An UnSatoorsfactory Appointment

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Needless to say we were given the heads up about Paul Satoor being made Interim CEO of Wirral Council before the last Employment and Appointments Committee confirmed the appointment

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Also needless to say we understand that the current Wirral Council CEO Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson now isn’t working his 3 month notice and is hastily taking up his new appointment as CEO of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) on July 16th. It’s all very much a case of : ” I’m a nonentity – get me out of here”

How ironic that someone who repeatedly turned a blind eye to the abuse of power at Wirral Council is the now head of the national organisation who are meant to be protecting the vulnerable from abuse.  It doesn’t augur well does it? But hey! that’s how things work in backward Britain these days . The bland leading the blind.

Meanwhile we thought we’d check out Stressed Eric’s successor…or more accurately his Wirral Leaks rap sheet and see what Satoor is bringing to the party. And it’s not a lot if you ask us. It’s the usual case of :  “Use what you know to get what you want” (see also – Burgess, Adderley, Degg, Downey, Green, Armstrong, Blott etc;etc;)

For starters he was up to his neck in the Halliday debacle . No wonder Stressed Eric stressed that no-one was going to take the rap for this particular dereliction of due diligence. No doubt the rubicund public servant was too busy lining up his successor whilst standing behind the shredder and preparing  his press statement about how it all happened before he was appointed when the proverbial hits the fan. And it will dear reader. Oh, believe us, it will…

 

Fieldwatch 4 : ‘Vulgarity is the conduct of other people…’

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The Blott,Pip & Addled Caption Competition – answers to Wirralleaks @gmail.com

Vulgarity is the conduct of other people, just as falsehoods are the truths of other people – Oscar Wilde

We’re really sorry we started this but since we’ve been monitoring the local and national media appearances since Birkenhead’s Labour MP Frank Field became an ‘independent’ we could make Wirral Leaks a wall-to-wall Frankenfield-fest…but ain’t nobody got time for that.

However there are a couple of stories which have caught our attention this week which we think highlight his hypocrisies.

First up we have Field seeing fit to comment on the Daily Mail non- story Fury after Bake Off Sue compares PM to ‘s*** on a shoe’

The story concerns Sue Perkins ,ex Great British Bake Off presenter and leading media figure from the LGBTQXYZ community – we really try and keep up with the latest acronyms but apologies if this is not quite right – and her less than flattering assessment of Brexit in general and Theresa May in particular on a late night TV programme ‘The Last Leg’ on Channel 4 that about half a dozen people accidentally watch after they’ve got in from the pub. In response to the question How do you think Theresa May has handled this week? Do you admire her?’ Perkins replied :

‘In the same way I admire s*** on a shoe in that it endures and no amount of using a twig on it or power-hosing it will remove it, so her ability to cling on is the stuff of legend and I don’t want it near me.’

The Daily Mail reported :

Conservative and Labour politicians reacted with fury to the comments yesterday, including Ministers who demanded an apology from the star.

MP Frank Field said: ‘There is a worrying trend in public life that people are getting more and more obscene and violent in their comments and are being allowed to get away with it. What Sue Perkins said crosses the line. Channel 4 and other broadcasters should not let her on again.’

We’d have thought there were more pressing matters for MPs to comment on at the moment but it does allow us to reiterate a point we’ve made before about powerful politicians. Frankenfield, in particular, seems to be cursed with the delicate sensibility of a Victorian maiden aunt forever being offended by the vulgarity and lack of deference of the ‘others’ towards their ‘superiors’. But then Frankenfield has always had a particularly low threshold about what he considers ‘obscene’ . We must tell you ‘The Mary Whitehouse Story’ one day which concerns a poem the anti-obscenity campaigner once showed Field which described Jesus Christ having sexual intercourse with Mary Magdalene. Apparently he’s never got over it…but we’ll save that one for another time.

However back to the point that we wanted to make. We believe that  Conservative and Labour politicians reacting with ‘fury’ to the Perkins’  ‘shit on a shoe’ comment is all about powerful people wanting to control the language,control the political discourse and ultimately control everything. It’s not only as though freedom of expression doesn’t exist – and some might say it doesn’t- but as an expression of righteous anger goes it’s a far cry from the actions of France’s gilets jaunes!

We’re left wondering whether Perkins first encountered this earthy expression when mixing with Wirral Council reps at the Local Government Chronicle awards in 2015 ?

As we know ,since the picture above was taken Kevin Adderley and Joe Blott have left the Wirral Council ‘shoe’ courtesy of being power-hosed off with vast amounts of public money whilst council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies is scraping himself off before he’s kicked to the kerb. Unfortunately the stain they all leave behind will be indelible and forever stink to high heaven.

As far we’re concerned another quote published this week by a different  national newspaper about their making Universal Credit work campaign (to which we not be providing a link) demonstrates the further hypocrisies at play:

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, also congratulated The S*n on its campaign.

Might we suggest that for many people on Merseyside any association with the tawdry rag following its campaign of hate after the Hillsborough disaster is more worthy of the word ‘obscene’ than a pottymouthed celebrity putdown of the PM.

Good Advice

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Such is the sage advice we receive on a daily basis we really should do a ‘ Wirral Leaks’ self  help book.

Chapter 1 would be about the ruling administration at Wirral Council taking themselves down the steps at the back of Wallasey Town Hall and throwing themselves into the River Mersey. If this is a hate crime we are proud to say we are guilty as charged.

However in the mean time we publish the recent contributions we have received that we feel the need to share in the public interest.

First off we follow up our Wirral Council Have Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two… with this pertinent advice :

Dear Sirs,
I have as well as many other businesses received a letter stating that I will be fined if I do not process my business waste via their channels.
I urge all businesses to send the letter back minus their name and address to the sender of the letter stating that in future we do not want their waste!
Regards
Next up we have some advice from down south (not a euphemism) as we know when something is kicking off when we get loads of hits on a long lost post.On this particular occasion it is our updates on the progress of infamous local government cheque collector Anna Klonowski . You know the one , she flew in to Wirral ,made a killing telling us what we already knew  that Wirral Council was a basket case and offering absolutely nothing to rectify the situation she moved on to her next lucrative gig ticking the boxes of mutual mediocrity along the way – for cold hard cash of course.

However it has been revealed that another pay-off of almost £100,000 made by Bristol City Council to its former chief executive ‘the Blessed Anna’ was not a contractual obligation, according to auditors.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees insisted Anna Klonowski was entitled to the cash when she left in September 2017.

But the council’s auditors said it was “inappropriate” for the authority to say the payment was contractual. Read full story here : Bristol council’s £98k payout to chief exec ‘not obligatory’

So can we advise when Wirral Council wants to pay off the likes of  Webb, Noone, Fowler, Maddox, Coleman, Wilkie,Adderley ,Burgess, Degg ( we always put these 3 together – we can’t think why!) , Fish, Hassall, Blott, Norman, Lyon  etc; etc; they need to act in the public interest and remember the words :

NOT OBLIGATORY 

However we’ll leave the last word to ‘our betters ‘ at Wirral Chamber of Commerce  and particularly their Chair, Sandra Kirkham aka ‘Our San’, who advises us lesser mortals in a Tweet from last month:

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Whilst is looks as though San has also attended the ‘Sybil Fawlty School of Statin’ The Bleedin’ Obvious’, along with Anna Klonowski, it would also appear her message about skills and what we do in schools is somewhat undermined by the fact that she (or whoever writes Wirral Chamber of Commerce’s tweets) doesn’t seem to know the difference between ARE and OUR…

 

 

Blog Of A Thousand Posts – Our Greatest Hits

 

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Wirral Leaks en vacances. We’ve decided to enjoy our holidays earlier this year to avoid the high season hoi polloi.

As we reach another milestone, after crashing through the million hits barrier earlier this year , we were hoping that our 1,000th blog post would be a Wirral Leaks exclusive finally exposing the biggest scandal in Wirral’s political history. Alas, it would appear that the establishment are closing ranks on this one – for now anyway. However how long before the dam bursts and we’re all showered in the filth that’s been building up behind the wall of silence?

Meanwhile we thought we’d celebrate our latest landmark by recalling our top five greatest hits or to be more precise – our posts with the greatest number of hits. You may have your own favourite but in reverse order we have :

5 – PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT : PARKING FINES (January 2018)

Whilst we think there are far more serious concerns that should preoccupy the people of Wirral than parking fines, dog crap and litter but what we do get is their frustration with authorities abusing their power and screwing every penny out of them.

Public Service Announcement : Parking Fines

4  – THE GREEN SHOOTS OF SPRING (March 2013)

This is a blast from the past (2013 to be precise ) when we wrote about former  Wirral Council highflyer Dave Green who subsequently and inevitably flew the  council coop along with a golden nest egg . Although we have to say we don’t know if the enduring appeal of this particular post is Green (who?) or the picture of the delightful Dita Von Teese.

The Green Shoots of Spring

3 – SORRENTO SHAME : HOLIDAYMAKERS CLAIM THEY FACED ‘RACIST ABUSE’ FROM EX-WIRRAL MAYORESS (October 2017)

With holidays in mind who could forget the ultimate ‘Brits Abroad’ story as  Wirral’s former Mayor and his charming consort aka Foulkesy and Lainey take their particular brand of personal decorum and international race relations to sunny Sorrento. Indeed it is alleged that similar kind of behaviour described in this shocking post carried on back in Blighty.  Which as Cllr Foulkes knows in particular – if there are no consequences or sanctions to your actions then you’ll just carry on just as before.

Sorrento Shame : Holidaymakers Claim They Faced ‘Racist Abuse’ From Ex-Wirral Mayoress

2  – THE BUNG, THE BAD & THE UGLY : SILENCE IS A GOLDEN HANDSHAKE (July 2015)

The time when the talk of Wallasey Town Hall and beyond was laid bare for all to see. Graham Burgess the man brought in to drain the cesspit ended up wallowing in the dirt and adding to the sleaze. There will come a day when we look back and remember that 2013-15 were the darkest days in Wirral Council’s history. The conduct of particular politicians and council officers throughout this period of time was morally and politically reprehensible and the repercussions are still being felt on Wirral to this day  ………

The Bung, The Bad & The Uggly : Silence is a Golden Handshake

 1 EXCLUSIVE :  WIRRALGATE (September 2013) 

…….talking of which – what could possibly be the enduring appeal of  this particular post ? We must credit where it’s due the power elite at Wirral Council might not be able to organise a bunfight in a bakery but when they want to organise a cover up there are no finer exponents in the land . We believe the reason they’ve managed to keep the Wirralgate scandal  under wraps for nearly 5 years is  parts necessity, part geography and part complicity –  where on earth would such a corrupt cabal have been able to get away with this town hall horrorshow other than on the insular peninsula where the power is concentrated in the wrong hands , where it pays to collude with the abuse of power and where the people are uninformed of the abuses of power being carried out behind closed doors and funded with their hard earned cash!  

And with that thought we’ll leave you. However keep sending in your stories and bulletins ,someone will press the publish button if they think it’s worth a plug and if the ‘big one’ finally breaks we’ll let you know ……….

 

blog en vacance

Spot the Blott

Blott Farewell

Joe Blott : Laughing all the way to the bank …….and at our expense.

As we exclusively revealed in February (2016) Wirral Council Super – Duper Director Joe Blott is about to escape. Most appropriately the article featured a ticking clock as we can only imagine that Blott must be counting the seconds until his exit as he knows all too well that the proverbial is about to hit the fan. Read more here :The Final Countdown

OK it’s been two years but it seems that it’s finally time to say : so farewell then Joe Blott – the last of the infamous Super Duper Directors appointed by failed Wirral Council CEO Graham ‘Burgesski’ Burgess.  Although you won’t be surprised to hear that Blott’s £390K bung is identified in the topsy-turvy world of Wirral Council as a ‘saving’.

The summary of costs in relation to above are as follows:

 BLOTT’S BUNG
Severance £93,412.60
Employer cost £296,763.43
Total £390,176.03
Annual Saving £158,300.82
Recovery period 29.53months

 

To which we can only say  – “Oh it’s a saving all right – but of who’s skin?” because as we anticipated the proverbial may be FINALLY about to hit the fan!

Following on from the departure of previous failed Super Duper Directors Kevin ‘ Addled’ Adderley and Clare ‘Wet’ Fish we have to ask ourselves what did we get for our money?  Er ,not a lot ! From what we can gather Adderley was utterly appalling on every level except when it came to a left hook, Fish flailed around in shallow waters and laid the foundation for the inadequate rating of Children’s Services by Ofsted and as for Blott , well , Joe seems to have avoided blotting his copybook by being the chief co-ordinator of Wirral Council cover ups. But is that what we pay public servants to do? Are they there to serve us or their political paymasters?

Blott will forever be known by us for his infamous quote: ” No comment”  – Sorry  but you said it Joe and then lied about it to investigator Patricia Thynne and what’s more the ‘Wirralgate’ complainants have (yet another) recording to prove it !

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He will also be known by the repeated use of the phrases : ” I can’t recall” and ” I have no recollection”  – which proves either  a)  a pre-requisite of a senior manager at Wirral Council is selective amnesia or b) Blott has early onset dementia

Nevertheless and needless to say we predict that with his connections and the favours he’s dealt Blott will find a nice little niche somewhere after his long anticipated but hastily arranged departure. We wonder if the previously alleged delayed hook-up with Labour councillor Paul Doughty will finally materialise ? See here : Blott’s Pension Pot

Of course , as we have done with many ex-Wirral Council employees who have previously featured on Wirral Leaks , we will be regularly checking where Blott pops up next . Any information will be gratefully received and it will be your chance to win a pair of Joe Blott endorsed ‘Personality Lifts’ – shoe inserts that will make the vertically challenged feel really, really important .

David Hamilton Personality Lifts

Life’s short but you don’t have to be!

Mark your entries ‘Spot the Blott’ and send to wirralleaks@gmail.com

 

Advent Farewell 21 – Blott’s Christmas Bonus

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An Ordinary Joe or A Blott On The Landscape-  We still pick up the bill.

Christmas has traditionally been the time when Wirral Council likes to bury bad news. Christmas 2017 is no exception. If hadn’t been for the perspicacity of pernickety blogger John Brace picking up on the fact that the documents which were denied public scrutiny at Monday’s Wirral Council Cabinet meeting were published on their website. Wirral Leaks is, of course , blocked from accessing the Wirral Council website so we are eternally grateful for John’s revealing article. Which you can read here : Golden Goodbye

As you can see the last of the Super Duper Directors Joe Blott is set for what Brace calls a £390K + ‘golden goodbye’ – although we prefer the term ‘ arse -covering bung’. Why such a significant sum for someone so insignificant we hear you ask ?  Mainly because Blott knows where all the bodies are buried and what’s more he helped bury them !

But before we explore that further let’s just ponder the abject failure of former Wirral Council CEO Graham Burgess and his ‘big idea’ of appointing 3 Super Duper Directors. Where on God’s green earth would Blott, Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley and Clare ‘Wet’ Fish be in a position to earn six figure salaries for achieving fuck all? Sorry that’s harsh – there was that Ofsted report rating Children’s Services ‘ inadequate’ wasn’t there?

But back to Blott  – there isn’t a recent Wirral Council cover up his itsy, bitsy, dirty little fingers aren’t all over. However we’re saying his involvement in the ‘Wirralgate’ cover up is the main reason for his premium payment – at our expense. His conduct throughout has been utterly reprehensible . From lying to Patricia Thynne during her first investigation report by claiming he didn’t say ‘no comment’ when asked by a Wirralgate complainant as to why they weren’t investigating the Cllr George Davies ‘sweetheart deal’  (and you don’t think they didn’t record you saying that Joe?) to scampering round at Cllr Steve Foulkes Standards Panel hearing following the second Patricia Thynne investigation circumventing public scrutiny at every turn. Arselicking as an art form – but then it pays so well!

In his own way Joe Blott is a microcosm – and boy do we mean micro – of everything that is wrong with local government. The personification of  How To Get Ahead In Local Government . The ultimate exponent of the ‘Kiss Up Kick Down’ management style that reaps rich rewards. The type to butter you up and then go behind your back.

We just wonder where next for the wunderkind and whether , as previously reported, he’ll end up topping up his pension pot by fulfilling his ambition to go into business with totally bona fide Labour councillor Paul ‘ Dance Away’  Doughty  Blott’s Pension Pot

At least those business cards wouldn’t go to waste , eh Joe?

 

Advent Farewell 2 – Twin Towns in Hell

Tour - Nuremburg

Be it Wirral and Sandwell , how did we get to the point where Tour adjudicated on other people’s lives/careers or indeed anything of any importance. Frightening. Pic courtesy @CrowMultimedia 

Ghost of Christmas Past and Christmas Present 

It was three years ago we commented on the Wirral Council delegation that was whoring itself out in Reno desperate to hook up with somewhere that had even less attractive features than itself.

Consequently recent events tell us that our Big Guns in Tiny Town post needs re-posting in full here :

Following our earlier story about the beano in Reno Verity has been doing some further research into other towns who have had the dubious honour of being twinned with Wirral.  Apparently Wirral has been rather wanton with it’s unique charms and has previously wooed (in no particular order) Gennevilliers (France) ,Lorient (France) ,Latina (Italy) and Midland (Texas ,USA not the Black Country).
Then of course there was the Eurowirral office in Brussels which achieved er, well nothing much at all really.

As we’ve said before it seems to us at Leaky Towers that never has so much public money been spent on air miles by so many globetrotting councillors and officers to achieve so very little………

Of course the Twin Town debate is something that has concerned the great and the ghoul of Wirral for sometime.
Leaky Towers have always maintained we should be twinned with Jericho in recognition of our local whistleblowing community whilst Frankenfield seems to think that Birkenhead should be twinned with Beirut!.

However it seems to us that Wirral is behaving like a desperate divorcee on a dating website – posting flattering pictures to prospective partners in the hope of finding true love and salvation. The Reno hook-up seems particularly dodgy – apparently the fact that “The Chamber of Commerce had a contact over in Reno with a guy who used to work in Liverpool in the video gaming industry….” was enough for the Wirral posse to metaphorically put on the lippy ,reach for the Wonderbra and fly down to Reno on a wing and a prayer.

Finally we’d particularly love to know what clean living local Councillor Paul “Danceaway” Doughty thinks about twinning with Reno – famous for gambling and quickie divorces.

Let’s just hope if we get a delegation from Reno visiting that Wirral tops up the Botox to prevent “The Biggest Little City in The World” seeking a quickie divorce…….

It would appear that the Reno beano has finally come up trumps (no pun intended) with the announcement, in the form of a leaflet distributed with the Wirral Globe ,that a ‘gentleman’s club’ is opening up in Birkenhead.  On hearing this news Her Ladyship commented : ” But there’s always been a gentleman’s club in Birkenhead. It’s called the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party (CLP)”

I had to rudely interject and inform Her Ladyship that ‘Peachez’ was certainly not the kind of gentleman’s club that fine upstanding, God-fearing Birkenhead MP Frank Field would frequent – although we had to admit we’re not so sure about his less enlightened acolytes. For any avoidance of doubt we’re talking about Foulkesy. Just sayin’.

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We also queried as to where this fitted with the Wirral Chamber of Commerce and their Birkenhead Improvement District (BID). Although we’re sure that that one of their prominent ‘ members’ ( pun intended) would approve. For any avoidance of doubt we’re talking about Kevin ‘Addled’ Adderley.  Just sayin’.

So can we just say in our public service role that Wirral Council should instead lower their sights and twin with the Black Country paradise that is Sandwell (aka Sadwell).

As we commented previously when Surjit Tour escaped there in his personalised number plated car to Sandwell Council that it was very much a case of  To Sandwell in a Handcart . And as Her Ladyship declared on his locally celebrated departure :

” There’s goes a man with low self -esteem issues. And never have they been more justified.” 

So let’s justify for you why we think Sandwell is a better fit for twinship with Wirral than previous speculative suggestions by referencing the superb local blog The Sandwell Skidder which makes Wirral Leaks seem like Wirral View. And that is very much a compliment.

Read for yourself here : http://thesandwellskidder.blogspot.co.uk/

Meanwhile consider this Sandwell Skidder comment as an example :

The bent Labour Council in Sandwell (aka Sadwell) have, as we have seen many times, appointed weak and feeble characters to the top echelons of the paid service in the benighted Borough. Head honcho, the pathetic Jan Britton, had a very thin CV but was appointed as Chief Executive. A selection of weirdos formed the second tier – like now-disgraced “Head of Legal” Neeraj Sharma who already had a record of  dismal failure at Walsall Council.

Sound familiar? – simply insert the name Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson in place of Jan Britton and Neeraj Sharma with Surjit Tour and you have Wirral Council.

Wirral and Sandwell – twin towns in hell who both have had Surjit Tour as the head of their legal departments. Just sayin’.

The BIG Issue

Bank of Money

We understand that Dictionary.com have just decreed that ‘complicit’ is the word of 2017. Therefore it is most appropriate that we  publish whistleblower Nigel ‘Highbrow’ Hobro’s audit of the BIG fund. A definitive account (thus far) of auditing failures written by someone who believes in public accountability and protecting the public purse about people who profit from the lack of both. 

THE BIG FUND Audit

Voluntarily and, for no pay, I have performed an audit of the BIG fund. Although I was one of two whistle-blowers I am going to trace what I would have done had I been in receipt of the data as a Council Internal Auditor.

I imagine that the Peer Improvement Board take Councillor Davies at his word, that WBC is open to learning from other councils. They arrange that a Bolton Borough Internal auditor job- swaps for a short period to bring objectivity to an investigation that, as per Cllr Philip Davies “was not fit for purpose” when performed by WBC’s own Internal Audit Service. Clearly it was not fit for purpose as both Beverley Edwards’ 350 page report, and David Garry’s 33 page report were riddled with partisanship, the main drive being to exculpate their colleagues. I am not shown their reports, let me imagine, just the gist of them lacking independence. As an internal auditor I very much welcome the freedom of not being obligated by ties of colleagueship and passage of years with any of the WBC staff I will be engaging with.

On receipt of allegations from two qualified and mature employees of a subcontractor working on a council project, I would have commenced by performing a type of SWOT analysis-Strengths Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This SWOT analysis was demanded of every application for council funds whether BIG or Intensive Start Up Scheme (ISUS).

Pictorially the matrix is represented below. I would outline in words why such fractions were given.

What are the risks to the whistle-blower’s livelihood if he be lying-100%; and if he be truthful given the hoops he must go through at an Industrial tribunal, well very significant. Thereby I have analysed his risk to livelihood, irrespective of his truth or otherwise, as being 80%

If the whistle-blower is correct then what profit might he make? The answer is very small, if any, as the Council does not pay any bounty to a whistle-blower.

If the whistle-blower be correct what threat is there to a council officer? Given the unions within the council, given the dissemination of responsibility within the council, there is little threat to any individual council officer. This operates to enhance the possibility of lying by council officers as the penalty is much mollified by group responsibility, lack of punishment and the council’s desire to keep gross error from public view. In this case already some councillors and the press’ reportage has unmasked WBC Internal audit as “unfit for purpose”.

Examination of the history of the Martin Morton case and the Colas whistle-blowers gives a trust rating very high to the whistle-blower and correspondingly low to the officers.

first chart

My preliminary conclusion therefore is that I give credence to the whistle-blower. I examine his claims with a view to progressing further, anticipating systemic failure.

I ask for a contract with wirralbiz for the BIG fund work on which they might be paid up to £1,500 per case. All six of the files examined by the whistle-blower were prepared by wirralbiz.

Since it is clear that the files were concealed from him for a long time I presume they were a random sample. His access was to them was swiftly closed down after pressure from Invest Wirral. He has shown me emails to that effect.

I ask for a full list of BIG recipients notated as to wirralbiz prepared, and as to those independently prepared.

The contract for services re BIG is unsigned! which increases the factor of systemic risk.

There are 49 recipients of which 25 were prepared by wirralbiz.

Having received the arguments of the whistle-blower on the six files he examined I retrace carefully his logic.

Lockwood Engineering Ltd –    Evidence of a criminal offence of phoenixing the company assets into Harbac UK ltd. The transfer of £30,000 worth of equipment part funded by the council, with the Head of Regeneration’s consent, raises dramatically the risk of officers being deceitful.

Prima facie the whistle-blower is correct in that the liquidation of the company could have been predicted as high risk if very significant liabilities had been included within the cashflow given to the council.

M L Engineering Ltd  –    conclusive evidence of fraudulent representation by either the Fieldcrest ltd or by the business itself. If the latter, the contractor of wirralbiz is at the very least guilty of gross negligence. Negligence  is compounded because a prior claim already had been dismissed with the claimant presenting as a sole trader, but now presenting as a limited company.

I chose the above two as the whistle-blower had made claims thereon which imperilled himself, and, his having been proven correct,  requires me to compile a new SWOT. This incorporates the fact of the skimpy and unsigned contract which must have governed up to a maximum of £500,000 of Working Neighbourhoods money, and of the criminality involved in the first two wirralbiz files. I have learnt from the whistle-blowers that Invest Wirral dismissed out of hand their allegations between May and July 2011. Invest Wirral simply cited that chief accountants in WBC had been involved and could not possibly be wrong. Having read the first two files this  rings alarm bells as it took the first whistle-blower to demand an interview with Kevin Adderley for these allegations even to reach internal audit.

chart the second

I justify this analysis based on   1. The risk the whistle-blower has taken to point to criminal activity

  1. The detection of two out of six random files containing criminal behaviour not detected ,or even perhaps sanctioned by council officers, must lead me to suspect systemic failure.

Actions: read through remaining four of the whistle-blower’s files to see if more error does exist which may raise the probability of systemic error.

Company 3       The cashflow is extremely optimistic. The company’s solvency depends upon a loan owed it by a group company with no assets, a figure of over £1m pounds!                  

Company 4          The company does start out with £60,000 net deficit. There is an allegation of connexions between Mrs Basnett and the wife of the claimant director. The claim was dismissed by the whistle-blower but then resurrected despite his advice based on the BIG fund rules that claimants be solvent. Why?

Company 5          The company already has received a BIG grant so the second should have been examined more closely. The publication does have an intimate connexion with Egerton House, owned by WBC, and does not concern itself with exporting out of the Wirral and thereby the project was and remains disallowable under the rules of BIG  

Company 6       The sole trader is a director of a company that is insolvent. Prima facie this does present an equivocation vis- a- vis the solvency rules of BIG.

Review of the above files renders a percentage of error of 100% whereby I can conclude that the wirralbiz files are highly likely to contain a very significant error ratio since 6 out of 25 files randomly chosen are wrong in one way or another. That represents 25% of the wirralbiz files which in a random sample is highly significant.

Time taken 15 hours.

I must now consider the outline of the system which previously had been marked by David Garry, WBC Internal Auditor, as more than satisfactory. How did the errors in wirralbiz’s files pass muster with the WBC accountants and the independent panel?

I will commence by researching from the list any of the independently prepared BIG successful claimants who may have gone into liquidation. I locate two as below:

New Gaming Concept limited    – into liquidation  18/03/2010 and fully dissolved  25/06/2011

Corrin Kenny ltd  – entry into liquidation 22/03/2012

I ask for the files to discover that New Gaming Concept ltd’s claim had been tagged by the Chief Accountant to as invalid unless it could find £45,000 to cover its needs for the summer of 2010. The file shows a quick exchange of emails between Invest Wirral and Brendan Ludden, the director,in February 2010, where an unsigned claim form was provided as guarantee that North West Development Agency (NWDA) would provide more funds. Highly unsatisfactory and proved by events less than a month later to be unsound. The company filed for winding-up in March 2010.

The reason for the claim was to remove from Liverpool to Birkenhead so it was not a Wirral company when it claimed!

The company was heavily geared and the Liquidator’s statement shows a loss of public money in excess of £800,000.

I email a member of the Independent Panel as to what they saw at each meeting? He confirms no accounts were shown to them just a synopsis by a WBC accountant and the business plan itself.

I conclude that the Independent Panel whether they be from Federation of Small Business or some othe small business group, are to some degree operating in the dark.

Corrin Kenny Ltd- the file showed that the council had only sight of published accounts up to 31 March 2010 which were more than 8 months old. This was in contravention to the BIG requirement to produce management accounts of no less than 6 months old. Review of Companies House records highlighted that the accounts were unreliable as the comparative figures in the March 2010 accounts do not agree with the accounts filed with Companies House for March 2009.

Secondly, the project links communities within Wirral but does not export services outside of Wirral which in effect invalidates the claim. I note that the claimant address on the application is at Egerton House where Invest Wirral is located yet its stated offices on the internet are Innovation House, Bromborough. There may be a connection between the claimant and Insiders within Regeneration department as the application is full of buzz words relating to recent council schemes, going so far as to quote the previous CEO.

Within 10 months and, as I am performing this audit in August 2012, the company entered compulsory liquidation by petition of the Inland Revenue.

I note that of the two Budgets prepared independently of wirralbiz that I have reviewed, the New Gaming application does present a balanced cashflow, a Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet. The template adopted by wirralbiz, that used  in over half the successful applications does not incorporate Projected Balance sheets. The latter omission suggests the wirralbiz template is that used in the Intensive Start Up scheme, designed for start- ups without a history of trading , and not appropriate to existing and substantial businesses.

Time taken 5 hours.

Conclusion: I must extend my sample from 8% of the non-wirralbiz files. I will choose those that prima facie seem to break the rules of BIG.

I will restate my risk matrix after reading the following files:

Aspire Trust Ltd and Aspire Creative Enterprises Ltd

Quite properly the Chief Accountant, Bob Neeld expresses a reserve shared by the independent panel that the Aspire Trust Ltd is a charity which ab initio is excluded from BIG. It is Invest Wirral that advocates for the company and, on the basis of a prior application by Merseycare ltd, granted even though it was a charity, the Panel agree to consider a revamped application by a “trading arm” , and separate company ,to Aspire Trust ltd.

Aspire Creative Enterprises Ltd

The budgets are prepared using the Fieldcrest Ltd (i.e. wirralbiz) template which does not make a balancing document. Despite the turnover exceeding VAT limits no VAT is calculated in Year 1 nor in Year 2, but no-one from the council  identified this error. The charity having planned a turnover exceeding vat limits is obliged by VAT rules to register for VAT.

No-one flexed the projections for a worst case scenario, a fault common to all the wirralbiz files and likely to be so with independently prepared files. Bob Neeld simply states he cannot comment on a new business income flows. However in contradiction the Panel is told that although BIG fund excludes new businesses with less than one year’s trading, somehow this is evited by the Aspire Trust ltd, as opposed to Aspire Creative Enterprises Limited, having operated for some 10 years?

The projections do not explain why in a digital hub Cost of sales is 50% of sales? This is not a retail but a service based enterprise so what are Cost of Sales? No-one appears to have asked? Did the Panel see the Projections or just the synopsis?

The business projections appear to be wildly optimistic and I checked what Invest Wirral were given as monitoring accounts. The turnover for one year was just in excess of £3,000, a far cry from the £100,000+ projected.

The statement given to the Panel via Bob Neeld was that “the cash indicates that without the grant there would be cash deficits for the first four months”.

I created two Budgets one including the VAT required and one without, and in neither case did the cashflow require the full £15,000 grant. With VAT as per the projections the company needed £5,500, and without Vat just under £10,000. Bob Neeld would have better served had he recreated the cashflow, balanced it with Profit and Loss and with Projected Balance sheet before ever making a glib statement as above. It took me 40 minutes which given £15,000 was being given to a start-up and a quasi- charity, the case certainly deserved.

Alternately he might have stated that a start-up achieving a Profit of 0ver £20,000 in Year 1 without VAT ,and £12,000 with VAT, was improbable. Either way his short email to Invest Wirral appears to be rather in the manner of Pontius Pilate.

Total time 2 hours.

I have now to restate my probability of systemic failure before I examine LEC lights, or decide if indeed need to do so.

I estimate the risk to be above 90%. I have spent 22 hours, and commuted for 5 days from the Bolton Metropolitan borough. The charge to WBC to date is one week of my salary some £1,250 with a mark up of 100% for travel time and costs, that is £2,500.
Conclusions:

There is a grave risk for this project that wirralbiz files some 25 of 49, represent very poor value for money.

There was always a systemic risk in the diagram of procedures viz

Two at least of these claims involved fraud

No signed contract with wirralbiz can be located

Chief accountants when advancing caveats against projects are over-ruled presumably by the occlusion of their opinions and deprival of the historic accounts to the Independent Panel.

There appears to be a rush to hand the money out even though the Chief Accountant has told me funds could be carried over almost indefinitely, year to year

Other factors troubling myself include the probability of a cover-up:-

The dismissal of a qualified accountant, one of the whistle-blowers later, was because “Nothing would get past him” quote from Invest Wirral to Wirralbiz yet he dismissed just his first two claims , one from a start-up-ineligible- and one from a company with a £60,000 deficit.

The officers have claimed to me that he was a disaffected employee of wirralbiz yet I understand he was only made redundant 11 months after he made his allegations.

The second whistle-blower claims Kevin Adderley lied to him regarding liquidations in the BIG scheme. Generally he was lying because New Concept Gaming ltd and Lockwood Engineering Ltd had both  gone into liquidation before the interview whereas he claimed no BIG fund recipient had gone bust.. The officers have used sophistry to cover his statement and subsequent statements. They have claimed “going bust” is on completion of the liquidation, which usually takes 12 months, but this represents a turning upside down of common sense.

A further troubling observation is that, however cursory councillors’ approvals may be, a significant number of grants {20} were given without seeking the consent of councillors and on the say-so merely of Kevin Adderley and/or the Chief Executive. This provides a motive to cover up.

Recommendations

The internal auditors who presided over the enquiry have both left the employ of WBC.

The Chief Executive also has resigned.

For the above no sanction may be applied.

I recommend that Invest Wirral be advised of their failings and caution be applied in running such schemes as BIG ever again.

Kevin Adderley as a senior public official ought to receive some disciplinary proceeding.

The two files M L Engineering ltd and Lockwood Engineering ltd should be referred to the Police and communication should be opened with the on-going Liquidators as to the fate of the £30,000 worth of equipment funded by BIG which I suspect was transferred prior to Liquidation to Harbac without any payment being given.

The contract with Fieldcrest ltd, now employed by Invest Wirral should be suspended whilst the Police consider the allegations with regard to M L Engineering Ltd.

The failings I have seen would never have been located without the whistle-blowers who clearly have been resisted and not rewarded. Clearly the WBC should out of common morality thank them publicly and as soon as possible. Government auditors have told local government that 80% of serious failings are discovered by whistle-blowing and only 20% by systems. WBC needs to encourage whistle-blowers and not block them.

I will return to perform the Intensive Start Up Scheme which I have learnt from Government Internal Audit agency is currently being investigated, including Wirral’s ISUS, from a serious complaint from a Supplier to the scheme in addition the allegations of the two whistle-blowers. When I commence a week of ISUS investigation I will bring to it a clear appreciation of the value I attach to the allegations and considerable caution in dealing with the local government officers.

 

Chamber of Secrets

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“Wow! – just wow” gasped Her Ladyship as she picked up a copy of Wirral Life  from a better class of supermarket “….all that advertising space for the Wirral Chamber of Commerce seems to have paid off as Princess Paula is this month’s cover star! “

Bleached , bobbed and Botoxed(?) to the max the CEO of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce must feel thoroughly at home –   glossy, bright and shiny against a stormy background . The interview can be found here:

 Wirral Life

As you can read all the key words are there – transformation, vision, partnership, empowering, small business ecosystem (eh?) , passionate (obvs!) and nepotism (oh sorry – our bad she didn’t mention that did she Sharon?)

Minus points for no mention of ‘ Hub’ though !  – oh and btw why are you still banging on about ‘Wirral Waters’ ?

Unfortunately what isn’t asked in the article is the question that was put to us about the Wirral Chamber of Commerce earlier this week :

“I would find it very interesting to know why Kevin Adderley has again been sidelined from yet another job.  
 
After being paid off from his time at WBC,  he was rewarded by joining the Chamber of Commerce and becoming a director.  Only to be stripped of the directorship in June of this year and now apparently MD of Egerton House (so manages serviced offices,  owned by the Chamber?)
 
Whats the story?”
Our response :  “It’s the Pip ‘n’ Paula show – dontcha know?”
To which our source replied :  “I was rather thinking its more to do with his involvement in the planning department in 2010 & 2011 – and WBC distancing him as much as they can before it hits the fan.”
Answers on a postcard please – as of course Wirral Life isn’t the place to go if you want answers to such difficult questions because, as you can tell from the cover of their latest edition as apparently they’re all about airbrushing.

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.