Kingdom Consensus

The redoubtable Wirral Against The Litter Police (Kingdom Security) Facebook page is currently a meeting point/melting pot for interested parties seeking to expunge Kingdom Security from our shores and high streets and car parks and promenades and country parks and bus stations and …you get the drift …

All political denominations are there – look there’s the Lib Dems belatedly requisitioning a ‘Special Council meeting’…

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…and oh look over there , the 4 Labour CLPs are calling for Kingdom to be kicked to the kerb and elsewhere high flying Labour councillor Jo Bird offering her support…

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…and then there’s the Green Party reminding everyone that their sole councillor Pat Cleary  was the only one to vote against a motion where Wirral Council rejected criticism  of Kingdom’s conduct…

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…and of course there’s Tom ‘Media’ Houghton picking up the scraps promising write ups in the Echo and Globe (in that order obvs) and celebrity shop owners Sean Martin and Cathy Roberts brandishing their letters and sweet wrappers respectively and now mainstream media favourites. Ms Roberts also achieved what we consider the ultimate accolade in social media by appearing on the Angry People in Local Newspapers Facebook page.

Indeed we understand that the Fry’s Chocolate Orange wrapper , although not being the sweet wrapper that resulted in a threatened £300 fine, has its own agent and publicist and is in negotiations for a reality TV series.  Oh and there’s even  a link to Wirral Globe’s Granty’s Infernal column where there was no conflict of interest acknowledged but at least we got a passing mention…

Don’t get us wrong these are observations not criticisms .We’re celebrating both a growing political consensus and the tireless efforts of campaigners. Nor are we after bragging rights that Wirral Leaks first raised concerns about Kingdom way back in 2015. After all we are commentators not campaigners and our weapons of choice are sarcasm and satire.  However the point we want to make (and we do have one) is that much of Wirral  only get involved in local politics when something impacts on them directly – be it  being hassled on the street or issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice by Kingdom operatives. But remember whilst you may not always be interested in local politics ,  local politicians are always interested in you and involved in almost every aspect of your life…

Kingdom Comeuppance? – Part 1

Cathy & Granty

#sadface pic courtesy of BBC website

Grant us this indulgence but we’d like to comment further if we may on stories featured this week on Wirral Leaks with a mini-series of quick fire posts .

First up is a follow up to last night’s Kingdom Suspended ! story where in our haste to get the BBC footage on the website we missed the opportunity to comment on some aspects of the latest saga in the Kingdom Security debacle and particularly the role of the  mainstream media and local politicians in ‘exposing’ how the cash for trash company operate on the say so of Wirral Council. No doubt Kingdom will still be operating to full contract value (much like the other Wirral Council suspendee Stewart/Stuart Halliday) and so will now have the capacity to have more operatives out on the streets of Wirral hounding those least able to pay a fine for what is essentially a trash tax on the poor and very little to do with environmental protection.

The most curious aspect for us was how the suspension of Kingdom Security from dealing with the business waste aspect of their contract with Wirral Council ended up on the telly. Perhaps a clue is to be had from one of yesterday’s commentators on our blog :

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Taking time out from from name-dropping to comment on litter-dropping Peter ‘Granty’ Grant in his ‘Granty’s Infernal’ column was surprisingly low key on the Kingdom story (not even mentioning them by name) he merely stated :

While Wirral Council comes under fire for “Waste-Gate” (the incredibly ill-thought out fixed penalty notices blitz on businesses… )

“Waste-Gate”, eh? Now where have we heard a similar turn of phrase ? Ah yes  – “Wirralgate” . Now we know that Granty is keen on recycling – and as has been brought to our attention before, often from this very blog – but we very much doubt Granty will be referring to “Wirralgate” any time soon and certainly not in the run up to May’s local elections like he did last time round (see below). Well, not since July 2017 when the editor of the Wirral Globe got his hands on the “Wirralgate” tape anyway!

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Talking of ‘literary musings’ let’s get back to Granty and Cathy Roberts , the ‘co-owner’ of the ‘Literally’ bookshop in New Brighton, who was on the telly complaining about being fined £300 over sandwich wrapper . The TV and website records Ms Roberts in full flow  complaining that sweet papers, newspapers, milk cartons and tea bags weren’t commercial waste. Whilst we agree it made us wonder a) just how much butty munching, sweet eating and tea bagging goes on in ‘Literally’ b) was Ms Roberts reading ‘Granty’s Infernal’ column in the picture on the BBC website above c) did Granty  pull a few strings with his extensive media contacts to enable the story to get such prominent media coverage ?  and d) why has the Kingdom business waste story attracted so little attention at the Wirral Globe until this week? If they had covered the matter as Wirral Leaks had done so here back in October 2018 and highlighted “the incredibly ill-thought out fixed penalty notices blitz on businesses” perhaps the co-owners of ‘Literally’ might have known what was heading their way !

Shall we await “with bated breath” to see whether Granty answers these questions in next week’s Wirral Globe column…

 

SPECIAL REPORT : Kingdom Con

Nearly three years ago Wirral Leaks first brought to your attention Kingdom Security Ltd (Kingdom) and the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) on behalf of Wirral Council in our Cash for Trash  post. We asked the question then :

Is this more about swelling Council coffers than about environmental concerns ?

Now with Wirral Council resorting to desperate measures to raise cash by any means, be it parking charges, car emissions, business waste and land disposal those concerns have continued to grow . When it comes to Kingdom they have intensified even further due to the following report we have received from one of our ever increasing roster of roving reporters:

What will it take to break up the ‘love in’ between Wirral Borough Council and Kingdom? Street cleaning costs haven’t reduced whilst Kingdom have taken over a million pounds away from our Borough since they started their  ‘Environmental Enforcement operations here in July 2015

WBC have allowed Kingdom to rewrite the rules – when it comes to environmental crimes on Wirral the onus now appears to be on the alleged offender to prove their innocence when the only evidence against them is the word of the Enforcement Officer (whose word appears to be sacrosanct, despite receiving minimal training) .The ‘zero tolerance’ approach to littering is the complete opposite to the guidelines issued by Department for Environment ,Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Within these guidelines DEFRA makes it clear in what circumstances FPNs should be issued. DEFRA’s  view is that it is not in the public interest to issue a FPN where there was ‘not clear evidence that the individual intended to cause litter’. DEFRA’s suggested practical ways to deal with such situations ,notably where there is a doubt over a person’s intent, was ‘for the enforcement officer to challenge the person and to state that they have seen them drop something and to ask them to pick it up . Should the individual refuse to pick up the litter then there would be sustainable grounds for issuing a FPN and pursuing prosecution , should the FPN go unpaid’

Following the recent Kingdom WhatsApp leak reported in the Liverpool Echo and Mail Online : Shocking Leaked WhatsApp Chat Kingdom denied WhatsApp was an official means of communication. A spokesman for Kingdom said : ‘Kingdom do not recognise that form of communication . Having seen some of the language used an investigation will be carried out and if necessary disciplinary procedures may follow Kingdom expects more from its staff’ 

Please note that Eoin Henney (Business Manager at Kingdom until Summer 2018)  set up both the Wirral chat group and the North West chat group, which included Wirral, Liverpool and North Wales councils. Below you will find from the What’s App extracts that Eoin Henney was one of the most frequent contributors . We understand that two of the other main contributors are still with the company , as team leaders . Of these two ‘MOR’ is part of a mobile team which is an ‘elite’ group that travels the North West (and North Wales when Kingdom were there)  to prop up areas where the ticket totals were flagging.

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There are references to the club within both chats we have viewed   – membership to this “club” is restricted to officers that issued 100 or more tickets within a month, which earned them a special competency payment.
This has recently been changed to £5 bonus for every ticket over 4 issued in a single day with no upper limit.
The constant request for “scores” is proof that it is just giant competition between officers and regions, where they win and the public lose. There is no mention of the environment,of educating the public or anything professional whatsoever in the attitude, whilst the fact that numerous official instructions are issued through this medium proves Kingdom used WhatsApp as a business tool. The contempt the Kingdom staff (who are after all acting on WBC’s behalf) have for the public, particularly those in Wirral is painfully obvious.

On May 9th this year, whilst the tendering process for the new contract was underway , WBC sent the following emails to Kingdom which includes the following line from Susan Bannister : I have been advised that we only had 1 officer out on patrol on the Bank Holiday Saturday (I’m unaware of patrol hours ) and no officers on patrol on both Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday . This is unacceptable and Rob Cain will be looking into a default notice in this regard’ 

Kingdom email 1

Kingdom email 2

Kingdom email 3

However as you can see from the WhatsApp chats ,once the enforcers reach their target on a Sunday,they are free to go home,irrespective of the contracted hours … wonder if WBC agreed to that ? How ,less than 5 weeks later , were they awarded a new contract for 3 years with a 3 year extension option?

As we know WBC have often denied that Kingdom staff are incentivised and receive bonuses for issuing FPNs as we also have copies of Wirral competency payments spreadsheets . We have to say for a company handling so much personal data there have to be serious concerns about Kingdom’s security ,given the leakiness of its own documents and communications.

Finally, Kingdom enforcers like to give people the impression they have caught an offence on camera. People need to know these recordings don’t start until Kingdom start speaking to them. Now that’s an ‘information deficit’ that you won’t find in WBC’s Wirral View…and whilst we’re discussing what does/doesn’t happen we’ll leave you with some video footage of a Kingdom operative threatening to stop someone from boarding a bus .These people have NO powers of detention , even a PCSO can only detain for a maximum of 30 minutes , Kingdom enforcers – zero minutes. Has this staff member been suspended,reprimanded or advised as to what the limits of his role are?

Or what about the Kingdom officer openly selling  cigarettes on Facebook? Shouldn’t people who enforce the law for a living be equally scrupulous in their private lives? We wouldn’t like to think that someone who makes a living from taxpayers was depriving HMRC of revenue and especially when we understand they were involved in a particularly shocking example of Kingdom’s ‘zero tolerance ‘ policy’

Cigs

 

Brace incident

 

 

Voluntary Termination

Wirral Council Twitter

Although we do have an account  @WIRRALLEAKS we really don’t do Twitter. Even 280 words would never be enough for us and the relentless self promotion on this particular platform would put us off our stroke (or give us one).

However talking of which we couldn’t help commenting on Wirral Council’s Twitter header which has winged its way to us.

Forgive us – but when some of the most self serving people on planet earth have the temerity to ask us “When was the last time ……you did something for someone else” and use, not so much a picture as a visual tick box , it makes us want to empty the brown paper bag full of fresh vegetables and throw up into it – especially when you consider how the high and mighty at Wirral Council seem to have such little regard for ethnic minorities and the vulnerable . And furthermore as Her Ladyship said about the woman in the fingerless mittens – somebody needs to call  Kingdom’s fashion police and tell them to issue a Penalty Charge Notice.

Now we’ve said this before , we know kindness is never wasted and all that , and people who do voluntary work and who don’t expect to win awards and plaudits for doing so are to be valued. However the relentless promotion by Wirral Council of doing something for someone else to make us feel good about ourselves doesn’t sit well with us when it is presented in a queasy mix of  virtue signalling and guilt tripping . Might we suggest that encouraging people to plug the gaps in what’s left of public services makes highly paid public service ‘transformers’ feel even better ? Isn’t this what David Cameron’s ‘Big Society ‘ was largely all about? He must be happy as a pig in muck that this part of his vision for Britain where voluntary work replaces paid work and which hastens the termination of hard fought public services has been lovingly embraced by Labour councils?

Furthermore isn’t there’s something a bit sickening about Wirral Council workers who are enduring pay freezes, redundancy threats and imposition of unpaid leave are encouraged to undertake further work for no pay as when Wirral Council piously launched  a Voluntary Leave Policy      earlier this year :

To support this, the Council will promote volunteering and encourage employees to volunteer their help, time and support to make a difference to their local community.

Interestingly enough we’ve had a few people who used to work for Wirral Council and who were quite happy to do voluntary work  but were put off when they discovered that they were being asked to do complex work dealing with vulnerable people that used to be undertaken by the statutory services they had previously worked for! The further irony being that Wirral Council were part funding the management of this service!

Of course we should expect that Wirral Council’s senior management would want to promote this volunteering initiative and lead by example. Shall we look forward to a picture of Wirral Council CEO Eric Robinson emptying his recyclable Waitrose bag full of ethically sourced goodies at a Wirral soup kitchen on Christmas Day ? Or failing that do as one of his predecessors , Steve Maddox,  used to do and donate his Returning Officer expenses to a worthy charity? Or will we see interim head of law Philip McCourt popping into the one stop shop to do a bit of pro bono welfare rights work when the flawed introduction of Universal Credit wreaks havoc ? Let’s hope Wirral Council’s  communications department don’t forget to obtain pictures and post on their Twitter page  – as nowadays an act of selflessness didn’t happen unless there’s a selfie!