In advance of a forthcoming Wirral Leaks special report on Wirral Council’s asset (mis) management we bring you the following case study provided by an increasingly frustrated source from the teaching profession:
I write to you out of pure frustration and anger. This is because the teaching profession to which I and many others serve is being very badly let down. Firstly, by front line council officers whose job is to maintain school buildings to an acceptable standard. However hide behind there being no funds available to spend on the upkeep of our schools and allowing them to fall gravely into disrepair. This, in turn, affects staff and pupils alike for many obvious reasons that only reasonable people seem able to comprehend . Old electrics , leaking roofs ,doors falling from hinges , damp and leaking pipes etc etc.
This hiding behind lack of available funds convolutes their mismanagement of available critical funding and their inability to obtain best value for the money spent ,which is available but being wasted, ridiculously and needlessly .
We ,the education professionals, have given David Armstrong, Mike Woosey and councillors numerous examples of this through a range of schools and indeed your web site has additionally highlighted peoples growing concerns and frustrations, but deaf ears and buried heads in a murky sand seems to be the order of the day.
Mr Armstrong at staff meetings stated that some contractors are not very good, but they are cheap.
THEY ARE NOT CHEAP !!! . Examples of heads procuring tenders away from the selected chosen few contractors on the council list have resulted in shockingly massive reductions in quotes. Hence we don’t trust them anymore if indeed we ever did. They turn up numerous times to do the same jobs and it’s never to an acceptable standard.
But what we have witnessed lately is utterly deplorable and highlights either gross incompetence of council officials or something more sinister. When staff, parents and even children can laugh and ridicule something so obviously wrong, yet politicians , council officers and contractors find excuses for what is indefensible and utterly incredulous “ they are deluded, incompetent or kidding themselves , however nobody else is being kidded and they want to now be heard”
Whilst it would appear hilarious and gives visitors a huge laugh, it’s not funny. This salubrious local attraction hidden from view and out of the way ,behind Joseph Paxton building , hidden and constructed at great expense sums this council up. Inept from top to bottom or worse.
The school heads all meet up regularly at seminars etc and share horror stories , but this needs sharing wider. For the school and library services that house this work of art have been starved of vital funds for real critical issues for many years . But they are not alone, all schools are suffering , we get it that fiscal problems exist and the need to tighten up, yet its waste waste waste we are complaining about. Whilst we penny pinch and fund raise , these people throw it away on what they want to, not what they need to.
The issue :
The library service in question complained that the area of the school building allocated to them could not cope with the number of books stored. The councils asset management made available a number of old metal containers outside to the rear the building to store the books in.
The service complained that the wools would get damp outside in a tin skip so they agreed and incorporated some heaters in the metal containers which are powered 24/7 to keep the books warm. They can’t even do that for the homeless as documented lately in the press , they have kept money back assigned to these poor people whilst also lending £50 million to another council at mates rates . As for the environment , who cares, the cost , that comes out of running costs. No thought, no care. No responsibility, no accountability. No problem. No one checking .
The next thing highlighted is that the books when it rains get wet from the short walk from the building to the storage skips. A cover was asked for. The expected no funds argument came back from Mike Woosey which was expected , however he stated he would speak to the head of asset management Jeff Sherlock to see if he could “ juggle things”
Never in the wildest dreams of fantasy island could we envisage what would be build.
A grand salubrious canopy made of the highest quality polycarbonate roofing, propped up by 12 inch expensive steal columns in royal blue, supported by deap pad foundations and steal welded cross beams at an overall combined alleged cost of £15,000.
That commentary is the result to being married to a structural engineer who is staggered at the complete waste of public money . 1 As a Wirral rate payer. 2 as a parent who’s child attends a school with doors hanging off. 3 as a professional who states a simply supported 4X4 timber posts with wooden cross beams supporting a light weight plastic roofing material at a cost of a maximum of £2,000 is all that was needed to act as a temporary cover to shelter staff and books during a few metres walk from a building. He has shown the photographs to architects and real surveyors he works with. They are “gob smacked”
Why not put books in a water proof plastic box and give staff a coat !!!! Is that a bit harsh ??? That was his initial response .
So much so they have positioned the photograph of the palatial skips in their meeting room stating , “ treat clients money as if it’s your own or you end up with this”
He stated that this type of structure is best suited for and used in shopping arcades , but never ever as a temporary measure in any circumstance due to the massive cost and structural foundations required.
“But under no circumstances can it be justified to cover old glorified skips. It’s outrageous , I don’t know how they get away with it” he said.
The top and bottom of it is simply , they should have found the library service a school or building capable of the storage requirements needed.
But that requires thought and planning, not get on with it, let’s see what happens , make do and waste money putting a square peg in a round hole.