Blotto?

Smarmy Blott

Spot the dot ! :  Blott or not?

After yesterday’s blog post we had a most curious reply sent very early today.

Allegedly it was sent by Joe Blott – Wirral Council’s Managing Director for Delivery aka ‘The Man Who Never Gets Angry’ and read as follows :

Joe Blott on March 9, 2017 at 4:56 am said:

Get the facts right before spouting off about how Wirral does business; you can write all you like on here about past & present employees but take a second to think about how much harm this does to the families of these people and how this may impact them about dis tasteful comments about how people go about making a living. Your blog is a joke and you hide behind your keyboard due to the fact you probably haven’t got a real job and you vent your frustrations out due to being turned down for a role here at Wirral

So here is that fulsome and considered response. Firstly, can we say that after the Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kevin MacCallum had a Friday night entanglement with yours truly we’d’ve thought that senior managers from Wirral Council would exercise some caution when contacting us.Communicating with Kev-Continued.

However the curious aspect of the ‘Blotto’ response is that it seems so very out of character. Say what you want about this non-entity but he does know how to play the local government game. So we’re led to conclude that either we’ve really got under his skin or he didn’t send that email.

It is particularly curious as the message was sent from a wirral.gov.uk address.However the address is joe.blott@wirral.gov.uk  and we were led to believe his email address was joeblott@wirral.gov.uk

A dot can make a lot of difference and you have to get up very early to get anything past us and 4.56 am just isn’t early enough!

So we can only conclude that Blotto has  a) acquired a new email address (along with a scrotum) or b) someone is masquerading as him using a wirral.gov.uk address

Curiouser and curiouser!

So let’s break down the response from whoever it is as follows :

Get the facts right before spouting off about how Wirral does business

So tell us the facts ; We understand that ‘facts’ is an abstract concept as far as Wirral Council goes – but give it a go!

you can write all you like on here about past & present employees but take a second to think about how much harm this does to the families of these people and how this may impact them about dis tasteful comments about how people go about making a living

Yes, we can write what we like on here. And Wirral Council hate that don’t they? ,because they have absolutely no control over it . We could write Liptrot – approved puff -pieces but that would make us Wirral View – and ain’t nobody got time for that. Oh ,and when you talk about ‘past employees’ do you mean those currently taking a particular interest in our blog from their holiday home in Portugal? The stats don’t lie!

As for ‘dis tasteful’ – all we can say is that it must be a curse to be burdened with a delicate middle class sensibility! Just be thankful you don’t work for Bristol City Council under the leadership of Anna ‘Big Wedge’ Klonowski . Our equivalent there –‘ The Bristolian’ has a few choice words for your equivalents including the wonderful Anglo -Saxon expression ‘Whiny T**t’ and as for the Mayor of Bristol – let’s not go there!

https://thebristolian.net/2017/03/03/whiny-twat-seeks-private-sector-move/

We’ve got news for you – that deferential nonsense died a horrible death for many us a long time ago. Oh and don’t do that ‘think about the kiddiewinks’ malarkey. We’re totally immune to such manipulative shit , especially when the likes of you are earning a very good living for doing what exactly? We’d be happy to publish a list of your achievements so the people of Wirral know exactly what they’re getting for their £123K pa.

Your blog is a joke 

Which is why you get up at silly o’clock to respond to our joke of a blog when you could just be checking your bank statements and who’s arse you need to kiss today!

you hide behind your keyboard due to the fact you probably haven’t got a real job and you vent your frustrations out due to being turned down for a role here at Wirral

We love the way you kept the best ’til last. Nothing , but nothing would compel us and our increasing number of aggrieved ex-Wirral Council employees to subjugate ourselves like a brain dead wage slave before the likes of you and your ilk for a ‘role here at Wirral’ . Delusional doesn’t come close. Wirral Council is a sick organisation. Keep taking the tablets (or cashing the cheque),whatever works for you (if not for us).

If you feel the need to respond – whoever you are –  you know where we are : wirralleaks@gmail.com  – that’s wirralleaks and not wirral.leaks obviously.

A View To A Kill

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Oh the irony! – good job all those unread copies of Wirral View are next to the Twister Bin!

Of the many complaints we get about Wirral View , they appear to be split 50/50 between people who have never received a copy and those who have received one and told us that they felt their IQ had immediately halved.

Examples cited from the latest edition included advice about how to get kids involved in making pancakes on Shrove Tuesday – among the 10 tips was the indispensable ‘Double check the hob is off when you’ve finished cooking’ and ‘Don’t cook after drinking alcohol’. Oh please!, the frozen pizza industry would be decimated if the latter were ever the case!

We were also gratified to read that the description ‘ look injured, are very small, or lethargic’ did not apply to some Wirral Council senior managers we could name , but to lost hedgehogs.

As you know we’ve reported on problems with Wirral View’s distribution from the word get go :

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/11/19/distribution-deficit/

However Wirral Council’s own lost hedgehog , head of communications Kev MacCallum, appears to be still in denial about the ongoing situation.

A Freedom of Information request made by the wonderfully named Birgitta Kuhlmann-Muller following the publication of the first edition of Wirral View, asked the following pertinent questions:

1. How you make sure to fulfil your statement on your own website that
“The publication will reach every household and business in Wirral “?
2. Which kind of distribution method did you use for the first edition?
3. How many households were directly served with a publication through the letter box in each ward ( please list each ward in Wirral)
4. What were the distribution costs for each ward and in total?
5. How much income was generated from adverts?
6. What were the overall expenses for printing, design etc.?

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/wirral_view_publication#outgoing-623857

As you can see from the subsequent response from Wirral Council and further annotations by Ms Kuhlmann -Muller the problems with distribution persist:

‘Contrary to your statement that 8 of 10 households got the Wirral view delivered through their letter boxes, I have heard of not a single household in West Kirby who had received theirs.
The Wirral view was stacked in libraries but not delivered to households.’

And therein lies the problem. When Wirral Council make a hyperbolic claim that Wirral View ‘will reach every household and business in Wirral’ they (and the company from Liverpool they’ve hired) need to DELIVER -in both senses of the word. No wonder they can’t get any advertising when local businesses must know that an advert would be a waste of money as the newspaper’s reach seems to be variable at best and negligible at worst.

It is not good enough (as the above picture sent in by one of our readers illustrates) that the distribution company is just dumping thousands of copies of Wirral View in libraries,shops and public venues and hoping that someone has an urgent need to read about pancakes and hedgehogs (and whilst at Leaky Towers we love them both – believe us they don’t do anything for our so called ‘information deficit’!)

And so with threats of government intervention and calls to cull the rag we at Leaky Towers say it’s time to put Wirral View out of its (and our) misery. Perhaps then the council can spend the money on something more useful like yet more overpaid and incompetent policy wonks!

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15123108.Minister_leafs_through_Wirral_Council_s_controversial_newspaper___then_issues_another_warning/

Alternative Facts in a Parallel Universe

Not for the first time when it comes to the ruling administration at Wirral Council we find ourselves asking : “Is it us or are we missing something?” and then we realise we are now living in the age of of ‘alternative facts’. The current epicentre of this parallel universe when it comes to local government has to be our dear own local council.

Of course the main Wirral Council conduit for alternative facts is Wirral View –and halleluljah and praise be , as for the first time Leaky Towers actually received a printed copy of what is known variously to our sources as Liprot’s Journal/ Lost Kev’s Chronicle/Pip’s Post-Truth News .

Was it worth the wait? – hardly ! However the front page caught our attention as it demonstrates to us as to why, once and for all , the tawdry rag should be halted in its tedious tracks. Here we have the now infamous ‘Spot the Muff’ photo-op and the declaration that ‘Proposals to bring in new charges at on-street car parks across the borough have been withdrawn, following feedback from Wirral residents and businesses.’

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Oh ! it was all about Wirral Council listening to ‘feedback’ was it ?. Nothing to do with protests, petitions and the highly suspect legality of most of the proposals. Feedback ?- yeah right!

The Witless, Pip and Mr Muff picture turned up again on our Facebook page due to some weird algorithm which suggests that we’d ‘like’ Wirral Labour News. We suppose it makes a change from promos for incontinence and mobility aids and ‘Superman’ pyjamas but let us state for the record it was as equally unwelcome !

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Then there was further message from ‘Wirral Labour News’ which made us think it must surely be a parody account :

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Keep Wirral Green ? Huh?  Fernbank Farm?, the Saughall Massie Fire Station ? and the Hoylake Golf Resort?  Our heads started to hurt at Leaky Towers as to how the increasingly self righteous Labour administration could reconcile these development plans with their new found love for the Green Belt.

How ironic that Council ‘leader’ Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies talked about “protecting our precious Green Belt” at  yesterday’s Cabinet meeting whilst  we understand that all the seats in the public gallery had the following flyer on them :

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However the ne plus ultra of this week’s alternative facts emanating from Wirral Council is the controversial appointment of the increasingly divisive Martin Liptrot to the post of ‘ Interim Investment Lead’ which we not only predicted but exclusively revealed on this blog:

Pip’s Pay Pal – THAT Liptrot Appointment

The Uncanny and the Corrupt

According to a spokesperson for Wirral Council ( we assume that’ll be Liptrot’s acolyte   Kevin MacCallum)

“The post was advertised and an open recruitment process was held with external support.The panel selected the best person for the job and that person has been appointed.”

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/15103854.Fury_as_Wirral_Council_hires_Labour_s_policy_adviser_to_be_their_new_investment_chief___on___350_a_day/

Really ? – so you’re going with that ‘alternative fact’ are you ? Perhaps one of the interview panel chaired by Alan Evans and including the council’s Strategic Development Manager; Stephen Butterworth, Head of Transformation ( there’s that word again  !) ; Paula Basnett, CEO of Wirral Chamber of Commerce  (a surprising late replacement for a curiously unenthusiastic Asif Hamid) and Ellen Cutler, Director of Inward Investment at Liverpool Vision could publicly endorse this statement .

Alternatively they could tell the people who fund this post exactly what went on behind the scenes and whether they decided not to appoint Liptrot (or indeed anyone) but the decision was taken out of their hands and made by an increasingly desperate Power Boy Pip and the increasingly sinister Eric ‘Feeble’ Robinson.

We’re led to speculate what exactly is the Rasputin-like hold that Liptrotsky  has over Power Boy Pip? All we can say is look what happened to Rasputin and the Imperial Royal Family of Wirral, sorry , Russia.  Just sayin’ !

 

 

 

A Dim View

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Despite the publication of the third issue of Wirral View we have yet to see a copy of Wirral Council’s limp organ at Leaky Towers – and from correspondence we’ve been receiving we’re not the only ones.

Meanwhile we’ve had to content ourselves with reading the online version. As it remains a particularly dreary read we ended up quickly clicking through the pages to count the number of Santa hats that appeared in the latest edition. Sadly whilst we anticipated that Wirral View would present us with endless opportunities for satire  , each issue has proved to be so anodyne we’ve been given nothing to work with.

Although for quite different reasons  , also taking a dim view of Wirral View is Marcus Jones , the Minister for Local Government. A sabre-rattling warning letter from the MP to Council leader Cllr Phil  ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies about non-compliance with the Publicity Code for councils apparently went unread for 9 days , allegedly because of ‘a post-room mix up’.   

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14969048.Post_room_mix_up_caused_Minister_s_crucial_warning_letter_about_Wirral_Council_s_newspaper_to_go_unread/

So do we believe that boys and girls ? Remember this is an organisation that has dishonesty running through it like a stick of rock . As former council leader and ex- Mayor Foulkesy proves persistent lying is no hindrance to high office. Indeed a series of council scandals have over the years proven that this culture of mendacity extends to senior officers and indeed was once endorsed by a veteran senior councillor with the words : ” We pay our Chief Officers to be slippery”.

The Wirral Globe article provided us with moments of both comedy and tragedy. The former inevitably is provided by class clown Kev aka Wirral Council’s supposed head of communications or more accurately ‘Policy Advisor’ Martin Liptrotsky’s patsy. The Globe  reports Mr McCallum ‘remained defiant’ or more accurately was shoved into the firing line to defend the indefensible . Having said that we feel he is a bit harsh on himself and his team when he says  : “It was clear from the research we have completed and the feedback we get on an ongoing basis, that the communications tools we were using were not getting this job done….”

The tragedy is provided by one of the the comments made by Paddy Cleary who declares himself UNISON branch secretary as if this gives his post some kind of extra credibility. Talk about deluded! Cleary suggested that the solution to the post room mix up would be to address staff cuts. It’s a comment which for us not only characterised either his naivete or complicity but explains why the local branch has an ever diminishing number of members.

Memo to Mr Cleary from Leaky Towers : believe us you could have had a flock of pigeonholers in that post-room and the Marcus Jones missive still wouldn’t have been answered promptly ! Might we suggest you might serve your remaining members better if you turn your attention to the continuing outsourcing of their jobs….

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Distribution Deficit

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KEV SHARES PUBLIC FEEDBACK ABOUT WIRRAL VIEW WITH THE COMMUNICATIONS TEAM

Wirral View may not have reached us yet but news has reached us that Wirral Council Communications front man Kev is in a bit of a kerfuffle that distribution of the first edition didn’t go quite to plan.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14914863.Wirral_Council_s_controversial_newspaper_gets_off_to_a_stumbling_start/

Kev claims that 30,000 copies of Wirral View failed to reach their intended destination. However judging by our bulging inbox complaining about the non-arrival of Wirral View we’d suggest that vast swathes of Wirralians have missed out on this life-enhancing experience. Perhaps Councillors Abbey, Stapleton and Sullivan might be advised keep their own counsel about the distribution of newspapers before publicly lambasting other local publications!. Just sayin’….

Nevertheless as we already know  Kev is a veritable Little Mr.Sunshine and is ever ready to put a positive spin on a negative situation. We can almost guarantee he has  “A Smile Is A Frown Turned Upside Down” fridge magnet. Kev tells us that  : “We have had really positive feedback from communities across Wirral after the first edition of Wirral View……”

Indeed Wirral Leaks is privileged and honoured to be privy to the type of positive feedback that Kev and his team have received :

Dear Kev

I was once lost like you. I had an ” information deficit” shaped hole in my life. Then you came along and filled my hole. Thanks to you I’m purring like an Atomic Kitten. I’m “Whole Again”.

I now know that if an event is heralded on your front page it is probably best avoided. I also now know how to make Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup!. As far as I’m concerned now that I have Wirral View in my life “Take A Break” can take a hike! and in the words of my other favourite trash mags I need to tell you I “Love it!”,  it’s a real “Pick Me Up!” . Indeed my only suggestion for improvement would be to include an exclamation mark in your title and add a catchy  strapline such as  :”Who needs Prozac when you’ve got Wirral View!”

I shall be eagerly eyeing my letterbox waiting for the next edition of Wirral View to arrive whilst chanting “come to mama” .

Yours expectantly ,  Edna Welthorpe (Mrs)

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No News is News

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Don’t know about you good people but we’re still waiting for the first print edition of Wirral View to arrive.

However, in preparation for the grand arrival it seems that the lamentable Wirral News is dutifully clearing the path of least resistance in readiness for the first print run of the Wirral Council propaganda sheet.

As if by magic and a week after the Wirral View hit the internet if not the streets, the parent paper ,the Liverpool Echo , turns Wirral News into a bi-weekly newspaper. Although we have to say we use the term ‘newspaper ‘lightly as we think Wirral News gave up trying to be a proper newspaper a long time ago. It now seems to us as though it merely served as a less flashy dry run (and boy do we mean dry ) for Wirral View. 

Apparently from the end of November the current Wirral distribution of  Wirral News of 82,500 will increase to 115,000. However rather than being a weekly newspaper, it will become a bi-weekly newspaper, allegedly focusing on community news and events.

 

With Wirral News/Wirral View /Wirral Globe/Wirral Life/Wirral Echo/Wirral Leaks – the people of Wirral should never have to complain to nosy pollsters from Ipsos MORI that they’re suffering from an ‘information deficit’ ever again !- not that they did in the first place! However we still can’t see the number of Freedom of Information requests decreasing as a result – which probably tells us more about the quality of information from Wirral Council that’s made available by the communications control freaks at Wallasey Town Hall.

Talking of which we note that Wirral Council placed an advert in the November 5th print edition of the Liverpool Echo (obviously!) for a ‘News and Content Officer’.

http://www.fish4.co.uk/job/5887665/news-and-content-officer/

We are left wondering whether the council are making yet another ‘ News and Content Officer’ appointment or has the officer that helped out with the first online edition of Wirral View saw the writing on the wall (and the local websites) and scarpered ? . If it’s the former then it’s increasingly looking like the Communications and Marketing Department is heading to be all that is left of Wirral Council. It can only be a matter of time before the council will be ‘a commissioning hub’ with a PR department attached churning out endless press statements about why they can’t provide information to the public because of commercial confidentiality or because it’s classed as personal data or because it’s subject to legal professional privilege.

However considering Wirral Council’s ‘policy advisor’ Martin Liptrotsky’s faithful assistant Kev is such a fan of our blog , perhaps one of our interns could apply for the post as long as they promise to leave their Superman pyjamas at home? A touch of Wirral Leaks would certainly liven and lighten up Wirral View dontchathink? !……

News Travels

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Well , we didn’t expect our Friday night badinage with Wirral Council’s Head of Communications Kev to have quite the impact it has. We just thought it was a bit of blogfodder whilst we researched a few other stories.

Little did we know it would lead to our first mainstream media headline http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/14834014.Eyebrows_are_raised_over_council_media_chief_s_email_exchange_with_Wirral_Leaks_website/

As you can see we are described as  a ‘caustic website’ by Wirral Globe and ‘barely literate’ by one commentator. But then if you dish it out – you should expect to get it back. However we’ve decided to take a leaf out of Wirral View and accentuate the positive, and thank the no doubt delightful Ms. Natasha Eubank who we think sums up our raison d’être :

“Whilst Wirral Leaks has always been a satirical blog, it has previously raised , and continues to raise some very serious concerns regarding the conduct of Wirral’s Council”

Indeed , as we’ve said before , we swear by that old adage  : “If you want to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you” . . .

However we were distracted from following the Wirral Globe story when a glossy local magazine dropped through our letterbox. We thought at first it might be a priceless first edition of Wirral View . However it turned out to be a copy of Wirral Life  – billed as Wirral’s No.1 free premium lifestyle magazine . Some of you might remember that the publishers of this magazine beat Wirral Council to the punch over the Wirral Life title .

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We were so disappointed that we endeavoured to find out when we might receive a copy of Wirral View itself. We went on to discover, appropriately enough via a circuitous route, that the company who will be printing the newspaper, Cliffe Enterprise Partnership , appear to be based in Eastbourne.This might explain why the first print edition has been so slow to reach Wirral !.

Apparently there are very few printers who can produce such a snazzy publication so Wirral had to go all the way to the South -East of England. Although we have to say we find it a bit perplexing to discover that a cash-strapped North West council is supporting  a business in the affluent and thriving South-East.

The print costs for the first edition of Wirral View are £8,100 with a further £9,000 for distribution costs. Distribution is to be provided by a company which is at least based up here. Well when we say up here – LDS Ltd are based in Liverpool !.

It’s hard to see where these arrangements fit with the pledges in the Wirral Plan and specifically Pledge 8 – ‘Greater Job opportunities in Wirral’ ,  Pledge 10 – ‘Increase Inward Investment’ and Pledge 11 – ‘Thriving Small Businesses’.

You’d have thought that , if anything , Wirral View would at least be a publication printed and distributed by Wirral companies. The fact that it’s not and Wirral Council are prepared to pay a premium for style over content further suggests to us that this newspaper is nothing more than a sophisticated and expensive PR tool and is not about ‘keeping people informed’.   

 

 

Communicating with Kev-Continued.

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Now we know this won’t go down well with some of our readers but we’re warming to Kev……. a bit like an arsonist gathering tindersticks for a great conflagration.
Oh come on give the guy his due –  he’s the only one other than his predecessor who has enough spunk to answer us back.
Unlike the ‘King of the Victims’ Foulkesy who whinges about being harassed by us to Patricia Thynne. Or  Birkenhead MP Frank Field who bitches about us at a public meeting , or council leader Phil “Power Boy Pip” Davies who the day after we publish the “Protecting the Defectives” story pointedly and exaggeratedly thanks the Mayor not once, but twice (in case we missed it the first time)  for “protecting” him . Or his oppo Cllr Jeff Green , who as ever, joined in belatedly and opportunistically at the same meeting to thank Foulkesy for his apology referred to in the same  Wirral Leaks story. Yeah, but what was Foulkesy apologising to you for Jeff – care to explain ? – because the people of Wirral have no idea whatsoever!.
Dare we suggest that Davies and Green should form a double act called  The Chuckle Brothers  (minus the chuckles of course ).
And most particularly can we refer to Deputy Chief Executive David Armstrong who never misses an opportunity to gripe about how unfair we are to people like him who want to sail serenely to their pension pot on a wave of mediocrity after having facilitated some of the worst abuses of power in Wirral Council history.
Finally – talking of mediocrity we all to need to understand that we most definitely didn’t ruin Kev’s weekend because this is someone who earns EIGHTY GRAND PLUS for apparently spending most of his time reading Wirral Leaks. Dream job or what?
Dear ‘Julian’
I’ve often pictured you as the type of bloke who spends his evenings typing furiously on his laptop, from his mums spare room wearing Superman pyjamas. 
The name ‘Julian Justice’ is not doing much to dispel that image, so thanks for that. 
Anyway, I assumed getting into contact with you would result in a kicking off your blog, so well done for delivering. 
Obviously feel free to post this email too. 

Keep up the good work!

Kev MacCallum

Head of Communications

Sussed.

It’s like you’ve peered into our soul.
Haha. 
Have a good weekend. 
You genuinely didn’t ruin mine – I was actually quite looking forward to my ‘Wirral Leaks kicking’. 
Kev. 

You must admit – ‘bring it on’ is an open invitation.

But at at the end of the day – you’re a minor diversion.
You know as well as us who deserves a real kicking – but you choose to earn a very good living sustaining their positions of power.
It might also explain why it is considered necessary that you bring your considerable expertise to the Children’s Services Improvement Board.
It was absolutely an open invitation, and you didn’t disappoint! 
‘Minor diversion’ & ‘considerable expertise.’ I’m both offended and flattered in one paragraph – impressive! 
I’ll close it down now, but well done and I’ll keep an eye out on the blog for the updated ‘communication with Kev’ piece. 
Cheers,

Kev. 

Kev MacCallum

Head of Communications

Communication with Kev

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Ladies and gentleman we proudly present this week’s enlightening email exchange between Leaky Towers and Wirral Council’s Senior Manager for Communications and Marketing Kevin MacCallum following the publication of the first edition of Wirral View . As usual we’re not lost for words. As for Kev – well he just appears lost (and not for the first time)…….

Good evening,
I’m writing to ask for a favour. 
I enjoy the blog in general, even considering the extra work you create for me & my staff, and I do have to say you cross the line into personal abuse at times. 
The articles this week taking the piss out of Wirral View are also good fun, and about what we expected. Bring it on. 
I would like to ask you to remove the photo though. 
It’s got ‘normal’ people in it, as in not politicians and not senior staff. 
These are just ordinary residents (including a young girl from Wallasey) who didn’t realise they’d appear on your blog when they had their photo taken by us for a council publication. 
They’re not your target, it’s not fair and in doing your job by having a pop at us you’re risking upsetting people for no good reason. 
Can you swap the photo for something else?
I was promised ‘endless satire’, which you haven’t delivered on just yet so you must be able  to come up with something else? 
Cheers – would appreciate it. 
Kev. 
Kev MacCallum

Head of Communications

Dear Kevin

We’re just watching the Great British Bake Off.
We’ll get back to you later……

Just take the photo of the kid and the woman with the Mayor down. Come on, is it really that big a deal?

Hi Kev

Apologies for the overnight delay.
Our picture dept is working on a replacement.
We’ll let you know when it’s up and provide a more fulsome response later.

I appreciate it, thank you.

Fill your boots with any of the other stuff though, obviously. A lot of this is fair game, and you do a nice job – just try & keep ordinary people out of it.

Thanks again,Kev

Hi,

Is your photo-desk on a go-slow? They could get a job here.

Kev

That’s the thing Kev – we have to rely on people doing their stuff voluntarily and for free. It isn’t a job.

Not suggesting that this is what you would do – but we don’t bully , we can’t threaten to discipline someone and nobody is trying to curry favour with us for career advancement .
We have got a picture – it’s you with a stick of rock instead. Shall we go with that one?.
Funny!

Hi Kev

Sorry to ruin your weekend – we’ve given this considerable thought and this collective has decided that no we won’t be doing you a favour. Why should we?.
Whilst we’re pleased you enjoy the blog in general (damn us with faint praise why don’t you?), we reject the notion that we cause you and your team “extra work” – you need to have a word with your colleagues who supply us with a constant flow of stories about their dishonesty and incompetence and then perhaps your cushy jobs would be even easier than they already are.
Whilst you acknowledge that our articles this week ” taking the piss out of Wirral View are also good fun “,  we refute absolutely that we cross the line into “personal abuse” . We have never, not once, received a complaint about personal abuse – unless of course you wish to provide specific examples.  We are also surprised that you seem to be endorsing Wirral Leaks as we often hear that the rank and file would be subject to disciplinary action for doing so. But then being a ‘Senior Manager’ these rules obviously don’t apply.  You also ask us to “Bring it on”. So here we go…..
We’re NOT removing the photo. Mainly because we’re not answerable to Wirral Council and never will be – but mostly because we won’t be drawn into this disingenuous bullshit about picture subjects being “ordinary/normal”.
Did you explain to your photo-ops that they would be on your website and shoved through the letterboxes of 150,000 residents and that some of them aren’t exactly pleased about it?.  No, thought not!. So don’t try and guilt trip us – ‘cos it ain’t gonna work.
The suggestion that the the little girl with the stick of rock is a target of Wirral Leaks is deeply manipulative. She’s not. Wirral Council are and always will be – as well you know.
We also didn’t promise ‘endless satire’. We promised ‘endless opportunities for satire’.
You personally prove that we keep our promises………..and we weren’t being funny about the picture either!.

Wirral Council’s Got A Brand New Organ

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We take a break from the Wirralgate saga today to bring you the work of Dr. Robert  B.Smith who has undertaken some excellent research trying to discover how the currently unnamed Wirral Council newspaper stacks up. Firstly he considers the ideological /strategic/operational impetus behind the newspaper and secondly the financial and practical implications.

Meanwhile we consider the pictures – taken from the Management Journal – serve as a warning as to the shape of things to come when the newspaper is published. As you can see  “Stressed” Eric Robinson describes Wirral Council as going “from the brink of intervention to the pinnacle of local government” as he tries to lure  2 overpaid policy wonks to Wirral. Unfortunately we fear we are going to get much more of where that came from!…….

The burning question on everyone’s lips must be…”Why a newspaper?” When newspapers are folding (pardon the pun) and as technology and social media advances…”Why a newspaper”?. When the Council has what passes for a website with a ‘faceless’ homepage with ‘uber-cool tile icons’, but with inbuilt navigation problems, what does that say to visitors? Hardly welcoming when the world’s window on Wirral Council is obscured. It is like trying to see through thick fog, or into a room that has the blinds closed. But is that intentional?

Has anyone else noticed how much previous ‘archive’ stuff has not been moved on to the new, improved website, and, is it my imagination, or is it deliberately slow as well as being difficult to navigate? All subtle hurdles to frustrate the outside world seeking information.

Now Twitter…fantastic in the right hands…but you need to know your market, and how to use it, and Wirral Council has no idea.. Now, to Facebook…who doesn’t use Facebook nowadays? Not many people, but if you can squeeze the life out of a FB page, then Wirral Council is a success story. However, when Recycling is regularly recycling its own recycling information, that is the essence of recycling, captured on Facebook and when, by example, recycling comes into its own.

Wirral Council’s communication has always been poor, but maybe it suits Wirral Council for it to be poor? Not only might it suit for communication to be poor, but making what is available difficult to locate, or even understand, may that be part of a broader strategy?

But, back to the ‘newspaper’. The proposition made absolutely no sense to me on any level. Council services are being decimated, asset disposal underway, privatisation is a priority, and operational staff levels are being severely reduced. Girtrell Court has been closed, Lyndale School has been closed, both against massive public opposition or ‘the will of the people’. Consultants and chief officers are paid exorbitant salaries, and the council is failing as an organisation. However, council tax has increased, but budgets are reducing, and the best use of some of this increasingly scarce funding is…a monthly council NEWSPAPER!

If incompetence is going to be shrouded by smoke and mirrors, what better way to conceal incompetence than to be the sole source of information about your own organisation?. And here is the problem – for mandatory public notices, road closures, planning, etc., and other supporting council business editorial/copy, 4 quarterly editions will not be sufficient to influence public opinion, accommodate scheduling and deadlines for responses/objections, etc.

The ‘newspaper’ issue (pardon the pun) also brings a number of other questionable episodes of Wirral Council’s conduct into focus. Why does Wirral Council act in ways that indicate it thinks that it can flout its own policies, procedures, and codes of conduct, make many questionable decisions regarding legislative compliance, and actively ignore government guidelines, and not report a Minister’s critical letter in a report to Cabinet…or reveal the new staff posts?

The range of options for this ongoing ‘corporate behaviour’, given the range of dubious ‘episodes’, must start with stupidity at one end of the spectrum to knowledge of absolute impunity at the other. The question then being at which point in the spectrum is the reality?

And this is where the ‘bloody-minded pursuit’ of this ‘newspaper’ is such an important consideration.

Government guidelines regarding the issuing of a council newsletter/newspaper are very clear. Nobody needs to spend £1,400 of public money for legal advice regarding the number of issues that can be produced. You just need to be able to read (and understand). But why put the Council in a position of direct conflict with government regarding 12 monthly issues of this ‘newspaper’? In my opinion, it is the need for total control of council information from a council in crisis.

The Ipsos Mori ‘resident survey’ result which led to this ‘rude awakening’ for the Council and ‘a critical response from the public’ is totally at odds with many other ‘critical concerns of the public’ which have been passed over, or systematically bulldozed out of the way.

I have undertaken my own research into the costs of producing this Council ‘organ’ and requested some additional information from Mr MacManus, who was very helpful during the Ipsos Mori survey. It made a refreshing change from FOI requests, and that is how things should be, for an accountable Council. Not everything contains commercially sensitive information, an impression created continually in certain quarters of WBC.

Your readers may wish to examine Wirral Council’s latest organ specification, and make their own estimates. The environmental impact assessment I have undertaken is rather scary as well. Maybe the Council hasn’t done one…?

The financial and environmental costs will be significant, and far in excess of the estimates. More service reductions then…except in Legal, the Press Office, and Recycling maybe…didn’t someone mention ‘jobs for life’ somewhere along the way?

WIRRAL COUNCIL proposed ‘NEWSPAPER’ – all estimated budget figures from Wirral Council Cabinet report, or directly from Wirral Council.

Year           Full Cost

                  Re-directed
current
advertising spend                    Income         Net Cost

2016-17*  £118,980                                            £39,000            £79,980

2017-18     £237,960                                           £85,800            £152,160

2018-19    £237,960                                            £94,380            £143,580

2019-20   £237,960                                            £103,818           £134,142
* 6 editions are planned and budgeted for in 2016-17.

“The publication will be delivered to all 147,000 Wirral households, all 7,500 Wirral businesses and see an additional 15,000 copies distributed to high-footfall locations such as supermarkets, hospitals and train/bus stations. We will additionally develop a new website to carry similar information as well as make better use of social media and other digital channels”.
Facts
…council expenditure and income estimates; print run; distribution; pagination range
…total no of copies per edition 169,500
…total number of editions 12
…first full financial year – 2017- 2018 base estimates used
Assumptions
… to estimate the overall cost an average of 32 pages per edition is the datum
…finished to A5 is not an option as a newspaper/newsletter carrying paid-for advertising promoting a council
…advertising rates are pro rata from full page advertising cost – and advertising may be distributed throughout the edition
…to estimate the quantity of stock (paper) required, the reference sizes are finished A4, and finished A3
…to estimate the total weight of paper required, an average of 80g/sq.m is used.
Assessment
12 monthly issues – total 2,034,000 units printed in 2017 – 2018
2017-18 Full year cost £237,960
Income £85,800
Net cost £152,160
Unit cost 7.5p including promoting and securing advertising, setting, printing, collating, finishing, delivery and distribution, plus presumably, additional ‘lifecycle/environmental costs’ of disposal/collection and recycling.

2017-18 – Advertising income total for full year £85,800 (£7,150 per edition)
2 pages of adverts 16 eighth page @ £446.88 per eighth page
8 quarter page @ £893.75 per quarter page
4 half page @ £1787 per half page
2 full page @ £3,575 per full page
…or the above in combination, and distributed throughout

4 pages of adverts 32 eighth page @ £223.44 per eighth page
16 quarter page @ £446.87 per quarter page
8 half page @ £893.75 per half page
4 full page @ £1,787.50 per full page
…or the above in combination, and distributed throughout

12 editions create 65,088,000 pages whatever size format is used @32 pages per copy
A4 finished size is A3 folded; 4 A4 pages per sheet of A3; 8 sheets of A3 provide 32 x A4 pages.
A4 finished ‘newspaper’ @ 80gm/sqm – total unit weight = 80g
A3 finished size is A2 folded; 4 A3 pages per sheet of A2; 8 sheets of A2 provide 32 pages.
A3 finished ‘newspaper’ @ 80gm/sqm – total unit weight = 160g

Annual weight of ‘news’paper to be produced, delivered, set, printed, finished, distributed and discarded/collected and recycled is:-
A4 finished size – 162,720 Kg (358,736 Imperial lbs, or just over 160 Imperial tons of paper)
A3 finished size – 325,440 Kg (717,472 Imperial pounds, or just over 320 Imperial tons of paper)
Considerations
Given the estimated unit cost it will not be Royal Mail, or an equivalent, delivering to every household, business, or ‘pick up a copy’ distribution ‘hub’.
It will not be sent out in the Wirral Globe or equivalent, as it has been stated they do not deliver to a significant number of areas.
If household and business delivery factors in a ‘minimum’ wage, or ‘living wage’ element for individual distribution of copies, what will be the average delivery time in rural Wirral v urban Wirral for complete distribution?
Further to my independent ‘review’ of the proposal, this ‘newspaper’ cannot possibly be produced, printed and distributed to in excess of 154,500 individual addresses, (and disposed of?) for 7.5p per copy.

For info – stock paper sizes and area (apologies to all who know this already!).
A0 has an area of one square metre.
Divide it in 2 you get 2 A1,
divide again you get 4 A2,
once more 8 A3,
and again 16 A4,
and finally 32 A5

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