was written last November. The damning indictment of Kober’s leadership (which can be read in full here) includes the following claims:

Somebody has to call you out on your wrecking ball tactics and horrific wasting of public money on nonsense vanity projects whilst council services are starved of cash or sold off to the lowest bidder, making horrendous Tory government cuts even worse. This government and its behaviour towards the most vulnerable in our society is an absolute scandal; I am not suggesting they are not the core cause of the council’s financial predicament, rather that your ideological determination to pursue out-dated and maverick policies, whilst losing sight completely of the Labour values we are supposed to stand for, has made a very bad situation immeasurably worse.

The council’s reputation and recent history had warranted change and you came to us at a time of crisis at Haringey Council when a fresh direction was urgently needed. Like many people, I initially supported your leadership. You had, and still have, a right to be objectively and fairly judged on the merits of your leadership. Sadly, and on that basis, your leadership has been largely focused on the ideological pursuit of a poorly thought-through version of a commissioning and out-sourcing council.

You have projected a falsely positive view of Haringey to other local authorities and people of influence elsewhere in local and central government that is increasingly divorced from the reality on the ground. You have also placed a far higher importance on having good relations with private developers than with others in the Labour Party in Haringey and with residents, the very people we were elected to support and represent.

You are generous with council resources, waiving rents and large payments from powerful organisations when it suits you and you condone councillors dining out and enjoying corporate hospitality when the meals on wheels service has been cut. All too often, Labour councillors and residents find out about these things after the event, through member enquiries or FOI requests.

All you would need to do would be insert Wirral for Haringey and you’d  have a pin -point accurate description of Power Boy Pip’s administration except you wouldn’t get anyone brave enough within his cabal of careerist and complacent councillors to tell it like it is.  And as for the telling the Labour NEC ‘it has no right or justification to interfere in or influence the legitimate actions of locally elected representatives ‘,  perhaps Pip needs to think about matters closer to home and remind Birkenhead MP Frank Field about Wirral Council’s ‘sovereignty’ and ‘party rules and the law to determine the most appropriate policies to serve our communities’ and then ponder as to why Momentum is gaining,er , momentum and scaring the Blairites. We’ve long said that with feeble local political opposition the only thing that would sort the local Labour group out would be their own members – pass the hors d’oeuvres things could get really interesting in the run up to the local elections in May.

Brickie On Tour

Brickie pic

The poppies, the wristbands……. all he needs is the CND logo tattooed on his forehead. And no right thinking person would think he means any of it. Not for a single second.

Whilst we all gaze adoringly at our favourite brickie gazing into the middle distance below are the details of Metro Mayor Steve ‘the Brickie’ Rotheram’s  tour of the Liverpool City Region as it reaches Wirral’s shores.

He was a brickie by the way, just in case you missed that in his lowest common denominator electioneering.  “I’m a brickie. I’m one of you”  No, you’re not you’re a career politician , and a particularly phoney one at that. 

Metro Mayor’s Question Time 

Needless to say anyone residing at Leaky Towers will be screened out during the application but if one of us was there one question we’d like to ask him is about the ongoing Merseyrail dispute.

The rather wonderful Confidentials website has an excellent analysis of the situation which you can read here : Mayors to blame

Whilst Liverpool Walton MP Dan Carden highlighted the issue in the House of Commons last week and  blamed the  government decision to cut the city region’s train’s budget by millions of pounds the Rail Minister Paul Maynard pointed a finger of blame at the city region’s Labour decision makers.

He told Carden: “As Labour members will know, they have a multiplicity of local Labour politicians to discuss this matter with, including the chair of Merseytravel (Cllr Liam Robinson), the elected city Mayor in Liverpool (Joe Anderson) and the elected city region Mayor (Carden’s predecessor Steve Rotherham), all of whom have stood behind this decision. If we truly believe in devolving transport powers, we have to respect the decisions that are taken.”

It emerged during the debate that the Dutch state-owned co-operator of Merseyrail, Abellio, puts guards on its trains in Holland, but proposes to run a service without them on its Mersey franchise.

Those local Labour politicians from Wirral who influence decision making on this matter include Cllr Jerry Williams , Cllr Ron Abbey and ( God help us) Cllr Steve Foulkes – so let’s face it we’re doomed . Therefore we implore the people of Wirral – if you care about employment rights and your personal safety sign those petitions demanding that guards remain on Merseyrail trains . If that doesn’t work  – remember there are local elections on Wirral next year ,and putting party politics aside, it would be good to remember exactly who trashed over local rail travellers.

 

 

Police and Peeves

Noughts 011

Somebody call the fashion police. Anyone for a game of noughts and crosses ?   

There has been an interesting exchange in the Wirral Globe letters page over the past couple of weeks. Firstly ,  we had Wirral Leaks regular Charles Nunn who wrote in to say:

The announcement that the Merseyside Police and crime commissioner, Jane Kennedy, a former Labour MP, has appointed a female Labour councillor – the third such appointment in succession – as her deputy should come as no surprise.

When the Conservative Government announced the new appointments in 2012 it was met with total apathy by the voters but great enthusiasm by the political classes of all parties who hijacked the proceedings.

They saw it as a lucrative post with salaries up to £100,000 a year and probably generous expenses

The opportunities for empire-building and political patronage were no doubt an additional incentive. Many candidates were former MPs, with some resigning their seats in order to stand.

In the first elections in November 2012 the total turn out across the country was a paltry 13%.

In the second in May 2016 only 300,000 voters from the whole of Merseyside were prepared to cast their votes.

Ms Kennedy’s first task after her election with a salary of £85,000 was to appoint a deputy from the Labour Party ranks at a salary of £31,800 for a three-day week.

The latest appointment of yet another Labour councillor would appear to suggest the recruitment net is cast no further than the political party which dominates Merseyside.

The published letter can be found here

This elicited the following response the next week from David Burgess-Joyce , Conservative councillor for Greasby , Frankby and Irby

Your correspondent Charles Nunn (Mailbox, September 27) makes some very interesting comments regarding the police and crime commissioner’s appointment of a new deputy as yet another Labour Party internal placement.

In reality he should not be surprised because in the socialist Republic of Merseyside no alternative voices will be accepted other than those of comrade Rotherham, his acolytes and their Corbynite activists.

Having more than 30 years’ experience in Merseyside Police, including senior roles in the National Crime Squad and Serious Organised Crime Agency, I stood for the post of police and crime commissioner last year.  I was runner-up, but because I am so supportive of local policing I decided to apply for this allegedly non-political post of deputy PCC.

Having worked with Jane Kennedy previously I knew we could make a good team in delivering outstanding policing.

Given the “experience” of the successful applicant you will be unsurprised to learn I was not even given the courtesy of an interview, proving yet again Labour’s lack of transparency.

It is good to know 1980s Liverpool is waiting just around the corner!

The published letter can be found here

What Burgess-Joyce , or B-J as we like to call him, fails to mention is the brouhaha that surrounded his hapless candidacy for the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) role. Read the full story here : A Fair Cop

As you can see not only did we raise the question as to why allegations that B-J was ‘sacked’ from his job with the National Crime Agency – now known as Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in 2013 were suddenly reported in the Liverpool Echo a few days before the election in May 2016 , we also pointed out :

Even more interestingly we have Liverpool Council’s Mayor Joe Anderson calling for B-J’s  resignation as a Wirral Councillor and surprisingly not Wirral Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies.

Although this appears to be a rare show of comradely solidarity  between Mayor Joe and Power Boy Pip , we think that this was just another case of  Pip getting someone else to do his dirty work for him.

As it turned out B-J  was not so much a runner-up as a distant second in the PCC election. However, as we’ve commented before about B-J , this most self-regarding and pompous of councillors is now further peeved that he didn’t get the opportunity to be Commissioner Kennedy’s number two.

Whilst we do think that B-J nicked the ‘Socialist Republic of Merseyside’ line from us we do still have concerns that a red hegemony is potentially not a good thing in terms of public accountability. Political patronage and policing policy – what could possibly go wrong? Let’s just hope that local Labour politicians have been behaving themselves – we wouldn’t want Commissioner Kennedy or her Deputy to be politically compromised now would we?

Asif Attack

 

asif hamid themed call centre liverpool

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

If ever you needed confirmation of how things work round here look no further than the inexorable rise of Asif ‘Massive’ Hamid. Of course we’ve reported regularly on his ability to attract public monies in the pursuit of his personal business empire by exerting influence over local politicians via his chairing of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce.

Christmas day in the call centre

The Common People

Contacts and Connections

Pie Chart In The Sky

Now it appear the modus operandi has been repeated over the River Mersey as his chairing of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has seemingly enabled him to secure the final remaining plot on the iconic Liverpool waterfront.

Call Centre Fury

Needless to say the ultimate cynic Mayor Joe Anderson called the King’s Dock deal with his LEP colleague “brilliant news for Liverpool” and said it “could ultimately lead to the creation of a new riverside destination, boosting our visitor economy and creating jobs for local people.”

We’d prefer to stick with our original analysis that call centres are the ” dark satanic mills of the 21st century”

If Liverpool’s UNESCO World Heritage Site was under threat before now this cynical philistine decision should finally seal the deal. The Liverpool Preservation Trust must be hanging their heads in despair.

World Heritage Site In Jeopardy

Meanwhile we’re left wondering just how long it will be before Hamid’s , ahem, “hands on” management practices will hit the headlines.  But hey! –  he’s been awarded an MBE and so is obviously beyond reproach. And confirms that it’s not  just the way works round here but how things work nationally.

Time to emigrate.

Where’s Wally?

Denial

Hopefully readers will be pleased to hear that Dr Robert B Smith is still on Wirral Council’s case. This time he’s trying to elicit a response from their CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson to queries he made via email over 6 months ago. Dr Smith has contacted all 66 councillors in asking whether Stressed Eric’s conduct was a) acceptable or b) unacceptable.

As far as we know the only councillor to respond was Cllr Walter Smith. We’ll leave you to read his email and Dr Smith’s meticulously researched riposte. However we would comment that as far as we’re concerned it’s a case of  ‘Walter by name , Wally by nature’. Indeed Cllr Smith has recently been observed on the campaign trail wearing a red fleece with his name printed on the back. Presumably to help him remember who he is if he get’s lost.  However if we were ever asked the question –  ‘Where’s Wally ?’ we’d have to say  : ‘In denial’……..

Dear Dr Smith,

I presume that there must be a reason for a failure to respond to your request. I suggest that you involve your local councillor. By the way WBC has never been better run than it is today. The officers do a good job, and we councillors have received the award of ‘The Most Improved Council’.

Kind regards,

Walter Smith.

Dear Cllr Walter Smith

It was my intention to circulate all Wirral Councillors with the results of my earlier survey, and reply  to you individually. I only asked for ‘unacceptable’ or ‘acceptable’ as a response. However, given your more expansive response to me, it would seem apposite to circulate my response more broadly.

Firstly, given your response, and the fact that you are a collective employer, why don’t you ask Mr Robinson what is his ‘reason for a failure to respond’? My assessment would be that he is unable to put anything in writing that would not seriously compromise his position.

Shall we take the latest development in the appalling situation regarding the Wirral Safeguarding Board, as a starting point?

The Government’s intervention by installing Eleanor Brazil to endeavour to address the numerous failings, speaks volumes regarding capability. As does Mr Robinson’s claim in the Wirral Globe given his background;

Eric Robinson, chief executive, said: “We have made some changes in terms of social care and I will now work with Julia Hassall”.
“My background is in Children’s Services so I will oversee the work”. (Wirral Globe 20 Sep 2016
)

The press coverage of the sentencing of Brothers Vinothan and Ilavarasan Rajenthiram, jailed for 40 years for grooming and sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls in Wirral, included the following comment – “Over a five-year campaign Ilavarasan and Vinothan Rajenthiram groomed and sexually abused vulnerable young girls from Wirral, all known to Wirral Council”. That would go back to 2012 and doesn’t support the assertion of your 3rd sentence. Actually, it also blows a considerable hole ‘, in the claims made in your 4th sentence as well as in the credibility of the fantasy ‘The Most Improved Council 2015′ award.

Now, with regard to ‘The Most Improved Council’ award. I have discussed this award, and its credibility with Dr Gill Taylor of the Local Government Association (LGA). You will remember her from the ‘LGA Improvement Board’. I have also corresponded with the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) and Government Ministers. It was actually a Local Government Chronicle Award, one of a range of local government awards given by a local government subscription periodical. This ‘Most Improved’ award was apparently never awarded prior to 2015, and it has never been awarded since – too many burned sponsors fingers, I suspect.

You may remember Graham Burgess? Yes, he who breezed into the ‘Improvement Board’ in 2012/13 as a peer reviewer (at the request of the LGA and Michael Frater). At the time Graham Burgess was CEO of Blackburn & Darwen Council (which incidentally had won the LGC ‘Council of the Year’ award in 2011).

The recruitment of Graham Burgess as ‘interim’ CEO of Wirral Council was an ‘interesting’ process. And as for the permanent position – 8 applications…1 successful interviewee?

Quite like self-proclaimed Labour activist Mr Liptrot and his published email thread to Cllr Phil Davies. Not to mention Mr Liptrot’s numerous conflicts of interest. It was fortunate that Mr Tour felt absolutely compelled to ‘remind him about’ occupying a ‘politically restricted’ post whilst it was reported he had several contracts across Merseyside. With Wirral Council’s plummeting reputation, and no Joe Anderson metro-mayor bandwagon to ride on, it appears that a side-step to promote unattainable investment ‘opportunities’ matches a mythical skillset. So we witness a frenetic appointment ‘crucial’ before the Cannes visit to MIPIM. Expedience which truly stretches credulity.
But back to Graham Burgess.
Wirral Council’s own press release described him as a ‘leading light’ of the LGA. He was also a regular contributor to, and endorser of the LGC. For the 2015 ‘Most Improved’ award, the ‘live panel’ presentation was made by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies to assessors comprising mainly LGA member Chief Executives. (Doncaster Council, the 2015 award runner-up is an interesting study. Even more so if you add WBC, LGA, SOLACE, ex-WBC staff and very low interest loans into the mix.)

It is a shallow exercise in massaging political egos, and self-promotion for the LGA (and the LGC) to promote the ‘LGA Sector-led Improvement programme’ and the ‘peer review’ mechanism. If you achieve some supposed ‘improvement’, by some supposed ‘measure’ or ‘other’ and provide the tea and biscuits, the LGA will bask in the glory, and parade an individual (in Wirral’s case Cllr Phil Davies) around the country, as a ludicrous example, of a ‘success story’.

It is evident that aspiring to mediocrity underpins the peer review process, and serial under-achievement is the benchmark of ‘improvement’. This is displayed in pyrotechnic fashion in Wirral Council, where documents by both the LGA and Anna Klonowski quote wording proclaiming ‘…in her report, of 2012 Ms Klonowski highlights how at Wirral Council “the abnormal has become the norm”.’

That is 5 years ago. The ‘LGA Improvement Board’ covered the period March 2012 until November 2013 and then, its job done, disbanded. The LGA produced a glossy brochure detailing Wirral’s ‘improvement journey’. The summary introducing the document makes interesting reading and includes this claim.

Eighteen months after Wirral developed and implemented their action plan with the LGA, the Improvement Board that provided advice and oversight of Wirral’s improvement journey reported that sector-led improvement had “transformed” the Council to one that was “stable, well-led, open and far more inclusive.” If you don’t recognise that description, and I certainly don’t, here is the link. http://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/wirral-councils-sector-le-40f.pdf

An interesting comment in the Liverpool Echo published 8th May 2013 from Cllr Harney at the time of establishing the ‘LGA Improvement Board’ Cllr Harney said the council needs “a great deal more openness and much more rigorous performance management”.
He added: “People, councillors, senior managers and the public, have not been aware of what has been going on.”

One aspect of the withdrawal agreement with the Improvement Board, was that Opposition Councillors would occupy the Chairs of Scrutiny Committees. Is that still the case Cllr Smith? No of course it isn’t. All scrutiny committee chairs were taken by Labour councillors in 2014. That casting vote, as required to achieve the prescribed outcome, is crucial to driving unopposed decision-making, but also negates independent scrutiny, accountability and transparency.

Coupled with other constitutional changes giving sweeping new powers to Cabinet members, and a forthcoming fallow year for elections in 2017, any prescribed outcome is attainable. Add to that heady mix the ruling group en-bloc voting and abstention regimes, and what results? Mythical resident’s surveys aside, and resident ‘information deficit’, party-political voting which mostly ignores constituents’ wishes e.g. Girtrell Court and Lyndale School thrives. As you will know, these deliberate changes effectively create the situation where power rests solely with Cllr Phil Davies. How would you describe that model of administration?

Graham Burgess’ apparently effortless ‘soft-shoe shuffle’ into Wirral’s CEO position preceded the 2015 LGC ‘Award’. The Guardian newspaper published, on 10 Apr 2014, the 3rd in the series ‘Public Service Tango’ – Headlined ‘One leader, one chief executive – and a joint vision for their council’s future’ – a far from enlightening piece by Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies. A good journalist would normally extract a ‘riveting quote’, or an ‘earth-shattering insight’ from the article to draw the reader into this revelatory discourse.

This must be the best available. “Wirral council’s leader and chief executive attend each other’s meetings and welcome ideas from all employees”. An absolutely breath-taking insight you must agree – but does it actually matter? Well yes, and, no.

Actually it doesn’t in this specific case as one learns nothing, but of more interest is this extract from a paragraph beneath the published article.
Phil Davies is leader of Wirral council; Graham Burgess is the council’s chief executive. This collection of articles on the relationship between public managers and politicians is supported by SOLACE and is running on the Guardian Public Leaders Network from March to June 2014.

I know that you will be on the edge of your seat by now, Cllr Smith, but what happens next? You will take solace from what happens next.

The very, very low-key publishing of the November 2015 ‘peer review’ follow-up, of Wirral Council, by the LGA. You may not know the then-Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council, but you should. His name is Mark Rogers – http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/birmingham-city-council-chief-executive-12625426

Mark Rogers was the CEO of Birmingham City Council, a member of the LGA and SOLACE, which if you don’t know is the Society Of Local Authority Chief Executives. It is most likely that Eric Robinson (from neighbouring Staffordshire) and Graham Burgess, and Cllr Phil Davies would know him. Not only was he a member of SOLACE (supporting the Guardian article), but he was its President until October 2016.

Birmingham CEO Mark Rogers (LGA member and SOLACE President) was one of the ‘experts’ who undertook the ‘peer review’ of 2015 which unlike the ‘sector-led improvement journey’, and the farcical ‘Most Improved Council 2015’ award, was unleashed on an unwitting public without fanfare and illustrates regression, not improvement. I would imagine that even Mark Rogers would struggle signing that review off, with his background in children’s social care?

Does that look familiar, given Eric Robinson’s previous employment?
At this point, the question for me is where do I stop ‘joining the dots’?
I have only scratched the surface of the machinations of Wirral Council above, but you will get a flavour of why I have some difficulty taking your response seriously.

Wirral Council ruling administration is in serious trouble, and using great swathes of public money to defend the indefensible, is actually indefensible.

I look forward to receiving your response,
Your sincerely

Dr Robert B Smith FCMI

ps I would be making these observations and comments whatever the political colour of any Council administration conducting itself in this manner.

Election Selection : Week 4

ANGRY-GET-IT-RIGHT

The Curse of Pip (Part 1)

Our commiserations go to Tranmere Rovers as their hopes of promotion to the Football League were dashed today in their clash with Forest Green Rovers at Wembley.

As much as we would have liked to see our local team reach the lofty heights of League Two football we have to say that defeat was seemingly inevitable as it would seem the dreaded ‘Curse of Pip’ has struck again.

By which we mean anything council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies touches turns to sh*t.

As we’ve said before he appears to be King Midas in reverse.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/king-midas-in-reverse/

As we all know he has previous form when it comes to endorsing Tranmere Rovers. Who can forget when he held a reception at Wallasey Town Hall to promote Tranmere Rovers unofficial role as ambassadors of Wirral and then, hey presto ,their then manager Ronnie Moore was suspended by the Football Association for alleged breach of betting rules ( of which he was later cleared). Then the next thing you know Tranmere are relegated to non-league football .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/wirral-leaks-updates-lowdowns/

We reiterate this as we understand Pip’s toxic touch continued today as a well placed source informed us prior to today’s sporting event that :
Paula (Basnett)  is going ! On a coach with ‘Councillors’ paid for by the Chamber and The Merseyside Maritime Museum!! All very strange…… , So xxxx councillors and no idea about Maritime Museum guests………So these ‘hand picked ‘ councillors are getting the VIP treatment. But  who actually pays for this ‘perk!! Well if it’s the Chamber no doubt  Power Boy Pip and his beloved Paula will have that covered.
Also I am told that certain Councillors Anita Leech, Foulkes, Comb over Davies and their personal ‘friends’ are also afforded complimentary tickets at TRFC, (all matches) for EVERY  GAME. Is that a perk they declare on ‘members interest! Of course not!!
And more to the point why do they get these perks?

Can we suggest that if TRFC want to ascend the football ladder they need to distance themselves from the snakes who want to make political capital out of other people’s sporting achievements particularly during an election campaign. Just sayin’

The Curse of Pip (Part 2)

We were delighted to read that long time Mayor Joe Anderson was rejected by the Labour Party as their prospective MP  for Walton – now that current incumbent Steve Rotheram has gone on to greater things as Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region.

(And boy, did Martin Liptrot’s plans to be the power behind the throne when Mayor Joe was elected as Metro Mayor come back and splatter him all over his deeply unappealing face  – no wonder he sailed the gravy boat back over the Mersey).

Apparently perennial bad loser Joe has now refused to work with freshfaced Daniel Carden, the guy that Labour parachuted in over Joe to serve the people in the safe seat of Walton. Keepin’ it classy as ever Joe!

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/mayor-joe-tells-colleagues-never-13033635

Once again we have to say we’re tempted to attribute this demise to ‘The Curse of Pip’. We state this as we are grateful to John Brace for his recording of Pip indulging in world class sphincter licking action at the last City Region meeting in the vain hope that Joe will end up as a Member of Parliament . Just think about that for a moment-Mayor Joe as an MP !

Pip’s eulogy to perhaps the most repellent politician on Merseyside outside of Frank Field is so toe-curling it’s almost like watching Diane Abbott reading her times tables. If you can bear to watch Pip starts flexing his tongue at approximately 13.48.

Fox Hunt

We don’t know what PM Theresa May thought she was doing this week by endorsing fox-hunting. We know we’re members of the landed gentry here at Leaky Towers but even we know that fox-hunting with hounds is barbaric and what’s more, a vote-loser.

Now if she endorsed the hunting of ‘The Crafty Foxes’ that would be another matter. As you may have noticed it’s our favourite pastime!

The Crafty Foxes

 

The Big Lie Gets Even Bigger……

It’s been a week since we published our heartfelt preview of what was then the upcoming Ofsted inspection report of Wirral Council’s Children’s Services

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/the-big-lie/

And now in the aftermath of the publication of the latest in a long line of damning reports it would appear Wirral Council are adopting the timeworn tactic of denial and damage limitation.

As an antidote to these machinations we’re bringing you our further thoughts on the Ofsted report and subsequent developments.

 

china4

China Crisis 

Once again Council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies demonstrates his renowned strong leader powers and makes plans to bog off to China with his new BFF  – Metro Mayor reject Joe Anderson  – in the aftermath of the Ofsted report crisis. At least his predecessor as council leader Steve Foulkes , who was not renowned for his political insight or indeed renowned for anything , had the good sense to abandon plans to jet off to the far east when the  equally damning Independent Review threw Wirral Council into chaos in 2012.

However it seems Power Boy Pip is undeterred by the fact his leadership is in question and the Council is yet again in turmoil as he embarks on yet another junket. What we’d like to know is what exactly is his “number one priority” – small children or big business?  and what have any of these many trips achieved for the people of Wirral?. Perhaps Pip can also tell us whether the Wirral Chamber of Commerce Queen Paula Basnett and  Contact Company King Asif Hamid are also on the trip and if so – why?.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14761154.Council_leader_defends_trip_to_China_amid_Wirral_s_child_safeguarding_crisis/

Walker Walks

We think the first casualty (and we hope not the last) of the Ofsted inspection was Bernard Walker the ‘independent’ chair of  Wirral Safeguarding Boards for both adults and children . Walker must have known the writing was on the wall and walked out when Ofsted walked in (allegedly at the end of his “tenure”). Subsequently Ofsted judged Wirral Safeguarding Children Board as “inadequate” and that it was “not discharging all of its statutory functions ….and the running of board business are not sufficiently independent of the local authority”.  As we know from the Standards & Constitutional Oversight Committee  an ‘independent’ person for Wirral Council is usually a safe pair of hands who won’t rock the boat and won’t ask any awkward questions . And at £500 a day for Walker’s services it would seem it’s the usual consultancy trick of taking the money but not taking the flak. Seems like Walker could talk the talk but couldn’t walk the walk. Under the circumstances might we suggest to Bernard that in the light of the Ofsted report findings that he may want to tinker with his LinkedIn profile – just sayin’.

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/bernard-walker-3333713b

Self Improvement 

“From the brink of intervention, to the pinnacle of local government” (Eric Robinson CEO Wirral Council).

So in the light of the Ofsted report how is that statement standing up Eric? . It’s all sounding a bit hollow isn’t it?. An empty Martin Liptrot -penned soundbite. Ain’t it a shame that the people of Wirral are not buying what you’re selling? . Although they are being asked to stump up another £2 million to help put things right!.

Unfortunately though the supine Department of Education suits think Wirral Council can be entrusted to set up their own improvement board and everything will be tickety-boo in no time. Of course long suffering Wirralians know better as we’ve all been here before . It is less than 3 years ago that the Local Government Association – led improvement board made a premature evacuation .

We all knew at the time  that Wirral Council was nowhere near being “improved”. Self improvement is not the way forward with this lot- we all know that Wirral Council has long needed external intervention.

“Oh but they’ve got an action plan……leave them alone” bleats Frank Field . To which we’d like to say to him – “You , sunshine have a lot to answer for – it was you who stopped the Local Government Commissioners intervening in 2012 . You must be so proud of your politically motivated control-freakery. This Ofsted report is part of your legacy Frankenfield – so please that’ll be no more  headline grabbing , fake- emoting over the plight of starving mites in Birkenhead from you thank you very much!……”

 

 

The Pain of Failure

pain

 

Now that we’ve had time to fully absorb Ofsted’s less than flattering  inspection report of Wirral’s Children’s Services we thought we’d wade in with our thoughts.

The horrorshow of a report speaks for itself :

https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/local_authority_reports/wirral/051_Single%20inspection%20of%20LA%20children%27s%20services%20and%20review%20of%20the%20LSCB%20as%20pdf.pdf

So having last week made our position on the latest Wirral Council car crash clear we’d particularly like to concentrate on the debris .

Inevitably Frank Field has melodramatically (if belatedly)  entered the fray saying that the report is “simply devastating” . However for a man who in the past has been quick to condemn he’s treating those responsible for the manifest failings in the report with kid gloves (no pun intended).

“Now is not the time for scapegoating”  he magisterially declares taking time out from calling for public accountability and monstering panto villains like former BHS boss “Sir” Philip Green. Which is a bit of a surprise from someone who makes such a public show of his deep concern about Wirral’s kiddiewinks. Although it’s perhaps not so surprising when you consider that one of the main people who should be driven into the desert is People Overview and Scrutiny Committee chair and long-time  Frankenfield acolyte Cllr Moira “Matron” McLaughlin , who having failed spectacularly when she steered a totally out of control adult social services department has been given the opportunity  to fall asleep at the wheel again and fail to ensure the proper scrutiny of children’s services under the  stewardship of Labour cabinet lead  Cllr Tony Smith . That’s quite a track record – it can only be a matter of time before she’s awarded an OBE.

But then what constantly perplexes us at Leaky Towers is that the people who are responsible for Council failures are given the responsibility to clear it up. We are not re-assured by the fact that Wirral Council Chief Executive Eric “Feeble” Robinson has informed us that will be holding Head of Children’s Services  Julia Hassall’s hand whilst they clear up a mess partially of their own making. Stressed Eric described the Ofsted report as “painful” – but then we’re sure that the  near £300,000 per annum of public money that Eric and Julia earn between them must go some way to easing that pain.

Has anyone noticed that Clare Fish the Strategic Director for Families & Wellbeing has been conspicuous by her absence from the public eye?. Whilst we always considered Fish to be out of her depth we wouldn’t like to think that this particular Super Duper Director has become yet another big fish who’s been let off the hook and been rewarded for their failure.

However it’s not all bad news as we’re particularly gratified, alongside a former Wirral Council head of safeguarding, that the current incumbent of the post – simpering Simon Garner – has been rumbled.

And finally  with reference to the Ofsted report we think that whoever thought up the acronym MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) needs to be put out of their misery.

children-fail

Memo to Frank Field

 

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